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AGC’s decision to change Karl Liew’s charge: Watering down penalties from six months to S$5,000?

Karl Liew Kai Lung, son of former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, was recently sentenced to two weeks in prison for intentionally providing false information during the trial of migrant domestic worker Parti Liyani.

However, many have expressed disappointment at the seemingly lenient sentence, especially considering that the Prosecution had originally charged Karl with Section 193 of the Penal Code, which carries a penalty of up to six months in prison.

What many are not aware of is that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) changed the charge to a lesser Section 182 charge.

Critics have accused the AGC of “watering down” the charges, as the penalty for Section 182 is only up to S$5,000 in fine or one year in prison. contrary to S193 with a minimum sentence of six months.



Karl Liew Kai Lung was sentenced to two weeks of imprisonment by the State Court last Friday (14 Apr) for lying in the case of migrant domestic worker Parti Liyani.

This came after Karl pleaded guilty on 30 March to intentionally providing false information to District Judge Olivia Low during Ms Parti’s trial in 2018, which is an offence under Section 182 of the Penal Code and had also admitted to the false statement charge and with it being taken into consideration for the sentencing.

Many have voiced their disappointment over the seemingly lenient sentence for the son of a former Changi Airport Group chairman, despite District Judge Eugene Teo imposing the sentence against the recommendation of the Prosecution, who had asked for just a S$5,000 fine, the maximum fine under s182.

Initial charge against Karl Liew was s193

Many are unaware that, on top of pursuing a relatively pointless sentence upon a wealthy man’s son who is an undischarged bankrupt, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) changed the initial charge from s193 to a lesser charge of s182.

On 5 November 2020, Karl was charged with two counts of offences under Sections 177 and 193 of the Penal Code.

s193 stipulates that a person found guilty of intentionally giving false evidence at any stage of a judicial proceeding or fabricates false evidence for the purpose of such may be sentenced to a maximum imprisonment term of seven years. They may also be liable to a fine.

s177(a) and (b) stipulate that a person found guilty of furnishing false information to a public servant may be sentenced to a maximum imprisonment term of six months, or with a maximum fine of S$5,000, or both. In any other case, they may be punished with a maximum fine of S$10,000.

The Police announced the charges against Karl, noting that this was a recommendation from them after completing investigations under the direction of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in light of the High Court’s comments in the judgment of Ms Parti Liyani’s appeal against her conviction of theft.

The police’s statement came after Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam revealed in the Singapore Parliament that investigations into Karl’s possible perjury and other criminal offences relating to Ms Parti’s case had been concluded.

Six months as  for an offence under s193

The hands of DJ Teo were tied in meting out the two-week sentence, as he noted in his judgment that “this case is only about those two charges as framed by the Prosecution. Other aspects of the original trial were the subject matter of comment and review, but this case is not about any of those other matters.”

The judge pointed out that s182 carries a prescribed penalty of imprisonment, which may extend to one year, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

DJ Teo also noted that the Prosecution focused only on a small segment of Karl’s testimony in court and charged him with knowingly offering false evidence in court in respect of that small segment.

Referring to another case in 1996, the late former Chief Justice Yong Pung How affirmed in a 2003 case, “Tan Mui Teck v Public Prosecutor,” that the normal sentence under s193 is six months.

Therefore, had the Prosecution proceeded with the original s193 charge, Karl would surely have been sentenced to a minimum imprisonment term of six months.

Of course, as Minister Indranee Rajah defended the AGC against their decision not to prosecute the six former Keppel executives in Parliament for not having sufficient evidence, the prosecutors too might claim that they would have difficulties securing a conviction if Karl does not plead guilty and stand trial against the original charge of s193.

However, perhaps what the AGC is concerned about is the embarrassment caused if the defence chooses to bring out the statements made by the prosecutors and police officers who said that they did not find any reasons to believe that Karl was lying and how the prosecutors stood their ground in defending Karl as their witness in court.

DPP said during the hearing that the prisons have facilities for people with medical conditions but did not ask for a sentence

Comparing the penalties of the two sections, the amended charge of s182 is definitely a much lesser charge than the original charge of s193 against Karl in 2020.

Despite the reduced charge, the Prosecution went as far as being amicable to settle for a S$5,000 fine in light of Karl’s affliction of Parkison’s Disease and declining to accept the Victim Impact Statement from Ms Parti, which she had already prepared for the judge to consider the sentencing.

This article was first published on The Online Citizen and republished on Gutzy as Minister of Communication and Information Josephine Teo requested the article to be removed under the POFMA declaration that she issued on 21 July 2023

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An attorney.
And a general.
Combo – what do one get? Especially when one is both a friend, and legal confidante.