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Malaysian couple charged in death of Cambodian maid

The employers of a Cambodian maid who died in Malaysia were charged on Friday with her murder, police said yesterday.

Penang state police chief Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob said 24-year-old domestic worker Mey Sichan’s employers Soh Chew Tong, 43, and his wife, Chin Chui Ling, 40, were charged with murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code in a district court.

They face the mandatory death penalty by hanging if found guilty, he added.

“A plea was not recorded, and they will be tried in the high court for murder,” he said, adding that a date had not been fixed for their trial.

Three workers in the hardware shop that the couple owned had previously been questioned on the suspects’ treatment of Mey Sichan, and will testify as witnesses, said Datuk Yaakob.

The official medical report that reflected cause of death would also be presented in court, he said.

Mey Sichan had died in the early hours of March 31 of suspected starvation and physical abuse, police had earlier told the Post.

Multiple injuries had been on her body and she was found to be suffering from acute gastritis, police said.

Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour project, yesterday welcomed news of the charges.

“On behalf of human rights NGOs, we congratulate Malaysia, which is finding justice for the Cambodian maid by charging her employers with murder,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen imposed a temporary ban on sending domestic workers to Malaysia in October after reports of abuse surfaced. 

At least nine Cambodian maids were reported as having died there in 2011.

Cambodian Working Group for Domestic Workers advocacy officer Natalie Drolet said the recent death reflected dated attitudes towards domestic workers despite their significant contributions to the global economy.

“Social and cultural attitudes towards domestic workers must change at the same time as legislative and policy changes to protect their rights,” she said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cassandra Yeap and Sen David at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

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