SINGAPORE: An Indonesian maid who was acquitted of stealing S$34,000 worth of items from Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family said she “never thought” of pleading guilty and wanted justice to prevail.
Ms Parti Liyani, 46, was sentenced in March 2019 to two years and two months’ jail after a district judge convicted her of four counts of theft. On Friday, the convictions were overturned after an appeal by Ms Parti.
At a news conference on Friday evening, Ms Parti described some of the challenges she has faced since the allegations were first made.
“I wanted for justice to prevail … during these four years, I have not been allowed to work so I have been stuck in Singapore for four years, and not working,” she said, speaking via a translator.
Her lawyer, Mr Anil Balchandani, who took the case pro-bono, said Ms Parti has not been able to “keep herself occupied” because she was not allowed to work.
“While this case was ongoing, I have been hiding all these news from my family,” Ms Parti said.
“So I tried my best to avoid my family from knowing about my case. They did not know.
“I especially did not want my mother to know, because my mother is already so old and I did not want her to fall sick. So I (told) my mother that I had an issue with my employer, but not to the point that my case had gone to trial.”
"I wasn't best able to support my family and my hometown, but prior to the trial I had told my family that I would be unable to get money, and I asked for their apology," she added.
In explaining the decision to acquit Ms Parti, Justice Chan Seng Onn said on Friday “the existence of an improper motive by members of the Liew family” for mounting allegations against her was among the reasons.
READ: Maid found guilty of stealing S$30,000 worth of items from Changi Airport Group chairman’s family
On Oct 28, 2016, Ms Parti had her employment terminated by Mr Liew Mun Leong, after she was suspected of allegedly stealing things from their home.
She threatened to lodge a complaint with the Manpower Ministry, after she was asked to clean Mr Liew Mun Leong’s son’s home and office on multiple occasions.
“In my judgment, 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 to pack, in the hope that Ms Parti would not use the time to make a complaint to MOM,” Justice Chan said.
"Once she made express her desire to complain to MOM after her sudden termination on Oct 28, 2016, the Liew family followed up with the police report to ensure her return would be prevented.
"In my view, the Liew family might not have made a police report had Ms Parti not made her express threat on Oct 28, 2016 to report the matter to MOM."
On Dec 2, 2016 she was arrested at Changi Airport upon her return to Singapore to seek employment. She was charged in August 2017.
READ: Changi Airport Group chairman suspected maid of stealing for years, but tolerated her behaviour
The court also found that many of the items Ms Parti was accused of stealing were “ostensibly spoilt, broken or lacking in value” to the alleged owners.
Ms Parti said on Friday night: “I forgive my employer. I just wish to tell them not to do the same thing to other workers, what they have done (to me).”
She said as soon as she is able to go home to Indonesia, she will return to her hometown and aims to start a small business selling food.
“I do not have plans to return to a Singapore to find new employment,” she added.
Ms Parti has been staying at a Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) shelter over the last three-and-a-half years while waiting for the conclusion of the case.
In a Facebook post, HOME said it has been an “emotional journey” as they fought to provide legal, emotional and social support to Ms Parti while trying to prove her innocence.
“She showed strength, resilience, and a fighting spirit which inspired us,” said HOME.