Man found guilty of abusing maid by splashing hot water on her, among other acts

SINGAPORE - A man repeatedly abused his family's domestic helper by acts such as slapping the woman on her face and splashing hot water on her.

As a result, Ms San Pa Pa, who is from Myanmar, suffered a burn injury.

Unable to tolerate any more abuse from James Ong Teck Keong, the 24-year-old woman tried to kill herself in 2017 by jumping from the corridor outside her employer's home on the ninth storey of a Jurong West block of flats.

She had to be restrained by Ong's wife, Madam Lee Bee Li, and another maid, Ms Htay Win, who worked in the same block.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Andre Chong and Benedict Teong said in their submissions that police investigations later uncovered the abuse.

On Thursday (Nov 26), a district court found Ong guilty on four counts of assaulting Ms San Pa Pa.

The 48-year-old Singaporean was also convicted on one count of committing a rash act by throwing a filled water bottle at her. Ong committed the offences in 2015 and 2016.

Ms San Pa Pa started working for his family in August 2014.

The prosecutors said: "A year into her employment, at end-2015, the accused was unhappy with her quality of work and started to physically abuse her.

"Between late 2015 and 2016, the accused slapped the victim on her face three times... He also rashly threw a filled water bottle at her in anger shortly after the second slapping incident."

In late 2016, Ong had a dispute with the maid over the temperature of water used to make his son's milk.

He then splashed hot water on her, which landed on her waist and left arm. She was scalded on the left side of her waist and was unable to shower or sleep properly for two weeks.

Ms San Pa Pa also could not call her mother as her employers had locked up her mobile phone.

She had to use Ms Htay Win's phone to call home. The court heard that Ms Htay Win also saw Ms San Pa Pa's scald scar.

On July 13, 2017, the court heard that Ong came home in anger after Madam Lee repeatedly called him, saying that Ms San Pa Pa had taken a packet of milk powder without permission.

The DPPs said that Ong scolded the maid so loudly that Ms Htay Win, who worked two floors up, could hear him.

Ms San Pa Pa tried to kill herself the next day after Madam Lee lectured her.

The Myanmar national was restrained and taken to a police station. The DPPs said that Ms San Pa Pa has since left Singapore.

The court heard that Ong, who is represented by lawyers Anil Lalwani and Adrian Teo, had admitted in two of his statements to the authorities that he had slapped the maid.

But in court, he testified that "it wasn't a slap, it was a tapping motion".

Ong's bail was set at $3,000 on Thursday and he will be sentenced on Jan 7 next year.

For using hot water to voluntarily cause hurt to a maid, an offender can be jailed for up to 10½ years and fined or caned.

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