Murni Panengsih, an Indonesian maid (25) who repeatedly assaulted her employer’s 96-year-old mother, pleaded guilty yesterday (Sep 5) to five counts of causing hurt. She was sentenced to 10 months’ jail for hurting the elderly woman, who was bedridden and in poor health at the time. The elderly woman has since died.
The abuse would not have come to light if the foreign domestic worker’s employer, Mdm Ng Lee Cheng, had not “randomly checked” the CCTV unit in the family’s home in September last year. Murni admitted to abusing the elderly woman over a period of 16 months. During that period the maid physically abused the 96-year-old in her King George’s Avenue home at least 15 times.
Mdm Ng said that she hired Murni to take care of her mother (the 96-year-old) as she was suffering from dementia and had other health problems. The Court heard that Murni pretended to be very fond of Mdm Ng’s mother at first.
Mdm Ng further said that Murni was cheerful, liked to sing, watch TV, put on makeup, and didn’t appear to have any psychological problems such as depression. She also never showed any signs that she was dissatisfied with her work. She only complained to Mdm Ng that her husband was cheating on her back home. Murni further expressed that she was fortunate to have found a employer like Mdm Ng, and that she hoped to renew her contract at the end of the two-year period.
Mdm Ng said that Murni was not restricted in her place of employment. The employer said that she didn’t mind when Murni said that she was tired and wanted to rest, and neither was Murni stopped when she played games on her handphone. The employer was so worried that Murni may feel bored and signed her up for qigong lessons.
In saying that she was shocked to see her employee ill-treating her mother, Mdm Ng said that Murni was the “most wicked” domestic worker she had ever hired. The abuse was only discovered more then a year after Mdm Ng hired Murni.
Mdm Ng had installed the CCTV in her home to monitor her maid as her previous one had gotten pregnant after inviting men into Mdm Ng’s home.
The video footage showed several violent actions, including that of Murni violently shaking the old woman’s head, and using her right arm to hit her on the head. When she saw the video footage Mdm Ng immediately rushed home to check on her mother.
Her mother was so afraid of the maid that she denied being abused by Murni at first. She only told Mdm Ng about the abuse when Murni went to have her shower. Mdm Ng said that her mother thanked her for “saving her life”.
Mdm Ng escalated the matter to the police after she confronted her employee and Murni admitting to the abuse.
In her defence Murni submitted evidence that she was suffering from Adjustment Disorder during the time she repeatedly assaulted Mdm Ng’s mother, and that she did not have a single day off during her employment period.
The domestic worker also claimed that Mdm Ng refused her request to return home to Indonesia and insisted that she complete her period of employment as stated in her contract.
In a letter addressed to the 96-year-old Murni said that she was “extremely sorry and extremely regretful of my actions … I beg to Ama for her forgiveness”.