Thirteen years down the road, a former air stewardess and boutique manager is still trying to strike out her conviction for severely abusing her domestic helper.
Chronology of events:
- Nov 27, 2008 – Sessions Court sentenced Yim to 18 years’ in jail
- Dec 4, 2009 – Yim appealed to High Court which reduced jail term to 12 years
- Nov 30, 2011 – Yim admitted to psychiatric ward for major depression and “passive suicidal thoughts” Oct 1, 2012 – Court of Appeal upheld High Court’s decision
- Oct 31, 2014 – Maid won civil suit against Yim and husband, awarded RM139,197.20 damages
- Jun 15, 2015 – Court of Appeal dismissed Yim’s application to strike out conviction
- Aug 30, 2017 – Sessions Court dismissed Yim’s second bid to have conviction struck out
In a maid abuse case that had provoked national outrage 13 years, Yim Pek Ha was charged with four counts of causing grievous hurt to her Indonesian maid Nirmala Bonat at her apartment in Villa Putera, Jalan Tun Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, in January, March and April 2004.
After the trial, she was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years’ jail by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on three counts of causing grievous hurt to Nirmala with a hot iron and hot water, but was acquitted on the fourth charge of causing hurt to the maid with a metal cup.
She filed an appeal to the Kuala Lumpur High Court and her jail term was reduced to 12 years. The court affirmed Yim’s conviction for the first and second charge but acquitted her on the third charge. It also overturned an acquittal by the Sessions Court on the fourth charge of breaking the maid’s nose with a metal cup.
On Oct 1, 2012, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision.
On Oct 31, 2014, Nirmala, 29, won a civil suit against Yim for abusing her and was awarded RM139,197.20 in damages, which included for injuries on her breasts, back, arm, head, face, mouth and nose, as well as for emotional stress. The amount also included RM10,000 in cost and allowed a 5% interest on the balance.
Judicial Commissioner Siti Khadijah S Hassan Badjenid ruled that the plaintiff had proven her case against Yim and her husband Hii Ik Tiing, 48.
Nirmala, from Desa Tuapakas in Indonesia, filed the suit against former boutique manager Yim and Hii on Jan 28, 2010, claiming that she suffered pain, humiliation and physical and mental anguish while working as the couple’s domestic helper between September 2003 and May 17, 2004.
In her 48-page decision, Siti Khadijah said any human being could imagine the pain when a hot iron is placed on one’s breasts and back.
“Hot water was also poured on her back.
“Nirmala suffered pain every time she put on her bra and clothes or when she showered.
“She did not receive any medical treatment except for the Panadol she took,” the judge said.
On Jun 15, 2015, Yim’s attempt to set aside her 12 years’ imprisonment through a review before another Court of Appeal panel was dismissed.
Today, she failed in another bid to have her conviction struck out.
The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court dismissed her application to strike out the conviction made on claims that the maid had tricked and defrauded the prior Sessions Judge, Akhtar Tahir, into making the said decision.
Judge Rohatul Akmar Abdullah made the ruling after allowing the preliminary objection by the respondents, who were the prosecutors in Nirmala’s case.
“I also agree with the respondents’ objection that the burden fell on the accused to prove such accusations of fraud,” she said.
The 49-year-old, who was once an air stewardess, filed the application in July this year.
Yim, a mother of four, is currently serving her jail sentence at Kajang Women’s Prison.
In 2011, she was admitted to the psychiatric ward of the Universiti Malaya Specialist Centre for major depression. It was reported that she had also been experiencing “passive suicidal thoughts”.