SINGAPORE: Something has "gone wrong in the chain of events" that will have to be looked at, in the case of an Indonesian maid who was acquitted of stealing from the Changi Airport Group (CAG) chairman's family, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Tuesday (Sep 8).
Ms Parti Liyani, 46, was sentenced to more than two years' jail in March 2019 after being found guilty of four charges of stealing about S$34,000 worth of items from CAG chairman Liew Mun Leong's family. She had her convictions overturned in the High Court last Friday, after her appeal was allowed.
In his judgment, Justice Chan Seng Onn raised several reasons for Ms Parti's acquittal, including the "existence of an improper motive" by the Liew family, the break in chain of custody of evidence, and issues with the way the police had handled the case.
Speaking at the sidelines of a grassroots event, Mr Shanmugam said: “The (High Court) judge’s comments, we take them very seriously. Something has gone wrong in the chain of events. We have to look at that, and deal with what went wrong.”
On Sunday, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said Justice Chan's findings "raise questions that warrant further investigations", while the Ministry of Manpower said it was in consultation with the AGC as to whether "further action, if any, ought to be taken".
The police also said it was looking into "several observations" that were raised in the High Court judgment.
"At this point, we shouldn’t prejudge which part of the process went wrong. That’s why reviews are being conducted," the minister said, adding that people should wait for the outcome of the reviews.
READ: CAG chairman's wife cautioned, son given advisory in 2018 after maid complained about illegal deployment: MOM
"In the process, we should not be defensive. It should not be a witch hunt," he added.
"We have to find out what happened, why it happened and then deal with it. And be accountable. That’s the best way to build trust in public, in the system. To come out in public and say what steps we have taken once the reviews are done."
READ: Judge's findings ‘raise questions’ that warrant further investigations after maid acquitted of stealing from CAG chairman’s family: AGC
“JUSTICE HAS BEEN DELIVERED”
When asked about a "status gap" between the two parties and how it might have affected the case, Mr Shanmugam said the case was "not between a very prominent business person and a foreign domestic worker".
"She was charged in a criminal case based on a complaint by the business person.
"The (High Court) judge’s judgment goes through the facts very carefully. It sets out what the break in the chain of evidence is, and in that way, it is good to see that justice is both blind and that justice has been delivered," he said.
"I would say, my own view is, looking at the (High Court) judge’s judgment, it is good to see justice delivered," he added.
READ: Maid acquitted of stealing from Changi Airport Group chairman’s family hid her ordeal from her family
He added that Mr Anil Balchandani, the lawyer who took Ms Parti’s case pro-bono, had done a “thorough and good job” of picking up on the "various inconsistencies" in the evidence.
“That’s a lawyer’s job. To be thorough, to be clear, to put forward everything fairly to the court. Based on what I’ve heard, I think he ought to be commended, he’s done a good job,” the minister said.