Step aside, Ivan Lim and Dee Kosh. The crown for Singapore’s public enemy #1 has gone over to Changi Airport Group Chairman Liew Mun Leong after the High Court acquitted his former maid Parti Liyani of theft.
How it began
Parti Liyani began working for the Liew family in 2007. Over the years, Liew Mun Leong discovered that a $10,000 gerald Genta watch, 115 items of clothing, two iPhones as well as other belongings had gone missing. Suspecting that Parti had stolen them, he terminated her employment in 2016 and lodged a police report.
In court, Parti said that she did not steal the items, but salvaged them from thrash bags left behind by Mr Liew’s son. Nevertheless, she was found guilty on four counts of theft and sentenced to 26 months of jail.
The Conviction is Overturned
On 4 September, in a twist of events, Justice Chan Seng Onn overturned her conviction and said that Mr Liew and his son had an “improper motive” in lodging the police report.
It was revealed that Parti had been, on multiple occasions, illegally deployed to work at Mr Liew’s son’s home and office. She threatened to lodge a complaint to MOM, which prompted the Liews to preemptively fire and report her for theft in the hopes of stalling her complaint.
Justice Chan also found a break in the chain of custody of evidence. When the Liew family had uncovered the allegedly stolen items in boxes packed by Parti, they were granted permission by the police to use them. The items were then put back and documented by the police five weeks later. It was not clear whether the items documented were the same as the ones that Parti had packed.
Parti’s pro-bono lawyer, Anil Balchandani was highly praised by Justice Chan for being meticulous and dedicated in his client’s defence.
Justice is Served
Mr Liew faced massive backlash over the case. Changi Airport’s facebook page was bombarded with angry comments calling for Mr Liew to step down for falsely accusing his maid. Temasek defended Mr Liew, saying that he had contributed greatly to Singapore and its people, and his track record attests to that.
However, the damage was done. On Sept 10, Mr Liew stepped down as chairman of Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong. He gave a statement: “I do not wish my current situation to be a distraction to their respective boards, management and staff, amidst their many critical priorities.”