Cathryn Li (Malaysian Influencer)

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Cathryn Li
Cathryn Li. Photo from Instagram..png
Born17 July 1989

Lee Mei Leng, better known as Cathryn Li (17 July 1989) is a Malaysian influencer and pianist who has been the subject of several controversies in the past. As of February 2023, Cathryn Li has amassed over 3.3 million followers on Instagram and 1.8 million followers on Facebook.[1][2] She became a viral topic in 2023 after she allegedly leaked her 40.36 million ringgit (S$11.7 million) bank account balance online.[3]


Personal life & family

Cathryn was born and raised in Malaysia, but little is known about her family. In January 2021, she caused a stir online after revealing she spent 4,321,590 yen on a family dinner in Ginza, Japan.[4] The clubhouse-restaurant, Kawamura is an exclusive dining spot that boasts delicacies like wagyu beef and black abalone. According to the influencer, she and her family had already been on the restaurant’s waiting list for over three years.[4]


In 2007, she obtained her Licentiate Diploma in Recital in Solo Piano, with a Distinction grade.[5] However, Cathryn once came under scrutiny after netizens accused her of forging her certificate.[5] But she quickly took to Instagram to post proof of the actual document.


Influencer (2016 to Present)

Cathryn Li is known for sharing lifestyle and fitness content on her socials, many of which include sultry poses and cosplay costumes. This has helped her to grow her following online, allowing her to amass 3.3 million and 1.8 million followers on Instagram and Facebook, respectively.[1][2]

Cathryn Li often shares her fitness journey online. Photos from Facebook. 
Cathryn Li often shares her fitness journey online. Photos from Facebook. 

Pianist (2016 to Present)

Cathryn Li often posts videos of herself performing classical pieces on the Piano, such as Sergei Prokofiev's Sonata no.3, Chopin’s Etude no.12 op. 25.[1][6][7]

Cathryn Li posing next to a baby grand piano. Photo from Facebook.
Cathryn Li posing next to a baby grand piano. Photo from Facebook.

In March 2023, she announced that she was going to hold a concert cum fan meeting at the Taipei International Convention Centre, set to take place a month later on 16 April.[8] However, it gained attention from local publication China Press, which drew a comparison between her ticket prices and that of K-POP group BLACKPINK.[8] Cathryn responded under China Press’ Facebook post and clarified that the ticket prices were “determined by the organiser”.[8]

“If you must compare me with BLACKPINK, I am only a classical music player. My fame is definitely not on their level. Even so, I will try to give my best performance and dedicate myself to the audience who support me and classical music.”[8]

Content Creation (2016 to Present)

Cathryn Li often posts about her fitness journey, cosplay, and Call of Duty League, a video game she plays.[9] She is known for the sensual poses and outfits used in her content. Cathryn has also been sponsored by brands like Razer and MINA.[10][11]

Newsworthy incidents

Stormed off Facebook livestream after netizens criticised her skills in the comments (2021)

On 8 March 2021, Cathryn Li appeared as a guest on Malaysian Facebook talk show, FaceTalk.[12] During the livestream, she was unexpectedly invited to improvise on the Piano during the hosts’ jamming session. After performing a song with them on an electronic keyboard, she politely declined further requests to play, seeing as she was not familiar with contemporary songs.[12]

However, this was met with displeased reactions from the live audience, who criticised Cathryn in the comments. One of the comments read, “A person who likes music should easily blend into song, instrument, or any music. But seems that she has no interest at all”.[12]

The poster for Cathryn Li’s Piano concert in 2023. Photo from Instagram.
The poster for Cathryn Li’s Piano concert in 2023. Photo from Instagram.

While Cathryn was visibly upset and uncomfortable, the hosts simply told her to not bother with the comments.  

“I sit at the keyboard, people scold me. I sit [behind the camera], people ask me what I’m doing. So should I just sit there?...You told me it’s a talk show and not a live music session. I am just a classical pianist, I’m sorry I don’t know any pop songs.”[12]

After the incident, netizens gave mixed reviews, with some thinking that the influencer had overreacted and others empathising with her. On 10 March 2021, Cathryn also took to Instagram to apologise for losing her composure on the show.[12]

“I should have shown more restraint in the face of such ridiculous attacks against me. I should have just smiled through it. I really regret losing control over my emotions.”[12]

Attempted to take her own life after (2021)

On 14 March 2021, Cathryn made a post on Instagram sharing about her suicide attempt, but took it down soon after.[13][14] In the post, she also shared a photo that revealed apparent wounds around her neck.

This comes after she stormed off FaceTalk’s livestream, which garnered much critical feedback online. She detailed her emotional distress in the post, likening the backlash to “tsunami-like hate” that she was “unable to crawl out of”.[13]

“I've never been perfect, and I have my habits and quirks. I don't dare to call myself a goddess, but everyone keeps expecting me to be perfect and have a god-like EQ, have a god-like talent. I've tried to show my best side, and be the best person I can be, and I've apologised for not being perfect."[13]

Called a third-class citizen by Chinese netizen (2023)

In 2023, a mainland Chinese netizen messaged Cathryn Li online, thinking that she was from mainland China as well.[15] However, when she clarified that she was in fact, Malaysian, the other person began insulting Malaysia and other Southeast-Asian countries, and called her a “third-class citizen”.[15]

Accidentally leaked bank balance of S$11.7 million on Instagram (2023)

In June 2023, Cathryn Li took to Instagram to share about her run-in with an online scam on Facebook. She had posted a screenshot of her bank statement to show the unauthorized bank transaction of RM27.99 (approximately S$8.20), but ended up revealing her bank balance of RM40.36 million ringgit (approximately S$11.7 million).[16] The picture quickly went viral as many netizens were shocked by the influencer’s wealth.[16]

Accused of faking her wealth (2023)

Soon after Cathryn’s bank balance went viral online, many speculated that she had faked the figure. Some netizens also began to expose tell-tale signs of Photoshop being used to edit the statement.[16]

Accused doctor of insulting Chinese-Malaysians’ linguistic abilities (2023)

On 11 December 2023, a Malaysian doctor based in Taiwan posted a meme on Facebook, which joked about how Malaysians referred to all beverages as “water” in mandarin, while the Taiwanese made distinctions between them.[17][18]

In response, Cathryn Li left a comment under the post stating that he was using a blanket statement to describe Malaysians and questioned their linguistic abilities. She also questioned his job as an “angelic life-saving doctor”.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 cathrynli. “cathrynli”. Instagram. n.d. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Li, Cathryn. “李元玲 Cathryn Lee”. Facebook. n.d. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  3. Chan, Ilsa. “M'sian Influencer Cathryn Li Accidentally Shows S$11.7Mil Bank Balance When She Posts About Unauthorised Bank Transaction”. 8days. June 14, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Justin. “Malaysian Influencer Cathryn Li Spends ~RM168k At Japanese Restaurant”. hype. January 4, 2021. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Yap, Wan Xiang. “Malaysian Influencer Who Claimed M-Sized Girls Are Fat Has Now Apologised”. SAYS. October 10, 2019. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  6. cathrynli. “Sergei Prokofiev Sonata no.3. Complete track coming soon on my FB, stay tuned 😉”. Instagram. September 13, 2016. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  7. cathrynli. “蕭邦 《技術曲 - 海洋》Chopin Etude no.12 op.25 ‘Ocean’”. Instagram. December 10, 2021. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Yap, Wen Xiang. “Cathryn Lee: No Need To Compare Ticket Prices Of My Musical Performance With BLACKPINK’s”. SAYS. March 7, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  9. cathrynli. “別看我那麼笨的臉,烏漆嘛黑的地圖都能憑感覺看到敵人. Twitch : Cathrynli”. Instagram. August 9, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  10. cathrynli. “喜歡哪一張? Received the new Razer Kraken Kitty v2 bt from @razer #gifted”. Instagram. October 22, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  11. cathrynli. “很开心与MINA合作❤️ 快和我一样穿上MINA日本能量美胸内衣和能量裤新品系列,轻松美胸、瘦腿,让你的状态更加完美! @mina_latexbra #MINAENERGYPANTS #MINAMIRACLEBRA #MINA能量美胸内衣 #MINA能量排毒裤”. Instagram. October 10, 2021. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Ang, May Vin. “M'sian Influencer Walks Off FB Livestream After Netizens Criticise Her Keyboard-Playing”. SAYS. March 11, 2021. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Yeo, Julia. “M'sian influencer Cathryn Li shares photo of suicide attempt on Instagram, deletes post shortly after”. Mothership. March 14, 2021. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  14. Cai, Candace. “'Everyone expects me to be more than perfect': Malaysian influencer Cathryn Li posts photo of alleged suicide attempt after controversy”. asiaone. March 14, 2021. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Chia, Jolynn. “'You 3rd-class citizens, what's there to be proud of?' Cathryn Li insulted for saying she's Malaysian”. asiaone. January 27, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Chan, Ilsa. “M’sian Influencer Cathryn Li Accused Of Faking S$11.7Mil Bank Balance Which She Accidentally Showed On IG”. 8days. June 16, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  17. 17.0 17.1 HokkienLohh. “隔空怒呛掀热议 | 李元玲疑不满【医生称“大马人喜欢把饮料都统称为水”】反驳:贬低大马人的语文能力”. Goody. December 11, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2024.
  18. Dimsumdaily Hong Kong. “Narcissistic Malaysian social media influencer Cathryn Li launches vicious attack on doctor, exposing troubling nature”. Dimsumdaily Hong Kong. December 9, 2023. Accessed 8 February 2023.