HK employer gets lighter sentence than Filipino helper
HONG KONG – For "actively and substantially" helping prosecute her employer who ordered her to live outside her home, a Filipino domestic worker received a "thank you" from a magistrate and was told she would be getting a lenient sentence for her own role in the violation, Diana S. Segui fought back tears as Shatin magistrate Andrew Ma sentenced her to a four-month jail sentence suspended for three years on Jul 29.
But barely two weeks later, her former employer, Caroline Sia, received a far more lenient sentence of two months in jail suspended for a year from another magistrate.
Segui was arrested during a raid by immigration officers on her boarding house in Wanchai on June 5 last year.
Sia, her employer, evaded investigators for several months before she was finally arrested. Prosecutors enlisted the Filipino's help in testifying against her former boss.
Segui pleaded guilty to a charge of "making a false representation to an Immigration Officer" for agreeing to live outside her employer's home.
Before sentencing Segui, the magistrate said he was giving a one-third discount on her sentence for her guilty plea, and credit for the two months that she had been in custody since her arrest.
In mitigation, her lawyer said Segui was forced to agree to the contract drafted by Sia because she was desperate for a job as her contract had been terminated by her previous employer.
Segui first came to Hong Kong in 2008 to work so she could support her 11-year-old daughter as she was separated from her husband.
She was supposed to serve as a witness against Sia, who had originally pleaded not guilty to a conspiracy to make a false representation to an immigration officer.
But during the trial on Jul 27, Sia changed her plea to guilty, prompting deputy magistrate Jolie Chao to give her a one-third discount to a three-month jail term, and then suspending the sentence for a year.
Following her sentencing, Segui told The SUN that she was all set to return to the Philippines.
"I want to go home right away. I miss my daughter," she said.
Had she not been arrested, she would have moved to Canada in February this year as she had found an employer there, and was already scheduled for a visa interview by the Canadian consulate.
Segui began working for Sia on Jan 9, 2013 with a monthly salary of $6,000 that included $1,500 for her accommodation, according to court records. – Rappler.com
This story was republished with permission from The Sun-HK, a content partner of Rappler