SINGAPORE — The former domestic helper of Liew Mun Leong is seeking a compensation order against the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), with the High Court on Tuesday (27 October) suggesting that parties instead go for mediation.
Parti Liyani’s applications against the AGC was heard by Justice Chan Seng Onn at the High Court, where her lawyer Anil Balchandani stated that Parti, a 46-year-old Indonesian, had incurred a loss of around $71,000 in the four years she has stayed in Singapore for her court case.
Balchandani also informed the court that the maid had decided to drop the application for a compensation order against Liew and his family, after knowing that Liew had had to resign from his positions at Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong.
“A lot has transpired since the release of the judgement on 4 September, primarily focused on this question (Mr Liew) had to resign from various positions...in regard to that my client’s instructions were not to – wouldn’t say inconvenience him – but not to add more to his problems,” said Balchandani.
While Balchandani and his client had prepared some documents for the compensation order against the Liews, they have not been sent out, he told the court.
Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the court may order the prosecution or the original complainant to pay compensation of a maximum $10,000 to the accused person who is acquitted, if it is proven to the satisfaction of the court that the prosecution was frivolous or vexatious.
Balchandani addressed this when breaking down the costs incurred by Parti, including her stay in non-profit organisation Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), and her loss of salary as a maid earning around $750 a month. He noted that a crowdfunding effort for Parti had raised about $26,000.
Justice Chan noted that if parties were to go through more hearings for the case to discuss the legalities of the issue, the cost incurred for several days of proceedings would far exceed $10,000. The judge then suggested that a third party, such as ex-Justices or other former legal officers, mediate discussions between Parti and the AGC.
While Balchandani said he did not object to mediation, Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal said that the prosecution would have to think about it.
The prosecution will decide on its course of action by Friday. If the mediation succeeds, Parti may apply to withdraw her current application.
If negotiations fail, the parties will return to court for proceedings, which involve determining whether the prosecution had been frivolous or vexatious.
On this point, Balchandani noted that the issues before the court were not meant to “further burden” but ought to be “short, quick and sharp” since the parties were well aware of what had transpired during the trial and appeal.
“So this is where we are at today, there has been, in our opinion, some amount of injustice that we wish the court to hear and to order compensation,” said Balchandani. The proceedings did not have to be long and expensive, added Balchandani, as the compensation Parti is seeking was only a “fraction” or “nominal amount” to show that something went wrong.
“The appellant, now a free person, was wronged and AGC could be a little wiser the next time round, that’s all, this is not meant to prolong (proceedings).”
Background of case
Parti was initially found guilty of four charges of theft from the Liew family and sentenced to 26 months’ jail in the State Courts. Her conviction was overturned on 4 September after an appeal, led by Balchandani, to the High Court. The judge found then that there could have been improper motive on the part of Liew and his son Karl Liew in filing a police report against Parti.
She had earlier threatened to file a complaint against the Liews for assigning her cleaning duties outside of her scope of employment, as she was made to clean Karl’s home and office.
Parti also has a pending legal case against two prosecutors who handled her trial. Earlier this year, she initiated court disciplinary proceedings against Deputy Public Prosecutors Tan Yanying and Tan Wee Hao, who prosecuted her case at the State Courts before District Judge Olivia Low.
Last Friday, Chief Justice (CJ) Sundaresh Menon said he had found a prima facie case for an investigation and will appoint a disciplinary tribunal to look into the complaint of misconduct against the two DPPs.
The CJ found that there was a lack of candour in the way the prosecutors cross-examined Parti and the manner they presented the position to court, resulting in Parti being cross-examined unfairly, and the court possibly misled.
The tribunal will submit its findings to the CJ in the form of a report. If the tribunal finds sufficient cause for disciplinary action, the CJ may punish the prosecutors in the form of a censure, prohibition from applying for a practicing certificate, or striking them off the roll.
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