Singaporean couple jailed for ‘worst of its kind’ maid abuse

Newly arrived domestic helpers from Indonesia wait for their transportation to an agency after going through medical check in Singapore. (AFP file)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Singaporean couple jailed for ‘worst of its kind’ maid abuse

  • The married couple were sentenced two years ago over the abuse of another maid
  • Singapore has taken a tough stand against maid abuse to protect some 250,000 domestic workers
SINGAPORE: A Singaporean couple was on Monday jailed for abusing a Myanmar maid after the pair force-fed her with a funnel, made her eat her own vomit and threatened to kill her family if she reported the maltreatment.
In a case described by Singapore prosecutors as “arguably one of the worst of its kind” in the city-state, the married couple — who were sentenced two years ago over the abuse of another maid — beat and kicked their helper and made her clean the house in her underwear.
Moe Moe Than, 32, was also given little food, limited use of the toilet and faced threats that her parents in Myanmar would be killed if she reported the abuse, court documents showed.
District Judge Olivia Low on Monday sentenced the woman, Chia Yun Ling, to 47 months in prison and ordered her to pay a fine. Her husband, Tay Wee Kiat, a former information technology manager, was jailed for 24 months.
They were ordered to pay compensation to the maid.
Their mistreatment of Than during her employment of nearly a year in 2012 was detailed in more than 20 charges.
“In the present case, the accused persons had systematically and persistently abused Moe Moe Than both physically and psychologically throughout the period of her employment,” state prosecutors told the court.
One charge said Chia, a former senior sales manager, force-fed the maid a mixture of rice and sugar through a funnel after the helper told her she did not have enough food to eat.
This caused the victim to choke and she ran to the toilet to throw up, the charge said.
Chia followed, scolded and slapped the maid, and instructed her to throw up into a plastic bag “and thereafter (made) to eat her own vomit,” the charge added.
The same couple were in March 2017 sentenced to jail terms for abusing their Indonesian maid — the husband for two years and four months and the wife for two months. They have yet to serve those sentences.
Singapore has taken a tough stand against maid abuse to protect some 250,000 domestic workers from other parts of Asia who work in the affluent nation for higher salaries.
In February, a Singaporean salon manager and her husband were imprisoned for forcing their maid to pour hot water on herself, leaving her with burn marks and blisters.


North Korea’s Kim inspects new submarine, signals possible ballistic missile development

Updated 23 July 2019
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North Korea’s Kim inspects new submarine, signals possible ballistic missile development

  • The new data and combat weapon systems of submarine was built under Kim’s “special attention”
  • Experts said the size of the new submarine suggests it would eventually carry missiles

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a large newly built submarine, state news agency KCNA reported on Tuesday, potentially signaling continued development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.
Kim inspected the operational and tactical data and combat weapon systems of the submarine that was built under “his special attention,” and will be operational in the waters off the east coast, KCNA said.
KCNA said the submarine’s operational deployment was near.
“The operational capacity of a submarine is an important component in national defense of our country bounded on its east and west by sea,” Kim said.
KCNA did not describe the submarine’s weapon systems or say where and when the inspection took place.
North Korea has a large submarine fleet but only one known experimental submarine capable of carrying a ballistic missile.
Analysts said that based on the apparent size of the new submarine it appears designed to eventually carry missiles.
“We can clearly see that it is a massive submarine — much larger than the existing one that’s been well known since 2014,” said Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the US-based Federation of American Scientists.
“What I find significant about the political messaging here is that this is the first time since a February 2018 military parade that he has inspected a military system clearly designed to carry and deliver nuclear weapons.”
“I take that as an ominous signal that we should be taking Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline for the implementation of a change in US policy with the utmost seriousness.”
A South Korean defense ministry spokesman said they were monitoring developments but could not confirm if the submarine was designed to carry missiles.
Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said Kim likely also wanted to reassure North Koreans of his commitment to national defense at a time when he is focusing more on the economy.
“Announcing his inspection of the new submarine is also to build internal solidarity, to dispel people’s concerns about national security, reassure them, and boost military morale,” he said.
Submarine development
Kim has declared a moratorium on testing ICBM’s and nuclear weapons while engaging in denuclearization talks with the United States and South Korea.
The North’s submarine report comes amid another delay in dialogue between the United States and North Korea after Kim and US President Donald Trump agreed at a meeting at the Panmunjom Korean border on June 30 to working-level nuclear talks.
Trump said such talks could come in the following two to three weeks. His national security adviser, John Bolton, arrives in South Korea on Tuesday to meet security officials.
A summit between Trump and Kim, in Vietnam in February, broke down after they failed to narrow differences between a US demand for North Korea’s denuclearization and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.
In April, Kim said he would wait until the end of the year for the United States to be more flexible.
North Korea maintains one of the world’s largest submarine fleets, but many vessels are aging and there are doubts over how many are operational, according to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).
Most of North Korea’s fleet consists of small coastal submarines, but in recent years it has made rapid progress in the SLBM program, NTI said in a report released late last year.
In 2016, after a few years of development, North Korea successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine, while pursuing an intercontinental ballistic missile program (ICBM).
During the submarine inspection Kim was accompanied by Kim Jong Sik, an official who played a major role in North Korea’s missile program.
Another official on the tour was Jang Chang Ha, president of the Academy of the National Defense Science, which the US Treasury has said is in charge of the secretive country’s research and development of its advanced weapons systems, “including missiles and probably nuclear weapons.”
H.I. Sutton, a naval analyst who studies submarines, said judging by the initial photos the hull could be based on old Romeo Class submarines, which were originally acquired from China in the 1970s before North Korea began producing them domestically.
North Korea is believed to have about 20 Romeo submarines in its fleet, the newest of which was built in the mid 1990s, according to NTI.
Sutton told Reuters that the North Koreans appeared to have raised the deck on a Romeo-type design, possibly even modifying an existing Romeo to make a submarine larger than previous indigenous designs.
“I’d bet that this is indeed a missile submarine,” he said.
US-based monitoring group 38 North said in June 2018 that North Korea appeared to be continuing submarine construction at its Sinpo Shipyard of possibly another Sinpo-class ballistic missile submarine, based on commercial satellite imagery.
“This, to my eye, is the submarine that the US intelligence community has been calling the Sinpo-C, a successor to North Korea’s only known ballistic missile submarine,” Panda said.