Woman who repeatedly assaulted maid jailed

For close to five years, she abused maid using items like a metal ladle and high-heeled shoe

The last straw came on March 24, 2018, when Tan Bee Kim (left), 55, hit Ms Zeny Aquino Landingin, 48, on the head and forehead using a metal ladle. The maid, who suffered pain and swelling on her head, reported Tan to the police the next day.
The last straw came on March 24, 2018, when Tan Bee Kim, 55, hit Ms Zeny Aquino Landingin, 48, on the head and forehead using a metal ladle. The maid, who suffered pain and swelling on her head, reported Tan to the police the next day. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

A woman repeatedly abused her maid for close to five years, using household items like a metal ladle, a clay cup and a high-heeled shoe to assault the woman.

On one occasion, Tan Bee Kim, 55, was so incensed that her maid, Ms Zeny Aquino Landingin, had used a smaller ladle to serve her food that she hit the woman on the head and forehead with the utensil, resulting in two haematomas, or localised bleeding outside of the blood vessels, on the maid's head.

That was the last straw for the 48-year-old Filipina, who reported Tan to the police.

Yesterday, Tan was sentenced to six months' jail. She had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt. Another 12 similar charges were taken into consideration during her sentencing.

Court documents show that the maid worked for Tan's family from September 2012 to March 25, 2018, when she reported Tan.

She earned a monthly salary of $450, but Tan would deduct sums from that whenever she spoiled or damaged items in the flat, court documents stated.

Tan repeatedly hit the maid, at times pinching or slapping her with her hands or using various items.

On March 24, 2018, the maid prepared and served Tan her dinner in the living room.

Halfway through dinner, Tan asked the maid what ladle she had used to serve her food.

The maid retrieved the ladle from the kitchen and handed it to Tan.

"The accused, however, told the victim to come closer and she used a metal ladle, which was meant for serving soup, to hit the victim two times on the left side of her head and once at her forehead, intending thereby to cause hurt to the victim," said deputy public prosecutors Muhamad Imaduddien and Tay Jia En in court papers.

The maid felt pain and swelling on her head. When the swelling persisted the next morning, she lodged a police report.

In mitigation, Tan's defence counsel, Mr Manoj Nandwani, argued that Tan should not be given the full brunt of punishment as she had demonstrated remorse and pleaded guilty to the charge very early on.

He also contended that the victim did not suffer psychological harm from Tan's acts, pointing out that she could stand up to Tan and enjoyed a certain degree of freedom.

However, District Judge Christopher Tan said such factors do not detract from the fact that the maid was subjected to repeated abuse.

There were "multiple instances where the victim testified to being afraid", said the judge, adding that the maid had also said that she was afraid of making a report.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2020, with the headline Woman who repeatedly assaulted maid jailed. Subscribe