As Sylvia Lim (Lim) of the Workers’ Party (WP) confirmed that she was not going to re-file the adjournment motion she filed to speak about the now infamous Parti Liyani case in Parliament in October and that questions from the party will be fielded in the ministerial statement by Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam, it has been reported that 10 members of parliament (MPs) have filed Parliamentary questions on the issue.
Among the MPs that have filed Parliamentary questions, is the Peoples’ Action Party’s (PAP), Murali Pillai (Murali). The MP for Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency asked what steps would be taken by different government agencies to identify why issues identified in the judgement occurred, and how these issues would be addressed in future.
While Murali’s questions are valid, do they go far enough to address the enormity of the problem especially in light of the fact that Lim’s Adjournment Motion opportunity has been scuppered this month and Minister K Shanmugam’s Parliamentary speech on this issue has been postponed to next month?
The whole Parti Liyani miscarriage of justice occurred seemingly because various safeguards in different government agencies all failed. The first hurdle was breached when , among other things, the investigations conducted by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) did not appear to be thorough. This was then made worse when it was revealed by the High Court that the SPF may not have handled evidence safely.
The next problematic area concerned the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and its decision to go ahead with the prosecution of the case despite the SPF’s inappropriate handling of the evidence and apparently unthorough investigation.
In addition, it would also appear that the lower court judge, Olivia Low erred in her judgement by, among other things, disregarding information that the High Court Judge, Justice Chan considered relevant.
From what I have listed above, it is clear that various government agencies need to work together to ensure that justice is served. This means that if the various agencies are conducting their investigations individually behind closed doors, they may miss the crucial points of communication required for the entire system to work properly.
Each agency might well individually conclude that the responsibility falls with another agency when in reality, it should be on both of them working together. Without a public Committee of Inquiry (COI) where the procedures of all the relevant agencies are made clear and public, how can their procedures be properly joined up? And if, the procedures and communication streams between the various agencies are not properly joined up, how can things be dealt with differently in future?
However well intentioned, any closed door investigation conducted in silo by the individual agencies will never resolve the problem because for the system to work as it should, these agencies should be communicating with each other in accordance with a pre set and publicly known procedure. That way, if there is a chink in the chain, it can be clearly identified and swiftly rectified without it needing to get to the High Court!
Why then is a COI still not called? Why has Shanmugam postponed his speech? Why have the other MPs who made competing Adjournment Motions alongside Lim not dropped their applications when it was revealed that Lim had made an application to discuss such an important and current issue?
Even if that is not the intention, all this could look like the authorities trying to stage manage the handling of the Parti Liyani case in a way to ensure that the authorities do not come off looking bad.