Former domestic worker Parti Layani’s attempt to seek compensation for her wrongful conviction took a twist on 27 October 2020 when the high court judge who acquitted her suggested that the parties go for mediation instead.
Ms Parti Liyani is seeking compensation from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) after her conviction for theft was overturned on appeal by the High Court.
The 46-year-old Indonesian’s lawyer, Mr Anil Balchandani, told the High Court she had suffered losses of about $71,000 as a result of the case. This included $41,000 for loss of income in the four years after being accused of stealing from the family of prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong.
About $29,000 was expenses for her accommodation at a shelter run by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, a migrant workers’ support group. However, the compensation Ms Parti can receive is capped at $10,000 under the Criminal Procedure Code if the court rules that the prosecution was frivolous or vexatious. In other words that would be the extent to which the system is accountable even if your complaints/grievances are valid. Good to know.
Yao mo gao chor ah? Why are people assuming that Ms Parti, an Indonesian and a rather atypical one at that, would think like a typical Singaporean? The fact that she had gone so far to clear her name should be an indication that the amount she’s going to get for compensation is not a primary concern. We can get a further hint of her intentions from her reluctance to seek compensation from Liew Mun Leong et al.
Parti’s lawyer Mr Anil Balchandani told Justice Chan Seng Onn that “a lot has transpired” since the judge acquitted Ms Parti, primarily that Mr Liew has resigned from his posts at the Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong.
To Ms Parti, Liew Mun Leong has already been adequately punished. There remains another party that has not been checked.
Justice Chan noted that public funds are involved in the case against the AGC and the cost of a two or three-day hearing into the legal arguments, such as what amounts to “frivolous or vexatious”, will come up to more than $10,000.
“Is it worth it? It doesn’t seem so,” said the judge, who suggested getting former attorneys-general as mediators.
Mr Balchandani said he understood that the threshold to prove the case is high, but his client was seeking “a nominal amount to show that something went wrong“. How unSingaporean can you get!
Sure, she might have gotten the $71,000 from them, but that’s just teaching one family a lesson and from Ms Parti’s point of view, they had already been punished. The root of the problem lies with the system. If the trial judge had managed the case as Justice Chan suggested, then none of these problems would have emerged – both for Parti and the Liew family. Hence, keeping to her ideals, it’s only logical that Parti sought moral restitution from the AGC instead of the Liews. Personally, I would also support her decision because we the citizens deserve a system that is more transparent and accountable. It’s just a bit embarrassing that we need a foreigner to challenge out system to show us that what we’ve been meekly living with all these years may need some fixing.
But of courese, there will still be morons out there who can only understand things in dollars and sense and keep scratching their heads, wondering why Ms Parti didn’t take the path of higher returns. Those who defend the system may even accuse her of willfully seeking revenge on the system to gain fame and glory. Unfortunately, I know a few of them and as long as nothing untoward befalls these “permanent” residents of high society, they are unlikely to see how important human rights are.