Parliament: MOM to review punishment for employers who illegally deploy maids

Minister Gan Siow Huang said action will be taken against employers in similar cases as the one involving former maid Parti Liyani.
Minister Gan Siow Huang said action will be taken against employers in similar cases as the one involving former maid Parti Liyani.PHOTOS: ST FILE, KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will review its framework of penalties for employers who illegally deploy their foreign domestic workers.

Action will be taken against employers in similar cases as the one involving former maid Parti Liyani, regardless of whether they are aware of the illegal deployment, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang on Monday (Oct 5).

"This is to remind the employers that they are ultimately accountable for their foreign domestic workers, and should take steps to ensure that their households' deployment of the foreign domestic workers do not contravene the law," she added.

Ms Gan was responding to Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC), on the considerations behind the MOM's action against the employer of Ms Parti - former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong - for her illegal deployment and whether they are consistent with similar cases in the past.

She told the House that her ministry received about 550 complaints of illegal deployment each year from 2017 to 2019, of which an average of 155 employers were warned or fined.

Of the 155, about 60 were issued with an advisory notice, while 80 were issued with a caution.

On average, 16 employers received fines ranging from $3,300 to $24,000.

In determining the punishment for illegal deployment, the MOM's key considerations are the degree to which the well-being of the maid has been compromised, and the extent of the illegal deployment, Ms Gan said.

Ms Parti's case was handled in line with these considerations, she added.

The MOM had taken no further action against Mr Liew, while it issued a caution to Mrs Liew and an advisory notice to his son, Mr Karl Liew.

Ms Gan said a review is ongoing for the case of Ms Parti, and that the MOM will give an update when it is completed.

 
 
 

The high-profile case saw MPs file 14 parliamentary questions on the issue.

They include what went wrong in the investigations, if the Government would consider allowing foreign domestic workers to be accompanied by non-legal personnel for police interviews, and if the Government could provide direct legal aid to vulnerable individuals who are charged with criminal offences.

On Monday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan said the relevant agencies are currently conducting reviews on the matter, and that Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam will deliver a ministerial statement next month.

Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) asked about the exact scope of the ongoing review, and whether the inquiry into the conduct of the two prosecutors in Ms Parti’s case would affect Mr Shanmugam’s ability to deliver his ministerial statement on the issue should it drag on.

In response, Mr Shanmugam said he would answer all the questions raised by MPs on the issue in Parliament next month, adding that the disciplinary proceedings for the two prosecutors will be heard and decided by the court in “a week or so”.

Ms Parti, who worked for Mr Liew's family for nine years, was sentenced to jail in March last year after she was found guilty of stealing $34,000 worth of items from the family.

The 46-year-old successfully appealed against her conviction in a three-day hearing that took place between November last year and August this year.

The case sparked an uproar after a High Court judge found that Ms Parti's conviction by the trial judge was "unsafe" for various reasons. These included the way the police handled the evidence and the motive behind the accusations made by some members of the Liew family.

It led to questions being raised about the criminal justice system's treatment of people who are less well-off.