Ngu Mei Mei who is charged with endangering human life - "killing" her domestic worker, faces three months in jail, a S$250 (US$150) or both. A domestic workers' life is cheap in Singapore. Do we respect human life?
A Singapore woman has been charged with negligence for ordering her Indonesian maid out of a window from where she fell to her death, a court document and a press report said Friday, Dec 16 (2005).
Ngu Mei Mei, 37, is charged with ordering the maid, Yanti, to climb with laundry from a study room window to hang out the laundry, a court document said.
It said the roof "was not designed for such ordinary human access". The incident allegedly happened on December 20, 2003.
The Straits Times reported that Yanti fell to her death but the charge sheet says only that Ngu "did an act so negligently as to endanger human life."
She faces three months in jail, a S$250 (US$150) or both.
New York-based Human Rights Watch in a report last week said maids in Singapore suffered serious abuses including sexual violence, food deprivation and home lock-ups.
The government called the report "a gross exaggeration" and defended existing legislation protecting foreign domestic workers.
At least 147 maids have died from workplace accidents or suicides since 1999, mostly by jumping or falling from high-rise residential apartments, Human Rights Watch said.
Singapore's Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen told BBC Radio that there were about 18 cases of maids falling to their deaths this year. According to a government transcript of the interview, Ng said the government is trying to tackle the issue and the number of deaths has dropped.
Half the deaths are suicides, he said.
About 150,000 women work as maids in Singapore, most of them from impoverished villages in the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
21 Dec 2005
From the Think Centre.