by Augustine Low
The Parti Liyani — Liew Mun Leong case is such gripping drama because it is David vs Goliath, the weak and vulnerable vs the elite and entitled.
What chance did Parti have against an upstanding member of society and darling of the establishment who has contributed much to Singapore?
How often does David triumph against Goliath?
The case of Parti Liyani is to be both celebrated and mourned.
Celebrated because her High Court acquittal is so hard-fought – rarely do we have all the elements combined, of a defendant with resilience, the unsparing support of non-governmental organisation HOME, an indefatigable defence counsel and an impeccable High Court judge.
Mourned because it pricks the conscience of a nation. A statement by Red Lion Circle, the law firm of defence counsel Anil Balchandani who acted for Parti Liyani pro-bono, reads in part:
“There are many more Parti Liyanis who languish in shelters and our prisons who’s attention we, as a nation, should turn to.”
Parti Liyani could easily have fallen through the cracks in the system. How many others before her did fall through and are languishing in shelters and prisons?
In light of everything, what Temasek chooses to say of Liew Mun Leong is most revealing: “There are many individuals who have contributed to both public service and the private sector in Singapore for the benefit of Singapore and our population as a whole. (Mr Liew) is one of those persons, and his track record at CapitaLand, at Changi Airport Group, and at Surbana Jurong attest to that.”
Does his contribution and track record eclipse his behaviour and actions?
Left unspoken is, what contribution has Parti Liyani made to Singapore?
Actually Parti did contribute as a domestic helper in this country. What about her contribution to the Liew family? Does that not count? After working for the family for nine years, she was given three hours to pack up and leave.
It’s also interesting that Law Minister K Shanmugam has adopted a more nuanced but somewhat baffling stance.
When asked for his views yesterday on public comments that the case had been between two parties of vastly different backgrounds, the Minister said: “It is not between a very prominent business person and a foreign domestic worker. She was charged in a criminal case based on a complaint by the business person.”A classic head-scratcher, that one. Try and figure out what the Minister is trying to say.
The Minister’s reference to Liew as a “business person” is also noteworthy.
Liew is the Chairman of Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong, senior international advisor to Temasek, and Provost Chair Professor (Practice) in NUS Business School and Faculty of Engineering. He has also been awarded the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal and Public Administration Medal.
Liew is not just any business person. He is very much an entrenched member of the establishment and the elite class.
Will we be seeing more distancing between the government and Liew Mun Leong?