Man kicked two maids, hit them with canes, court told

Ms Moe Moe Than (above, in green) was the prosecution's first witness yesterday at the trial of Tay Wee Kiat and his wife Chia Yun Ling on charges of abusing their Indonesian domestic helper Ms Fitriyah. Ms Than worked for the couple for about 10 months.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

An IT manager, unhappy with his two maids' work, forced them to get down on all fours then kicked their backsides, a court heard yesterday.

Tay Wee Kiat is also alleged to have made them slap each other 10 times and hit them around their heads with three tied-up canes.

Ms Moe Moe Than, 27, who is from Myanmar, was testifying at the trial of 38-year-old Tay and his wife, Chia Yun Ling, 41, who are accused of abusing their Indonesian domestic helper Ms Fitriyah over almost two years.

According to Ms Than, the kicking incident came about after Tay asked her and Ms Fitriyah, 36, if they had folded a piece of paper belonging to his daughter.

When both denied it, Ms Than said he kicked them. "I fell on the floor," she said through an interpreter. "I hit the glass panel. She (Fitriyah) also fell on the glass panel and on the floor. I was in pain."

Ms Than said the couple were "good" to Ms Fitriyah but sometimes found fault with her and punished her.

One evening, Chia got angry and hit Ms Fitriyah when she found out some washed bedsheets had not been hung up to dry. Ms Than said she saw Ms Fitriyah crying.

Relating another incident, she said Tay forced Ms Fitriyah to sign something but Ms Than did not know what it was. Tay then told Ms Than to take the Indonesian woman's hand and made her sign it against her will.

In a third incident, Ms Than recalled that Tay hit her on the head with a bundle of three canes tied together and asked her if it was painful. She said he did the same thing to Ms Fitriyah. No reason was given in court for the alleged assault.

One morning, Tay made the two maids slap each other 10 times after finding out that a cloth covering some statues on a table in front of an altar had been moved.

Ms Than, a Christian, said Tay told the two of them to "worship'' in front of the altar 100 times. She said they did as instructed as they were afraid that they would not be given food to eat.

Ms Than spent 10 months working for the couple at their Yishun home. She claimed she was given no time off and was allowed to drink and use the toilet just three times a day - otherwise she said she would be made to "jump like a rabbit" around the flat.

Objecting to these two claims, the couple's lawyer Mr Wee Pan Lee said Ms Than was not a victim in any of the charges being proceeded on. District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said he would not attach any weight to this evidence.

In October 2012, Ms Than was sent back to Myanmar without knowing why. She returned to Singapore two months later to "report" the employers.

Tay, who faces 23 charges, has claimed trial to 12 proceeded charges. Two relate to allegedly offering to pay Ms Fitriyah her full salary and send her home if she did not report him; and for allegedly asking her on Dec 12, 2012 to tell the police that he did not physically abuse Ms Than.

The other charges accuse him of assaulting Ms Fitriyah with a cane or bamboo stick, instructing her to stand on a stool while holding another stool above her head and forcing a plastic bottle into her mouth, pulling her out of a car causing her to fall, making her do push-ups and kicking her.

Chia has denied slapping Ms Fitriyah in the face and punching her on the forehead in 2012. If convicted, the couple could be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500 per charge of causing hurt.

This article was first published on April 5, 2016.
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