SINGAPORE - Whenever her maid made a mistake, Wong Pui Kwan would not only turn violent - she would also dock her salary, cut her hair and even pull down her shorts and underwear to humiliate her.
The former property agent, 27, was jailed for a year yesterday after a two-month campaign of abuse against her two helpers - both of whom ran away as a result.
Filipina Analyn Almoite Rinonos, 30, suffered severe depression and returned home.
She had gone to work for Wong's father at their Sengkang East Road home in September 2011 where a maid from Myanmar was also employed.
The abuse began about a month later, Assistant Public Prosecutor Andrew Low said, often if the women had made a mistake such as forgetting to switch off a light - and even for no apparent reason.
In November 2011, Ms Rinonos was preparing to shower Wong's two daughters, then aged two and four, when their mother caned her. Another incident saw Wong wake up Ms Rinonos late one night after hearing her daughters cry. She told the maid to go to the kitchen toilet, then splashed cooking oil on her before ordering her to sleep on the balcony.
On Nov 30 that year, Wong scolded Ms Rinonos for not looking after her son when he vomited. She hit her on the head twice with a plastic tub - using so much force that it broke the container.
Wong then cut off some of the maid's hair and threatened to cut it all off if she made another mistake. On another occasion, she threw a child's chair at her for leaving it out of place.
The beleaguered maids finally ran away from the flat on Dec 6 that year after Wong had humiliated Ms Rinonos by pulling down her underwear in front of the laughing children.
The maids alerted the police.
Wong, a mother of three, was jailed for charges including using criminal force, committing a rash act and insulting modesty.
She had admitted to six charges, and seven others - including two of slapping and kicking her maid from Myanmar - were considered in sentencing.
Wong's lawyer Goh Siok Leng said the divorcee had been suffering from stress at work and was stretched financially, while her husband had failed to maintain the family sufficiently.
Counsel said Wong regretted her actions and had apologised to the victims. In passing sentence, District Judge Salina Ishak said the victims were vulnerable and needed protection. Wong could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $7,500 for each charge of maid abuse.
This article was published on April 23 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.