Jail for pregnant maid who threatened employer with knife in bid to go home

green and white leafed plantsSINGAPORE: A pregnant maid was sentenced to four months’ jail on Monday (Aug 26) after she threatened her employer with a knife so she could obtain her passport and go home.

Indonesian national Poniyem, who is 41, was married early this year before coming to Singapore to work as a domestic helper, the court heard.



She began working for the victim, whose identity cannot be revealed as her child is a minor protected under the law, from April 2019.

Poniyem was meant to work for her employer for two years, the court heard, but sometime in May, she told her boss that she was pregnant and wanted to stop working in Singapore.

The child was Poniyem’s husband’s, the court heard.

The employer told Poniyem to wait until after Hari Raya Puasa on Jun 5 as the maid agency had said it could not get a replacement maid until then.




Poniyem, who is now about six months pregnant, then hatched a plot to obtain her passport by force and leave Singapore.

At about 1am on May 21, Poniyem poured oil on the floor outside her employer’s room and knocked on the door, lying that she needed medication for a stomach ache.

Her employer, believing her, came out of the room. The maid then pulled her employer by the hand onto the oily floor, causing the victim to slip and fall.

She felt pain but did not seek medical attention, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Foo Shi Hao.

Poniyem then took a can of insecticide and sprayed it on her employer’s face. In defence, the employer closed her eyes.

When she could open her eyes, the victim shouted at her eight-year-old daughter to call for the police.

While the girl took her mother’s handphone to do so, the maid grabbed a pair of scissors from the kitchen and entered the room to stop the girl from calling the police.

She grabbed the girl’s hair with one hand and pointed the scissors at her throat with the other, only letting go when her employer came to help her daughter.


She put away the scissors but took out a knife from her pocket and pointed it at her employer, demanding for her passport and money so she could run away from Singapore.

Fearing for her daughter’s safety and her own, the employer gave the maid her passport along with S$200.

The maid also took two handphones belonging to her employer that were worth about S$1,900 in total, before pulling out the house phone cable.

She then fled the home, disposing of the knife outside and taking a taxi to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, where she was later arrested by the police.

The employer and her daughter did not suffer any visible injuries, and all the stolen items were recovered.

Poniyem pleaded guilty on Monday to one charge of theft and another of voluntarily causing hurt, with a third charge taken into consideration.

For voluntarily causing hurt, she could have been jailed for up to two years, fined a maximum of S$5,000 or both.

For theft-in-dwelling, she could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.

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