Ang Kah Kee v Public Prosecutor

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeAdam Nakhoda
Judgment Date19 November 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGMC 39
Citation[2001] SGMC 39
Published date19 September 2003

Judgment

GROUNDS OF DECISION

THE CHARGE

1. The accused, Ang Kah Kee claimed trial to the following charge, marked P1;

    You,

    ANG KAH KEE, M/33 YRS
    NRIC NO: S1831029-E

    are charged that you on the 20th day of April 2000 at or about 10.00 p.m., at Block 122 Bishan Street 12 #05-39, Singapore, did voluntarily cause hurt to one Umi Kulsum binti Nurudin, who was then employed as a domestic maid in your household, to wit by punching her right eye, resulting a right periorbital bruise, and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 323 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

2. After a six-day trial I found the accused guilty of the above charge and I accordingly sentenced him to three months imprisonment. The accused is currently on bail pending the appeal.


THE PROSECUTION CASE

3. The prosecution called a total of seven witnesses, they were the victim Ms. Umi Kulsum bin Nurdin (hereinafter "Ms. Umi"), Mr. Mohamed Salleh bin Mohamed Arshad (hereinafter "Mr. Salleh"), Mr. Jumari bin Mohamed Nasir (hereinafter "Mr. Jumari"), Mdm. Latifah binte Haji Hassan (hereinafter "Mdm. Latifah"), Ms. Hajar binte Abdul Rahman (hereinafter "Ms. Siti"), Dr. Jackie Tan Yu Ling (hereinafter Dr. "Tan") and Dr. Quah Song Cheik (hereinafter "Dr. Quah").

A. PW2 Umi Kulsum bin Nurdin.

4. Ms. Umi is an Indonesian national and came to Singapore to work as a domestic maid. Her parents had given her 300,000 Rupiah in order for her to secure a job in Singapore. In cross-examination Ms. Umi explained that $220 of her monthly salary of $230 was deducted and paid to her Singapore agent. She said that she would give her earnings to her parents in order for them to pay for her siblings' education.

5. Ms. Umi commenced working for the accused's family on the 15th of April 2000. Mdm. Serene Eng Choo Hwee (Mdm. Eng) was in fact Ms. Umi's employer. During her short employment with the accused Ms. Umi stayed most of the time at Mdm. Eng's parents' home. It would appear that it was the accused's practice to leave his two children in the care of his in-laws' during the weekdays as both he and Mdm. Eng worked. Ms. Umi's duties included cleaning the house, washing the clothes, looking after the two children and occasionally washing the car. She said that she did not cook.

6. Ms. Umi said that she was unable to communicate in English. She said that communication between herself and the accused and Mdm. Eng was mainly by a mixture of English words and sign language. Ms. Umi explained that she had learnt English at school and she said that she understood some of the English spoken to her but not all. Thus it is her evidence that she would understand her instructions when they were given to her in a mixture of English and signs. When Ms. Umi had to communicate with Mdm. Eng she would use signs. Ms. Umi said that she had no communication with the accused other than that related to work and that he would normally speak in English. Generally it was Mdm. Eng who instructed her on work to be done. However, on the 20th of April 2000 the accused also instructed her in her work.

7. Ms. Umi said that she had stayed at the accused's house on two occasions, the first being two or three days after she commenced work for the accused and the second being on the 20th of April, the day of the incident. Umi said that on the first occasion when she went there she stayed overnight and at night she did some housework. The following day she was brought back to the in-laws' house. On the 20th of April 2000 Ms. Umi, the accused, Mdm. Eng and their son were present at the Bishan flat. Ms. Umi was instructed to do some of the housework and she proceeded to wash the dishes, wash the clothes and then mop floor. Ms. Umi claims that she mopped the floor with a rag and a pail of plain water. She commenced mopping the floor about one or two hours after she had arrived at the house.

8. Whilst she was mopping the floor in the living room she heard the baby boy cry in the master bedroom. The accused, who was seated on the sofa in the living room reading a newspaper and watching television, asked Ms. Umi to go and fetch the baby. When Ms. Umi went into the bedroom Mdm. Eng told her not to take the baby and to continue mopping the floor. Ms. Umi then returned to her mopping but she did not explain to the accused that Mdm. Eng had told her not to take the baby.

9. Ms. Umi then continued mopping the floor but as the baby was still crying the accused in a loud voice asked her why she had not gone to fetch the baby and told her to go and do so. In re-examination Ms. Umi said that the accused had not raised his voice at her before and she was frightened when he did so. Ms. Umi then returned to the master bedroom and collected the baby and on this occasion Mdm. Eng did not protest against Ms. Umi taking the baby out. As Ms. Umi carried the baby out to the living room he was still crying and Ms. Umi got the impression that he wanted to be put down so Ms. Umi put him down on the floor near the pail of dirty water. As the baby could walk it began to play with the water in the pail. In cross-examination Ms. Umi says that upon seeing the baby playing with the water she tried to pull him away but he started to cry to she picked him up and carried him. She then brought him back to Mdm. Eng in the master bedroom.

10. When she returned to the living room Ms. Umi says that the accused scolded her and said that she never seemed to be able to finish her work and that she did not know how to look after the baby. According to Ms. Umi the accused's tone of voice was loud when he said this. When the accused said those words he was still sitting on the sofa. As Ms. Umi was standing to continue her mopping the accused walked towards her and again said that she did not know how to look after the baby and her work never seemed to be done. The accused then punched Ms. Umi once at a point below her right eye and above her cheekbone. Ms. Umi said that the punch was very painful but she said nothing and she stayed quiet. She continued her mopping and after that she went to bathe and in the bathroom she noticed that a point below her right eye was bruised. After bathing Ms. Umi went to sleep.

11. At about 3.30 p.m. Ms. Umi woke up and feeling that she had to escape from the flat then proceeded to climb out through the kitchen window. In cross-examination she says that she did not think to wait for the next day to try and escape because she was very frightened and that if she did not escape the accused would hit her again. She did not leave the flat by the front door because she did not have a key to the door. With reference to photographs D9 to 12, it is her evidence that she climbed out of the window and then suspended herself from the metal pipes used to hold the drying poles (Photograph D27 shows a close up of one of these pipes). Ms. Umi says that she then let go of the pipes and she fell to the ground. She pointed out on D13 that she might have landed slightly to the right of the white truck shown in that picture. She says that she thinks she fell there because when she fell she felt that the ground was hard.

12. Having fallen Ms. Umi said that she then got up and walked away. She said that she noticed that she had been injured on her legs, fingers and on her head and she said that the injuries were painful and she was bleeding. Ms. Umi said that she was "semi-conscious" after the fall and she described the sensation as follows;

Q. You said you are semi-conscious what do you mean?

    A. When I walk I feel pain so sometimes I can see sometimes I cannot.

13. Ms. Umi cannot recall where she walked to but after walking she met a man who helped her. She identified the man as Mr. Mohamed Salleh bin Mohamed Arshad (hereinafter "Mr. Salleh").

14. Mr. Salleh asked Ms. Umi what had happened and she told him that she had fallen. He brought her for a drink at a coffeeshop and Ms. Umi says that she went to change her clothes in the toilet. Mr. Salleh then took her to a flat. At the flat Mr. Salleh told Ms. Umi to rest on the sofa and he applied some medicinal oil to her legs. Ms. Umi said that in answer to Mr. Salleh's query as to why she had fallen she explained that her employer had hit her. In cross-examination Ms. Umi confirms that Mr. Salleh asked her what happened to her eye when they were at the flat. Mr. Salleh told her that she had to report to the police but Ms. Umi did not say anything in reply. Ms. Umi then went to sleep on the sofa in living room of the flat.

15. Ms. Umi said that there were two other females at the house as well as another one or two men, apart from Mr. Salleh. She said that all these persons were at the house when she arrived there. Ms. Umi spoke to the two females and one of them asked her what happened and in answer to this Ms. Umi said that her employer had beaten her and she had then fallen. Ms. Umi did not tell the women how she was hit by the employer but indicated that he hit her just below the right eye. One of the women then called the police.

16. Ms. Umi said that when she stayed at the accused's in-laws' house she was treated well by them. However, she said that the accused had on one occasion before the 20th of April told her that she was slow in her work. Ms. Umi said that she had not problems doing her work at the in-law's house and that the first problems she had was the incident on the 20th of April.


B. PW3 Mohamed Salleh bin Mohamed Arshad

17. Mr. Salleh is a cleaner who with SAC Cleaning Services and he works in the vicinity of Block 222 Toa Payoh. At about 6.00 a.m. on the 21st of April 2000 as Mr. Salleh was on his way to work he saw Ms. Umi. He said that when he saw her he noticed that she was bleeding from her head, that her tee shirt was bloody and she had a greenish bruise on her face. He said that he could not be sure if it was the left or right side of her face. He also saw that she had cuts on both her hands and that the nail of the big toe had...

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