10 Facts About Liew Mun Leong, the Former CAG Chairman That Everyone’s Talking About


A week ago, the phrase “CAG Chairman” meant nothing to most people.

But scroll through social media now and you’re bound the see that very same phrase or the name Liew Mun Leong followed by tirades peppered with expletives.

People of all shapes and ages have been banging away furiously at their keyboards for at least a week now.

Image: Giphy

It all started when Liew’s helper, 45-year-old Parti Liyani, was acquitted of stealing from the Liew family when she was employed by them.

The helper, who was initially found guilty, argued in her appeal that she was framed, which is why Changi Airport’s Facebook page is now filled with angry comments targeted at their chairman (or former chairman, that is).

But who exactly is Liew Mun Leong? And what do we know about him other than the fact he’s filthy rich?

Here are 10 facts about the former CAG chairman, the man everyone’s talking about at the moment.

1. He Began His Career Building Army Camps

After graduating with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Singapore (now NUS) in 1970, Liew got a job at the National Iron and Steel Mills, according to The Straits Times.

Just six months later, when he was called up for National Service, Liew was tasked with developing and building military camps and infrastructure, since he had expertise in that area.

2. He Helped Build Changi Airport’s First Terminal

It’s 2020, and while it now seems like a new airport terminal is built every week, it was quite a historic moment when out first ever terminal was constructed back in the 1970s.

Liew helped build both Terminal 1 and 2 during that time in his capacity as a professional civil engineer, after joining the Public Works Department.

For his contributions, he was awarded the bronze Public Administration Medal in 1979 at the National Day Awards.

3. He Once Received a 20 million Bonus From CapitaLand

What many people may not know is that Liew was CEO of CapitaLand for 16 years.

After several stints in the public sector, Liew joined CapitaLand as its founding president and CEO in 1996.

It went on to become one of the largest real estate groups in Asia, according to ST.

In 2007, while our bosses gave us FairPrice vouchers as a bonus, Liew reportedly received a $20.52 million bonus for helping CapitaLand achieve a record profit of $2.76 billion.

Image: Giphy

The 74-year-old stepped down as CapitaLand chief executive in 2012.

4. He Was Awarded with the Legion of Honour from France

In 2017, Liew was conferred the rank of Knight in the French Legion of Honour (Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur) in recognition of his contributions to France’s economy.

The award is the highest French decoration and reportedly one of the most famous in the world.

When Liew was still chief of CapitaLand, he helped The Ascott, a lodging company managed by CapitaLand, become the first Singaporean investor and employer in France.

Half of The Ascott’s Europe portfolio is now in France, according to Amba France.


5. He Has Authored 5 Books

The 74-year-old has written five books over the course of his career, based on his real-world experiences as the chief of private and public entities.

The books touch on topics ranging from project management to airport systems.

6. Appointed to Changi Airport Group as Founding Chairman in 2009

Three years before leaving CapitaLand, Liew was appointed founding chairman of Changi Airport Group (CAG) on 16 June 2009.

As CAG chairman, he led the construction of Jewel Changi Airport, a $1.7 billion partnership between CAG and CapitaLand.

You’ll notice that Liew held two leadership positions at two different companies at the same time. This is something he continued to do even after becoming CAG chairman.

As he told ST: “I don’t want to work on my money. I want to work on my grey matter and if possible, grow it”.


7. He Teaches Part-Time for Free

While working at CAG, Liew was also provost’s chair and professor at NUS’s Business School, Faculty of Engineering and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

He was teaching on a pro bono basis, however, which I would also be happy to do if I received a 20 million bonus every now and then.

But that’s not the only other role he had undertaken.

8. Held Several Posts

Liew is also chairman of Surbana Jurong, a consultancy in urban and infrastructure development, even when he was leading CAG.

He’s also a senior international business adviser at Singapore investment company Temasek and a board member of Temasek Foundation.


Or rather, he was all those things. But not anymore.

9. Wrongly Accused Helper of Stealing

Things started going downhill for Liew when his maid was acquitted of stealing belongings from his family.

Back in 2016, Liew made a police report alleging that his helper, Parti, had stolen more than $34k worth of items from them.

This led to Parti being sentenced to two years and two months’ jail in 2019, after she was found guilty on four counts of theft.

However, after an appeal and protracted trial, Parti’s conviction was overturned and she was acquitted, one and half years later.

The High Court judge Chan Seng Onn said that the Liew family had “improper motives” and found the testimony of Karl Liew, Liew’s son, “highly suspect”.

As for the ‘stolen’ items, they all turned out to be either Parti’s belongings, items she found in the trash, or things she had not even packed.

Cue the online backlash.


Since Parti claimed she was being framed to prevent her from lodging a complaint against the Liew family for illegal deployment, netizens felt that something more nefarious was at play, and Liew became a lightning rod for public anger.

Which led to this:

10. Stepped Down From All His Posts

In response to the online backlash, Liew stepped down not only as CAG chairman, but from all his posts.

In a statement on Thursday (10 Sept), Liew explained why he had decided to bring forward his retirement from these roles.

“I do not wish my current situation to be a distraction to their respective boards, management and staff, amidst their many critical priorities.”

“Those who know me will know I am passionate about the roles and missions of these organisations,” he said.

He also said he will continue to provide full cooperation to both the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and the police in their review of the case.

As to why he made the police report against Parti, he explained:

“When my family discovered some of our belongings in Ms Liyani’s boxes, I proceeded to make a police report the same afternoon I returned from overseas – because I genuinely believed that if there were suspicions of wrongdoing, it is our civic duty to report the matter to the police and let the authorities investigate accordingly.

“The police conducted their investigations. Ms Liyani was subsequently arrested by the police, and later, charged by the Public Prosecutor.

“Throughout the investigations and trial, my family members and I cooperated fully with the police and gave statements and evidence when required.”

Liew may have stepped down and explained himself, but this will likely not appease the public.

The 74-year-old said he respects the court’s decision to acquit Parti, as he has “faith in our legal system”.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said it will study the judgment to assess if further action is required.

Both the police and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also said they are all looking into the matter, reported ST.

Whether or not you like the man, one thing is for sure; this saga is far from over.