Chief Executive of Temasek International, the wholly-owned management and investment arm of Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings, Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara (Dilhan) has appeared to defend Liew Mun Leong, who is currently its senior international business adviser alongside being the Chairman of the Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong. For those unaware, Liew and his family have recently hit headlines after the High Court acquitted their former domestic helper, Parti Liyani for alleged theft.
Among other things, Dilhan has said: “I think we should hear from Mr Liew on his side of the issue, and not come quick to judgment until we’ve heard all sides of things.”
This seems a strange thing to say given that the High Court has already issued its ruling. Hasn’t Liew already given his side in court with the High Court ruling against him? The High Court has been unequivocal in its ruling that the prosecution has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Parti was guilty – in other words, she is not guilty in a court of law. So, what other side is there that we have not heard?
Is Dilhan questioning the validity of the court’s ruling? Is Dilhan implying that the High Court did not hear Liew’s side sufficiently?
The courts have always taken its reputation for being fair seriously. It has on numerous occasions taken issue with criticism where its impartiality has been questioned. Most recently, Li Shengwu, nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was made to pay a fine of $15,000 after being found guilty of being in contempt of court for saying in a closed Facebook group that the courts in Singapore were pliant.
With that in mind, how will the courts view Dilhan’s suggestion that it may not have explored Liew’s side sufficiently?
Dilhan said further:
“There are many individuals who have contributed to both public service and to the private sector in Singapore for the benefit of Singapore and our population as a whole. (Liew) is one of those persons, and his track record at CapitaLand, at Changi Airport Group, and at Surbana Jurong attest to that.”
Whatever Liew’s contributions to these companies may have been, these do not detract from the fact that the High Court has ruled in favour of his domestic helper. It does not detract from the fact that Liew and his family may have bullied someone who has much less social standing than they do – just because they can! If anything, the establishment’s insistence on defending Liew highlights the gross imbalance of power that may exist between the elites and the “help”.
At the end of the day, Liew and his family may not have dealt honestly with the police and the courts where Parti was concerned. With this in mind, it is completely insensitive and inappropriate for a company with the standing that Temasek has to praise Liew.
Is Temasek completely out of touch and tone deaf or does it simply not care about how those who do not share their social standing may feel?
Do companies such as Surbana Jurong, Temasek and Changi Airport Group not have a corporate responsibilities to ensure fairness and equity? If so, shouldn’t they at least suspend Liew until such time as investigations have been completed? If he is found to be above board, they can reinstate his various positions. At this point however, to keep him where he is could put these companies’ social responsibility reputations at risk.
Is this endemic of our ruling classes?