July 19, 2002
Singapore woman jailed for assaulting Indonesian maid
AN "inhuman" Singapore man who lost track of the number of times he beat and burned his 19-year-old Indonesian maid, was sentenced to more than 18 years' jail and caning after the teenager died from extensive injuries.
Ng Hua Chye, 47, admitted repeatedly attacking Muawanatul Chasanah whose body was found covered in scars, bruises and scald marks.
"There were so many times that I beat her, (I) lost count of them," the father of two children told police when arrested.
Even his lawyer, Subhas Anandan, described the treatment of the maid as "horrendous".
In the first case in Singapore of a maid being repeatedly beaten until she died has sparked outrage in Singapore, where the judiciary has expressed alarm at the escalating incidents of maid abuse.
An autopsy report detailed more than 200 injuries Muawanatul suffered at the hands of Ng over a period of nine months, starting last March.
She had scars over her body where she had been hit by a plastic pipe, cuts in her mouth from being punched, scald marks over her chest, neck and back from hot water, and sores from being jabbed with a hammer. He also burned her with lit cigarettes.
Muawanatul died last December from a ruptured stomach after being punched and kicked in the abdomen.
"How do you describe a man who would subject a helpless human being to such pain and suffering? Your Honour, only one word, inhuman," deputy public prosecutor Lee Sing Lit said in the High Court.
Judge Choo Han Teck sentenced Ng to a total of 18 years and six months in jail, plus 12 strokes of the cane for manslaughter and various assault charges.
The sentence took into account "the misery she had to endure for so many months up to the last days of her life," Choo said, as Ng's wife wept at the back of the court.
"The picture of her beaten and undernourished body has muted the eloquence of your counsel."
Ng, a freelance tour guide, believed the young Indonesian had been stealing food meant for his infant daughter.
But the court was told Muawanatul was barely given enough to eat, subsisting sometimes on a packet of noodles for lunch or dinner.
She weighed 50 kilograms (110 pound) when she arrived in Singapore two years ago, and was just 36 kg, malnourished and dehydrated when she died.
Ng was originally charged with murder, which would have led to an automatic death sentence if convicted, but later agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter.