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Film producer says Myanmar maid called her family, wanting to go home, two weeks before she died

She wasn't old enough to work in Singapore when she came

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A video producer who visited the family of Piang Ngaih Don, the Myanmar maid beaten and starved to death by her employers in 2016, says Ms Piang somehow managed to call her family just two weeks before she died. She told them she wanted to go home.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (Feb 25), video producer Lynn Lee wrote that Ms Piang, “a struggling single mother with a young son, was working as a construction labourer when a recruitment agent approached her. She left Myanmar soon after”.

Ms Lee wrote that Ms Piang’s family heard from her a year later. She added: “Piang, whose employers had insisted she worked with no rest days or a mobile phone, had somehow managed to call them. She said she wanted to go home. Two weeks later she was dead.”

While domestic workers in Singapore are entitled to one rest day a week, usually when offered financial compensation, they give up this entitlement. While it seems mutually beneficial, “ the truth is, the power imbalance makes it hard for young women like Piang to say no. They’re new to the country, typically poorly educated, and probably heavily indebted”, Ms Lee explained.

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“When she died, she weighed just 24kg. What sort of monster treats another human this way?”, she asked.

Ms Lee added that only when she visited Ms Piang’s family and saw the date on her grave did she realise “that when Piang left home, she was a month shy of turning 23 – the minimum age for domestic workers in Singapore. Her agent had bribed an immigration official to alter the date of birth on her passport”.

She added that the attention given to domestic workers in Singapore was insufficient. That is why Ms Piang’s employers could do what they did. It was also why “A doctor who examined Piang was concerned enough to ask questions, but not concerned enough to demand further checks”.

“Piang’s agent called her twice but didn’t detect any problems. The Ministry of Manpower says there are safeguards in place to take care of domestic workers. But the truth is, whatever measures we have right now just aren’t good enough,” Ms Lee wrote.

Ms Piang Ngaih Don, 24, died of brain injury with severe blunt trauma to her neck in July 2016. Her employer, Gaiyathiri Murugayan, admitted on Tuesday (Feb 23) to killing the maid through starvation and sustained assault.

TISG has reached out to Ms Lee for comment and clarification. /TISGFollow us on Social Media

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