Parti Liyani case: No influence by Liew Mun Leong on police and AGC – Shanmugam

Wan Ting Koh
·Reporter
·3-min read
Parti Liyani and lawyer Anil Balchandani walking into State Courts on 8 September 2020. (PHOTO: Wan Ting Koh/Yahoo News Singapore)
Parti Liyani and lawyer Anil Balchandani walking into State Courts on 8 September 2020. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Wan Ting Koh)

SINGAPORE — The case of a maid who was accused of stealing from the household of prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong was handled fairly and impartially, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Wednesday (4 November).

Parti Liyani’s case was handled as a routine theft case by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), said the minister while delivering his ministerial statement on the high profile case of Parti Liyani in Parliament.

“There was nothing improper nor any undue pressure on the police or AGC at any stage of these investigations and proceedings and no evidence of any personal connection between the Liews and any police officer, DPP (deputy public prosecutor), judge involved in the case,” said Shanmugam.

Parti, an Indonesian domestic helper who worked for the Liews, had gone to trial over theft charges and was convicted and sentenced to 26 months’ jail in the State Courts over stealing items worth more than $34,000 from Liew’s household. Parti appealed and her conviction was overturned by Justice Chan Seng Onn in the High Court on 4 September, after the judge raised doubts on Liews’ possible motivation in lodging a police report against her.

The acquittal triggered speculation that the case may have been dealt with unfairly due to Liew’s prominent positions in public service and business. Liew was previously the chairman of Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong. He was also senior international business adviser at Singapore investment firm Temasek, a board member of Temasek Foundation, and ex-CEO of developer CapitaLand.

He stepped down from all his positions on 10 September, stating that he did not wish for the situation with the case to be a distraction to the respective boards, management, and staff.

Shanmugam stated that no senior officer in the police or AGC management had spoken with or been influenced by Liew or his family, nor that anyone had lobbied or exerted pressure on senior police officers.

“From the police and AGC perspective, this was handled as a routine theft case. There was no attempt by anyone to influence them. (A) police report was filed and the matter was dealt with as such reports are usually dealt with,” said Shanmugam.

Attorney-General Lucien Wong did not influence proceedings, Shanmugam said. Wong was on the board of directors of CapitaLand from 20 November 2000 to 2 January 2006, when Liew was then CEO. Wong resigned from the board due to differences with Liew and did not know of investigations or proceedings related to Parti’s case until it went for trial. Wong recused himself from AGC’s subsequent internal review.

“I have gone through all of this because we have to show the Police and the AGC did not act arbitrarily or as the result of the influence of a rich and influential family. Those were the accusations that circulated immediately after the learned Justice Chan issued his judgement. That there was a grave miscarriage of justice and AGC and the police were asked to apologise,” said Shanmugam.

AGC had decided to charge Parti as there was sufficient evidence to show that the offences were likely to have been committed, and that it was in the public’s interest to prosecute, he added.

“What I put forward to this House show the police and AGC had good grounds to charge Parti Liyani. They certainly did not act at the behest of the Liew family and this is how our system is supposed to work.”

Shanmugam also reiterated the importance of “guarding the availability of equal opportunity”, ensuring that everyone has “a fair shake” in the justice system, and “guarding against the wealthy and powerful taking unfair advantages”.

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