SINGAPORE: A woman who abused her maid over eight months, making her punch herself and use a meat pounder to hit her mouth, was jailed for 15 months on Tuesday (Mar 16).
Mun Sau Yeng, 41, was suffering from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) at the time, the court heard.
She pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous means to a domestic helper and two charges of voluntarily causing hurt. Another four charges were considered.
The victim began working for Mun, a housewife, in April 2018. Mun's lawyer said she was prone to "excessive cleaning" and felt the victim could not match her own cleaning standards.
About two months into the 25-year-old Indonesian maid's employment, Mun struck her shoulder with the floor nozzle of a vacuum cleaner, and struck her head with her fist weeks later.
In November 2018, when the victim ate a can of sardines for lunch as she was hungry, Mun grew angry and punched her several times on both cheeks. She then instructed the maid to punch her own cheeks for about 50 times, because she felt the domestic helper would remember the pain better if she punched herself.
Although reluctant, the victim complied, counting until she hit 50. Her cheeks swelled and became bruised, but she was not taken to a doctor.
In February 2019, when Mun noticed fingerprints on the kitchen windows, she shouted at the victim: "I want your teeth drop one."
She refused to accept suggested compensation and insisted that she wanted the victim's teeth to "drop". She instructed her to pull down her lower lip and punch her own teeth, and the maid did this until her lips swelled.
When Mun saw that the victim's teeth did not drop, she instructed her to take a meat pounder from the kitchen and forced her to use it to strike her own teeth.
The victim struck her mouth with the tool 50 times, but her teeth did not drop, although three of her lower teeth grew loose. Seeing that no teeth had dropped, Mun took the meat pounder, pulled down the maid's lower lip and struck it once, chipping off one of her teeth.
The abuse continued that month, with Mun punching the victim's mouth about 10 times until her teeth became loose and she began bleeding, over some dust she found in the flat.
The victim eventually called the Centre for Domestic Employees to seek help for the physical abuse, and the police were called in.
The prosecution asked for at least 15 months' jail, noting that Mun suffered from depression and OCD at the time of the offences but highlighting that the Institute of Mental Health report was "open-ended" on any causal link between the disorders and the offences.
The defence asked for a year's jail, saying that Mun heard an inner voice telling her to hit the victim, and she was a first-time offender who had pleaded guilty.
For voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous means, Mun could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined. She cannot be caned as she is a woman. As the victim was a domestic helper, she could have received up to one-and-a-half times' the maximum punishment.