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PSP’s Tan Cheng Bock calls for independent review of lapses in acquitted maid’s case

SINGAPORE — Progress Singapore Party secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock on Sunday (Sept 13) called for an independent review into whether there were any “underlying systemic faults” in the case of foreign domestic worker Parti Liyani.

Ms Parti Liyani leaving the State Courts with her lawyer Anil Balchandani on Sept 8.

Ms Parti Liyani leaving the State Courts with her lawyer Anil Balchandani on Sept 8.

  • Progress Singapore Party chief Tan called for an independent review board to be formed to look into lapses in Ms Parti Liyani’s case
  • Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had earlier said that the authorities are reviewing whether more action should be taken
  • But AGC and MHA’s own reviews may not be independent, said Dr Tan
  • Such a review should question whether the policemen, prosecutors and the district judge had discharged their duties well

 

SINGAPORE — Progress Singapore Party secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock on Sunday (Sept 13) called for an independent review into whether there were any “underlying systemic faults” in the case of foreign domestic worker Parti Liyani.

“Proper accountability demands that we find the root causes for these lapses. Not just whether mistakes were caused by individual human errors. Scapegoating or witch hunts will do us no good,” wrote Dr Tan in a Facebook post, weighing in on the case for the first time.

The solution has to go further than blaming or removing personnel in question, he added.

“We must examine if there are underlying systemic faults — whether there are any failures in safety processes, protocols, checks and balances. If not, we risk repeating the same mistakes again,” said Dr Tan.

Ms Parti was acquitted of all charges last week, after the High Court overturned her conviction that saw her being sentenced to two years and two months’ jail for stealing around S$34,000 worth of items from the Liews.

Ms Parti’s former employer, Mr Liew Mun Leong, subsequently resigned from various public and private sector roles.

With the case hogging headlines in the past week, Dr Tan said attention should be placed on the conduct of the various policemen, prosecutors, trial witnesses and the district judge who had earlier convicted Ms Parti during the four-year-long case.

He noted the comments by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who said last week that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), the police and the Manpower Ministry had pledged to look into whether further steps need to be taken as a result of the High Court’s decision.

“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,” Mr Shanmugam said.

Mr Shanmugam further clarified that it was not a case between two parties of vastly different backgrounds, but rather, a criminal case based on the complaint by Mr Liew.

Justice Chan Seng Onn, in acquitting Ms Parti on appeal, had set out where the break in the chain of evidence was, said the minister.

But Dr Tan called into question the independence of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and AGC’s reviews.

“After all, the MHA and AGC are reviewing their own flaws. Are they independent enough to be 100 per cent objective?

“Instead, the Government should convene an independent review body to critically and holistically assess MHA and AGC’s version of events, what went wrong, and make recommendations to prevent the same wrongs from reoccurring,” he wrote, though he did not specify who should sit on such a panel.

Sketching out the full timeline of Ms Parti’s case, Dr Tan added: “What concerns me... is the combination of lapses that produced a perfect storm to hit Parti Liyani.”

He urged for a panel to look into several difficult questions about the conduct of the investigations and the subsequent trial, such as why the police decided to leave evidence with the Liews for more than a year after the report was made, taking custody of the evidence only days before the trial began..

He also questioned whether the policemen, prosecutors and the district judge had received “sufficient supervision, training and resources” to discharge their duties well.

“These are uncomfortable questions to answer. But answer them they must. Singaporeans want a criminal justice system that is efficient and fair to all,” said Dr Tan.

“By and large, our police, prosecution and judiciary have performed well in the past. This incident tells us that things can be better, and calling for an Independent Review Body is a step in the right direction.”

Related topics

Liew Mun Leong Parti Liyani domestic worker court Tan Cheng Bock PSP

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