For ease of reference, I'm putting together a master thread on the acquittal of Parti Liyani and all the interest and questions it has generated in #Singapore
, and due process.
This case has dragged on for years. Parti was sacked and repatriated on 28 October 2016. Two days later, her employer Liew Mun Leong filed a police report against her for theft. She was arrested when she returned to #Singapore
on 2 December 2016, and only acquitted last week.
One of the reasons this case had garnered a huge amount of attention is because Liew Mun Leong is big fish in #Singapore
. He was the founding president and CEO of @CapitaLand
, and currently chairman of @ChangiAirport
Group and @SurbanaJurong
Here's Liew Mun Leong in December 2018, presenting a box set of his books to Finance Minister and possible future Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat (who was GOH at the book launch). So yeah, he's rich and well-connected. @Stcom
While the Liews accused her of theft, Parti's defence claimed that they'd sacked her, and later reported her, so she couldn't lodge a complaint w/ @MOM_sg
about them making her clean not just Liew's home, but also Karl's home+office. Under MOM rules, this is illegal deployment.
When she was sacked on 28 October 2016, Parti, who had worked for the Liews for nine years, was told she would only be given two hours to pack. While she packed her luggage and hand carry, the Liew family's drivers helped her pack items into the three boxes.
Parti also left behind a big black bag of clothing — Karl Liew had given this bag of clothing he no longer wanted to another former domestic worker, Jane, who had in turn given them to Parti. Parti decided she had no need for these clothes either, so didn't pack the bag.
After Parti returned to #Indonesia
, the Liews opened the boxes and claimed they found items that belonged to them inside. A short video of them unpacking the boxes was submitted to the court, and the HC judge pointed out that Karl had observed then that they were Parti’s things.
Parti was charged with four counts of theft involving over 100 items, ranging from clothing to kitchen utensils to bedsheets, bags, and watches.
Here's the list from the High Court judgment.
District Court Judge Olivia Low heard the case in a trial that went for months, beginning in April 2018. She convicted Parti of all four charges in March 2019 and sentenced her to 26 months' imprisonment.
However, on 4 September 2020, High Court judge Chan Seng Onn acquitted Parti, saying her conviction was "unsafe" 'cos of issues w/ handling of evidence by the police, and "existence of an improper motive by members of the Liew family".
Full judgment: https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg/docs/default-source/module-document/judgement/-2020-sghc-187-pdf.pdf
Justice Chan Seng Onn, the High Court judge who acquitted Parti, flagged serious issues in the written judgment, which I went through and rounded-up in this issue of #wethecitizens
When a police report was first made on 30 October 2016, all the investigating officer did was issue a Warrant of Arrest. He didn't even visit the Liew family home until after Parti, who had no idea she'd been reported, was arrested re-entering #Singapore
five weeks later.
The Liews were allowed to freely use the allegedly stolen items. The investigating officer said he didn't seize the items right away because he wanted to avoid "re-victimising" the family. The items were only taken by the police in April 2018, before the trial was about to begin.
As the High Court judge points out, this meant that there were doubts/confusion over what was actually in the boxes containing allegedly stolen stuff, and whether the items put back in the boxes were the same as the ones removed.
Remember the black bag of clothing Parti didn't want? The judge found that it was possible that clothing form the black bag had been mixed in with items in the three boxes, i.e. she didn't pack them to take with her. https://twitter.com/kixes/status/1302854454899810305?s=20
The High Court judge also found that Karl Liew had been dishonest on the stand, and expressed concern over the district judge's assessment of him as "largely credible".
Karl Liew was so inconsistent about some of the items he claimed that the district judge amended the second charge of theft to remove some items. One example, this black dress, which at one point he claimed because he apparently cross-dresses.
Justice Chan Seng Onn also called out the prosecution for their behaviour with regard to one allegedly stolen item, a DVD player. Parti said the Liew family were throwing it out 'cos it was "spoilt", but she decided to keep it to see if it could be fixed in #Indonesia
During the trial, the prosecution plugged in the DVD player and played images, suggesting that it worked.
During the appeal, it was shown that while the DVD player could play stuff off the hard drive, it couldn't *play DVDs*. The prosecution admitted they knew this from before.
I've summed up other points of concern highlighted by the High Court judgment in this #wethecitizens
issue — among them the fact that, on more than one occasion, Parti was interrogated by the police without the presence of a Bahasa Indonesia interpreter. https://wethecitizens.substack.com/p/the-acquittal-of-parti-liyani-what
Following all the public attention, the Attorney-General's Chambers has said that they're studying the High Court judgment to see if "further action" needs to be taken.
It's not yet clear what direction this further investigation and action will go in. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/changi-airport-group-chairman-maid-acquit-court-agc-judge-cag-13086648?cid=telegram_cna_social_28112017_cna
The High Court judgment found that it's a *fact* that the Liew family had illegally deployed Parti Liyani.
In a statement released on 6 September, @MOM_sg
said that Parti had filed a complaint in 2017 and they'd looked into it, issuing a caution to Liew and an advisory to Karl.
There's no detail, so far, as to what's in the caution and the advisory, although @MOM_sg
said that it's consistent with their approach in similar cases. I've sent MOM questions about whether cautions actually carry penalties, and how prevalent the issue of illegal deployment is.
Will keep updating this thread as and when necessary, but meanwhile, here's a photo I found of Liew Mun Leong getting a Meritorious Service Medal from former President Tony Tan at the 2011 National Day Awards.
Also read @Kokilaparvathi
's live-tweet thread of @home_migrantssg
's press conference after Parti's acquittal. During this presser, Parti's lawyer, who acted pro bono, said that the Liew family had accused him and his assistant of harassment: https://twitter.com/Kokilaparvathi/status/1301861466543276032?s=20
For those curious about District Judge Olivia Low's reasoning and why she decided to convict Parti, you can find the grounds of decision here: https://twitter.com/justanotherock/status/1302807635645751296?s=20
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam (i.e. both the prosecution and the police fall under his portfolios) says that the government will look at what needs to be done in the light of Parti’s acquittal, but there shouldn’t be a “witch hunt” (presumably against the Liews). https://twitter.com/todayonline/status/1303192854911565825
Shanmugam played down the Liews wealth and prominence in #Singapore
. But it *is* relevant that Liew Mun Leong is that wealthy and prominent — he runs in Singapore’s elite circles in positions of power, and he has now been revealed to be exploitative.
He’s chairman of @SurbanaJurong
( owned by state investment company @Temasek
) who says that “Integrity” is central to their values. #Singapore
gave him a medal and he’s been held up as an example of a leader. Of course people want to talk about his treatment of a domestic worker.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.