As the saying goes – “Six Degrees of Separation”. Does this ring true for the Liew Mun Leong and Parti Liyani saga? While we are in no way suggesting that there is any proven wrongdoing or negligence on the part of any of the government agencies, the lower courts or members of the Liew family in this, there does appear to be a web of connection between all the major players.
At the heart of this matter, we have the following cast of players:
- Parti Liyani as the accused (Parti);
- Liew Mun Leong (Liew) and his family as the accusers;
- Tan Yanying the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP);
- Tan Yong Soon, father of the DPP and colleague of Liew at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
- The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC)
- Lucien Wong who as the Attorney General heads up the AGC
- Ho Ching , CEO of Temasek Holdings;
- Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore,
- The Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
- Josephine Teo, Minister of Manpower who heads the MOM
- Teo Eng Cheong, CEO International (Singapore, Southeast Asia, North Asia) of Surbana Jurong and husband of Josephine Teo. As of the writing of this article, we understand that Teo Eng Cheong has resigned from Surbana Jurong although he may still be serving his notice period.
After the High Court’s high profile acquittal of Parti, it has been revealed that that there have been serious mistakes made in the investigation process of this matter. From the handling of the evidence to the seemingly glaring inconsistencies in statements made by the Liew family, it did not seem like a strong case for the AGC to prosecute in the first place. Why then did the AGC make the decision to prosecute?
As criticism begins to mount, it would appear that the DPP who was actively blocking Ms Parti’s Defence Counsel from asking pertinent questions of the Liews is Tan Yanying who also happens to be the daughter of Tan Yong Soon (NS Brigadier General). Tan Yong Soon was the former CEO of Urban Development Authority (June 2001 to Dec 2003) which overlaps with the time when Liew was the CEO of Capitaland, He is also now a colleague of Liew at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy where Liew is the Provost Chair. The Attorney General, Lucien Wong also happens to be on the board of Capitaland where Liew was a past director. Their time there would have overlapped.
Parti as a Foreign Domestic Worker would have fallen under the purview of the Ministry of Manpower, headed by Josephine Teo who is the Minister for Manpower. Josephine Teo in turn is married to Teo Eng Cheong who is a colleague of Liew at Surbana Jurong. Despite Parti having made a complaint in 2017 to MOM about how she was forced by the Liew family to work in contravention of MOM rules, there is no evidence that MOM did anything other than to issue a letter of caution to the Liews.
As late as August this year, when news had already broken about Liew (who incidentally has a position in Temasek as senior international business adviser and who is also Chairman of Surbana Jurong in which Termasek holds a majority), having potentially bullied his FDW in a relationship where the balance of power is disproportionate, Ho Ching who is both the Prime Minister’s wife and the CEO of Temasek Holdings publicly praised him. This is then followed by Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara of Temasek International praising Liew (in a most insensitive and tone deaf manner) for his various contributions to Singapore.
Clearly, Liew is an influential man who is connected with many of the power brokers in the establishment. While this may all just be a huge coincidence, it is also obvious that the inter playing relationships between the players in this matter could cause incidents of conflicts of interests.
Added to that is the observation that all the people who played a part in prosecuting Parti despite it seeming like a weak case to begin with are all seemingly closely associated with Liew.
With this in mind, should a Committee of Inquiry (COI) not be called by the President to ensure that any investigation is open, above board, transparent and objective? If the government agencies are permitted to self investigate, it could result in irreparable reputational damage. After all, isn’t it true that justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done?
Under the Inquiries Act, the President has the power to appoint a COI. The public is watching to see if the President will exercise this power.