Normi Bte Darus v Public Prosecutor

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeEric Tin Keng Seng
Judgment Date28 November 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGMC 40
Citation[2001] SGMC 40
Published date19 September 2003

Judgment

GROUNDS OF DECISION

After a four-day trial, I found Normi Bte Darus ("Normi") guilty and convicted her of the following five charges:

a. Re-amended first charge (PS589/2001) marked P1B

you, on or about the 21st September 2000 at about 5 am, at Blk 864A Tampines Street 83 #02-452, Singapore, being the wife of the employer of a domestic maid, one Suwati, did voluntarily cause hurt to the said Suwati, to wit by using scoop to hit her head, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 read with Section 73(2) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

b. Re-amended second charge (PS590/2001) marked P2B

you, on or about the month of August 2000 at about 8.30 pm, in the kitchen of Blk 864A Tampines Street 83 #02-452, Singapore, being the wife of the employer of a domestic maid, one Suwati, did voluntarily cause hurt to the said Suwati, to wit by pinching on her right cheek with your bare hand, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 read with Section 73(2) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

c. Amended third charge (PS591/2001) marked P3A

you, on or about the month of September 2000 at about 8.00 am, in the living room of Blk 864A Tampines Street 83 #02-452, Singapore, being the wife of the employer of a domestic maid, one Suwati, did voluntarily cause hurt to the said Suwati, to wit by hitting on her forehead with a cordless telephone receiver, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 read with Section 73(2) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

d. Re-amended fourth charge (PS592/2001) marked P4B

you, on or about the month of September 2000 at about 7.30 pm, at the kitchen of Blk 864A Tampines Street 83 #02-452, Singapore, being the wife of the employer of a domestic maid, one Suwati, did voluntarily cause hurt to the said Suwati, to wit by hitting on her left forearm with your right bare hand, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 read with Section 73(2) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

e. Amended fifth charge (PS593/2001) marked P5A

you, on or about the month of July 2000 at about 7.00 am, at the kitchen toilet of Blk 864A Tampines Street 83 #02-452, Singapore, being the wife of the employer of a domestic maid, one Suwati, did voluntarily cause hurt to the said Suwati, to wit by kicking her left thigh with your right foot, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 read with Section 73(2) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

2 I sentenced her to a total of four months three weeks imprisonment. She has since lodged the present appeal against conviction and sentence, and is now on bail pending appeal.


Undisputed Facts

3 The victim in this case was Suwati Bte Joyo Sagi ("Suwati"), a 33 year-old female from Indonesia. Prior to working in Singapore, she worked in Penang as a maid for four years with a Malay family. She arrived in Singapore on 29 March 2000 to work as a domestic maid. Her agent was Cathay Employment Services. Suwati first worked for the family of her first employer, one Ms Wong Siu Teng. One and a half months later, in mid-May 2000, Suwati was transferred to her second employer Mr Fadzlon Bin Ahmad (see Suwatis special pass, exhibit P11).

4 Normi is the wife of Mr Fadzlon. She was a housewife. They and their five children stay in a five-room flat at Blk 864A, Tampines Street 83, #02-452, Singapore ("the flat", photograph exhibits P1P and P2P). The children, in descending order of age, are Danial, Iylia, Danish, Sorfina, and Izzat. Sorfina is the only female child. At the material time, except for Izzat, the other children were schoolgoing.

5 Suwati was the fifteenth domestic maid that the Fadzlon family employed in about fifteen years since 1985 (see letter from Controller of Work Permit, exhibit P12). Suwati worked for the Fadzlon family for about four months until 21 September 2000, the date of the last incident. Since she left the Fadzlon household until this trial, Suwati was under the care of the Good Shepherd Centre, a temporary shelter.


Prosecutions Case

6 The prosecution called a total of eight witnesses, namely the maid agent, Suwati, a doctor who examined Suwati, four police officers who attended to Suwatis first information report, and the recorder of Normis cautioned statements.


Evidence of maid agent

7 Ms Ang Poh Peng (PW1) was the licensee and sole proprietor of a maid agency Cathay Employment Services. She confirmed that the agencys manager was one Mr Jason Chan. She recalled there was some communication problem between Suwati and her first employer Wong Siu Tengs family, resulting in the replacement of Suwati upon the employers request. She could not recall if there were other reasons why the first employer did not want Suwatis services. Ms Ang confirmed that Suwati subsequently came under Mr Fadzlons employment as a transfer maid.

8 Ms Ang recalled that Normi was unhappy with either Suwatis work or attitude after one or two months, and had visited the agency and called her over this. However, Ms Ang could not remember if Normi complained about Suwati being slow in her work or told lies. Initially, she advised Normi to allow Suwati time to adapt. She herself also spoke with Suwati on the phone to counsel her. However she could not recall what Suwati told her. After Normis complaint, Ms Ang showed Suwatis biodata to a potential employer who was keen to take her. But as Mr Fadzlon had not selected a new maid, Suwati could not be released from his employment. Then one day in September 2000, Ms Ang received a call either from Mr Fadzlon or Normi that the police went to their house. That was all she knew about this case.


Evidence of victim

9 Suwati (PW2) confirmed that her first employer was one Mr Tan, the husband of Ms Wong Siu Teng. She was transferred to the Fadzlon family because of communication problem with Ms Wongs family. She had no communication problem with the Fadzlon family who spoke Malay. She said that initially in May 2000, Normi was very good to her. After about a month, Normi treated her like an enemy and always found fault with her work. Depending on her mood, Normi would sometimes be very good to her, sometimes quite good to her, and sometimes angry with her.

10 Suwati testified that on a typical day when she worked for the Fadzlon household, she would wake up at 5 am. She would do the general house cleaning. Then she would prepare breakfast for two schoolgoing children and Mr Fadzlon who would go to work. After that, she would wash clothes, and then prepare breakfast for the three younger children. She would continue with the house cleaning. Normi, a housewife, would stay at home. Suwati would prepare lunch for Normi and the two youngest children. Later, the first four children would be in school, but the fourth child would return home earlier. The fifth child did not have to go to school yet. After lunch, she would play with the two youngest children, and prepare milk for them so they can have afternoon nap. She would then keep the dried clothings for ironing at night. After that she would cook dinner for everybody.

11 When dinner was ready, she would feed the youngest child. After that, she would prepare fruits when everyone finished dinner. She would then clean the table, keep everything, and after all the cleaning, she would prepare the bedrooms for the Fadzlon family. After that, she would collect all the soiled clothes for washing the next day. She would continue with washing all the dishes. She would then start ironing the clothes, and would place the ironed ones in their respective cupboards.

12 After all the housework, she would usually sleep at 12 midnight or 1 am, and sometimes at 3 am. She said sometimes she did not get to sleep because Normi would make her write lines in books as punishment for being forgetful. She would write fifty to hundred lines depending on Normis instructions. These lines included "I will not forget to switch off the lights.", "I will not hurt Madams feelings.", "I must obey the instruction of Madam." (found in book exhibit P9) and "I should not forget while cooking to wear head dress.", "I will not forget to switch off the lights.", "I should not forget to write on the writing board.", "I will not lie again to Madam.", "I will not forget to cover the kettle.", "I will not forget to give fragrant oil.", "I will not forget to bring out the bread.", "I will not forget to send Izzat to urinate." and "I must obey Madam." (found in book exhibit P8).

13 According to Suwati, one day in July 2000 at about 6.45 am, when she was washing clothes in the kitchen toilet, she mixed a white-coloured sports t-shirt with a red sleeve, together with white uniform. She was a little sleepy then. Normi entered the toilet and saw this. Normi scolded her for mixing the clothes. She took the t-shirt and hit her many times with it. She also used the medial aspect of her right barefoot to kick Suwatis left thigh twice on the same spot. Suwati did nothing when being kicked but only asked for forgiveness. No one witnessed this "kicking incident".

14 One day in August 2000 at about 8.30 pm, Suwati prepared a chocolate drink Milo for Danish. Danish then told Normi that the Milo was sweet. Normi went to the kitchen and asked Suwati why the drink was sweet. Suwati apologised that she had added a little sugar to the Milo. Normi then scolded Suwati. She also used her right hand to pinch Suwatis right cheek twice. According to Suwati, the three younger children Danish, Sorfina and Izzat saw this "pinching incident".

15 One day in September 2000 after dinner at night, Suwati peeled apples for the children. Sorfina then complained to Normi that the fruits were not washed. Normi walked up to Suwati who was in the kitchen and said, "Oh, never wash ah? You are a filthy person." She then used her right clenched fist to hit Suwatis left forearm twice. Suwati asked for forgiveness. Normi told her she would not...

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