Indonesian national Daryati, who is accused of killing her female employer, Madam Seow Kim Choo, 59 years old, purportedly premeditated the killing for several weeks and executed her plan in 2016.
The details of the plan were written in her diary in which she wrote: “I must carry out this plan quickly. I have to be brave even though life is at stake. I am ready to face all risks/consequences, whatever the risk, I must be ready to accept it. I hope that this plan succeed (sic) and run smoothly. My employer’s family is my target. DEATH!!!”
Included in the plan was how she would take her passport back which had been locked in a safe and a plan to steal money to be used for her return to Indonesia.
According to the prosecution led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Kok Weng, the accused sought the assistance of another maid, Don Hayati in the execution of her plan to get their passports back, though she omitted telling Don Hayati that she wanted to kill her employer. The scheme was to begin by distracting Mr. Ong Thiam Soon, Mdm Seow’s husband.
She supposedly told Don Hayati that the code word “jaga bawah” (watch below) will be given to get the plan off the ground. Don Hayati would then distract Mr. Ong by turning off the closed-circuit television cameras and electricity supply in the house.
While Mr. Ong was busy trying to restart the power supply, the two maids would steal the cash located in an office on the first floor of the house.
Daryati drew a map of the three-storey house in her diary on Jun 2, 2016. It showed the path that must be taken in getting their passport and carrying out their escape. She also allegedly hid weapons somewhere in the second floor of the house. The weapons plan included the hiding of a Kukri knife in the walk-in wardrobe area of the master bedroom, a hammer next to a study table and a short knife in a basket under the sink of the toilet in the master bedroom.
Assertions from the prosecuting panel showed that Daryati intended to attack Mdm. Seow with the knives, while the hammer was to hit Mdm. Seow’s daughter-in-law with if she came down to the second floor.
The plan was allegedly performed on Jun 7, 2016 when Mdm. Seow’s brother left the house along with Mdm. Seow’s two sons.
The trial will resume in August, if found guilty of murder, Daryati will face the death penalty.
Just one of many cases
Since the Flor Contemplacion controversy, there has been a wave of foreign domestic worker (FDW)-related killings and crimes in Singapore. While no precise data on the exact number of incidents is available, subjective indicators are visible.
For instance, in June 2017, an Indonesian domestic helper murdered the elderly couple that she was working for and was taken into custody after she fled to Sumatra. In a separate incident, another Indonesian maid was captured for the slaughter of her 77-year-old wheelchair-bound employer after just one month of employment.
In 2014, a Burmese maid stabbed her employer’s 87-year-old mother after being scolded by the elderly lady. She was diagnosed with acute depression and psychotic symptoms.
These are just a few accounts of incidents of maid-related crimes. But, one must not ignore that maid abuse cases seem to be on the rise, too. One couple was jailed and fined in 2017 for starving their Filipino maid – they provided her with only two meals a day, causing her to lose 20kg over a 15 month period.
The escalation of maid-related crimes can largely be attributed to the problem of poor mental health among these foreign domestic workers.
In a 2015 a study carried out by the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), revealed that 24% of 670 foreign domestic workers surveyed have mental health issues. In addition, while it was necessary for the FDWs to undergo basic physical health screenings when they arrive in Singapore, mental health examination is not given attention and focus.
Another possible reason for the FWDs unfortunate mental health is due to the differences between what the maids expect and what the employers want. Apparently, employers fail to see that the FDW are making a tremendous sacrifice and giving up so much in favour of earning a living thousands of miles away from home.
Perhaps, if FDWs undergo screenings and briefings prior to their employment it maybe better, it would be a good idea to also compel prospective employers to undergo screenings and attitudinal seminars before they are allowed to bring in an FDW into their homes.