He obtained a B.Sc (Econ) from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 1971 where he also obtained his PhD in International Relations in 1978. He taught at the Department of international Relations in LSE from 1972-1975. He was research analyst for Daiwa Europe NV in London from 1975-1978.
Dr Munir joined the New Straits Times Press (NST) at the end of 1978 as leader writer and progressed to become the Group Editor. During his time at the NST, he had published numerous articles on national and international politics, and economics. He left NST in 1986 to become CEO of a small merchant bank, Pertanian Baring Sanwa (PBS), whose name he changed to Commerce International Merchant Bankers (CIMB) which was then transformed into one of Malaysia’s leading merchant banks. He was invited by the Government of Malaysia to establish and become the first and founding Executive Chairman of the Securities Commission in 1993, where he served for two terms until 1999. In 1997, he received the Cranfield Management Excellence award. After leaving the Securities Commission, he served as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director of Telekom Malaysia Berhad for 4 years until June 2004, and was Chairman of its mobile subsidiary Celcom (M) Berhad from 2002-2004.
In June 2004, Dr Munir joined the Malaysian Airline System Berhad Board of Directors and later in August 2004 was appointed its Non-Executive Chairman until July 2011.
He has served on various governmental boards and committees, such as Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA), Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE, now Bursa Malaysia), Foreign Investment Committee (FIC), as well as various private sector companies and organizations such as Kuala Lumpur Options and Financial Futures Exchange (KLOFFE), Council of the Association of Merchant Banks Malaysia (AMBM), Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI).
He was the founder and President of the Kuala Lumpur Business Club (2003-2008) and is now the Chairman of its Advisory Council. In May 2004, he was appointed a member of the Court of Fellows of the Malaysian Institute of Management.
In December 2005, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2008 he was made a Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS (Centre for the Study of International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy) where he heads the Southeast Asia International Affairs Programme. Dr Munir is Adjunct Professor of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
Dr Munir is also a member Board of Trustees of PINTAR Foundation (a body designed to oversee voluntary educational activities in schools by government-linked companies) and Malaysia-Europe Forum. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. He conceived a TV programme, Fast Forward, on Radio Television Malaysia (RTM)1, which he has hosted.
Born in Penang in 1948, Dr Munir received his early education at St Mark’s Primary School in Butterworth and the Bukit Mertajam High School. He received his upper secondary education at the Royal Military College in Sungei Besi near Kuala Lumpur where he was awarded the Commandant’s Prize for being the best all-round student in 1967. He left for London the next year.