Jailed: Couple who severely starved their Filipino domestic helper for more than a year

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

The Singaporean couple responsible for inhumanely starving their maid — to the point that she weighed only 29kg when she managed to escape — has since been sentenced to jail today.

The husband — Lim Choon Hong — received a three-week jail sentence as well as a $10,000 fine, while his wife, Chong Sui Foon, was slapped with three months in prison. But prosecutors plan to appeal for heavier sentences: 12 months in prison for each of them, Channel NewsAsia reports.

Both were already convicted of failing to provide their Filipino domestic helper, Thelma Oyasan Gawidan, with enough food while she was employed by them. She lost 20kg in the 15 months she worked for the couple, after being fed only slices of bread and instant noodles twice a day. If she was lucky, she would receive minuscule portions of tomato, cucumber and meat the size of her small finger. Every time Gawadan asked her employer for more food, Chong would often refuse.

Her mobile phone, passport and salary were taken away from her, and she was forced to sleep odd hours in a storeroom. Showers were a luxury — she could only do so once or twice a week in the condo located along Orchard Road.

After suffering for over a year, Gawidan managed to escape in April 2014, and she sought help from non-profit organization HOME.

Ironically, while Gawidan was intentionally starved, Chong was said to force-feed her husband and children. Although she claimed that her obsessive-compulsive disorder was to blame for mistreating the Filipino, psychiatrists denied the link to her mental illness.

Instead, Chong’s behaviour “stemmed from and reflected a selective and discriminatory perception and treatment of the victim,” said District Judge Low Wee Ping.

It was also revealed that the couple had paid off Gawidan $20,000 as part of a settlement agreement, which would disable her from suing them in civil proceedings.

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