Woman used criminal force on maid despite knowing she was abused by former employer

SINGAPORE – A university administrative assistant knew that her domestic helper had been physically abused by a former employer.

Despite this, Pooh Yee Peng also ill-treated Ms Ma Khaing, 32, and shoved the Myanmar national’s face three times on May 8 last year.

Three days later, she used a chopstick to tap the maid’s knee and head.

The 47-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty on Friday (Nov 26) to one count of criminal force on Ms Ma Khaing and was fined $2,000.

A second charge of using criminal force on the maid was considered during sentencing.

Court documents do not disclose details about the maid’s earlier case of abuse.

Ms Ma Khaing started working in Pooh’s Edgefield Plains flat in Punggol on April 6 last year.

Her duties included performing household chores, cooking and taking care of Pooh’s seven-year-old son.

In the evening of May 8 last year, Pooh became upset with Ms Ma Khaing as she was not satisfied with the latter’s work.

Pooh was in the kitchen when she berated the maid who started crying.

Ms Ma Khaing wiped her tear-stained face with her bath towel which she draped over her shoulder.

At around 9.30pm, Pooh shoved Ms Ma Khaing’s face, causing the Myanmar national to take a step backwards.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Siaw said: “About 12 seconds later, the accused person reached out to grab (a) paper napkin out of the victim’s hands and used it to push the victim’s face a second time. The victim’s head moved back from the force of the push.

“About three seconds later, the accused person again reached out, grabbed hold of the victim’s bath towel, and used it to push the victim’s face a third time. The victim’s head moved back from the force of the push.”

The court heard that Pooh continued berating Ms Ma Khaing and also repeatedly waved her fingers right in front of the victim’s face to make sure that she was listening to her.

Pooh finally left the kitchen at around 9.45pm and Ms Ma Khaing continued weeping while she did the dishes.

Pooh became upset with Ms Ma Khaing over some household matters three days later.

Pooh was sitting at a dining table when she asked the maid to come over. Ms Ma Khaing was seated on the floor nearby when Pooh used a chopstick to tap the maid’s knee and head.

DPP Siaw said that Ms Ma Khaing, who did not suffer any visible injuries, felt distressed after these two incidents.

On May 12 last year, she contacted a relative, who was also working as a maid in Singapore, and told the woman about her ordeal.

The relative alerted her own employer who called the police.

Ms Ma Khaing stopped working at Pooh’s flat soon after and another employer hired her in June last year.

On Friday, defence lawyer Tania Chin told the court that her client had acted out of character when she committed the offences.

Ms Chin also said that Pooh was “generally a warm, kind and supportive employer”.

For using criminal force on a maid, an offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $3,000.

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