Hong Kong courts

Woman, 78, in Hong Kong denies pouring hot water on Indonesian domestic helper over work performance

Gee Hoo Giok, 78, says she does not know why helper, who suffered moderate burns on back, is accusing her of attack

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 10:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 12:45am

An Indonesian Chinese woman on Wednesday denied pouring hot water on her domestic helper and insisted they had a good relationship, after a Hong Kong court ruled she had a case to answer.

Prosecutors accused Gee Hoo Giok, 78, of wounding her former Indonesian helper Ismiati, 29, on March 29 last year out of dissatisfaction with her work performance and delay in starting work.

The District Court heard Ismiati was subsequently diagnosed with moderate degree burns, suffering redness from the back of her neck to her lower back, with ruptured blisters and peeling skin.

“The pain increased every day,” Ismiati testified through an interpreter. “I couldn’t lie down on my back.”

Deputy District Judge Li Chi-ho ruled Gee had a case to answer. In defence, Gee countered that she had never poured hot water on Ismiati during the three days of her employment.

Domestic workers share stories of ill-treatment, poor living conditions and rights abuses

Defence counsel Juliana Chow Hoi-ling questioned: “Did you know how she got those burns on her back?”

I was grateful for her care ... I didn’t think of saying those things
Gee Hoo Giok, defendant

“I knew nothing about what happened,” Gee replied through a Mandarin interpreter.

Gee pleaded not guilty to charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and terminating the contract of an employee during the period she was incapacitated.

The court heard Gee hired Ismiati in January last year to take care of her husband, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005. But Gee’s husband died on March 3, and Ismiati reported for work on March 27.

The next day, Gee took Ismiati to Victoria Park. “She supported me in case I fell,” Gee recalled. “I thought to myself: ‘This is a good domestic helper.’”

She said she did not understand why Ismiati would accuse her of assault after they cooked dinner together the following night. She also denied complaining about Ismiati’s alleged delay in reporting for work or her slow cooking.

Domestic helper accused of putting bleach in baby girl’s bath solution

“I was grateful for her care,” she said. “I didn’t think of saying those things.”

On April 10 last year, the Immigration Department was informed that Ismiati’s contract had been terminated.

The defence case continues on Thursday.