SINGAPORE, Sept 12 — His wife had hired a foreign domestic worker to help him with his mobility issues after he suffered a stroke, but he ended up taking advantage of the helper by molesting her.
Heng Thiam Soon, 69, was sentenced to two weeks’ jail yesterday.
Appearing in court in a wheelchair, he pleaded guilty to one outrage of modesty charge. Another two similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Heng molested the victim — a Myanmar national then aged 23 — by stroking her buttocks on three occasions between May and July last year, the court heard.
She began working for the household in April last year. She was tasked to take care of him and slept in the same bedroom, communicating with the couple using simple English.
Heng began molesting her shortly after she was hired.
On one occasion, Heng asked her for help to retrieve something while they were in his bedroom. When she went over to his bed, he molested her.
She pushed his hand away and told him he could not touch her.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jun Chong sought three weeks’ jail, saying that domestic workers depend on their employers’ good faith.
“It is critical that the law steps in to protect helpers from being abused by employers, who are the very people who should be taking care of them,” the prosecutor said.
Heng’s lawyer, Wilbur Lua, asked for a fine of S$4,000 instead. Heng had lost strength in his legs and right arm and was “in a state of unhappiness and depression over his situation at the time”, he said.
“In that state, he made these inappropriate actions towards the helper, which he now regrets and he is remorseful now,” the lawyer added.
Heng now lives in a nursing home and is under constant supervision, which means “there is little rehabilitative point to imprisoning him”.
Lua also argued: “(Due to) his age, ill health and what led to the offence, I would submit this is not the case to make an example of for the general public.”
For molestation, Heng could have been jailed up to two years, fined, caned or any combination of the three. However, offenders above 50 cannot be caned by law.
Employers or those in their household who molest domestic workers are liable to 1.5 times the punishment — raising the maximum penalty to three years’ jail. — TODAY