Singaporean employers get jail after Myanmar domestic worker beaten, burned, forced to drink mop water

Photo: Pixabay

A Singaporean husband-and-wife duo was yesterday found guilty of committing heinous, inhumane acts against their domestic helper from Myanmar — but plan on appealing both their conviction and sentencing.

Linda Seah Lei Sie, 39, and her husband Lim Toon Leng, 44, were sentenced to three years and six weeks in jail, respectively, for abusing their domestic helper between August and October in 2016, TODAY reported.

Phyu Phyu Mar, whose age is unknown, told the court she is now too afraid to work as a domestic worker ever again due to the traumatic abuse she endured under the couple. She had been hired by the couple in February 2016 to take care of their daughter in their Punggol Walk flat as well as accompany Seah to the beauty salon she manages at The Centrepoint.

The following are the acts of abuse to which Phyu Phyu Mar was subjected, according to court reports by local Singaporean outlets TODAY and The Straits Times.


  • She was not paid her monthly salary of $700 throughout her employment. It was only after the Ministry of Manpower intervened in November 2016 that she received her full pay.
  • Seah forced Phyu Phyu Mar to pour scalding hot water on her own shoulders on two occasions. She was given a needle to puncture the blisters that developed on her skin from the acts. The couple did not bring her to see a doctor.
  • Seah used her mobile phone to hit the helper on her head, eye and hand.
  • Phyu Phyu Mar was made to drink used mop water that had been mixed with dog hair and a floor cleaning agent.
  • Seah demanded her to knock her own head against the kitchen floor, stating that the maid agency made the order. The employer had also grabbed Phyu Phyu Mar by her hair, shaking her so hard that a chunk of it fell out.
  • Lim punched Phyu Phyu Mar’s forehead twice after wrongly assuming that she had thrown away his spectacles.
  • She was only given biscuits and even uncooked noodles dipped in cold water. By October 2016, Phyu Phyu Mar’s weighed only 38kg. During the trial, Seah said that the maid had wanted to slim down.
  • Suspicions were first raised on Oct 14, 2016, when an employee of Seah’s salon noticed that the helper had a swollen left eye and a bruise around it. Lee Lee Yen, the now-former salon employee, testified in court that Phyu Phyu Mar had drastically lost weight over time and that the helper showed her scald marks. It was Lee who lodged a police report against the Myanmar national’s employers.
  • Even after police investigations were launched, Seah instructed the victim to lie and tell officers that her bruises were from falling down while cleaning.

Sentencing

As she played a much larger part in the abuse, Seah was sentenced to three years in jail and was ordered to pay $11,800 in compensation to her former helper. The judge had noted that Seah showed a “clear lack of remorse” throughout the trial.

As she plans to appeal against her conviction and sentencing, her bail amount was raised from $10,000 to $15,000. Seah was also ordered to surrender her passport to prevent her from fleeing overseas.

For his part, Lim was sentenced to serve six weeks in jail.


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