Singapore—A 62-year-old woman admitted that she had her three domestic helpers slap or pour water over each other whenever she was unhappy with their work.
Mdm Kan Choi Yit entered a guilty plea in court on Thursday (March 12) to one charge of instigating her helpers to intentionally use force to annoy each other in addition to two charges of instigating the domestic workers to voluntarily cause hurt to each other, according to a report from TODAY.
She is returning to court for sentencing on March 31.
Authorities came to know about what Mdm Kan had done in October 2018, unearthed in the course of a probe by an officer from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for another incident.
Joseph Gwee, the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP), has asked for a jail sentence of two months and one week for Mdm Kan.
Two Filipinas and one Indonesian are involved in the incident. Annabel Timbol Reyes, a 26-year-old Filipina, and Ratna Lestari, a 25-year-old Indonesian, were actually employed by Mdm Kan. The other Filipina, 32-year-old Planta Renalyn Manaday, officially worked for Mdm Kan’s daughter-in-law, but spent weekends at Mdm Kan’s home.
The incidents wherein the maids were asked to inflict hurt on each other started earlier in the year, in August 2018.
The first incident occurred when Ms Reyes did not use a measuring cup to cook rice for Mdm Kan’s grandchildren, and ended up preparing more than necessary. When Mdm Kan asked her helpers about it, Ms Ratna said that she had not taught Ms Reyes to use a measuring cup to cook rice.
This caused Mdm Kan to get angry, since it meant a waste of food. She then told Ms Reyes to slap Ms Ratna 10 times on the face.
According to the DPP, Ms Reyes complied with Mdm Kan’s order out of fear.
In the same month, another incident occurred over the washing of the family car. The dog happened to run out of the house while Ms Ratna and Ms Manaday were washing the vehicle, causing Ms Manaday to yell for the other helper to catch the dog, as the gate was open and it might run away.
Hearing the commotion, Mdm Kan came out of the house, and ended up getting angry at the helpers because they were washing the car at such a late hour.
She then had Ms Manaday slap Ms Ratna two times on her face, according to Mr Gwee.
In the following month, the third incident occurred when Ms Kan wanted to drink a hot beverage, only to discover that the hot water flasks in her home were empty.
Angrily, she asked the three maids what they thought their punishment should be. None of them answered. She then ordered them to fill a pot from the tap and pour water over one another until they were drenched.
Mdm Kan’s lawyer, Justin Chan, said that she had acted in those instances out of a desire to “discipline” rather than malice. For punishment, she usually had the helpers write out sentences repeatedly such as “I will not lie” or “I will not forget to boil water in the morning.” Calling the incidents “a pent-up issue,” Mr Chan asked the court for a lighter sentence.
He claimed that no real harm had been done to the helpers, and added that Mdm Kan may have suffered a temporary judgment lapse because of the stresses of being her grandchildren’s caregiver, as there were times when all seven of them were in his client’s care.
Moreover, Mr Chan said, none of the three helpers ever lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower.
DPP Gwee refuted his points, calling Mr Chan’s arguments as victim-blaming. He added that the helpers are in a vulnerable position.
He said, “There may have been many reasons for them not to report — whether it is the fact that they already paid large sums to their agents to come here and work or because they want to earn more money for their families.”
The DPP also said that Mdm Kan had no right to physically punish the women in her and her daughter-in-law’s employ, no matter how frustrated she felt. —/TISG
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