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Parti Liyani retried and convicted in Parliament?

As promised in October, Law Minister Shanmugam delivered a statement in Parliament yesterday on the Parti Liyani case.  I have previously written extensively about it hereherehere and here.

Despite naive hopes expressed by many Singaporeans that the flaws exposed by the Parti Liyani case should lead to reform of the criminal justice system, Shanmugam not only whitewashed the whole system but also undermined the independence of the judiciary. He cast doubt on the High Court’s decision to overturn Parti Liyani’s appeal and smeared her as someone who had stolen from her employers but had been lucky to get away with it. Because he said it in Parliament Ms Liyani is not able to sue him for defamation because Parliamentary speech is rightly privileged. He also exonerated Liew Mun Leong and the DPP.

Here is what the State Times said were the 7 main takeaways with my comments beneath:

1. The decision of the Liews to terminate Ms Parti Liyani’s employment was made some time ago

In his judgment, Justice Chan Seng Onn described the termination as “sudden” and noted there was reason to believe that it was a “pre-emptive first step” by the Liews to ensure that Ms Parti could not complain to MOM.to MOM.

“However Shanmugam said further investigations have shown that the Liews had told their maid agency by end-2015 that they wanted a new helper as they had suspected Ms Parti of stealing”

This proves nothing and Shanmugam provides no evidence. If the Liews suspected Ms Liyani of stealing in 2015 why did they not get rid of her then and make a police report? Why wait until nearly a year later? It is more likely that they were unhappy with her previously expressed unwillingness to be deployed illegally outside her place of employment and her refusal to clean the toilet at Karl’s home. In fact Justice Chan quotes Parti as saying “I know why. You angry because I refused to clean up your toilet.” when Karl Liew told her she was sacked.

The question arises as to why Shanmugam and the Law Ministry are working so hard pro bono to exculpate Mr Liew from any suggestion that he had filed a police report to prevent Ms Liyani’s return to Singapore and ensure that she could not report him to Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Will he be performing any more pro bono services for other accused persons?

2. Police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had handled the case as a routine theft case

Mr Shanmugam reiterated that there was no undue influence on the police or the AGC by Mr Liew, or by anyone acting on the family’s behalf.

However in his judgement Justice Chan says that a Warrant of Arrest was issued against Parti after a police report was made on 30 October 2016 and that she was arrested when she returned to Singapore on 2 December 2016 even though the Investigating Officer did not bother to visit the scene of the offence until 3 December.

Why was a Warrant of Arrest issued and why was Parti arrested when the police had not even bothered to check if a crime had been committed and that there was sufficient evidence to suspect her? Is that usual? My experience of the Singapore police from when my family received death threats is that they are reluctant to even question a suspect unless there is substantial evidence. This seems like special treatment and that the police were not unduly worried by due process niceties like ensuring there was no opportunity to tamper with the evidence.

3. The AGC had reason to charge Ms Parti for the crime based on the evidence before them

Police investigators and prosecutors had assessed that Ms Parti was untruthful, in initial investigations, and there was sufficient evidence to charge Ms Parti for theft, said Mr Shanmugam.

Given the fact that the police did not visit the scene of the crime immediately and that Ms Liyani left the alleged stolen items in the company of the Liews I fail to see how this met the evidentiary standard for prosecution since it would have been possible for the Liews to tamper with the evidence. The police seem to have been extraordinarily relaxed, even telling the Liews that they could use the allegedly stolen items.

Ms Liyani was also denied the assistance of an interpreter, let alone counsel, when questioned by the police and when Shanmugam says she admitted taking some of the items, though there is no reason to doubt that these items had been thrown away or discarded by the Liews.  Also why were the police charging her with the theft of the items found on her when she was arrested at the airport when there was no question of these coming from the Liew household and they had not been reported stolen? They did this presumably to put pressure on her to plead guilty and save them the trouble of having to prosecute her.

Ms Liyani’s experience shows the importance of reforming the criminal justice system by providing defendants with access to lawyers as soon as they are arrested and of the state paying for this if the accused is unable to afford a lawyer.

4. Mr Karl Liew’s “highly unsatisfactory” evidence and conduct during trial

Mr Shanmugam said there appears to have been a “cavalier attitude” on the part of the Liews in the way that some items were identified as belonging to them and in the way values were ascribed to some items. Mr Karl Liew, in particular, was singled out as many aspects of his evidence and conduct in court had “raised scepticism”, said Mr Shanmugam.

Shanmugam fails to answer the question why the trial judge accepted Karl’s evidence given that he had previously been found liable for “deceit” when he was ordered to pay $6.5 million to recompense an investor whose investments he had guaranteed.

Shanmugam has also handed a “get out of jail free” card to Liew Mun Leong (LMW) who gets off scot-free despite being the person who filed the police report and was Ms Liyani’s employer. He should have been prosecuted by MOM over illegal deployment of his maid.  Shanmugam has not explained why MOM only issued a caution against his wife and an advisory to Karl when LMW was the employer and why they have decided today to take no further action after reviewing the case, even though Josephine Teo’s husband inexplicably left the board of Surbana Jurong (where LMW was Chair) a few days after the High Court judgement.

One cannot escape the feeling that Karl is taking the fall for his father who would have had the main motive for having Ms Liyani convicted in case her evidence against him affected his multi-million

5. Attorney-General (AG) Lucien Wong recused himself from the case because his history of differences with Mr Liew could affect the perception of fairness

AG Lucien Wong had resigned from the Board of Directors of CapitaLand, because he had a “difference of viewpoints” with Mr Liew, who was then president and chief executive, on some issues, Mr Shanmugam revealed in parliament.

Lucien Wong (LW) only recused himself after the High Court judgement. Even if he was not involved in the decision to prosecute Ms Liyani the fact that he was AG when the decision was made and that he was known to have been on the board of CapitaLand with LMW could have influenced the DPPs involved who would likely have not been aware that LW resigned because of “differences of opinion” with LMW, even if this is true.

I have written elsewhere about the need for reform of the AG’s office to separate the prosecutorial function from the AG’s role as the Government’s adviser.

6.The District Judge had convicted Ms Parti after she had found “serious inconsistencies” in Ms Parti’s evidence, among others

Justice Chan has reversed Ms Liyani’s conviction so why is Shanmugam trying to cast doubt on the validity of that reversal and defame her by suggesting she was a liar? He brings up items that the Justice Chan had already considered, such as two iPhone 4s and a marked Prada bag. LMW’s net worth is probably over $100 million so it is quite believable that these items were discarded or thrown away but retrieved by Ms Liyani.  Justice Chan also found that the Liews had deliberately inflated the value of many of the items they said Ms Liyani had stolen.

7. The High Court had acquitted Ms Parti primarily based on the finding that there was reasonable doubt of improper motive, and a break in the chain of custody for allegedly stolen items

Given the time lag between the police report and when the police visited the scene, this was a case that failed the most basic evidential burden and should never have been brought.

Despite his possible abuse of Parliamentary privilege to smear someone whom he knows cannot fight back, Shanmugam has failed to dispel suspicions that Singapore’s justice system is rigged in favour of those at the top and the individuals who are connected to them. Whether you are a vulnerable person, like Ms Liyani, a political opponent like JBJ or the editor of a mildly critical blog like TOC, it seems that the AG is only too ready to prosecute those deemed threats and protect the privileged access of our rulers and their cronies to positions of obscene profit from state resources.

 

Kenneth Jeyaretnam

* The author blogs at https://kenjeyaretnam.com/
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18 Responses to “Parti Liyani retried and convicted in Parliament?”

  • Asd:

    I think ministry should clarify why no action taken for deploying the maid at other premise and the deaf and dumb free riders cannot even think of such a question to ask shows they are unethical and uneducated the poor scxarifical medicoure son has to pay for it to close the matter which has many unanswered notion people have in mind

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  • Sad case:

    Sad case…
    Hope there will be a closer and justice be served.
    Law is fair to all parties.

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  • Guru:

    Reasons seems logical. I believe many more pertinent points of this case needs to be made known.

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  • Gospel of Abuse:

    Abusing Parliament of Privileges and the Immunities?

    I heard someone household also washed clean clean there, own say own judge, taking Sinkies like idoits.

    Gospel of Truth or Diversion?:
    Everyone should be aware of the Privileges, Immunities and Power conferred to some Ministers in Parliament under the “Privileges, Immunities and Powers Act”.

    One of them wrote;

    [Freedom of speech and debate and proceedings
    5. There shall be freedom of speech and debate and proceedings in Parliament, and such freedom of speech and debate and proceedings shall not be liable to be impeached or questioned in any court, commission of inquiry, committee of inquiry, tribunal or any other place whatsoever out of Parliament.]

    So, it begs the question of whether Statements made in Parliament are Gospel of Truths? bearing in mind that those are not statements made in a typical court where you would need to swear to speak the truth and nothing but the truth and be liable to be charged out of making them. We know that all of them are Politicians and they are, would you say, exercising their freedom of speech and “with immunity”.

    Quote;
    [When this was raised by Mr De Costa’s defence counsel, Mr M Ravi during the hearing on 30 Oct, the State Prosecutor argued that he should not take the Police Statements as gospel truth.] [Ref: https://www.onlinecitizenasia.com/2020/11/03/can-police-statements-always-be-taken-at-face-value/ ]

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  • Hiding:

    Next time ask that Shamukam to dare dare talk outside and not hide inside Parliament and talk while shielding himself there.

    Next time when he and the Ah long say will make statements, I will turn off my TV and stop wasting time.

    You know what is call always taking advantage…..like “thank you for agreeing with me…”

    Many Singaporeans I know agree that any ministers abusing the Parliament privileges will not be getting their votes or support.

    Talk sense and talk with evidence.

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  • Trust only myself:

    KJ is always clear and right in his assessment of the case or situation being discussed……
    Unfortunately liar is using the parliament to cast doubts that Parti is not guilty of the charges brought against her.

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  • U R not kidding?:

    What so Lee Hsien Yang n Lee zWei Ling said abot polanpa angmor way n dynasty of the Gorilla n the DNS r true! Real or not. The PAP ministers r all above Laws n Shammu can tell the nSupreme or High Court Judges off that they r wrong not convicting the Pinay maid n the Judges didn’t say anything including ld country man the Chief of the lots. True or not. But i also watch the TV look like true the ah nay nay really thing Justice Chan anyhow no believe their erotic fellow polanpa orwhat lhy lwl say simi comply igian bullocrats.

    Liao la like American Trump, they can also go down Orchatd shooting Sinkies dead n get away free like Trump huh! Bo tee li. Yaosiewkia these baskets.

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  • xoxo:

    Put some opposition sgporean lawyers with deep experience on the HIGH COURT BENCH.
    This could help enhance the QUALITY OF JUDICIAL PRACTICES, i humbly opine.

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  • Harder Truths:

    This is just Team Deapot making sure everyone is crystal clear who actually makes and dispenses the ‘law’ in $G. What the court system says is of no consequence to them. If they decide someone is guilty, then that person will be found guilty no matter what. They are above the ‘law’ as well as dispensing it at their whim.

    Parti had better leave $G before she is convicted in Parleement for any number of made-up accustions.

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  • Bernard:

    Dear informed reader,

    It’s sad that we need a million dollar civil servant to use Parliament time to discuss a court judgement. Isn’t our court an independent institution? Why is Parliament being used in this way? Is there an abuse in place?

    My personal experience tells me we have a world class (above and beyond) foundation in procedures, processes and efficiency laid down by our 1st Generation Founding Fathers lead by the Honourable Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Sadly, existing incumbents are destroying the foundation laid.

    Nothing is wrong with our processes and system, it’s the present people who are entrusted to uphold it and failed miserably.

    61%, please rethink carefully for your off current and future off springs lives.
    Don’t regret when you are watching from above or on hindsight.
    Thank you.

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  • Bernard:

    Dear informed reader,

    Continue,

    Consolation, we still do have some good people in the System with Honour and Integrity.
    The Honorable High Court Judge, Justice Chan is one excellent example.

    We need more in every corner of our Civil Sevice Sector.

    Thank you.

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  • Ignore him:

    Funny why they have such Privileges and Immunities?

    Safe to say, Anything these Politicians say in Parliament, cannot be simply taken as honest or the truths.

    Also apparently these “ministers” are afraid of?;
    1. Impeachment
    2. The Court
    3. COI
    4. Tribunal

    Does it gives the impression that they can talk irresponsibly, instigate, insinuate, abuse, wrongly incriminate others etc..?

    But many peasants unfortunately don’t know, like me before. We thought Parliament sure correct. But now I think not MAN enough.

    OK now its logical, the Sharkmugamm is not a “JUDGE” and he is merely expressing his view, shielding under the immunities and privileges. OK Ignored.

    Gospel of Abuse:
    Abusing Parliament of Privileges and the Immunities?

    I heard someone household also washed clean clean there, own say own judge, taking Sinkies like idoits.

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  • Rubbish:

    If you can’t hold them accountable for lying in Parliament then how to believe what they say?

    When someone said, Investigation has been done and this and that… than we can think that;

    Investigation has not been done.
    this and that are not true.

    Like I said, since can’t hold them accountable for what they say, is as good as nothing have been said, Isn’t it.?

    I am beginning not to think highly of the Parliament.

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  • Uselesstankl:

    BRAVO,

    BRAVO,

    BRAVO,

    Kenneth.

    more like GOLD coming out from oppo

    But ” SHIT ” from PAP n Shammugum the clown.

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  • Remember the 3sets of laws:

    They were trying to discredit her from the start …just to protect their own kind , in the form of LMW.
    Talk about no corruption in Sin City!

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  • Very funny leh?:

    The high court judge was very critical about the process and outcome of the investigation on the defendant. Full details were given in his judgement.

    Now, we are told that “further investigation” supports the accuser. Zero detail given.

    The public is expected to swallow that as the gospel truth? What an arrogant fellow. “My word is the Truth?”

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  • AristoCATs - the Last words ?:

    Yup, even in error,
    the AristoCATs had to have the Last Words.
    -
    We have to Remember the Power of the Ballot Box !

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  • Sham re-trial frankly appallin:

    “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it the second time…. I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

    (President Thomas Jefferson)

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