It is quite unusual that the police officer involved in the investigation of the Parti Liyani case did not want to re-victimise the Liew family, said the Worker’s Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim in Parliament on Wednesday (4 Nov).
Ms Lim noted that during the trial, the investigating officer gave a different reason for the five-week lapse in the investigation – that he did not take the evidence into custody because he “did not want to re-victimise” the Liew family.
“Speaking as a former police officer, I find this quite unusual in a theft case that an officer would consider this issue of re-victimisation,” she asserted.
Ms Lim then questioned if it had crossed Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam’s mind that the investigating officer “may have felt that he was dealing with somebody who is very prominent, and therefore needed to take extra care”, even though there was no pressure from former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong.
She also called for the Minister to clarify his earlier statement regarding the High Court’s judgement on the case.
“The sense I’m getting is that he is saying that if the High Court had known certain other information at the time, the High Court may have come to a different conclusion. Is that what he is saying?” Ms Lim asked.
The way the matter was handled negates the suggestion of any implicit extra attention, says Law and Home Affairs Minister
In response, Mr Shanmugam said that the High Court’s decision – based on the facts presented – is both “natural and understandable”.
“I explained that we didn’t go about looking for any further evidence to question the High Court. It was the High Court’s decision which required us to do further investigations, specifically on the Liews and whether any criminal investigations had been committed,” the Minister elaborated.
He added that in the course of the investigations, further evidence was found.
Mr Shanmugam continued, “I am a Member of Parliament. I am here, I am making a ministerial statement. I have this information in my possession. So, I have to set it out – all in good faith, honesty, and transparency.
“And that is all I’m doing. I am not in any way therefore suggesting that if this information was there before the High Court, it could’ve come to a different decision. I don’t want to be making these comments.”
The Minister then said that if Ms Lim or any other MP thinks that the High Court would’ve benefitted from this information, it is their “prerogative” to think that.
“But I don’t think that I should be suggesting that,” he expressed.
“What is important for me is to show what the police and agency had, and I’m happy for Ms Lim’s confirmation that there was no expressed influence by Mr Liew Mun Leong or his family.”
Mr Shanmugam went on to say that the question on whether there was implicit bias in the investigation was also a “question that has struck [him]”.
However, the Minister noted that the investigating officer’s conduct seems to prove otherwise, given that the officer had waited five weeks to act on the case.
“I’m saying to you the way the matter was handled [negates] the suggestion of any implicit extra attention,” he asserted.
Ms Shanmugam then argued that the time taken for the investigating officer to visit the scene is “different from why he did not seize the item”, adding that the police assess the necessity to take evidence into custody based on the facts of the case as well as the nature of the items.
The Minister explained that if a photograph of the physical items is deem adequate by the officer, then there is no need to seize them.
“So, that’s what meant by ‘I did not want to re-victimise’,” he justified.