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Sylvia Lim files parliamentary motion to examine issues arising from Parti Liyani case

WP Chairman, a lawyer, intends to discuss aspects of criminal justice system and propose suggestions to improve it

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Singapore — Workers’ Party (WP) Chairman has filed an Adjournment Motion in Parliament to examine the issues that have arisen from the court case involving former maid Parti Liyani.

The motion, entitled “Justice For All: Enhancing Equity In The Criminal Justice System”, was filed on Monday (Sept 14) — 10 days after Ms Parti was acquitted on appeal of theft in a case brought on by her former employer, then Changi Airport Group Chairman Liew Mun Leong.

In a statement released on Wednesday (Sept 16), the WP said that the motion Ms Lim is set to raise “will make reference to the deeper issues raised by the recent case involving Ms Parti Liyani”.

The opposition party added that Ms Lim, a lawyer, intends to “discuss aspects of the criminal justice system and the challenges faced by persons of less means in navigating it”. She will also propose specific suggestions to improve the system.

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BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

Ms Parti, an Indonesian, was employed by Mr Liew Mun Leong from 2007 till 2016. In addition to working in her employer’s home, she was sent on “multiple occasions” to work in his son’s home and office.

On Oct 28, 2016, the Liew family decided to sack Ms Parti and gave her two hours to pack her items and leave. She allegedly said that she would lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower about being deployed to work in the son’s home and office.

The Liews said they checked Ms Parti’s boxes out of concern that they could contain illegal items and allegedly found items that belonged to them. On Oct 30, the family filed a police report against Ms Parti.

However, the investigating officer allowed the family to use the items allegedly found in Ms Parti’s boxes as long as they did not discard them. The officer said he did not seize the items as he did not wish to “re-victimise” the family.

Ms Parti returned to Singapore on Dec 2, seeking employment, but was arrested at Changi Airport. On Dec 3, the investigating officer went to the Liew residence to take photos of the items — which would only end up in police custody nearly a year-and-a-half later, on April 18, 2018.

Ms Parti was interviewed by the police, with no interpreter present. A Malay officer translated the investigating officer’s questions from English to Bahasa Melayu even though Ms Parti spoke Bahasa Indonesia.

She was charged in August 2017, claimed trial in April 2018 but was convicted on four counts of theft last March and sentenced to two years and two months in jail.

On Sept 4, 2020, the High Court overturned the convictions on appeal and acquitted Ms Parti of all charges. In his ruling, Justice Chan Seng Onn said that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and called the convictions “unsafe” given the presence of an “improper motive”.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers is now conducting a review of the case to assess whether further action needs to be taken. Activists are raising funds to help Ms Parti start a food business in her hometown, while Mr Liew has decided to retire early from his business and public roles. /TISG

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