For those who are out of the loop, two properties at No 26 Ridout Road and No 31 Ridout Road – both colonial bungalows – were tenanted to Shanmugam and Balakrishnan. Their tenancy was called into question by Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam who questioned how the two ministers are able to afford the rental.
In response, SLA released a statement which merely states that the rental followed “guidelines”. Former SPH journalist Bertha Henson weighs in on the issue and highlights that SLA’s reply is “absolutely inadequate”. Read it below:
I think we should be clear about the issues surrounding the Ridout Road properties rented by the two ministers.
1) Is this about ministers renting luxurious properties beyond their pay, as Kenneth Jeyaretnam says?
Unless he is implying that they got a huge discount because of who they are or are somehow making more money on the side, it’s not anybody’s business who can afford what. *Note that both were big earners in the past and ministers aren’t paupers.
2) Is this about the fact that the properties come under SLA which is under the Law ministry which is headed by Shanmugam?
Then the implication is that SLA somehow “had to’’ rent it out to the boss. Or “had to’’ give a cheaper rate because “boss leh’’. Worse, other tenants/potential tenants got screwed in the process.
SLA’s reply was absolutely inadequate in saying that it was all done aboveboard. It is an ASSERTION with no evidence of the FACTs. It can’t even say what the rents are, whether guide rents or real rents or past rents. Question: Did it clear the answer with the ministry????
The website is nada…All we know is that the properties were vacant earlier (this can be checked) and the ministers were the only bidders (how to check this?) Actually, were the bungalows even advertised for rent? Did people even know about it? Is it okay for SLA to leave them empty for so long without finding a use for them????
//SLA DATA ON RIDOUT PROPERTIES
According to SLA data, the property at 31 Ridout Road has a land area of 136,101 sq ft (12,664 sq m).
Information on the property at 26 Ridout Road could only be found within a lot that included 24 and 31 Ridout Road, with a total land area of 525,171 sq ft (48,790 sq m).
Rental transactions for SLA residential and commercial properties can be found on the State Property Information Online (SPIO) site.
However, the information, which includes bidding results containing the quantum of the winning bid for a particular property, dates back only six months. CNA understands that the six-month parameter has been the usual practice and is not new.
Past rental transactions for 26 and 31 Ridout Road were unavailable on SPIO.
Ridout Road is a part of Ridout Park, which is classed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority as one of 39 “Good Class Bungalow Areas” in Singapore.//
3) Is this about renting rather than owning property?
I am quite sure the ministers have their own private properties and it’s likely that most will have more than one! Whether they choose live in a rental or their own property is their business. If they have no other property in their name and only renting this….that’s too interesting for words in our home-owning nation!
4) Is this about indulgence in luxury?
That it is not prudent for ministers to be seen as “living it up’’ in palatial estates, especially those belonging to the State? That the public is likely to look askance at ministers renting bungalows from G agencies, giving rise to suspicion and speculation – which is the case? This seems more like the issue to me. It’s a bit like the Tin Pei Ling case. It’s about propriety. I think the PM has to weigh in because its about ministerial conduct, not just an MP.
PS. I seriously do NOT understand why we have to wait till July to hear the details in Parliament. G doesn’t think this is an urgent or important issue concerning integrity???? Surely the numbers and answers are with SLA. Why can only say in Parliament? So that the issue can be considered done and dusted once the sitting is over????? why the foot dragging? So people will forget???
Source: Bertha Henson’s Facebook