'Torture' employer linked to alleged abuse of five different Hong Kong maids
Yudhoyono pledges to cover helper's medical costs in phone call to hospital as her former employer is taken in for questioning by police
Joanna Chiu in Sragen, Indonesia, and Clifford Lo
Indonesian President Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed "anger and concern" yesterday over the alleged torture of one of his country's domestic helpers in Hong Kong as new allegations of abuse emerged.
He made a phone call to the helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 23, and her father, Rohmad Saputra, at the hospital in Indonesia where she is being treated for her injuries and pledged to cover her medical costs.
It also emerged yesterday that police in Hong Kong are aware of four more cases of alleged abuse linked to Erwiana's employer, Lo Wan-tun, 44, who was arrested on Monday.
Video: Hong Kong police arrest employer of 'tortured' Indonesian maid
Lo has not been charged and was greeted by jeers from a crowd of onlookers when detectives took her back to the Tseung Kwan O flat where she is alleged to have abused Erwiana.
Yudhoyono told Erwiana and her father that he would help them both overcome the ordeal.
Rohmad said yesterday: "I asked the president for help. The president said that he supports Erwiana and told us not to worry because the government would take care of all the costs.
"He also spoke with Erwiana briefly and he asked her if she felt any discomfort or any pain. She said he sounded concerned and he said he would support her."
Rohmad added: "I was happy that the president called me, but it was because of something very unhappy that it happened.
"It was because this has happened to my daughter. Erwiana is not the only domestic helper who has been hurt.
"The Hong Kong government has many problems. I want the Indonesian government to help Erwiana get real justice."
Police sources have revealed that Lo is now facing allegations linked to the ill-treatment of three other Indonesian helpers.
It also emerged that she was previously charged in connection with allegations by another helper, but the case was eventually dropped in 2012.
Speaking from Indonesia last night, Chief Inspector Chung Chi-ming, of Kwun Tong district crime squad, said: "Our interview with Erwiana is almost complete.
"A formal statement will be taken as fast as possible. We will then pass the information to Hong Kong police and initiate court proceedings."
He said it was not clear if and when Erwiana would return to Hong Kong. An official with the city's Labour Department, Veronica Chan Kar-wing, who is also in Indonesia, said: "Our purpose is to start an investigation into whether there was any breach of the employment ordinance.
"We will focus on investigating whether Erwiana's agency in Hong Kong had overcharged her agency fees.''
Meanwhile, Indonesia's top diplomatic representative in Hong Kong said he believed in the city's rules and regulations and that whoever was responsible for the alleged abuse of Erwiana should be brought to justice. The country's consul general in Hong Kong, Chalief Akbar, said the consulate was working closely with police in the investigation into Erwiana's alleged abuse.
On Sunday, thousands of maids and their supporters protested in Hong Kong over the case. Erwiana returned to Indonesia earlier this month and is being treated at a hospital in the Central Java town of Sragen.
Additional reporting by Jennifer Ngo and Associated Press