Liew says he respects court's decision in acquitting maid

He steps down from posts as he does not want his situation to be a distraction

Mr Liew Mun Leong had been chairman of Changi Airport Group since 2009, as well as Surbana in 2013, before it became Surbana Jurong two years later. He said he stands ready to help or advise the organisations he stepped down from, without compensatio
Mr Liew Mun Leong had been chairman of Changi Airport Group since 2009, as well as Surbana in 2013, before it became Surbana Jurong two years later. He said he stands ready to help or advise the organisations he stepped down from, without compensation, and in any way appropriate, amid the challenges from the pandemic. ST FILE PHOTO

Mr Liew Mun Leong yesterday said he respects the decision of the High Court, which last Friday acquitted his former maid of stealing from his family and raised questions about his motivation in lodging a police report against her.

"The High Court has made its decision. I have faith in our legal system and respect the decision of the High Court," he said in a statement announcing his decision to step down from four public appointments.

Mr Liew, 74, said he had decided to "bring forward my retirement" from these roles, as he did not wish his current situation to be a distraction to the organisations.

Yesterday, he stepped down as chairman of Changi Airport Group (CAG) and Surbana Jurong.

He had been chairman of CAG since 2009, as well as Surbana in 2013, before it became Surbana Jurong two years later.

He has also resigned from his positions as senior international business adviser at Singapore investment company Temasek and as a board member of the Temasek Foundation.

"Those who know me, will know I am passionate about the roles and missions of these organisations," he said. "I do not wish my current situation to be a distraction to their respective boards, management and staff, amidst their many critical priorities."

Mr Liew, who is also the former chief executive of CapitaLand, added that should it be required, he and his family will continue to provide full cooperation to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) and the police in their review of the case.

Last Friday, Justice Chan Seng Onn acquitted the Liews' former Indonesian maid Parti Liyani of stealing from the family.

Ms Parti, 46, who worked for the family from 2007 to 2016, was accused of stealing over $34,000 worth of items.

A district judge found her guilty of four charges of theft and handed down a 26-month jail sentence in March last year. She appealed against the conviction and sentence in the High Court.

READY TO ASSIST IN ANY WAY

Those who know me, will know I am passionate about the roles and missions of these organisations... I do not wish my current situation to be a distraction to their respective boards, management and staff, amidst their many critical priorities.

MR LIEW MUN LEONG, who has stepped down as chairman of Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong. He has also resigned from his positions at Singapore investment company Temasek and the Temasek Foundation.

FAITH IN SYSTEM

The High Court has made its decision. I have faith in our legal system and respect the decision of the High Court.

MR LIEW

On Tuesday, Ms Parti was cleared of a fifth charge of fraudulent possession of property, freeing her of all criminal charges.

In his judgment, Justice Chan noted that "some time prior to her termination", Ms Parti had expressed unhappiness at being made to do additional work in cleaning the house and office of Mr Liew's son, Mr Karl Liew.

"There is reason to believe that the Liew family, upon realising her unhappiness, took the pre-emptive first step to terminate her employment suddenly without giving her sufficient time for her to pack, in the hope that Parti would not use the time to make a complaint to MOM (Ministry of Manpower)," the judge said.

Given two hours to pack her belongings into boxes before being repatriated home, she got angry and threatened to lodge a complaint with the MOM about the illegal work deployments.

Two days later, when she was back in Indonesia, Mr Liew and his son made a police report after the family allegedly found their belongings in three boxes, which the younger Mr Liew had agreed to pay to ship to her.

Justice Chan said that once she had made clear - upon being fired - of her desire to complain to MOM, the Liew family "followed up with the police report to ensure her return would be prevented".

Ms Parti, who was unaware of the allegations, returned to Singapore on Dec 2, 2016 to find work, and was arrested upon her arrival at Changi Airport.

The AGC, police and MOM have said that they are reviewing the handling of the case, which has also led to an online backlash against Mr Liew.

In his statement yesterday, Mr Liew outlined why he lodged the report, saying: "When my family discovered some of our belongings in Ms Liyani's boxes, I proceeded to make a police report the same afternoon I returned from overseas - because I genuinely believed that if there were suspicions of wrongdoing, it is our civic duty to report the matter to the police and let the authorities investigate accordingly."

The police had conducted their investigations, said Mr Liew, adding that Ms Parti was subsequently arrested by the police and later charged by the public prosecutor.

"Throughout the investigations and trial, my family members and I cooperated fully with the police and gave statements and evidence when required," he said.

Mr Liew, who is a registered professional civil engineer, added that should it be required, he stands ready to assist or advise - without compensation, and in any way appropriate, given the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19 - the organisations he stepped down from.

Read more: Timeline of events leading to former maid Parti Liyani's acquittal in theft trial 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2020, with the headline 'Liew says he respects court's decision in acquitting maid'. Print Edition | Subscribe