Liew Mun Leong has resigned his post as chairman of Changi Airport and other high profile roles after drawing intense public criticism following the acquittal of a former maid he had accused of theft.
Liew, 74, framed the decision in a statement last night as an early “retirement.” He said he was also leaving Surbana Jurong and state investor Temasek. He said that he respected the high court’s acquittal of Indonesian domestic helper Parti Liyani on four counts of theft, and that he and his family would cooperate with the authorities reviewing the case.
“After much deliberation, I have decided to bring forward my retirement from the various public service and business roles with Changi Airport Group, Surbana Jurong, Temasek Foundation, and Temasek International with immediate effect,” the statement read.
“Those who know me, will know I am passionate about the roles and missions of these organisations. I do not wish my current situation to be a distraction to their respective boards, management and staff, amidst their many critical priorities.”
He stood by the police complaint he made against his former helper in October 2016 that the court now says came with ulterior motives. Liew insisted that if there are “suspicions of wrongdoing, it is our civic duty to report the matter to the police and let the authorities investigate accordingly.”
Liyani was handed down a 26-month jail sentence in March 2019. Her conviction was overturned last week on appeal. During those proceedings, it came out that Liyani had threatened to report the Liew family for illegally deploying her, leading the judge to question their motives in filing a theft complaint against her.
He’s the second official to face a backlash over the case. Attorney-General Lucien Wong yesterday put out a statement through his office distancing himself from the prosecution, as Liew and him share business ties. His office has said it is reviewing the case. Before joining Changi Airport, Liew was the CEO of real estate firm CapitaLand, where Wong was board chair.
The Changi Airport Group wrote in a separate statement yesterday that the former chairman of national water agency PUB will temporarily replace Liew. Tan Gee Paw had been on the board of directors since 2017 and will assume the role of acting chairman.
Liew became chairman of Changi Airport Group in 2009 and chairman of urban planning consultancy Surbana Jurong in 2015. He was also the chairman of the education arm of Temasek Foundation as well as the senior international business advisor at the Temasek investment firm.