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todayonline - 11 days ago

Property agent jailed two months for hitting maid over S$1,000 loan, eating cheese slice

SINGAPORE — Angry with her Filipino domestic helper for borrowing S$1,000 from a moneylender, a property agent slapped her several times on the cheek. This was not the first time Annie Loh Beem Hiang lashed out at her helper. She had done so three other times — once because the helper took a slice of cheese to quell her hunger pangs. On Wednesday (Dec 5), Loh, 55, was sentenced to two months’ jail and ordered to pay compensation of S$2,000. She pleaded guilty to two charges of voluntarily causing hurt to Ms Chispa Sheira Mae, 25, with two other similar charges taken into consideration for sentencing. The court heard that Ms Chispa began working for Loh in December last year. Four months later, Loh assaulted her. Upset that Ms Chispa used too much soap to clean a mask — because she said the soap was expensive — Loh struck her on the head with her fist. The second time, Loh hit Ms Chispa because she was angry that the helper did not mop the floor properly. It was not stated when that happened. Then, sometime between May 10 and 18 this year, Loh — who had a habit of counting the slices of cheese in the fridge — asked Ms Chispa if she had taken one. Ms Chispa, who was washing dishes at the time, said that she ate one slice with bread as she was hungry. On hearing that, Loh smacked her on the arm. After she was hit, Ms Chispa felt some numbness on her arm. About a week later, on May 25, Ms Chispa told Loh that she had borrowed S$1,000 from a licensed moneylender in April. It is not known why she needed the money. Loh then scolded her and threatened to terminate her employment and send her back to the Philippines. The older woman also told Ms Chispa that she had to repay the loan before going back to her home country. Two days later, on her day off, the helper asked her friends if they could lend her money to pay off the loan. She also went to a police station because she was afraid that she would get arrested for the loan, but police officers told her she did nothing wrong. Ms Chispa returned home at about 4am. That evening of the same day, Loh continued scolding her about the loan, and slapped her more than five times on the cheek. Ms Chispa then sent a phone text message to her sister, who was also working as a domestic helper in Singapore, asking for help. Her sister called the police to make a report. Ms Chispa went to the hospital, but a doctor found no obvious facial swelling or abrasions after examining her. Investigations later revealed that after the police took Loh’s statement, Loh contacted Ms Chispa’s sister to ask Ms Chispa to “drop the case”. On May 30, the three of them met at the maid agency, where Loh agreed to pay off Ms Chispa’s loan, medical bills of about S$110, and her plane ticket home. Ms Chispa then signed on that agreement with Loh the same day. Loh has since paid off the loan and medical bills. In her mitigation plea, Loh’s lawyer argued that she had been an “appreciative and understanding employer who treated her other maids very well”. “She has promised to never do this ever again,” he added. Loh will begin her sentence on Dec 13, and was offered S$10,000 bail. For each charge of voluntarily causing hurt, she could have been jailed up to two years and/or fined up to S$5,000.

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