Here’s what the Mainstream Media didn’t highlight about the maid starvation incident
Most people’s hearts have gone out to the maid after hearing her tragic abuse story.
For the uninitiated, a couple starved their maid, deprived her of food and did not allow her to speak to anyone. The trial has been going on since 14 Dec.
Thelma Oyasan Gawidan, the victim of this maid abuse case survived on bread and instant noodles throughout her
torture period employment, causing her weight to plummet from 49kg to 29kg. The domestic worker claimed that her employers kept surveillance of her round the clock and she only managed to escape when they left her alone to clean the area outside their Orchard Road condominium.
With the help of a fellow Filipina, Gawidan managed to get to a shelter run by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home).
Her tormentors, Lim Choon Hong and his wife Chong Sui Foon, both 47, have claimed trial to one offence under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act — which is punishable to up to 12 months jail and/or $10 000 fine.
MustShareNews also found out 10 things that this pair of cold-hearted employers has done.
1.They did the exact same thing to the previous maid
Before we begin, we have to ask this burning question: how did they manage to get another maid when the previous domestic helper complained about not having enough food and rest?
This fact was uncovered from the testimony of maid agent Toh Ah Choon as he testified yesterday (16 Dec).
Since the agency was already in the know about the first maid abuse case, why did they still allow the unrepentant pair to inflict suffering in another human being? Secondly, why didn’t the agency do a house visit after losing contact with the maid for a total of 18 months?
For covering their rear, the award of #notmybusiness goes to…
2. The maid was only paid $500 for 18 months of work
Let’s face it, you cannot survive in Singapore without any money.
Gawidan only received $500 “allowance” while working with the family, and she was made to stash the amount in a plastic bag to be hidden within her dirty clothes. Gawidan’s salary was also withheld — her employers told her that they were saving the money for her. With almost no cash on her, Gawidan had little chances of making a successful escape.
The domestic worker was also not given the off days she was entitled to.
According to the Ministry Of Manpower:
Your [Foreign Domestic Worker] FDW is entitled to a weekly rest day if her Work Permit was issued or renewed after 1 January 2013.
However, when her employer Lim took the stand yesterday (16 Dec), he disputed withholding Gawidan’s pay.
3. She worked longer than 24 hours consecutively and was forced to sleep at odd hours
It’s hard to believe that these two people are not Satan’s spawn. Note: domestic workers are not slaves and they should not be treated like one either.
According to Gawidan, she had to work longer than 24 hours in a day. Furthermore, due to the nature of Mr Lim’s work as a trader, she had to stay up during the night, and was only allowed to sleep at strange timings such as 11am.
The domestic worker gave an example saying that she would wake at 7pm on a Monday and work till Wednesday.
I don’t get enough sleep. I felt my body weaken.
According to the Singapore Neurology and Sleep Centre, adults require an average of 8 hours of sleep per day.
4. The ex-employers have 3 children
On a human to human level, we would expect the children of the accused to stop their parents from inflicting such harm on their maid.
Or were they also mistreated? Maybe not.
According to Gawidan, on their trip to Hong Kong, she had to eat instant noodles and bread, while the couple and their three kids ordered hotel meals for dinner.
They should testify on how it feels like to see someone nearly starve to death right in front of their eyes.
5. The maid claimed that her employers watched her every move
Okay, this might be an overstatement.
However, if she was unable to escape until recently, it is partially justified. Anyway, what does this remind you of? Doesn’t their behaviour appear to be that of kidnappers?
Firstly, the errant couple kept their domestic worker captive and did not let her out. Secondly, they kept watch on her most of the time — even when she was taking a shower at the public toilet in their condo. Further, they gave her only bread and instant noodles. Lastly, they kept her in the storeroom and cut off her contact with the rest of the world by taking away her phone and forbidding her to talk to anybody.
I had no communication to my family, and I hadn’t sent any money — as if I just disappeared from them.
This appears to be a classic case of kidnap.
6. The employers were only charged under one sentence
Yes, the Employment of Foreign Worker Act (EFWA) seems broad enough to cover what they did.
However, tragically, it shows that our foreign domestic workers only possess a meagre amount of rights limited to the EFWA.
7. The lawyer had the cheek to argue that the two employers were never violent to her
If society gauged crime on what suspects did not do, then we should have many criminals on the loose.
8. She survived on meagre rations and was treated like a slave
According to MOM, a female’s daily intake should something like this:
- Breakfast: 4 slices of bread with spread.
- Lunch: 1 bowl of rice + three-quarter cup of cooked vegetables + palm-sized amount of meat (fish/poultry/beef/lamb) + fruit
- Dinner: 1 bowl of rice + three-quarter cup of cooked vegetables + palm-sized amount of meat (fish/poultry/beef/lamb) + fruit
Let’s compare it to what Gawidan claimed she was given.
She said she was given only 2 meals per day. Her first meal consists of two to three slices of bread and instant noodles, one slice of tomato and cucumber, and a miniscule piece of meat about the size of her little finger. Her second meal would be five to six slices of bread.
Well, that certainly sounds close enough to MOM’s regulations.
Lim tried to argue that his wife Chong had bought her food from outside. However, Gawidan claimed that she was only occasionally given eggs.
9. Her malnutrition was largely caused by the lack of food rather than other illnesses
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s Chief Dietician Ms Gladys Wong took the stand yesterday and came to the same conclusion as the doctors who examined her — that Gawidan was malnourished and suffered from food deprivation.
Ms Wong said that Gawidan was lacking 300 – 500 calories per day and most likely lacked important vitamins and minerals including Zinc and Iron.
10.Her employers were relatively well off
For God’s sake, they stay at a condominium at Orchard Road. It would be foolish to suggest that they could not afford to feed her decent meals.
For starters, an Orchard Road condominium cost millions. Mr Lim and Ms Chong are well-to-do, and have no excuse to say that they could not pay for normal meals for their domestic worker.
The other side of the story
The accused have responded and are starting to make excuses for their actions.
The trial would enter its second tranche on 30 Dec.
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