On Tuesday (29 September), Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin revealed that People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Louis Ng was selected via a balloting procedure to speak on his motion on protection against secondhand smoke in homes at the next Parliament sitting in October.
His motion was selected out of five motions put forth by various MPs including a motion on full participations of persons with disabilities in Singapore society by MP Denise Phua, increasing support for the sustenance of livelihoods amongst performing arts workers by Carrie Tan, eradicating mental health stigmatisation by Wan Rizal and enhancing equity in the criminal justice system by Sylvia Lim.
This sparked discussion online about the method of selection a motion to be addressed in parliament, which is done via balloting as provided for under the Standing Orders of Parliament.
Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai took to Facebook on Wednesday (30 Sept) titled “Second-hand smoke more important than criminal justice” to say, “MP Sylvia Lim only stands a 20% chance of being drawn in the ballot process although most Singaporeans would probably prefer the Parti Liyani case to be heard first before Secondhand Smoke or any of the other matters raised by the PAP MPs.”
However, he also went on to say, “The failure of the current parliamentary procedure (standing order) to give priority to the more important issue of the day to be heard and processed is another issue we will follow up in the future.”
Instead, Mr Leong said that he hopes the parliamentary questions raised by PSP in Parliament—pertaining to the criminal justice system though raised separately from Ms Lim’s motion—will be fully addressed by the Minister of Law and Home Affairs.
The NCMP went on to reproduce the questions that were raised, one of which is whether the Minister of Home Affairs will appoint a committee of inquiry (COI) consisting of members not affiliated by the government in order to conduct a public inquiry into the Singapore Police Force (SPF)’s and Attorney-General’s Chamber (AGC)’s conduct regarding the investigation and prosecution of Parti Liyani.
He also asked the Minister if an expedited trial process could be implemented for economically vulnerable foreign accused persons, whether the honorarium for volunteer lawyers under the CLAS scheme could be increased to reflect their contributions, whether an Office of Public Defender could be created to provide legal assistance to accused persons in Singapore, and whether there are steps being taken to strengthen the interpreter services in the SPF’s in light of the findings in the Parti Liyani case.
Mr Leong concluded his post by saying, “We continue to advocate that for the Parti Liyani case, which is one of national importance, an Independent Committee of Inquiry be convened to investigate the case independently and to recommend remedial measures. “
He stressed that “this is the only way to regain public confidence and trust in our criminal justice system.”
Parti Liyani Case
In March 2019, foreign domestic worker Parti Liyani was convicted of stealing items belonging to her former employer, the former Changi Airport Group (CAG) chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family — his son Karl Liew in particular. Ms Parti’s employment was abruptly terminated on 28 Oct 2016.
Mr Liew had asked Mr Karl to oversee Ms Parti’s termination and repatriation process to Indonesia, as the former was abroad at the time.
Prior to being sent back to her home country, Ms Parti was given only three hours to pack her belongings despite having worked for the family for almost nine years.
Mr Liew subsequently reported the purported theft on 30 October the same year after returning to Singapore.
Less than two months later, Ms Parti was arrested at Changi Airport on 2 December upon her return to Singapore.
Ms Parti was charged with stealing items totalling S$50,000.
The amount, however, was reduced to S$34,000 when District Judge Olivia Low removed several items from the charge sheet and reduced the estimated value of certain items, such as knocking down the value of a damaged Gerald Genta watched from S$25,000 to S$10,000.
Judge Low sentenced Ms Parti to two years and two months of jail after removing items from and reducing value on the allegedly stolen items that Mr Anil had successfully disproved in the State Courts hearing.
The prosecution originally sought a three-year jail sentence.
Earlier this month on 4 September, Justice Chan overturned the conviction and 26-month jail sentence passed down by Judge Low to Ms Parti last year in the State Courts, effectively clearing the Indonesian national of all charges made against her.
Justice Chan found that Mr Liew and Mr Karl’s actions demonstrated “improper motives” in terminating Ms Parti’s employment and making the police report against her.
He stressed that the prosecution had failed to demonstrate that there was no improper motive by Mr Liew and Mr Karl in making the police report against Ms Parti “just two days” after she made an express threat to alert the Ministry of Manpower about her illegal deployment to the latter’s residence and office.