Virginia Lau Yu-lin, the wife of Islands District Council chairman Randy Yu, is under investigation for allegedly assaulting her domestic helper with a hot iron.
Castle Peak Police Station has confirmed it received a report of a scalding on May 9 and arranged for the victim to be treated at Tuen Mun Hospital on the same day.
A short time later, Lau accused the woman, a Cambodian national known as Ah Ling, of stealing items from her home.
The alleged scalding and theft are being investigated by Tuen Mun police. No charges have been laid.
The charge of employer assault of a domestic servant with an appliance carries a penalty of up to three years’ jail time.
Ah Ling told Apple Daily through an interpreter that she started working for Lau in late March after serving two weeks in quarantine.
She said during her employment she was not given any time off, working from 6 am until early morning. Her mobile phone was confiscated during her shift.
According to Apple Daily, on the evening of May 7 Ah Ling said she was ironing several pairs of socks, as instructed by another helper, when Lau entered the room and asked why she was “ironing your socks first?”
Lau took the iron from her hand and gave a demonstration for a few seconds before she suddenly pressed it against Ah Ling’s upper left arm.
Ah Ling said she screamed with pain. Lau told her to finish the ironing and walked out of the room.
The next morning, Ah Ling’s sister persuaded her to take action. An employee of the agency that had engaged Ah Ling went to Lau’s residence and afterwards decided to call the police.
Several days later, Ah Ling received a letter from Lau’s lawyer, accusing her of slandering her and stealing property.
Apple Daily says its reporter was unable to make contact with Lau, and so tracked down Yu after an Islands District Council meeting. Yu denied the allegations and said he suspected the helper had “self-harmed.” He said Ah Ling’s long hours were a result of her working too slowly.
The charge of an employer assaulting a foreign domestic helper depends on how the abuse is carried out and the injury.
If the injury is minor, the charge is common assault or assault causing bodily harm, with a maximum sentence of one year. If an employer uses an appliance to commit an assault, the penalty is up to three years in prison.
Randy Yu has held the Lantau seat in the Islands District Council since 2015. In the wake of the sweeping democrat victory at last November’s district council elections, Yu is now the sole non-democrat among the 18 council chairpersons.
He has been married to Lau since 2002. They have two sons and a daughter.
Lau, a fashion designer, created a minor stir at the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak when she said she and her family were drinking Chinese medicine to ward off the virus.
Her brother Kenneth, who took over the Heung Yee Kuk after their father’s death in 2017, is one of the city’s most powerful politicians, a member of Exco, Legco and the CPPCC.