Teacher, hubby on trial for alleged maid abuse

Primary school teacher, husband on trial for allegedly abusing maid

A teacher allegedly hurt her domestic helper using a hot ladle just 11 days after the Myanmar national started working for the household.

Nachammai Selva Nachiappan, 39, and her husband Arunachalam Muthiah, 41, had multiple maid abuse charges involving Ms Hla Hla Myaing, 37, brought against them in a district court yesterday.

The Singaporean couple are accused of committing the offences between June 25, 2018, and Aug 2, 2018.

Nachammai, who is claiming trial to five charges, is accused of acts including hitting Ms Hla Hla Myaing's face with a hanger and throwing a hot ladle at her.

Arunachalam, who faces three charges, is accused of kicking the maid and punching her.

On the first day of their joint trial, the maid, who started working for the household on June 14, 2018, testified that she had to work from 4.30am to 11.30pm every day.

The maid told the court that she was washing plates in the family's condominium unit in Jalan Mata Ayer near Sembawang Road on June 25, 2018, when she noticed that Nachammai seemed "angry" while stirring a pot of food nearby.

Through an interpreter, Ms Hla Hla Myaing said: "She was expecting me to cook (but) I don't know how to cook Indian food."

She told District Judge Eddy Tham that Nachammai then flung a ladle at her and it struck her right hand.

She said the couple later took her back to the maid agency in early August 2018 as they were "not satisfied", adding: "I also didn't want to work for them."

Ms Hla Hla Myaing now works for another household here.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) had earlier told The Straits Times that it would review the case against Nachammai - a primary school teacher at the time of the alleged offences.

"MOE takes a serious view of staff misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline, including dismissal from service," said a spokesman.

Separately, the Myanmar language interpreter in court yesterday had to be replaced after he was spotted trying to pass Ms Hla Hla Myaing money.

When queried, he told Judge Tham he tried to give her some "loose change" for lunch as she had a $50 note with her.

The judge then said it would be "prudent" to engage somebody else as interpreters "should not be helping witnesses in any way".

The trial resumes today.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.