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Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Hong Kong woman, 79, seen beating helper in online video suffers from dementia

Elderly employer who allegedly hit and threatened to kill Indonesian worker unable to recall what happened, source says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 11:33pm

The elderly Hong Kong woman arrested on Thursday night after being seen on video beating and threatening to kill her Indonesian domestic helper is a dementia patient, the Post has learned.

The woman, 79, was unable to recall what happened during the incident and told officers she did not know she had hit the 35-year-old helper at her Tsz Wan Shan home, according to a police source.

The Post understands she has suffered from dementia for several years and is on medication for the condition.

A 12-minute video showing a Cantonese-speaking woman arguing with her domestic helper was posted on the Times News International Facebook page earlier this week. Less than 24 hours later, at about 11pm on Thursday, officers from the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau identified the employer and arrested her for common assault and criminal intimidation.

‘I really want to kill you!’: Hong Kong woman arrested after video shows employer hitting Indonesian domestic helper

The helper, who was found in the Grand View Garden flat on Po Kong Village Road with reddish marks on her face, was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei. She was discharged after treatment.

A police source said initial investigation showed the alleged assault occurred in the flat on Wednesday.

The employer was released on bail early Friday, pending further investigation. Her relatives picked her up from Wong Tai Sin police station to take her home. She is required to report back to police later this month.

The helper is understood to have worked for the woman for fewer than three months. The two lived with the woman’s son and daughter-in-law.

“After gathering evidence, we will seek legal advice from the Department of Justice,” the source said. Crime squad officers from Wong Tai Sin police station were handling the case.

By noon on Friday, the video had received more than 900,000 views.

The footage showed the employer in a dispute with the helper over the quality of her work. The helper argued back in Cantonese, saying she was being berated over trivial matters and accusing her employer of being mad.

At one point, the employer is seen grabbing the helper by her neck to shake her and covering the employee’s mouth while she beats her.

The altercation continues for some time, and the clip ends with the employer saying: “I would hack you to death if I didn’t have to go to jail.”

Without commenting on the specifics of the case, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun offered his take on dementia in an assault charge.

“From what I understand, dementia in a general medical sense means having difficulty recalling the exact identity of a particular person or any past event,” he said. “Dementia cannot be a complete defence to a charge of assault because the attacker knows he or she is assaulting a human being.”

Indonesian consul-general Tri Tharyat said the consulate in the city was in close contact with the alleged victim, who is now living in a shelter, even as he urged police to take swift action.

“I strongly condemn the unnecessary and intolerable actions by the employer of the Indonesian domestic helper whose video went viral,” he said.

The consulate, he added, would ensure the worker’s rights are fully protected, and would cooperate with Hong Kong authorities to try to eliminate similar cases of abuses from occurring.