SINGAPORE – A woman who made her domestic helper slap herself as a form of punishment was exposed by the closed-circuit television (CCTV) system she installed in her home.
Ang Poh Geok, 63, was on Tuesday jailed for a month after she pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt to Ms Zin Ei Phyu. Court papers did not include the maid’s nationality.
Before handing down the sentence, Senior District Judge Bala Reddy chided Ang, saying: “You have humiliated and degraded the victim.”
The court heard that Ang made the 25-year-old maid slap herself thrice after accusing her of failing to pack some bags properly.
The incident happened on Oct 6, 2020, when the two women were alone in Ang’s flat in Edgefield Plains.
After Ms Zin Ei Phyu was scolded for not packing the bags in a satisfactory manner, the maid started repacking it in silence. But Ang was still upset.
She then ordered her helper to slap herself, and the younger woman complied.
“However, the accused was not satisfied with the slap. She told the victim to slap herself harder, which the victim complied for the third time,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Yanying.
Still unhappy, Ang then mocked the maid. She told her to say, among other things, that the maid “got no brain” as “God keep already”.
Ang finally relented when the victim repeated those words.
“The accused did all these despite being aware that there was a CCTV camera in the unit which was able to capture her actions,” said the prosecutor.
The incriminating CCTV footage, which was played in court on Tuesday, shows Ang berating the maid before the helper slaps herself.
The maid suffered some pain, but she did not seek medical attention. Out of fear of reprisals, she also kept the incident to herself.
The incident came to light when a concerned neighbour alerted the police, saying the maid was scolded every day. The police visited Ang’s flat the day after the incident and found a teary-eyed Ms Zin Ei Phyu looking fearful.
When quizzed, Ang admitted to scolding the victim on a regular basis.
DPP Tan said: “After assessing that the maid’s safety may be at risk if the accused’s conduct escalated, the police officers informed the accused that they would be making arrangements to (take) the victim away from the unit.
“In response, the accused repeatedly challenged the officers’ authority to (take) the victim away.”
As Ms Zin Ei Phyu’s agent was uncontactable at the time, officers escorted the maid away from the flat while they made arrangements for her to stay elsewhere.
Defence lawyer N.K. Rajarh told the court that his client had been diagnosed with adjustment disorder. He also said that she had been grieving after her mother died in 2019.
For voluntarily causing hurt to a maid, an offender can be jailed for up to four years and fined up to $10,000.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.