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Singapore must strive to protect and improve justice system: PM

This article is more than 12 months old

In first public remarks on Parti Liyani case, PM Lee says that any shortcomings in criminal justice system must be remedied

The Parti Liyani case, involving the former domestic worker of former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, has generated much attention and concern among Singaporeans, and understandably so, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday in his first public comments on the matter.

He also said that if there are any shortcomings found in Singapore's criminal justice system, they must be remedied.

"Building a democratic society based on justice and equality is a fundamental goal of our nation. To do this, we need proper and fair enforcement of our laws," he added in a Facebook post.

"We will continually strive to protect and improve our justice system, so that people can be assured that it is clean, just and works equally for all."

PM Lee's comments came after the matter was debated in Parliament last Wednesday in a marathon nine-hour session.

The House heard from Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam who delivered a ministerial statement on Ms Parti's case, and also debated a motion put forward by Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim on improving the criminal justice system.

On the session, PM Lee said the ministerial statement had comprehensively put forward the facts of the case, adding: "Both sides of the House agreed that it had been treated as a routine case by the police and AGC (Attorney-General's Chambers), and that there was no attempt by any party to influence its outcome."

Ms Parti Liyani was accused of theft in 2016 by her then employer, Mr Liew, and was convicted by the State Courts last year.

She was acquitted this year by the High Court on appeal, sparking a public outcry among some, who asked why she was charged in the first place and whether Mr Liew had exerted any improper influence on the case.

Mr Liew is a prominent businessman who was also on the board of government-linked entities such as infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong and Temasek Foundation. He resigned from those positions following the public outcry.

Mr Shanmugam disclosed in Parliament that the internal reviews by the police and the AGC had found lapses in how they handled the case, but also confirmed that there was no improper influence at any point.

He said there was no sign that Mr Liew or anyone from his family had lobbied or exerted pressure on the police, deputy public prosecutors or trial judge over the case.