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Singapore woman fined S$13,000 for leaving Indonesian helper stranded in Batam

A woman was fined S$13,000 for abandoning her Indonesian domestic helper in Batam after falsely promising a trip home to Surabaya. The incident followed a breakfast disagreement. The employer, Hong Xuanyu, admitted to violating the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. The helper’s mistreatment sparked significant netizen outrage.



SINGAPORE: A woman was fined S$13,000 on 25 August for leaving her Indonesian domestic helper stranded in Batam in 2018.

The abandonment happened after she dishonestly told the helper she would arrange her trip back home to Surabaya.

Supposedly, the cause for this was the alleged failure of the helper, Islahatul Alif, to make breakfast on one particular morning.

As per a report from Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese-language news outlet in Singapore, the employer Hong Xuanyu, who owns a hawker stall, received a fine upon admitting guilt to two violations of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

The Indonesian helper began her employment with Hong between 4 February and 28 April 2018. From February to March of that year, Islahatul was instructed to work at Hong’s fish soup stall at Jurong Point shopping mall.

This action went against the law, as helpers are restricted to performing household duties solely within their employer’s residence.

On the morning of 28 April, Hong was “angry” and took away the helper’s phone because she “did not prepare breakfast.”

Following this incident, Hong informed the helper that she would be sent on a 10-day trip back to her hometown in Surabaya through Batam. It’s worth noting that Batam is situated 1,300 km away from Surabaya.

At first, Islahatul hesitated due to concerns about losing her job, but Hong provided reassurance that she wouldn’t be replaced. The pair then boarded a ferry from the Singapore Cruise Centre to Batam.

During the trip, Hong gave back Islahatul’s phone, but subtracted the ferry ticket cost from her pay, leaving her with approximately S$350.

Upon reaching their destination, Hong directed the helper to take a taxi to the airport and return to Surabaya by air before abandoning her in Batam. No financial assistance was provided to cover the airfare or taxi fare.

Hong retained control of Islahatul’s work permit card and sought assistance from a friend to cancel the helper’s work permit on the same day.

Meanwhile, Islahatul experienced distress when she realized she was abandoned in Batam City without the ability to reach her family due to her phone’s depleted battery.

She was able to borrow a mobile phone from a taxi driver and contacted her employment agent in Singapore. The agent then organized for her to stay with a friend of a colleague in Batam before making her way back to Singapore.

After being notified by her agency, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) launched an investigation.

MOM prosecuting officer Teo Sijing told the court: “(Hong) failed in her duty as an employer to accord basic human dignity to her migrant domestic worker… and had treated her like chattel to be discarded when keeping her was more trouble than it was worth.”

Islahatul returned to Singapore on 2 May 2018, but court documents did not disclose her current location.

Netizen furious over employer’s mistreatment towards helper

As expected, netizens were not happy when they hear what had happened to Islahatul, and they showed their frustration and anger about how the helper was treated, stating that the employer faced too lenient consequences for her actions.

Certain users disagree with the penalty imposed on Hong, believing that the employer should be similarly “left stranded (in prison).”

“So no jail, probation or even house arrest?” questioned one user in disbelief.

Someone inquired about the whereabouts of Hong’s stall, mentioning that they would avoid being a customer there.

Another user praised the prompt response of the agent and commended their support for the mistreated helper.

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