Maid says she was punished in bizarre ways

For breaking statue, Indonesian says she had to stand on one leg as bottle is shoved into mouth

IT manager Tay Wee Kiat and his wife, Chia Yun Ling, are on trial for maid abuse.
IT manager Tay Wee Kiat and his wife, Chia Yun Ling, are on trial for maid abuse.

A maid was forced to stand on one leg on a stool while holding another stool in her hand, a court heard yesterday.

The 33-year-old Indonesian, who goes by the name Fitriyah, said that while she maintained the stance for half an hour, her employer, Tay Wee Kiat, forced a small plastic bottle into her mouth.

Testifying in the trial of IT manager Tay and his wife, Chia Yun Ling, she claimed Tay forced the bizarre punishment onto her after wrongly accusing her of breaking an elephant statue.

"He pushed all of the bottle into my mouth until I felt pain," said Ms Fitriyah, who had apologised and explained that the couple's daughter had broken the statue. "I cried and told him: 'Don't do that to me.' "

The February 2011 ordeal ended when the couple decided to go out.

Tay, 38, denies 12 charges in relation to offences against Ms Fitriyah, while Chia, 41, has claimed trial to two.

Two of Tay's proceeded charges accuse him of offering to pay Ms Fitriyah her salary and sending her home, in return for not reporting his offence of voluntarily causing hurt to the police, and instructing her to lie to the police that he did not physically abuse the other maid, Myanmar national Moe Moe Than, 27.

Ms Fitriyah said she felt scared after the statue incident and wanted to change employers, but Chia would not let her.

She then took $50 from Chia's wallet and told Tay what she had done so that she would be sent back home.

When the couple took her to the agency, Ms Fitriyah refused to leave the car. She changed her mind about going to the agency, afraid that the staff there would scold her and not help her.

She said Tay pulled her hand and she fell onto the pavement, causing her pain in the chest.

The couple then took her to Tay's father's house. "I was informed that if I were to go back, I had to sleep with a Bangladeshi to earn money to buy a ticket...,'' she said in Bahasa Indonesia through an interpreter.

When she refused to stand on a stool again, Tay slapped her. She also testified that Tay had used a bundle of three canes tied together to hit her on the head "many times''.

He also hit her twice with a bamboo stick, she said.

Another alleged punishment involved the two maids being forced to pray 100 times before a Buddha statue for moving a piece of cloth that was covering it.

Ms Fitriyah, who now works for another employer, demonstrated how it was done in court. With her hands clasped in front of her chest, she said she had to bow, kneel and then get up.

She said Tay then told her and Ms Than to slap each other 10 times.

Ms Fitriyah said once, when Tay found out that his son's swollen head was due to an accidental fall, he pulled her hair and took her to a room.

"Suddenly, he grabbed my chin hard and pushed me against the edge of the cupboard. My head hit the cupboard. He did it two times,'' she said.

She also testified that whenever she was punished, Tay would not give her any food.

The hearing continues.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Maid says she was punished in bizarre ways'. Subscribe