The testimony of one of former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong’s chauffeurs during Parti Liyani’s trial revealed that the Liews did not check the former domestic worker’s bags even when they have purportedly suspected her of stealing the items.
Ms Parti’s employment was terminated on 28 October 2016 after Mr Liew’s son Karl arrived at 49 Chancery Lane with two employment agents.
Mr Karl told Ms Parti — who worked for Mr Liew for around eight or nine years — that she was given two hours to pack her belongings and to leave the house. She was not given any reasons for her abrupt termination despite prompting such from him.
Khor Tiong Beng, known as Robin, was one of Mr Liew’s two chauffeurs at the time who assembled the three packing boxes containing the alleged stolen items.
They also assisted Ms Parti by inserting items outside her room into the boxes.
Mr Khor testified during defence counsel Anil Balchandani’s cross-examination of him at trial that Ms Parti had requested him to ask Mr Liew’s wife Ng Lai Peng to check the contents of the boxes.
It was also put to Mr Khor that Ms Parti had asked Mdm Ng if she wanted to inspect the things packed in her pink suitcase and soft bag when she was saying her goodbyes.
At the appeal hearing, the defence highlighted that Mr Karl’s testimony on the alleged stolen items were in contrast to what was heard in a video played in court of a conversation between him and his mother Ng Lai Peng, aka Mrs Liew.
Mrs Liew was heard making a remark on how “the karang guni man” had helped her to move the items in the boxes.
Mr Karl was also heard saying to Mrs Liew that she “cannot get the karang guni man” to the house as it is “still her things”.
This particular point was also noted by Justice Chan Seng Onn in his High Court judgement in September this year, which overturned District Judge Olivia Low’s conviction and sentencing of Ms Parti.
“As captured in the Video, Mdm Ng’s initial reaction was not to salvage the items but to engage the help of the karang guni man to remove the items,” Justice Chan remarked.
He added that if the clothing items were stolen from Mr Karl, it would be expected for Mr Karl “to have claimed that they were his clothes” instead of stating that the items could not be moved because they were indeed Ms Parti’s items.
According to Mr Khor’s testimony during the aforementioned cross-examination, Mr Liew had enquired about certain missing items such as the power bank and a pair of running shoes, but had never said anything about suspecting Ms Parti of stealing the items.
This is different from the narrative that Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in his ministerial statement and the Ministry of Home Affairs in its video appear to be upholding at present, whereby it was said that Mr Liew had long suspected Ms Parti of stealing items in the house, including the aforementioned items.
In allowing Ms Parti’s appeal against her conviction and jail sentence, however, Justice Chan Seng Onn found that Mr Liew and Mr Karl demonstrated “improper motives” behind suddenly terminating Ms Parti’s employment and lodging the police report against her.
The “improper motives” included their intention to prevent Ms Parti from notifying the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regarding the illegal cleaning work she was made to do at Mr Karl’s home at 39 Chancery Lane and his office at Killiney Road.
Justice Chan also observed that Mr Liew had only spent a “few minutes” or “half an hour” looking through the jumbo boxes after Ms Parti’s termination, which took place following Mr Liew’s return to Singapore.
The inconsistencies between the charges or police photographs and the First Information Report (FIR) filed by Mr Liew, the judge reasoned, highlighted how the FIR “concerning hundreds of allegedly stolen items” was made after “spending a relatively short amount of time looking through the jumbo boxes without proper documentation of the allegedly stolen items”.
“There was more than sufficient time for Mr Liew to have properly documented the stolen items before making the FIR. Indeed, that would have been crucial contemporaneous evidence of the items discovered by the Liew family in the three jumbo boxes allegedly stolen by Parti,” said Justice Chan.