Maid in abuse case says she was not given enough food

A former domestic worker from Myanmar told a compatriot she was not fed properly by her employers, who did not give her enough rice.

Ms Moe Moe Than also told the woman, Ms Saw Hee, she was sometimes not given any food, and that she wanted a change of employer. She also revealed that she had been assaulted by them.

Ms Than, 27, who is in Singapore to testify against her former employers, said Ms Saw Hee had contacted her at her mother's request to find out why she had not sent any money home.

Ms Than worked for IT manager Tay Wee Kiat, 38, and his wife, Chia Yun Ling, 41, for 10 months in 2012.

They are standing trial for abusing their other maid, Ms Fitriyah, 33, an Indonesian. The prosecution is proceeding on 12 charges against Tay and two against Chia, and have stood down the rest of the charges mainly involving Ms Than.

Ms Than said while she was talking to Ms Saw Hee, Chia instructed her not to speak in the Myanmar language, but in English. However, Ms Than was not conversant enough in English to do so. Ms Saw Hee advised her to finish out her contract and "try to tolerate" the situation.

Both maids had been employed to do household chores and take care of the couple's three children, then aged one to seven years.

Ms Than was repatriated around November 2012, but returned a month later to report her employers for maid abuse.

The couple's lawyer, Mr Wee Pan Lee, suggested she had made her complaint of unpaid salary and ill-treatment so she could return to Singapore without having to pay for her passage. "Nothing to do with this," Ms Than replied.

She agreed that her signature was on a payment schedule drawn by Chia, but said she never received any money between February and August that year. She said she signed the documents, produced as evidence by the defence, as she had been instructed to by her employer.

Mr Wee suggested that she had somehow persuaded Ms Fitriyah to mutually support each other in the complaints. Ms Than said: "Never."

The defence's case is that the two maids had conspired to make allegations against their employer. Mr Wee earlier told the court that Ms Fitriyah had asked for early termination of her contract and Ms Than was recruited to replace her.

He said it was during this overlap period that the two shared information. His clients were unhappy with Ms Than's performance and recruited a third maid, he said.

The trial continues.

This article was first published on April 6, 2016.
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