The maid who worked for the family of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong was sentenced to two years and two months’ jail on Monday (25 March).
Parti Liyani, 45, was convicted last Wednesday of stealing items worth about $34,456 from Liew’s household. These items belonged to Liew, his son, Karl Liew Kai Ling, Karl’s wife Heather Lim Mei Ern, and Liew’s daughter May Liew Cheng.
The stolen items included a DVD player valued at $1,000, two Longchamp bags worth $400, a Gerald Genta watch worth $10,000, two white iPhone 4 smartphones with accessories valued at $2,056, 115 pieces of clothing valued at $150 each, and a $500 blanket.
The Indonesian had been working for Liew’s household for more than nine years – from March 2007 until October 2016 – until she left Singapore following the offences.
In mitigation, Parti’s lawyer Anil Balchandani, said that all the stolen items were recovered and that there was no loss caused. Parti did not benefit and was not meant to benefit from the stolen items, he said.
Due to Parti’s arrest on 2 December 2016, the maid has been unable to work for more than two years and three months, added the lawyer.
“For a domestic worker, whom her family depends on, this is an indescribable penalty,” said Balchandani.
“There is nothing that was new or useable by the Liews. It is highly likely that the Liews would dispose of these items when they are returned…The victim’s never voiced a lack of amenity for any of the items during the trial,” said the lawyer, who sought 10 weeks’ jail for Parti’s offences.
However the prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wee Hao, urged the court to jail Parti for at least three years.
The Liew family had treated Parti well, giving her regular salary increments and red packets on special occasions, said DPP Tan.
“She repaid their generosity and kindness with avarice. Over nine years, the accused squirrelled away a large number of items from under the victims’ noses.”
When Parti was caught, she expressed no remorse but spun a “web of lies” and falsely accused the Liews of framing her, the prosecutor added.
In sentencing Parti, District Judge Olivia Low noted that Parti was a first-time offender in her 22 years in Singapore and that the items had been recovered.
However, the sheer number of items stolen and the high value of some items were some aggravating factors, added the judge.
“The quantity and variety of stolen items showed that (Parti) took these items out of greed, and not need, and certainly not because she was into recycling or ‘up-cycling’ as the defence has called it,” said DJ Low.
“(Parti) even managed to get Karl to pay for the shipping of the three boxes, which was in fact a brazen act of committing theft right under their very noses,” added the judge.
She pointed out that the manner in which the defence conducted the cross-examination of the Liew family, and the “number of irrelevant issues raised during the trial” showed Parti’s lack of remorse.
Balchandi, who was representing Parti pro-bono, said his client will be appealing her conviction and sentence.
Background to offences
During the trial, Karl had testified that his father asked him to fire Parti on 28 October 2016. Liew had suspected Parti of stealing from the family for some two to three years before terminating her services, according to Karl.
After conveying the instructions to the maid, Parti had packed three sealed boxes and insisted on having Karl ship them to Indonesia for her.
Karl initially agreed but later opened the boxes with other family members and found items that belonged to the family.
Liew later made a police report and Parti was arrested upon her return to Singapore on 2 December 2016.
Parti’s lawyer had sought to argue during the trial that the Liew family had conspired to to make the allegations against Parti to prevent her from returning to Singapore to file a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower as Parti had been deployed to work outside of the household.
However, DJ Low said she found no reason for the Liew family or the family’s driver to frame Parti since they had employed her for a number of years.