Couple jailed for abusing Myanmar maid, ordered to pay compensation

Wan Ting Koh
·Reporter

A couple were jailed on Monday (18 March) for abusing a maid from Myanmar, more than two years after they were convicted for committing similar offences against an Indonesian maid.

While working for Tay Wee Kiat, 41, and Chia Yun Ling, 43, the maid from Myanmar was made to eat her own vomit and suffered multiple physical abuses.

Moe Moe Than, 31, began working for Tay and Chia when the Indonesian maid had already been working for the couple for slightly over a year.

The Myanmar maid was subjected to numerous violent assaults, including being slapped for oversleeping even though she only slept between after midnight and 5.30am daily.

Chia was jailed for three years and 11 months and ordered to pay the maid $6,500 in compensation. Tay, a former IT manager, was sentenced to two years’ jail and ordered to pay Moe Moe Than $3,000 in compensation.

On 4 March, Chia and Tay were convicted of 15 counts and six counts, respectively, of abusing the maid.

In sentencing the couple, District Judge Olivia Low noted that Chia’s mitigation plea had little mitigating value.

“I found economic hardship, health issues and care taking difficulties to be of little mitigating value. There was no evidence of remorse shown given that the two domestic workers were not spared the ordeal of testifying in a full trial,” said the judge, who also noted Tay’s lack of remorse.

The couple’s current sentence comes after they were both convicted in March 2017 of abusing Indonesian maid Fitriyah, who had worked for the couple for two years until December 2012. Moe Moe Than worked for the couple between 8 January 2012 and 12 November 2012.

Tay was jailed for 43 months while Chia was jailed for two months for their offences against Fitriyah – they have not served these sentences yet.

During the trial between September 2017 and 9 January this year, Moe Moe Than testified that she was required to massage Chia’s foot every night till midnight. Once, when the maid had dozed off while massaging, Chia caned her on the head.

She caned the maid on her bare buttocks on another occasion after she found that some plastic boxes were dusty.

On another occasion, when Chia caught Moe Moe Than looking at herself in the mirror, she dragged the maid by the hair, pushed her to the floor and stepped on her chest. The assault caused the maid to have difficulty breathing.

For her daily meals, the maid initially ate rice and cabbage but she was later given only plain rice and water.

Once, Moe Moe Than complained she did not have enough to eat, Chia forced a funnel into Moe Moe Than’s mouth and pushed a mixture of rice and sugar into it.

The maid vomited in the toilet but Chia still scolded and slapped her. Chia ordered the maid to vomit into a plastic bag and consume her own vomit, and the maid complied.

Tay would also assault the maid on several occasions. He caned her on her palm and buttocks after she caused a chip on a table edge. He also used a broomstick and metal clothing hook to hit her.

Tay had also ordered Fitriyah and Moe Moe Than to slap each other.

Once, Tay was angered over his daughter’s performance in a school paper and forced Moe Moe Than and Fitriyah to assume a push up position before kicking them.

The incidents came to light when Moe Moe Than sought help from her agent in Myanmar, after she returned to Yangon on 12 November 2012. The agent’s partner in Singapore was alerted and the matter was referred to the authorities.

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