Woman pleads guilty to hurting domestic helper who ran from flat to escape abuse

SINGAPORE - A woman who abused her maid just two weeks after the Indonesian started working for the family pleaded guilty on Thursday (Feb 25) to three charges of voluntarily causing hurt.

Three other similar charges will be taken into consideration during Ong Si Mien's sentencing on March 4.

The court heard that the domestic helper - identified in court documents only as Yulia - had arrived in Singapore on July 16, 2016.

It was her first trip here and Ong, 39, was her first employer.

About two weeks after the 33-year-old Indonesian moved in with the family, Ong grabbed a metal bowl and hit Ms Yulia on the head.

She was upset with the way the domestic helper kept the kitchen.

The impact was hard enough to dent the bowl and cause pain to the victim.

Ms Yulia approached Ong's husband, who was in the living room, and told him she wanted to return to the maid agency.

But Ong told her she would not allow it, and scolded the victim for talking to her husband.

In another incident in August 2016, Ong scolded Ms Yulia for taking her shower later than usual.

The domestic worker tried to explain that Ong's mother-in-law had instructed her to boil Chinese herbs, which she did so. Ms Yulia said she also had to wash the toilets in the flat.

But Ong did not relent and used a cordless phone to hit the domestic helper on the top of her head once, which caused her pain.

"However, the victim remained standing in front of the accused as one of the rules given by the accused was that she was to stay still when the accused was angry at the victim," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Soh Weiqi.

Ms Yulia again requested for a transfer but Ong refused. She said she would transfer the domestic helper to India instead.

About a month later on Sept 24, Ong slapped Ms Yulia after accusing the domestic worker of wrongly dressing up her four-year-old son.

The blow was hard enough for the victim to suffer a nose bleed.

Ms Yulia took the opportunity to escape with her belongings when Ong later left the flat with her son.

She only had coins with her, money she had brought over from Indonesia. Ms Yulia was not paid her wages throughout her employment.

The victim was in the Jalan Kayu area when she approached a stranger for help. The police were alerted and Ms Yulia was sent to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

A doctor examined her and found her nasal bridge to be tender.

Ong's lawyer Amarjit Singh said in mitigation that his client is currently suffering from depression with anxiety features as well as borderline and obsessive compulsive personality traits.

He produced three reports by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to support his claim.

Citing the reports, he added that she was likely to have been suffering from post-natal depression after the birth of her second son when she committed the offences.

The lawyer said Ong is presently undergoing treatment at IMH and urged District Judge Eddy Tham to call for a report assessing her suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO).

Offenders given MTO will undergo treatment for their mental condition in lieu of jail time.

However, DPP Soh argued that Ong should be jailed for at least eight months, saying her post-natal depression only partially reduced her ability to exercise self-control.

The DPP said Ong should also be ordered to pay $5,200 as compensation to Ms Yulia.

For each offence of voluntarily causing hurt to a domestic helper, Ong could be jailed for three years, or fined up to $7,500, or both.