Singapore — A domestic helper who refused to return to her employer’s flat due to alleged abuse was forcefully dragged out of the premises by her employer’s wife and mother-in-law.

The mother-in-law pleaded guilty to one count of using criminal force on the victim and was fined S$3,000 on Friday (Dec 10) for her involvement in the incident.

It was reported that the 33-year-old Myanmar national began working for her employers in November 2019 and became the subject of physical abuse.

She stayed in a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat on the second floor at Hougang with her employer’s wife, 34-year-old China national Bai Yihong and their infant son.

Her employer, Chua Bee Seng, owned the unit they stayed in, although he resided on the fourth floor with his parents and sister. He would visit his wife on Wednesdays and Thursdays, reported Today.

The helper tried communicating with her employers in Mandarin but was not fluent in the language, so she could not understand Bai on certain occasions.

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According to Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Claire Poh, the strained employer-employee relationship resulted in Bai purportedly hitting the domestic helper several times.

When the helper developed a stomachache on Nov 5 last year, she was told to stay at the fourth-floor unit for a day after her doctor’s visit.

However, the victim refused to go back to the second-floor unit when Bai and her husband went to pick her up.

The victim said she no longer wanted to work for them.

Bai began scolding the helper, accusing her of theft and threatening to report her to the authorities so that she could no longer return to Singapore to work.

Threatening to call her agent regarding the alleged theft, Bai shouted at the victim, telling her to pack her things and “get lost” from the house. However, the helper insisted on having her agent pick her up.

Bai began pulling the helper by the arm in an attempt to drag her out of the flat.

Bai’s mother, 57-year-old China national Hai Yulan, also joined and pulled on the helper’s arm.

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Reports noted that Bai had kicked and hit the victim, while Hai grabbed her arm and hair to pull her out of the flat.

The victim fell against a wheelchair during the scuffle, causing her lips to bleed.

The agent eventually arrived, and the helper lodged a police report the same day.

She was conveyed to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to get her facial bruises, back muscle strain and lip laceration treated.

DPP Poh added that the incident sparked a reaction of heart palpitations on the victim whenever she heard sudden noises.

Hai’s defence lawyer, Kevin Liew, sought a lower fine, noting she tried to mediate the situation by protecting and comforting the victim while telling her daughter to calm down.

He highlighted that his client was not a violent person and got “caught up in the heat of the moment.”

Hai was on good terms with the victim prior to the incident and cooperated with the authorities, said Mr Liew in a Channel News Asia report.

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Hai suffers from coronary heart disease and hives and recently lost her son-in-law, Mr Chua, to a fatal heart attack in October this year.

Mr Liew said, “the family is still grieving this painful loss.”

Although the judge noted that Hai was a first-time offender and pleaded guilty to the offence, she still grabbed the helper’s arm and shoulders and pulled her hair.

Meanwhile, Bai is charged with six counts of abusing a made and another count of attempted obstruction of justice.

She reportedly told her late husband to ask his sister to delete the incriminating footage caught on CCTV. She is scheduled to appear in court next week.

For each count of using criminal force on domestic workers, offenders can be fined up to S$3,000, jailed up to six months, or both. /TISG

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