Changi Airport Group names veteran public servant Tan Gee Paw as acting chairman after Liew Mun Leong's resignation

Changi Airport Group has appointed Mr Tan Gee Paw (left) to serve as the acting chairman, after Mr Liew Mun Leong resigned from the post.
Changi Airport Group has appointed Mr Tan Gee Paw (left) to serve as the acting chairman, after Mr Liew Mun Leong resigned from the post. PHOTOS: PUB, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Changi Airport Group (CAG) has appointed veteran public servant Tan Gee Paw as its acting chairman following the resignation of Mr Liew Mun Leong, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Thursday (Sept 10).

Mr Tan, who was chairman of national water agency PUB from April 2001 to March 2017, has been a director on CAG's board since May 2017. His previous appointments include principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, permanent secretary for environment and special advisor to the Land Transport Authority.

CAG was corporatised in 2009 and has remained directly owned by the Government.

The ministry said in a statement that Mr Liew had informed CAG and MOF that given the extensive publicity arising from the matter involving his former domestic worker Parti Liyani, he would resign from his position as chairman and as a board director with immediate effect, "so as not to create a distraction to the organisation".

Mr Liew announced his resignation from his public service and business roles on Thursday evening, days after the High Court acquitted Ms Parti of stealing from Mr Liew and his family. In his judgment, Justice Chan Seng Onn raised questions about the motivation of Mr Liew in lodging a police report against the maid, as well as on the handling of the case.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) is undertaking a review of the case.

In its statement, MOF said: "The Ministry of Finance has taken note of the observations of the Judge of the High Court, and the further review that the AGC is undertaking."

MOF also acknowledged the significant contributions that Mr Liew, as CAG's founding chairman since 2009, had made to the development of Changi Airport as a premier air hub.

"Under his leadership, CAG has completed Terminal 4 and Jewel, and Changi Airport has won multiple awards as the one of the best airports in the world," it added.

"The ministry thanks Mr Liew for his public service contributions."

In a separate statement on Mr Liew's stepping down, CAG thanked Mr Liew for his many years of service to the company, as well as his contributions to the development of Changi.

 
 

"Mr Liew played a pivotal role in the corporatisation of Changi Airport, which paved the way for Changi to operate more flexibly to meet the challenges of a competitive aviation environment," CAG said.

"Under his leadership, CAG achieved a very strong first decade since 2009, which saw passenger traffic at Changi rising 84 per cent and Group revenue more than doubling. During this period, CAG also pushed the boundaries in airport development."

CAG said Mr Liew provided stewardship and strategic counsel on three landmark projects simultaneously: Terminal 4, Jewel Changi Airport and Changi East.

Mr Lee Seow Hiang, CAG's chief executive officer, said: "Mr 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.

"We are truly appreciative of Mr Liew's dedication to growing Changi Airport over the years and to securing Singapore's position as a major aviation hub."


Liew Mun Leong: From building army camps to airport runways and terminals

Mr Liew Mun Leong, 74, began his career building army camps, before moving on to airport runways and terminals, and chairing the Changi Airport Group (CAG).

After graduating with a degree in civil engineering from the then University of Singapore in 1970, he landed a job at the National Iron and Steel Mills.

Barely half a year later, he was called up for national service and, at the Defence Ministry, was tasked with developing and building military camps and infrastructure.

In an interview with The Straits Times last year, he recounted working closely with Old Guard minister Goh Keng Swee and other mentors, from whom he learnt the art of "disregarding the rules and getting things done".

He joined the Public Works Department in the mid-1970s, where he was involved in the building of Changi Airport Terminals 1 and 2 from day one. "I don't circumvent rules. I break ground," he said.

After more than two decades in the public sector, including a stint at the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research, he steered engineering and construction firm L&M Investments.

He left to become president of Pidemco Land in 1996.

In 2000, when CapitaLand was born from a merger between Pidemco Land and DBS Land, he became its chief and led it to be one of the largest real estate groups in Asia. He stepped down as CapitaLand chief executive in 2012.

He was appointed founding chairman of CAG in 2009, and of Surbana in 2013.

He was also a senior international business adviser appointed by Temasek to advise the Singapore investment company on long-term real estate investments in New York, London and Tokyo, and was appointed a board member of its philanthropic arm, Temasek Foundation. 

Read more: Timeline of events leading to former maid Parti Liyani's acquittal in theft trial