by Parti Liyani
This statement is an edited version of a victim impact statement that I had wanted to submit to the Prosecution, which I had hoped would be given to the Honourable District Judge Eugene Teo before making his decision at the hearing against Mr Karl Liew.
However, the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) indicated to my solicitor that they did not require my victim impact statement as part of their sentencing under section 228(2) CPC. No explanation was provided by the AGC.
I worked for Liew Mun Leong’s family for around nine years from March 2007 until 28 October 2016. On 28 October 2016, the son of my employer named Karl Liew came to his father’s house at Chancery Lane to terminate my employment and repatriate me without any clear reason.
In hopes that I would immediately find a new job, I returned to Singapore on 2 December 2016, where I was arrested by the authorities upon my arrival at the airport. I was faced with five charges, four of them of theft, which I refuted entirely. The State Court trial only started in 2018. It took nine months and included 22 days in court. In March 2019, Judge Olivia Low sentenced me to 26 months of imprisonment.
I decided to file an appeal, where the hearing ran for three days from November 2019 until August 2020. In September 2020, I was finally acquitted from all five charges.
As an impact from the Liew family’s accusation against me, I have suffered from a number of losses, economically and socially. Please allow me to elaborate further.
1. Economic Impact
a. Financial Impact
Since my return to Singapore where I was arrested by the authorities in December 2016, I was required to stay in Singapore until my case was concluded, and I was not allowed to work during this time. For some time, I was left alone to find my own place to stay, where I had to pay rent with my own money for an undetermined period of time until I ran out of money. I was fortunate to have received assistance from a charity called HOME who was willing to accommodate me without charging any fee, so that I no longer faced any difficulty in finding food and a place to stay. However, I was still unable to earn any income to pay for my own upkeep and to support my mother who was already very old and unemployed.
I come from a poor family and have been independent since very young. For every salary that I received, I would remit part of it to my mother and siblings in Indonesia. When I did not earn any income, this had definitely impacted my mother every day for four years.
After my acquittal at the High Court in September 2020, HOME initiated a public fundraising campaign, where within less than one day, they had successfully collected over S$28,000 from kindhearted people in Singapore. As grateful as I was of their generosity, this amount was only enough to cover a small part of what I could have earned within four years.
Furthermore, without the help from HOME, I would have never been able to engage the legal services of Mr Anil Balchandani, who had assisted me pro bono throughout the entire legal process — trial and appeal, and still continues to represent me.
b. Material Impact
Aside from the financial impact I have stated above, until today there have been a number of items which have yet to be returned to me. Please note that Karl Liew has claimed a number of items as belonging to him, other than the red blouse and the cream polo t-shirt which are included in the current charge against him. Among the items not mentioned in the charge are a black dress and a few women’s wallets. According to what a police officer had informed us on 20 June 2022, the police would be filing an application for the continued retention of items belonging to me, in view of the fact that there were pending criminal proceedings against Karl Liew, to which I did not have any objection. However, with such status, I was more deprived of my rights to access my personal belongings.
I would like to point out that this is not a claim for compensation in any form, only my explanation of the mental, material and financial losses that I have suffered due to the case that I was faced with.
2. Social Impact
The accusation by Karl Liew’s father Liew Mun Leong against me had impacted badly on my reputation since the case was covered by the media in Singapore in 2018. My status as an accused had painted a bad picture of me in the public’s eye. Not only was I concerned about my tarnished reputation, but I was also very worried that the news would be heard by my aging mother, as these articles had been translated into Bahasa Indonesia and disseminated by the media in Indonesia. I tried to hide my case from my family, and I was not allowed to give any information to non-interested parties, which had cost me a few relationships with my friends in Singapore as they had lost their trust in me.
My reputation was only recovered years later after I was fully acquitted by Justice Chan Seng Onn upon my appeal at the Singapore High Court. I would like to express my gratitude to him and for the outpouring of support from people in Singapore. I would also like to express my gratitude for the support by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore who had released a formal statement on 11 November 2020 in which they extended their appreciation that the truth prevailed, and justice was served for me.
I share the Honourable Judge’s concern that the adjournment of Karl Liew’s hearing by two weeks to today would affect his health condition. I understand as myself had suffered similarly when I had to wait for four years in Singapore with no income and no knowledge of when I would be allowed to return to Indonesia and reunite with my mother. Had my appeal been denied, my suffering would have extended to six and a half years long.
Since the day Liew Mun Leong filed a report to the police to the day the hearing at the State Court concluded, never once Karl showed any seriousness in giving honest evidence. For whatever reason that made him anxious during the trial, if at one point he realized that he had given an incorrect statement to police officers or to the judge, he would have had ample time to retract his statement or amend his testimony. In reality, he remained in his stance by accusing me of theft until the trial concluded.
The act of giving testimony in court is something that needs to be taken seriously, as we take an oath to tell nothing but the truth. Karl Liew, as all other people residing in Singapore who are obligated to obey law, should have treated the entire legal process seriously, considering that he already has several bad records on him. One example is that in 2017 when faced with another lawsuit, he was seen by Justice Audrey Lim as a dishonest and evasive witness, whose evidence was riddled with inconsistencies.
There had been no sign of remorse nor any apology from himself and his family after my acquittal. It took facing legal charges that finally made him admit guilt.
My hope remains high that this case would become the right lesson to us all. As also supported by the Embassy of Indonesia in Singapore in their formal statement, it is hoped that my case shall be the last and shall not be experienced by others in the future.
Thank you very much.