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Sentosa Cove resident had sleeping problems, domestic workers she allegedly abused slept just few hours a day

SINGAPORE — Two domestic workers working at a Sentosa Cove residence had odd sleeping hours because they had to keep up with their employer who slept at 10am or 11am, the court heard on Wednesday (Dec 9). So the workers ended up sleeping at 1pm or 2pm and waking up by 5pm to 6pm.

Tan Lee Hoon (pictured) is contesting eight charges of voluntarily causing hurt to two Filipino women she had hired as domestic workers.

Tan Lee Hoon (pictured) is contesting eight charges of voluntarily causing hurt to two Filipino women she had hired as domestic workers.

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  • A domestic worker testified that she would often go to bed at 1pm or 2pm and wake up by 5pm or 6pm
  • Her employer at the time, Tan Lee Hoon, apparently had many medical conditions and had difficulty sleeping
  • The alleged victim also witnessed abuses suffered by another worker in the same household
  • She refuted a suggestion that the physical abuse was because Tan was showing them how to massage her

 

SINGAPORE — Two domestic workers working at a Sentosa Cove residence had odd sleeping hours because they had to keep up with their employer who slept at 10am or 11am, the court heard on Wednesday (Dec 9). So the workers ended up sleeping at 1pm or 2pm and waking up by 5pm to 6pm.

This was from the trial of Tan Lee Hoon, 56, who is accused of abusing the two workers, Ms Jenefer Arangote Vegafria, 39, and Ms Lizardo Joan Lozares, 33, while they were employed to work at her home on Paradise Island — one of five man-made islands at the prestigious housing enclave of Sentosa Cove on Sentosa Island.

The court also heard that Tan had many medical conditions, had difficulty sleeping and needed to be massaged at unusual times of the day because she was “injured”.

Tan’s lawyer, Mr Sunil Sudheesan of law firm Quahe Woo & Palmer, did not state what the injury and medical conditions were.

Tan is alleged to have pinched Ms Vegafria on the torso, arm, chest and thigh on various occasions in September 2018. Towards Ms Lozares, she allegedly struck her with a stick, hit her on the head and kicked her in the chest.

She is contesting eight charges of voluntarily causing hurt to the two Filipino women.

On Wednesday, Ms Vegafria testified that she had to massage Tan before Tan went to bed at around 10am and 11am.

She and Ms Lozares would take turns to massage Tan until she fell asleep. 

‘MASSAGE DEMONSTRATION’

Tan’s other family members, including her husband, Mr Sim Guan Huat, and her two daughters were not around when the alleged abuses took place.

Ms Vegafria testified that Tan pinched her on her right bicep, her chest and on the side of her stomach during massages because Tan was unhappy with the way she was being massaged.

Tan also pinched her at the back of her thigh when she accidentally knocked down a statue outside the house while arranging paper lanterns on a tree, she added.

She could not recall why Tan pinched her on the forearm on another occasion.

Mr Sunil later questioned Ms Vegafria if she had confused the pinching with a demonstration of the massage, pointing out that Tan likes hard massages and would personally demonstrate on the domestic workers how she would like to be massaged.

Ms Vegafria replied that she was not confused: “I would like to say that the demonstration was different from the pinching.” 

She also said: “It is okay that Madam would show it to me. What I didn't like was that she was pinching me.”

She did not mention any incident where Tan pinched her with her toes, as was the testimony from Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Lynn Tan Wei Ping the day before.

OTHER ALLEGED ABUSES

Ms Vegafria told the court that she had witnessed at least three instances of abuse on Ms Lozares.

She saw Tan hit Ms Lozares’ head with a closed fist while wearing a ring, after Tan instructed Ms Lozares to help her put on her socks. 

Then, as Ms Lozares was squatting down to help Tan put on her shoes, Tan got angry again and kicked her at the centre of the chest. Ms Lozares quickly got up and went near Ms Vegafria while holding onto her chest.

Another day, the two workers were preparing some food when Tan hit Ms Lozares on the shoulder with a thin wooden stick that was about 70cm long, she said.

NOT ENOUGH SLEEP

Ms Vegafria also told the court that she did not have enough sleep because Tan would always call for her. Sometimes, she had to skip meals and get to work for Tan straight away after waking up, she said.

She and Ms Lozares typically ate just before they headed to bed and right after they woke up due to the unusual work hours, Ms Vegafria said.

She added that Tan’s household had hired two other domestic workers besides herself and Ms Lozares, but these two were no longer employed by the family before the police investigation began on Oct 17 in 2018.

PHOTOS OF BRUISES

The police started investigating allegations against Tan after Ms Vegafria’s friend and fellow domestic worker, Ms Francisco Ma Erica Sedano, reported to the Ministry of Manpower that Ms Vegafria was being abused and that she had photos of the bruises.

These photos were presented in court on Wednesday.

Ms Vegafria revealed that Tan had confiscated her mobile phone in October 2018 after finding the photos on it.

Tan demanded that Ms Vegafria unlock her phone one day so that she could access it and then asked why she had kept photos of the bruises.

Ms Vegafria said that those photos were no longer there when she got her phone back after the police got involved.

However, before Tan took away the phone, Ms Vegafria had sent the photos to her then-boyfriend, who lives in the Philippines, and another domestic worker in Singapore.

Ms Vegafria’s cross-examination continues on Thursday. 

Related topics

domestic worker maid abuse court crime

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