Couple sentenced to jail for abusing maid, who was caned and forced to eat own vomit

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A married couple repeatedly abused their maid, caning and kicking her and force-feeding her a mixture of rice and sugar before ordering her to eat her own vomit when she threw up.

On one occasion, Myanmar national Moe Moe Than, 32, was forced to perform her chores clad in only her bra and short pants.

She was also told that an assassin would be hired to kill her family members back home.

On Monday (March 18), one of the tormentors, former senior sales manager Chia Yun Ling, 43, was sentenced to three years and 11 months' jail and a fine of $4,000. She was also ordered to pay the maid $6,500 in compensation.

District Judge Olivia Low sentenced her husband, Tay Wee Kiat, 41, who used to work as a regional IT manager, to two years' jail, and ordered him to pay a compensation of $3,000.

After a 31-day trial, the judge convicted the couple on March 4 of maid abuse.

Chia was convicted of eight assault charges and one count of using abusive words towards the maid.

The judge also found the mother-of-three guilty of six offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

These included forcing the maid to perform her chores scantily clad and failing to give her enough food.

Judge Low found Tay guilty of six assault charges.

The couple had earlier faced court in March 2017 for abusing their other maid, Ms Fitriyah, 34.

This resulted in Tay being sentenced to two years and four months' jail, while his wife was handed a two-month jail term for committing assault.

The Indonesian, who goes by only one name, was then working in the same Yishun flat as Ms Moe Moe Than.

Following a High Court appeal in March last year, Tay's jail term was increased to three years and seven months, while Chia's sentence remained at two months.

The couple remained free until the second trial, which concerned the abuse of Ms Moe Moe Than.

The Myanmar national started working at the couple's household on Jan 8, 2012. She testified during the trial that she was initially given rice and cabbage for meals but was later provided with only plain rice and water.

The judge said: "She claimed that she was hungry enough to even eat leftover banana skin from the dustbin... Fitriyah confirmed that Moe Moe Than was subsequently only given white rice, and the rice was sometimes mixed with sugar."

Judge Low also noted that a doctor had said Ms Moe Moe Than looked undernourished.

When she told Chia that she had not been given enough food, her employer wedged a funnel into her mouth and force-fed her until she threw up.

The maid was then ordered to eat her vomit, and she complied.

Tay abused Ms Moe Moe Than through acts such as caning and kicking her while she was in a "push-up position".

The offences came to light when Ms Moe Moe Than returned to Yangon on Nov 12, 2012, and told her Myanmar agent about her plight.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower was later alerted and it arranged for her to return here about a month later.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.