SINGAPORE: The sole proprietor of an employment agency who brought in a 13-year-old girl from Myanmar to work as a maid in Singapore was given the maximum fine of S$5,000 on Thursday (Jul 12).
In July last year, Khor Siew Tiang, 35, the sole proprietor of Vista Employment Services, applied to bring in a 13-year-old maid.
The minor's age was declared as 23, the minimum age requirement of foreign domestic workers set by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in 2005.
An employment inspector with MOM carried out investigations in August last year after receiving information of the case.
Khor, who is married with three children, on Thursday pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the maid met the minimum age requirement.
The defence asked for a fine of between S$2,000 and S$4,000, saying that Khor had just given birth to her youngest child at the time of the offence.
He added that the maid's passport had a false date of birth, and that the girl was taller than other Burmese women Khor had encountered.
The defence further argued that Khor did not understand the girl's language and that this was her first brush with the law. Furthermore, her employment agency licence has been suspended.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda said: "It's no excuse for her to say she didn't understand the language and had to rely on her counterpart in Myanmar, as it's her responsibility as an employment agent."
Khor knew that as an employment agency licensee she had to carry out several checks to ensure that the maid she was bringing in met the minimum age requirements.
However, she did not conduct a screening of the girl, nor did she carry out any form of basic interviews with her to ask about her family history, the ages of her parents and siblings, her educational history and work experience.
Instead, she chose to rely on the information in the girl's biodata provided by her Myanmar agent and the girl's passport, which had an inaccurate date of birth.
The judge said that Khor's actions "resulted in a 13-year-old girl being brought to Singapore".
"This is 10 years below MOM's minimum age," he said. "Really, this girl is just a child. I'll accept that this was not intentional. This was failure to carry out necessary checks."
He sentenced Khor to a fine of S$5,000, which the prosecution had asked for. She could have been jailed for up to six months.
The girl has since been sent back to her home country and barred from seeking employment in Singapore.