District Judge Olivia Low who had presided over the controversial case of Indonesian domestic worker, Parti Liyani is now employed in the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) as a Deputy Senior State Counsel in the Civil Division.
District Judge Low had earlier sentenced Ms Parti to two years and two months of imprisonment for the four theft related charges after hearing the case over a course of 20 days from Apr 2018 to Jan 2019.
At the delivery of her sentence on 25 March 2019, the District Judge said that she did not see “any reason why the Liew family and (their) driver Robin would conspire to frame the accused for the theft, especially when they had employed her for a number of years”.
“They had in fact compensated her for the termination and was even willing to pay for the shipping of her items back to Indonesia,”
“On the contrary, the modus operandi of the accused was to take a variety of items from different family members thinking that these would go unnoticed by them.”
She said she found the prosecution’s witnesses “largely credible and consistent”, and the victims were able to identify the items that belonged to them and what they did with it.
Instead of finding doubts in the case itself through the evidence provided by the Defence, District Judge Low amended the second charge by reducing the number of stolen items from 120 to 115, removing two wallets from the list and reducing the value of a watch from S$25,000 to S$10,000.
Subsequently, Ms Parti filed an appeal against her convictions and had it heard in the High Court through three days of hearing in 2019 and 2020.
On 4 Sept 2020, Justice Chan Seng Onn ruled to acquit former domestic worker of all four convictions passed by the District Judge.
Justice Chan noted in his written judgement:
“In her decision to convict Parti on the 2nd charge for having stolen the 115 items of clothing that were in Karl’s possession, the Judge did not find the need to delve into the details of each and every item.
“Instead, it would appear that the Judge based the conviction on the fact that Karl “confirmed that he had never given [Parti] any clothes” and Mdm Ng only gave Parti clothes that were hers (meaning, Mdm Ng’s), and not anyone else’s.”
Further down, he said:
“Karl’s evidence was internally inconsistent and contradicted by the other witnesses. Karl’s testimony that he had in his possession multiple female items that Parti allegedly stole from him is also highly suspect.
“It is unclear how the Judge could have arrived at the conclusion that this was a result of Karl’s “inability to recall if some items had ever been in his possession”, especially when some of the items were observed by the Judge to be “smaller-sized female clothing” and wallets that “did not appear to be men’s wallets.”
He further said, “When confronted with the question if he had a “habit of wearing women’s clothes”, Karl replied that he sometimes wore women’s T-shirts. This assertion is highly unbelievable, especially in the light of the concessions Karl made at trial regarding the women’s clothing removed from the 2nd charge.”
In his judgement, Justice Chan notes a considerable number of questionable judgement calls made by the District Judge and praised Ms Parti’s defence counsel, Mr Anil Balchandani who represented Ms Parti pro-bono, for analysing the grounds of decision of the district judge in great detail to submit on areas where the judge had erred in her findings.
Ms Low was appointed as State Counsel to the AGC with effect on 1 April last year — right after she convicted Ms Parti —and she is now fellow colleague with the the Deputy Public Prosecutors who fought so hard to get Ms Parti convicted and jailed.
Also, following the High Court’s ruling to acquit Ms Parti , the AGC said in a statement on 5 Sept that it was studying the judgement on her successful appeal in order to assess possible further actions that ought to be taken. The review is said to be headed by Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair who is a former People’s Action Party Member of Parliament.