Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong has made an announcement to the media on Thursday (10 Sept) that he will be retiring from his public service and business roles at Changi Airport Group, Surbana Jurong, Temasek Foundation, and Temasek International.
This follows the judgement from the High Court last Friday to acquit the four theft-related convictions of his former domestic worker, Ms Parti Liyani which originated from allegations of theft made by him in 2016.
Mr Liew said in his media release, “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,”
“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 noted in the media release that he and his family members had cooperated fully with the police throughout the investigations and trial.
“The High Court has made its decision. I have faith in our legal system and respect the decision of the High Court”
“I understand that both the Attorney’s General Chambers (AGC) and the police are now conducting reviews of the matter. Should it be required, my family and I will continue to provide full cooperation to both AGC and the police.”
“Improper motive” by members of the Liew family in mounting allegations of theft
Justice Chan Seng Onn in his written judgement on Ms Parti’s case, noted the existence of “improper motive” by members of the Liew family in mounting these allegations of theft against Ms Parti as she had earlier made known her intentions of filing a complaint with MOM over the fact that she was illegally deployed to clean Karl Liew’s home and office.
Justice Chan noted:
“It is clear to me based on the evidence at the trial below that Parti was in fact made to do illegal cleaning work at Karl’s residence at 39 CL and at Karl’s office. Parti’s evidence is that she received $10 for two to three days of work, and the payment was not regular. In fact, there was a prior dispute between Parti and the Liew family over the cleaning of the toilet in 39 CL; when Mdm Ng requested Parti to do so, she refused. There was also another incident where Parti refused to cook extra food for Karl.”
He continued, “It is significant that at some time prior to her termination, Parti had expressed unhappiness for being made to do additional cleaning work at Karl’s home in 39 CL and at his office, probably without adequate compensation. It demonstrates Parti’s prior unhappiness in relation to such an arrangement, which was illegal and an offence against the MOM regulations.”
“In my judgment, there is reason to believe that the Liew family, upon realising her unhappiness, took the pre-emptive first step to terminate her employment suddenly without giving her sufficient time for her to pack, in the hope that Parti would not use the time to make a complaint to MOM,” he reasoned.
The police report lodged by the Liews after Ms Parti explicitly stated her desire to notify MOM of her illegal deployment after her sudden termination, Justice Chan observed, was a way to “ensure her return would be prevented”.
“Given the seriousness of the consequences that might follow from what Parti said she would do, I have reason to believe that the Liew family would be very concerned that Parti would carry out her threat to report the matter to MOM,” he said.
The Liew family’s decision to abruptly terminate Ms Parti’s employment, noted Justice Chan, was based on items that went missing “over the years” and not those were recently discovered to be missing around the time the termination took place.
“In my view, this is not believable and it is more likely that the fear of Parti’s complaint to MOM rendered her termination urgent, at least in the eyes of the Liew family,” he said.
Criticism and defence of Mr Liew
This case had garnered criticism on social media, with many netizens condemning Liew family and earlier asking Mr Liew to step down from his chairman position.
On the Facebook page of Changi Airport, many netizens flocked to the comment sections with angry comments, describing Mr Liew as a “disgrace” of the Company while asking him to step down from chairman position.
Earlier, Chief Executive of Temasek International, the wholly-owned management and investment arm of Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings, Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara (Dilhan) had defended Mr Liew, by saying “There are many individuals who have contributed to both public service and to the private sector in Singapore for the benefit of Singapore and our population as a whole. (Mr Liew) is one of those persons, and his track record at CapitaLand, at Changi Airport Group, and at Surbana Jurong attest to that.”