Former maid of CAG chairman walks free after last charge cleared
She had been accused of possessing fraudulently obtained items from the home of Liew Mun Leong
The former domestic helper of the Changi Airport Group (CAG) chairman walked out a free woman yesterday after she was cleared of her last charge.
Accompanied by lawyer Anil Balchandani and supporters, Indonesian Parti Liyani was granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal for the fifth charge, which accused her of possessing fraudulently obtained items.
This comes four days after she was acquitted of four other theft charges, where she was accused of stealing a voluminous number of items from her former employer's household, such as clothing, bags and watches.
At the State Courts yesterday, Mr Balchandani asked for the items pertaining to the fifth charge to be returned to Ms Parti.
They included a pawnshop ticket, ez-link cards, branded bags and wallets, along with watches and jewellery.
Ms Parti was found with these items at Changi Airport when she returned to Singapore to look for work in 2016, after being fired by the Liew family in October that year.
The Indonesian had been employed as a foreign domestic worker in March 2007 by the Liew household, comprising Mr Liew Mun Leong - chairman of both CAG and Surbana Jurong - his wife, daughter and son Karl Liew.
Yesterday, Mr Balchandani also asked for fingerprints, photos and any information about Ms Parti to be removed from the criminal registry.
The prosecutor said he would take the discussion on the return of the items "offline", while District Judge Eddy Tham did not allow the second application as he said he was unsure of the basis for it.
When asked about the significance of the case after the hearing, Mr Balchandani, who was working pro bono, deflected praise and gave credit to non-governmental organisations.
"I've always maintained that the focus should be on what the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) is doing; what Home has done, and what I've said, I've said sufficiently in court."
A Home spokesman said yesterday that Ms Parti, 46, has plans to return to Indonesia after completing administrative matters.
The NGO had raised about $28,500 from the public for Ms Parti to start a food business in Indonesia, as she was unable to earn any income during the four-year-long ordeal.
Ms Parti, who had worked for the Liew household for about nine years, had earlier been sentenced to 26 months' jail by a district court after a trial contesting four charges of theft.
But her guilty verdict was overturned by the High Court after an appeal which lasted several months, where Justice Chan Seng Onn found that there were "improper motives" by members of the Liew family.
He also found there was a break in the chain of custody of evidence, creating reasonable doubt as to whether some of the allegedly stolen items were accurately documented by the police.
In addition, two statements taken from Ms Parti were done without an interpreter.
Yesterday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the authorities are looking into what went wrong in the chain of events that led up to Ms Parti being found guilty.
Mr Shanmugam, who was speaking on the sidelines of a media briefing about the upcoming redevelopment of Chong Pang Community Centre, added: "In the process, we should not be defensive. It should not be a witch hunt. It's got to be a fair process."
In a statement last night, a spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower said first-time foreign domestic workers (FDWs) have to attend a mandatory Settling-In Programme which informs them of their rights under the law. They can also report illegal deployment or any other employment difficulties to MOM.
They can contact the FDW helpline at 1800-339-5505 to seek clarification and assistance.
MARCH 2007 Ms Parti Liyani employed by Liew household, with Mr Liew Mun Leong, chairman of Changi Airport Group, her formal employer.
2012 TO OCT 2016 Ms Parti sent to work at Mr Karl Liew’s office and residence on some occasions.
OCT 28, 2016 Ms Parti’s employment terminated. She is given about three hours to pack and leave. She flies home to Indonesia.
OCT 30, 2016 The Liews file a police report against Ms Parti.
DEC 2, 2016 Ms Parti returns to Singapore to seek employment, but is arrested at Changi Airport.
AUG 2017 Ms Parti charged with three counts of theft in dwelling and one charge of theft as a servant. She is later charged with possessing items alleged to be fraudulently obtained.
OCT 2017 Ms Parti files a report to Ministry of Manpower against the Liews.
MARCH 20, 2019 Ms Parti found guilty by District Court on four charges and sentenced to two years and two months’ jail. Fifth charge for possession of several items not taken into consideration, and remains pending.
NOV 2019 Ms Parti’s appeal against conviction heard in High Court.
SEPT 4, 2020 Ms Parti acquitted of four out of five charges in High Court.
SEPT 8, 2020 Ms Parti cleared of final charge in District Court, and granted discharge amounting to acquittal.