Property agent jailed 28 weeks for maid abuse

Khoo Mee Choo (right) hit, kicked and pinched her maid. She also punched her head and pulled her hair.
Khoo Mee Choo hit, kicked and pinched her maid. She also punched her head and pulled her hair.PHOTO: ST FILE

A real estate agent assaulted her mother's Indonesian maid less than one month after she started working in the household and repeatedly abused her.

The abuse came to light after a neighbour alerted the police. The neighbour became aware of the abuse after coming across notes written by the maid to her own maid.

During the four-day trial, Ms Ema Rahmawati, 24, testified that Khoo Mee Choo punched her head, hit her with a bunch of chopsticks, kicked her buttocks, pulled her hair and pinched her arm.

District Judge Kan Shuk Weng found Khoo, 64, guilty of five counts of maid abuse and sentenced her to 28 weeks' jail yesterday.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenny Yang said Ms Ema came to Singapore in December 2016 and Khoo started verbally abusing her that very month. The abuse turned physical by January last year when Khoo pulled the maid's hair as she felt her work was not "up to standard".

The maid told Judge Kan that Khoo had repeatedly pinched her between January and April last year.

DPP Yang said: "She is able to recall the first incident... after she accidentally splashed water on the accused when she was washing the dishes. She is also able to recall one other incident immediately after she had cleaned the toilet of the accused. Displeased with her work performance, the accused immediately pinched her."

The court heard that Khoo continued abusing the maid until April last year. Despite Khoo's orders, Ms Ema befriended Ms Atika, another Indonesian maid, who worked next door, and passed her notes about her plight. Ms Atika's employer found the notes after she left Singapore in February last year. The court heard that Khoo's neighbour, known only as "Wendy", began talking with Ms Ema.

DPP Yang said: "Wendy called the police after she was concerned about the last note to her from the victim which she recalled stated that the victim was 'unable to take it any more'."

In her defence, Khoo claimed that she neither physically assaulted Ms Ema nor raised her voice at her. Her defence lawyer Lee Wei Fan said that Khoo, who has been diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, had been under "tremendous stress" and had acted out of character. The lawyer also said that the offences were not premeditated.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline 'Property agent jailed 28 weeks for maid abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe