Khoo Mee Choo, age 63, has been sentenced to 28 weeks in jail for abusing her domestic helper, Ema Rahmawati. Ema had resorted to passing notes to her neighbor, who discovered the abuse Ema was suffering and called the police to report it.
Khoo, a real estate agent, was found guilty of one count of using criminal force on the helper and four counts of voluntarily causing her hurt. She has also been ordered to pay Ema $4,580 for compensation and wages.
While under Khoo’s mother’s employment, which started in December 2016, Ema was often physically abused by Khoo, who kicked her, pulled her hair, punched and pinched her, and also disallowed her from using her phone.
In desperation, Ema passed notes to the helper next door, who befriended her. When the other helper, Atika, left in February 2017, the woman that Atika worked for found the notes that Ema had slipped to her.
Atika’s employer, known in court documents as Wendy, found out that Ema had asked Atika for food, and so Wendy began to give her biscuits and beverage sachets. Ema ended up writing to Wendy about the abuse she endured from Khoo, and she asked Wendy for help. Wendy called the police when Ema wrote that she could not take Khoo’s treatment anymore.
Speaking at Khoo’s trial, Wendy said she heard loud voices in Khoo’s home, where someone, presumably Ema, was called such terms as “babi (pig)” and “bodo (stupid)” in Bahasa. She said she heard Ema cry, “ma’am tolong, saya mau balik (I want to go back).”
Khoo said at the trial that Ema’s injuries were accidental or self-inflicted, and denied charges that she had physically and emotionally abused the helper. She said that Ema had lied about how she was treated and that the helper merely wished to change employers.
Khoo’s lawyer, Lee Wei Fan, claimed that she acted out of character and that she was under enormous stress due to having been diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, and had had to undergo therapy. He claimed that Khoo had never treated any previous helpers badly.
Lee asked for a 3-month jail term for Khoo, since according to him Ema only endured minor injuries and that she had suffered “no significant psychological harm,” while the prosecution asked for eight months of jail time for the abusive employer.