MOM Looks Into Improving Protection Of Workers After Myanmar Helper Abuse Case

Issues surrounding domestic helpers’ protection in Singapore have been thrust into the spotlight since the horrific details of a woman abusing her Myanmar helper came to light.

S’porean Woman Admits To Starving & Abusing Her Helper For 9 Months, Faces Life In Jail

On Thursday (25 Feb), Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo and Law Minister K. Shanmugam addressed the issue at a virtual interview.


Both harshly criticised the abuse, with Mr Shanmugam describing it as “evil” and Mrs Teo saying there is no place for such acts in Singapore.

Moving forward, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will review their systems to better protect domestic helpers and ensure such abuse never repeats itself.

MP Shanmugam says abuse shows extreme cruelty

Commencing his speech on Thursday (25 Feb), Mr Shanmugam said he will comment about the case with restraint as it is still before the courts.

Although the helper’s employer, Gaiyathiri Murugayan had pleaded guilty, her husband – a police officer – and her mother are still facing charges.

Abuse Myanmar Helper MOMGaiyathiri being escorted back to the scene of the crime in 2016

Nonetheless, Mr Shanmugam opined that what the domestic helper, Ms Piang Ngaih Don went through showed “extreme inhumanity” and “extreme cruelty”.

At one point, he said that the “beastiality of such conduct” was shocking.

Mr Shanmugam then assured that our justice system will ensure that law will be enforced if the suspects are found to be guilty, regardless of who they are.

MOM to conduct review after Myanmar helper abuse case

Minister Teo, who spoke afterwards, echoed the same sentiments, saying that such cruel actions cannot be tolerated in Singapore.

She mentioned that while there are currently safeguards in place to protect helpers, Singapore must do better to prevent similar incidents from happening.

In light of the case, the Singapore government will be reviewing 3 areas —

  • Safeguards against abusive employers
  • Reporting system for doctors
  • Community and partner organisations involvement

To do this, MOM will reportedly be examining the threshold for blacklisting employers and will find ways to improve abuse detection.

Abuse Myanmar Helper MOMSource

A review of the reporting system for doctors is already in the works, reported Channel NewsAsia (CNA).

The ministry will also be looking at how its partner organisations can help identify distress signals in helpers.

Notably, the areas in this review came as the victim, Ms Piang, was examined by doctors 2 times and spoke to her employment agency twice without any signs of distress being identified by both parties.

Hope real changes can come about

Isolated and confined in a foreign country, domestic helpers are extremely vulnerable to emotional and physical abuse behind closed doors.

While we seek justice for Ms Piang, Singapore should also, as a country, look to how we can do better and do right by all domestic helpers.

Hopefully, in time to come, real tangible changes can be made to ensure more humane and equitable treatment of these workers.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook and Wikipedia.