Cabinet ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan are each renting properties in Ridout Road in full compliance with the relevant procedures, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said in a statement on Friday, May 12.
In a statement issued on Friday, May 12, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) confirmed that Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan are leasing properties on Ridout Road, fully adhering to the applicable procedures.
In response to media queries, the SLA issued a statement following the publication of social media posts about both properties by opposition politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam in early May 2023. Jeyaretnam described these properties as "former colonial mansions."
In a blog post dated May 6, Jeyaretnam expressed doubts about each minister's capability to afford the market rent for such high-value properties. He made references to a theoretical rental cost, which he calculated based on a market rental rate he claimed to have personal knowledge of.
His post said: "These are former colonial mansions which are now owned by the government and should be rented by open tender every two years."
“I hope that SLA can shed some light on the auction process for these properties and what bids were received,” he also wrote.
Foreign-run The Online Citizen brought up the 'humble' life former Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee to make a point
According to an article by The Online Citizen (TOC), the author questioned about the process through which two Singapore ministers came to reside in colonial bungalows on Ridout Road. It contrasts the current situation with the modest lifestyle of Singapore's founding father, Dr Goh Keng Swee, who was known for his disdain for extravagance.
However, what the TOC article failed to mention was that Dr Goh Keng Swee himself resided in a colonial bungalow in Goodwood Hill, which he rented during his tenure as a minister from 1959 to 1984.
Public officers are private citizens too
Public officers, while they hold positions of power and responsibility, are private citizens too.
As long as the properties are not acquired through illegal means, they are well within their rights to excercise their privilege as private citizens - as we all are.