MAY 24, 2004 MON

Housewife denies hurting maid
with hot water and iron


Denied bail pending a trial, Malaysian Chinese housewife Yim Pek Ha has pleaded not guilty to charges of causing grievous hurt to her maid. -- THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
A WEALTHY 35-year-old Malaysian Chinese housewife who outraged the country with her alleged brutality pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of hurting her Indonesian maid with hot water and an iron.
Prosecutors in one of Malaysia's worst maid abuse cases are pressing for Yim Pek Ha to be jailed for 67 years.
She is facing four charges of causing grievous hurt to Miss Nirmala Bonat, 19, at a luxury condominium in Kuala Lumpur between January and May.
Fearing that she might flee overseas, Judge Akhtar Tahir denied bail for Yim who must remain in prison pending trial on July 26.
Her lawyer K. Balaguru will file an appeal against the denial of bail. He said his client has four children to take care of and needed medical help after being in detention for five days.
Yim's husband, Mr Hii Ik Tiing, had lodged a police complaint alleging that Miss Nirmala had stolen RM10,000 (S$4,550) from their condominium.
But Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, who described Yim as 'a monster', said Mr Hii was under investigation because the theft complaint was lodged a day after his wife's arrest.
Police said Mr Hii, a company managing director, could also be charged if he knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it.
Miss Nirmala's plight was exposed after a guard at the upscale condominium where she worked saw her crying on Monday and noticed that she had bruises all over her swollen face and was bleeding from the head and mouth.
Yim is accused of using 'dangerous weapons' - a hot iron and hot water - to inflict grievous hurt on the maid on three occasions.
The charges each carry a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine or whipping.
A fourth charge accusing Yim of beating Miss Nirmala with a metal cup carries a jail term of up to seven years.
The Attorney-General said prosecutors will press for the maximum sentence of 67 years in jail.
The alleged abuse sparked national outrage after Malaysian newspapers printed front-page photographs earlier this week of the maid, showing burns and bruises all over her body.
On Thursday, Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar visited Miss Nirmala at the Indonesian Embassy and apologised for her ordeal.
Miss Nirmala, who is from Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province, said she was beaten or burned for any mistake she made during the past five months. -- AP, AFP, Bernama, Malay Mail, New Straits Times

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