Woman used criminal force on maid despite knowing she was abused by former employer

Pooh Yee Peng (pictured) pleaded guilty to one count of criminal force on Ms Ma Khaing and was fined $2,000. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A university administrative assistant knew that her domestic helper had been physically abused by a former employer.

Despite this, Pooh Yee Peng ill-treated Ms Ma Khaing, 32, and shoved the Myanmar national's face three times on May 8 last year.

Three days later, she used a chopstick to tap the maid's knee and head.

The 47-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty on Friday (Nov 26) to one count of criminal force on Ms Ma Khaing and was fined $2,000.

A second charge of using criminal force on the maid was considered during sentencing.

Court documents did not disclose details about the maid's earlier case of abuse.

Ms Ma Khaing started working at Pooh's Edgefield Plains flat in Punggol on April 6 last year. Her duties included performing household chores, cooking and taking care of Pooh's seven-year-old son.

In the evening of May 8 last year, Pooh berated Ms Ma Khaing in the kitchen as she was not satisfied with the latter's work.

The maid started crying and wiped her face with her bath towel, which was draped over her shoulder.

At around 9.30pm, Pooh shoved Ms Ma Khaing's face, causing her to take a step backwards.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Siaw said: "About 12 seconds later, the accused person reached out to grab (a) paper napkin out of the victim's hands and used it to push the victim's face a second time. The victim's head moved back from the force of the push.

"About three seconds later, the accused person again reached out, grabbed hold of the victim's bath towel, and used it to push the victim's face a third time. The victim's head moved back from the force of the push."

The court heard that Pooh continued berating Ms Ma Khaing and also repeatedly waved her fingers right in front of the victim's face to make sure that she was listening to her.

She finally left the kitchen at around 9.45pm and Ms Ma Khaing continued weeping while doing the dishes.

Three days later, Pooh again became upset with Ms Ma Khaing over some household matters.

She was sitting at the dining table when she asked the maid to come over. Ms Ma Khaing then sat on the floor nearby, and Pooh used a chopstick to tap the maid's knee and head.

DPP Siaw said Ms Ma Khaing, who did not suffer any visible injuries, felt distressed after these two incidents.

On May 12 last year, she contacted a relative, who was also working as a maid in Singapore, and told the woman about her ordeal.

The relative alerted her own employer who called the police.

Ms Ma Khaing stopped working at Pooh's flat soon after and another employer hired her in June last year.

On Friday, defence lawyer Tania Chin told the court that her client had acted out of character when she committed the offences.

Ms Chin also said Pooh was "generally a warm, kind and supportive employer".

For using criminal force on a maid, an offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $3,000.

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