Parti Liyani‘s harrowing four-year ordeal after being accused of thieving the belongings of her former employer ex-Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family shall hopefully “be the last” and “not be experienced by others in the future”, said the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore.
The Embassy said in a statement on Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry website on Wednesday (11 November) that Ms Parti expressed a similar view, which the Embassy noted she had reiterated multiple times during her recent meeting with Ambassador Suryopratomo.
The Indonesian national was accompanied by her counsel Anil Balchandani and non-government organisation Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) during the meeting last week.
In its statement, the Embassy extended its appreciation to Mr Anil and HOME for their relentless efforts and support in seeking justice for Ms Parti throughout her entire ordeal.
“It is almost impossible to imagine Ms. Liyani today’s freedom [sic] without those continuous efforts of HOME and Mr Balchandani during her legal process,” the statement read.
Ms Parti’s acquittal and the serving of justice, said the Embassy, is in line with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s views following the case.
PM Lee in a Facebook post on Tuesday said that Singapore “continually strive to protect and improve our justice system, so that people can be assured that it is clean, just and works equally for all”.
“Both sides of the House agreed that it had been treated as a routine case by the Police and the AGC, and that there was no attempt by any party to influence its outcome,” he said.
PAP hijacks WP’s motion to call for review of S’pore justice system by amending text to say nothing is wrong
The Singapore Parliament earlier this month, however, passed a motion filed by Workers’ Party chair Sylvia Lim on Singapore’s criminal justice system just before midnight on 4 November after amendments were made to the motion to remove a call for a review of the system.
The original motion read:
“That this House affirms that fairness, access and independence are cornerstones of Singapore’s justice system, and calls on the Government to recognise and remedy its shortcomings in order to enhance justice for all, regardless of means or social status, including facilitating a review of the justice system.”
The motion was amended to:
“This House recognises that fairness, access and independence are cornerstones of Singapore’s justice system and affirms the Government’s continuous efforts since independence to build a fair and just society, and remedy any shortcoming in order to enhance justice for all, regardless of race, language, religion, economic means or social status.”
People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Murali Pillai, in moving the amendments, said he is not of the view that “anything is taken away (in) the amendments that I’ve proposed”.
Citing nearly three decades of experience with the law as a former police officer and a current lawyer, Mr Murali said that the “hallmark of the law” in Singapore is “independence and transparency of the judiciary” since the Republic’s early days as a sovereign nation.
One of the points the Bukit Batok SMC MP raised involves the question of multiple stakeholders in the administration of justice, from the police to the Deputy Public Prosecutors and the judiciary itself.
While there is still room for improvement in the system which should be debated, Mr Murali said that it is also crucial to balance the interests of the victims and that of state resources.
He also said that in none of the cases he dealt with as a lawyer did he feel that the justice system has been skewed in favour of “connected persons” over vulnerable parties.
All 10 WP MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs from Progress Singapore Party opposed the amended motion.
Ms Lim said that the party cannot support the amended motion as it does not recognise that there are shortcomings and that there will be no review of the justice system as a result.
The original motion, she said, was not raised out of a desire for “heads to roll” in the wake of the Parti Liyani case, but to work towards the “strengthening of the system so that it is built to last for the future”.
Noting that the public has raised questions ranging from those involving miscarriages of justice to whether the prosecution aims to win cases at all costs, Ms Lim said: “Even if the Government and the ruling party are not convinced that the system has shortcomings, the fact that the public is asking such questions should not be ignored.”
It is “sad”, said the Aljunied GRC MP, for the Government to not accept that the system has any shortcomings “after all of the points made today on where improvements can be made or in fact are due”.
“By filing this motion, the Workers’ Party is not saying that the system is broken or ineffective. But we believe we should strive to do even better. There is room for improvement in any system,” she stressed.
Mr Leong Mun Wai stated that PSP is of the view that there needs to be an independent review of the Parti Liyani’s incident, as various matters that may be uncovered by such a review would suggest systemic problems with the justice system.
WP MP Leon Perera in a Facebook post the following day highlighted the stark difference between the original motion and the amended one.
“Have a look at how the amendment changed the meaning and sense of that motion. The overwhelming majority of PAP MPs in the House passed the amended version of the motion, not the original one,” the Aljunied GRC MP wrote.
Background on Parti Liyani’s case
Ms Parti was convicted in March last year of stealing items belonging to the senior Liew and his family — his son Karl Liew in particular. Ms Parti’s employment was abruptly terminated on 28 October 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.
Ms Parti then filed an appeal against the conviction which was heard by Justice Chan Seng Onn.
After three days of hearings between November 2019 to August this year, Justice Chan on 4 September ultimately overturned the conviction from the lower court as he finds them unsafe.
In allowing Ms Parti’s appeal against her conviction and jail sentence of two years and two months, the High Court branded the Liew family as having “improper motives” against Ms Parti.
The “improper motives” revolved around Mr Liew and his son Karl Liew’s plans to lodge a police report against her to stop her from notifying MOM regarding the cleaning work she was made to do at Mr Karl’s home at 39 Chancery Lane and his office at Killiney Road.
The judge also 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 expressed threat to alert the MOM about her illegal deployment to the latter’s residence and office.
Parti Liyani now seeks S$71,000 compensation for losses incurred as a result of theft proceedings
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon on 3 October granted Ms Parti leave to have an investigation carried out into her complaint of alleged misconduct against two prosecutors during her trial process.
CJ Menon in a written judgement stated–in reference to a Pioneer DVD player Ms Parti was accused of stealing–that Ms Parti “contends that the DPPs had, in their conduct of the trial, concealed material facts and thereby created the false impression that the device was fully functional”.
“She contends that but for the false impression that had been conveyed, she would not have agreed, under cross-examination, that the device was operational.
“On this basis, the DPPs suggested that she had lied about the circumstances in which the device came to be in her possession. However, if she had been apprised of all the facts, there would have been no basis for the DPPs to suggest that she had been lying,” said CJ Menon.
The two deputy public prosecutors listed in her case are Tan Wee Hao and Tan Yanying, both of whom are represented by AGC’s Kristy Tan Ruyan, Jeyendran Jeyapal, and Jocelyn Teo Meng Hui.
Separately, Ms Parti is also seeking a compensation order against the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) over the criminal proceedings brought against her.
Mr Anil estimates that Ms Parti had suffered around S$71,000 in losses as a result of being unable to work due to the theft proceedings for the past four years.
S$41,000 from the estimated sum is for Ms Parti’s salaries including contractual increments over the past four years. The amount was calculated based on her experience of 20 years as a domestic worker.
The sum also includes S$29,220 for her accommodation expenses over four years at a shelter run by HOME.
However, Justice Chan noted that the cost of court hearings for compensation order would exceed S$10,000, as the court needs to hear arguments on whether the prosecution was frivolous or vexatious.
The judge subsequently recommended out-of-court mediation with a third party to help both parties settle on a confidential amount of compensation.
Mr Anil replied that while he will consider the prospect of mediation, he and his client are of the view that there has been “some amount of injustice that we wish the court to hear and order compensation”.
The lawyer also told Justice Chan that Ms Parti has decided not to seek compensation from her former employer Liew Mun Leong.
He explained that Ms Parti had instructed him not to “add more to his problems”, particularly in light of Mr Liew’s resignation from his position as Changi Airport Group chairman, among other roles.
Mr Anil previously revealed that Ms Parti’s legal battle would have cost about S$150,000 had he not taken up her case pro bono.
Throughout Ms Parti’s trial in the State Courts and appeal in the High Court, and now the current proceedings she initiated against the AGC, Mr Anil continues to represents her on a pro bono basis.