Any shortcomings found in criminal justice system must be remedied, says PM Lee on Parti Liyani case

Ms Parti Liyani was accused of theft in 2016 by her then employer, Mr Liew, and was convicted by the State Courts in 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Parti Liyani case, involving the former domestic worker of former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, has generated much attention and concern among Singaporeans, and understandably so, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (Nov 10), in his first public comments on the matter.

He also said that if there are any shortcomings found in Singapore's criminal justice system, they must be remedied.

"Building a democratic society based on justice and equality is a fundamental goal of our nation. To do this, we need proper and fair enforcement of our laws," he added in a Facebook post.

"We will continually strive to protect and improve our justice system, so that people can be assured that it is clean, just and works equally for all."

PM Lee's comments come after the matter was debated in Parliament last Wednesday in a marathon session that lasted nine hours.

The House heard from Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who delivered a ministerial statement on Ms Parti's case, and also debated a motion put forward by Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim on improving the criminal justice system.

On the session, PM Lee said the ministerial statement had comprehensively put forward the facts of the case, adding: "Both sides of the House agreed that it had been treated as a routine case by the police and the AGC (Attorney-General's Chambers), and that there was no attempt by any party to influence its outcome."

Ms Parti Liyani was accused of theft in 2016 by her then employer, Mr Liew, and was convicted by the State Courts in 2019.

She was acquitted this year by the High Court on appeal, sparking a public outcry among some, who asked why she was charged in the first place and whether Mr Liew had exerted any improper influence on the case.

Mr Liew is a prominent businessman and was also the chairman of government-linked infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong. In addition, he was senior international business adviser at Singapore investment company Temasek and a board member of Temasek Foundation.

He resigned from these positions following the public outcry after Justice Chan Seng Onn overturned Ms Parti's conviction.

Mr Shanmugam disclosed in Parliament that the internal reviews by the police and the AGC had found lapses in how they handled the case, but also confirmed that there was no improper influence at any point

He said there was no sign that Mr Liew or anyone from his family had lobbied or exerted pressure on the police, deputy public prosecutors or trial judge over the case.

In fact, the decisions on the case were taken by the investigation officer and his immediate supervisor, and it was the deputy public prosecutors and their directors in the AGC who decided to prosecute Ms Parti - the typical way such theft cases are handled, he added.

The minister reiterated this on Tuesday in a Facebook post which PM Lee shared: "The facts showed that the police and AGC had strong grounds to charge her, and no one attempted to exert any influence."

In the post, Mr Shanmugam also linked video clips of the key points of his speech, including his criticism about the "cavalier attitude" of the Liews, particularly Karl Liew, who has since been charged with perjury in court and furnishing false information to the Police.

He added in the post that the High Court's decision to overturn Ms Parti's conviction is final.

"This case illustrates how the rule of law is applied in Singapore," he said.

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