SINGAPORE - A woman from China who swung her knee towards a domestic worker while she was kneeling down, hitting her chin, was jailed for one week on Monday (May 23).
Li Guizhen, 64, had pleaded guilty to hurting Ms Nwe Ni Hlaing, 30, her daughter's maid, at a flat in Jurong West on June 28, 2014.
Li was then on a long-term visit pass which allowed her multiple trips to visit her daughter's family.
The court heard that after working for three days on June 30, 2014, Ms Hlaing learnt that she would be sent back to the employment agency the next day. She had seen Li talking to her employer.
On July 1 , before leaving the house for the agency, the victim decided to pay respect to Li.
She approached and knelt down before Li, who swung her knee upwards, hitting the victim's chin forcefully, causing her lower jaw to snap close. She felt pain on her teeth.
The victim told the agency that Li had assaulted her.
She was subsequently referred to the Dental Centre at National University Hospital.
She was found to have swollen lips and shaky upper front teeth. A doctor said both her upper front teeth will need to be monitored over the next three to five years as injured teeth can lose vitality over time.
Two other charges of committing a rash act causing hurt and poking the victim's cheek were taken into consideration.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh said Li's assault was entirely unprovoked. The injuries caused to the victim were to her lips and front teeth, and would have caused her considerable pain and discomfort, she added.
Li's lawyer Leon Koh Weijin said that Li had paid compensation of $6,000 to the Myanmar maid. He said the incident arose because of "miscommunication and cultural barrier".
Although both Li and Ms Hlaing are Buddhists, he said in Li's religious culture, the act of kneeling before another is reserved only for worshipping the gods or dead ancestors.
As such, Li viewed the victim's action as highly disrespectful and inappropriate, and told her to get up, but the victim could not understand Li, who spoke in Mandarin.
Mr Koh also told the court that Li had been suffering from balance disorder for a long time and hearing loss in her left ear. The hearing in her right ear has also deteriorated severely in the past few years.
Li could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500 for causing hurt to the domestic worker.