Liew Mun Leong steps down as CAG chairman following online uproar

Liew Mun Leong will be stepping down from the chairman position at Changi Airport Group (CAG). In a press release, CAG thanked Liew for his contributions and showed appreciation of Liew's many years of services. CAG added thatLiew played a "pivotal role" in the corporatisation of Changi Airport, which paved the way for CAG to operate more flexibly to meet the challenges of a competitive aviation environment. In Liew's place, CAG has appointed Tan Gee Paw, who has been on the CAG Board since May 2017, as acting chairman. Tan previously served as chairman of the Public Utilities Board, Singapore’s national water agency, from 1 April 2001 until his retirement on 31 March 2017. He is also a member of a number of government committees. 

Liew was the founding chairman of Changi Airport Group (CAG) following the company’s formation in 2009. Lee Seow Hiang, CAG’s CEO, said Liew’s vision and passion for Changi was "an inspiration" to the people of CAG and the airport community to always strive for excellence to deliver an exceptional Changi experience. "The result has been Changi Airport being recognised as the world’s most awarded airport," he said, adding: “We are truly appreciative of Liew’s dedication to growing Changi Airport over the years and to securing Singapore’s position as a major aviation hub. We wish him good health and the very best for his future."

Liew's exit comes after the recent legal dispute between his family and their former domestic helper, Parti Liyani. The case made headlines after the Indonesian national claimed she was framed by Liew’s family to prevent her from lodging a complaint against the family to MOM for illegal work deployment. The Liew family had previously accused Liyani of stealing about SG$34,000 worth of items from them, according to multiple media reports. The judge of the case at Singapore High Court allowed the appeal after he found that there was an “improper motive” for Liew's accusation. In the most recent development, Liyani has been fully acquitted of all her criminal charges.

Following the break of the news, CAG was flooded with a slew of negative comments on its Facebook page around Liew's position with the brand. Netizens called out for the brand to remove Liew from his position. The call for Liew's removal from Changi was not unexpected as more and more consumers want brand leaders to be accountable for their actions. According to Edelman's Trust Barometer reports in 2019 and 2020, it is found that consumers have growing concerns about the impact brands have on society, and that they look to leaders to demonstrate public leadership, especially in times of crises. How a leader acts is very likely to affect consumers' level of trust in the brand, and may also affect their decision to purchase from the brand.

Meanwhile, aside from helming the role of chairman at Changi Airport Group, Liew also held the roles of chairman of Surbana Jurong and CEO CapitaLand. He was also a senior international business advisor with the Temasek Group. This saw Temasek International's chief executive officer, Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, also defending Liew's contributions which benefited Singapore as a whole. Sandrasegara also urged the public not to be too quick to pass a judgement on the incident until they have heard his side of the story.

 

Photo courtesy: 123RF 

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