The Parti Liyani case illustrates that “no person, no matter how powerful or influential, especially those in service to the nation, should be excused from public accountability,” said political party Red Dot United (RDU) on its website on Sunday (4 October).
Just a day before this week’s Parliament sitting, RDU posted an article on its website about the case which has garnered significant attention both locally and abroad, particularly when the Indonesian former domestic worker was acquitted by the High Court of four theft charges brought against her by the Attorney-General’s Chambers based on her former employee’s allegations that she had stolen items from the family amounting to S$34,000. Her former employer is former Changi Airport Group Chairman Liew Mun Leong.
Stressing that Ms Parti’s victory was not easily won, the party acknowledged the “long four years of trepidation” she faced, having been sentenced once before and risked having her sentenced extended if she failed in her appeal.
It also noted that daily expenses by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) which housed and fed Ms Parti throughout the four years as well as the time and resources expended by her pro-bono lawyer, Mr Anil Balchandani.
“A nerve-wracking wait, unable to work for her living and for her family members back in Indonesia, without even the guarantee that her indignity would be addressed,” said the party.
It went on to say that the public have been reassured that an internal review is being conducted at the AGC. The Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugan is also expected to make a ministerial statement on the issue later in November.
This comes after public outcry over the case, based on the High Court judgement, which highlighted inconsistencies in evidence gathering amongst other things.
In his judgement, Justice Chan Seng Onn wrote in conclusion:
I first observe that in the present case, which involved a voluminous number of items, the proper handling of the evidence by the police and recording of the allegedly stolen items is crucial in order to preserve the chain of custody of the items. Coupled with the existence of an improper motive by members of the Liew family for mounting the allegations against Parti, I find that the convictions against Parti are unsafe and accordingly acquit her of all the charges.
The High Court also found “improper motives” on the part of Mr Liew and his son, Karl Liew, in terminating Ms Parti’s employment and making the initial police report against her. He reasoned:
“In my judgment, there is reason to believe that the Liew family, upon realising her unhappiness, took the pre-emptive first step to terminate her employment suddenly without giving her sufficient time for her to pack, in the hope that Parti would not use the time to make a complaint to MOM.”
From the detailed judgement of the appeal, it is clear that Ms Parti was acquited based on the merits of the defence’s arguments and no just some legal technicality.
RDU, in their statement, stressed the need for an investigation and for the results to be made public to ensure public confidence in the judicial system.
It wrote, “Indeed, investigate they should, and the explanation provided to the public, to ensure full confidence is retained in our judicial system and the men and women who are the face of law and order in Singapore.”
It went on to stress that no one is immune from public accountability, adding, “Any system that is run by humans is subject to human error, and our system can be made more robust. We need a better audit on processes, beginning with police investigative procedures.”
The party concluded by reiterating its commitment to the people.
“RDU is committed to ensuring that all the institutions of state, including the political institutions, the legal system and the public service, achieve the highest standards of efficiency and service, serving the purposes for which they were established.