Teacher allegedly abused domestic helper just 11 days after she started working

Nachammai Selva Nachiappan and her husband Arunachalam Muthiah are facing multiple maid abuse charges.
Nachammai Selva Nachiappan and her husband Arunachalam Muthiah are facing multiple maid abuse charges.PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A primary school teacher allegedly hurt her domestic helper with a hot ladle just 11 days after the Myanmar national started working for the household on June 14, 2018, a district court heard on Monday (May 3).

Nachammai Selva Nachiappan, 39, and her 41-year-old husband Arunachalam Muthiah are facing multiple maid abuse charges involving Ms Hla Hla Myaing, 37.

The Singaporean couple are accused of committing the offences between June 25 and Aug 2, 2018.

Nachammai, who is claiming trial to five charges, is accused of acts including hitting Ms Hla Hla Myaing's face with a hanger and throwing a hot ladle at her.

Arunachalam, who faces three charges, is accused of kicking the maid and punching her.

On the first day of their joint trial, the maid testified that she had to work from 4.30am to 11.30pm every day for the family who lived in a condominium unit in Jalan Mata Ayer near Sembawang Road.

It was her first job in Singapore.

The maid told the court that she was washing some plates in the kitchen on June 25, 2018, when she noticed that Nachammai appeared to be “angry” while stirring a pot of food nearby.

The pair were the only two people inside the kitchen at the time.

Through an interpreter, Ms Hla Hla Myaing said: “She was expecting me to cook (but) I don’t know how to cook Indian food.”

She told District Judge Eddy Tham that Nachammai then flung a ladle at her and it struck her right hand.

She also said that the couple later took her back to the maid agency in early August 2018 as they were “not satisfied”, adding: “I also didn’t want to work for them.”

Ms Hla Hla Myaing now works for another household here.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) had earlier told The Straits Times that it would review the case against Nachammai and take the appropriate actions according to its internal disciplinary processes.

"MOE takes a serious view of staff misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline, including dismissal from service," said a spokesman.

Separately, the Myanmar language interpreter in court on Monday had to be replaced after he was spotted trying to pass Ms Hla Hla Myaing some money.

When queried, the man told Judge Tham that he had tried to give her some “loose change” for lunch as she had a $50 note with her.

The judge then said that it would be “prudent” to engage somebody else as interpreters “should not be helping witnesses in any way”.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

For using an instrument to assault a maid, an offender can be jailed for up to 10½ years and fined or caned.

Nachammai will not be caned, as she is a woman.