Singapore—A woman who harmed a domestic helper from the Philippines several times over five years was given a six-month jail sentence on Tuesday (Oct 20).
Halfway into her trial, fifty-four-year-old Tan Bee Kim chose to plead guilty to a single charge of causing hurt after having originally contested the offences filed against her.
Ms Tan could have served jail time for as long as two years and been fined as much as S$5,000. For those who employ domestic helpers, they are liable to one-and-a-half times the punishment, which means Ms Tan could have ended up in jail for three years and been made to pay up to S$7,500 in fines.
She will begin serving her sentence on Oct 30, according to TODAY Online.
The helper, Zeny Aquino Landingin, now 48, said that she put up with the hurt she received from Ms Tan as she needed the money she earned in order to support her family back home.
Ms Landingin told the court that she had taken notes over the years concerning how she had been slapped and hit by Ms Tan.
The helper was in Ms Tan’s employ from Sept 2012 to March 2018, earning S$450 monthly, which Ms Tan deducted from whenever Ms Landingin broke anything in the home.
According to court documents, over the years Ms Tan hit Ms Landingin on the head with a clay cup, with the palm of her hand, with a high-heeled shoe, and a mobile phone; hit on her head and arm with a metal ladle; slapped in the face two times; hit on the chest six times; and pinched on the base of her neck repeatedly.
It seems that the final straw occurred on the evening of March 24, 2018, when Ms Tan hit Ms Landingin on the head with a ladle several times over a mistake the helper made in choosing a ladle for serving food. With her face swollen the following day, Ms Landingin filed a police report at Tampines Neighbourhood Police Centre.
The case against her had a “major effect” on Ms Tan, said her lawyer, Manoj Nandwani, during mitigation. Ms Tan, a former employee at Furama Hotel, could no longer concentrate and resigned from her job.
Mr Nandwani said that Ms Landingin had done back to work for Ms Tan in 2015, after returning from the Philippines, “almost half-pleading to come back,” based on the WhatsApp messages he showed the court.
He also argued that Ms Tan had not withheld food from Ms Landingin, nor did she subject her to any oppression. Also, the salary deductions she made only amounted to S$10 for the three items that the helper had destroyed.
“This was not done in some punitive way to exact punishment without a basis,” he said.