As Singaporeans watch the Liew Mun Leong saga unfold, many have criticised the lower courts for the seemingly flawed judgement that District Judge Olivia Low delivered against Parti Liyani.
Apart from apparent mistakes made by the police and the prosecution team, it has been revealed that the lower court judge, Olivia Low had failed to to consider the unchallenged expert evidence on the authenticity and the working condition of some of the stolen items.
In addition, there have also been disturbing revelations about how Low had sought to seemingly suppress information about Parti’s threat to complain about the Liews to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for making her work in contravention of MOM rules in court.
However, it is noteworthy that this does not appear to be the only time Low has erred in her judgement concerning foreign domestic workers (FDW). In another case, where an FDW, Moe Moe Than (Than) was abused by husband and wife Tay Wee Kiat (Tay) and Chia Yun-Ling (Chia), Low also had her judgement reversed.
While Low had acquitted Chia for not paying Than’s salary, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng at the High Court reversed this acquittal and sentenced her to a further three months for this charge. In addition, the High Court also handed down another six more months to Tay for abusing Than. It would seem that Low had disregarded certain pieces of evidence and been too lenient with a couple who had abused their FDW.
The High Court Judge was of the opinion that Low “did not evaluate the evidence or make any clear findings of Chia’s version of events”. While Chia had claimed that she had paid Than the salary she was owed in full, Justice Hoo (of the High Court) had not found this version of events believable as Chia had changed her position about the date she had paid the salary, and her reasons for the backdating were “contrived” and “illogical”.
Given that this couple had also ill treated another FDW, Indonesian national Fitriyah, whose employment overlapped with Than’s, Low’s leniency does seem odd. Looking at this case, and that of Parti Liyani’s, does Low have a pattern of taking what employers say at face value without any probing? Was there an unconscious bias on her part to assume that employers tell the truth over FDWs?
Given that mistakes where FDWs are concerned are not isolated incidents for the former District Judge, a thorough and serious investigation should be held to evaluate her fitness as a judge in a transparent and open manner.
TOC understands that Low is currently employed at the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and she is no longer presiding over any hearings.
However, there may be a need to reopen other judgements issued by her to make sure that she has not made similar mistakes.