Maid case ‘wasn’t biased in favour of rich employer’, says Singapore law minister


Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam, in an address to Parliament on Wednesday said the 2019 conviction of an immigrant domestic helper for stealing wasn’t improperly biased in favour of her rich and powerful employer.

The case of Parti Liyani, an Indonesian worker who has since been acquitted of the charges, cast a spotlight on the social divide between the rich and poor and raised questions about the fairness of the country’s legal system.

In response to the public outcry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, police and manpower ministry agreed to review the case.

The review found breaches of protocol, but it didn’t point to bias or influence in favour of Liew, Shanmugam told Parliament.

“There was nothing improper nor any undue pressure on the police or the Attorney-General’s Chambers at any stage of these investigations and proceedings,” said Shanmugam.

“The credibility of our system, the foundation of our society depends on us ensuring that there is rule of law that the law applies equally to all. If that principle is compromised, then Singapore is compromised.”

Liew Mun Leong, the former chairman of Changi Airport Group, had told police that Parti had stolen S$34,000 (U$24,830) from the household, and she was found guilty and sentenced to more than two years in jail.

But in September, the high court found the Liew family had levied its allegations in an attempt to keep Parti from complaining about illegal violations of her work contract and cleared her of all charges.

Following public outcry, Liew resigned from his role at the award-winning airport as well as chairmanship of Surbana Jurong, a government-linked infrastructure and services company. He also stepped down from positions at state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte.

Though the weeks-long internal review didn’t find undue influence or pressure in favour of Liew, there were several protocol breaches, Shanmugam said.

For instance, investigators took five weeks after the police report was filed to seize some items involved in the theft. There wasn’t also any proper photography of the evidence soon after the police report was filed.

Internal investigations are being carried out to look into the conduct of police officers involved in the case and action will be taken as necessary, Shanmugam said.

Liew Mun Leong’s son, Karl Liew, who had testified in the trial, has also been investigated for criminal offences, including lying on oath, Shanmugam said.

This comes after the high court found inconsistencies in Karl Liew’s testimony. Among his claims, Karl Liew said he likes to cross-dress when questioned why he owned women’s clothing after claiming that those items found in Parti’s possession belonged to him. (Source: Bangkok Post)