In a video interview with the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) published on Thursday (9 September), lawyer Anil Balchandani of Red Lion Circle said that the lack of proper representation of migrant workers such as domestic works is “bound to lead to problems down the line”.
“Problems down the line end up being problems with our justice system, where foreign domestic workers or foreign workers just don’t know what they’re up against, they don’t know who to turn to.
“They feel that it’s convenient, or they are given the impression that it’s just convenient to apologise and plead guilty, and they’ll be sent home, which is what they really want after a little while of being accused and interrogated. And that in itself is an injustice,” he said, adding that while Singapore protects “these vulnerable workers under our Penal Code if harm is done onto them, our criminal justice system doesn’t necessarily protect them when there’s an accusation against them”.
Mr Anil acted as pro bono counsel for Ms Parti Liyani against theft charges involving S$34,000 worth of items belonging to her former employer, Changi Airport Group Chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family.
Justice Chan Seng Onn of the High Court last week overturned the conviction and 26-month jail sentence passed down by District Judge Olivia Low to Ms Parti last year in the State Courts, effectively clearing the Indonesian national of all charges made against her.
The case has made headlines and sparked conversation among the public about the integrity of the initial investigation and trial against Parti, and the sense that justice has been served by the High Court in favour of her against such a prominent figure like Mr Liew.
Following the release of his interview with HOME, netizens on the Mothership.sg’s Facebook page were quick to praise the lawyer and the organisation for advocating for Ms Parti and fighting to make sure that she is well represented, with many also praising Parti for her resolve in enduring through these tough four years since she was arrested.
One person suggested that Mr Balchandani should be nominated for Singaporean of the year as he represents the Singapore that everyone would like to see, embodying the values of fairness, compassion, and tenacity.
Another person also praised HOME for its efforts, adding that they should be recognised as the “best NGO in Singapore”.
Many also noted that “justice” will only be done when the perpetrators in this case, Mr Liew and his family, are dealt with by the law for their “crime”.
One netizen highlighted that this case is a “wake up call” to Singapore’s legal system and people, saying “when you can’t fight the elite, you[r] life can be messed up by their selfish lies.”
One netizen noted that this case should not have even made it to the High Court for it to be overturned in the first place, pointing out how “the slipshod work of the police, the err of the prosecutor and the misjudgment of the district judge almost ruined a vulnerable innocent life.”
He also voiced his disgust at Temasek for making “blatant statements to suggest that they are with Liew” and suggesting that the public should “hear his side of the story”.
While another person wondered “just how many miscarriages of justice there have been and how many of the rich and powerful have used the legal system to get their own way.”