PM Lee Hsien Loong orders review of Ridout Road properties rented by 2 ministers

He said this is to ensure "highest standards of integrity", following questions on how K Shanmugam, Vivian Balakrishnan managed to rent the properties

One of the residential properties rented out by Singapore ministers along Ridout Road. (PHOTO: Google Maps)
One of the residential properties rented out by Singapore ministers along Ridout Road. (PHOTO: Google Maps)

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has asked for a review on two residential properties on Ridout Road, which have recently come under scrutiny when they were rented by ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan.

In a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office and put up on his Facebook page on Tuesday (23 May), PM Lee said the review will be led by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean.

"Both ministers have spoken to me and asked for a review of the matter independent of their ministries and agencies," PM Lee said.

"I have asked for reports from the relevant agencies setting out the facts... This must be done to ensure that this government maintains the highest standards of integrity.

"The findings will be made public in time for the Parliamentary sitting in July."

SLA said rentals done 'in full compliance'

The issue was brought to light earlier this month, when opposition politician and Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam published social media posts questioning how the two ministers “could afford to pay the market rent for such a pricey property”.

Ridout Road is off Holland Road and near the Dempsey Hill lifestyle and entertainment area.

In response, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) published a statement on 12 May confirming that the properties at 26 Ridout Road and 31 Ridout Road – both colonial bungalows – were tenanted to Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan respectively.

It added that the properties had been vacant for several years, and the rentals were “performed in full compliance with the relevant SLA procedures”.

SLA did not reveal how many bids were received, or how much the properties were rented out for, adding that more details will be provided when the Parliament next sits in July.

Parliamentary questions filed on the matter

The Straits Times reported that several People's Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament - Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok), Sitoh Yih Pin (Potong Pasir) and Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) - have already filed parliamentary questions on the matter.

The questions include: what measures have been put in place to ensure that the bid process is fair, transparent and competitive; whether SLA had followed its standard tenancy operating procedures; and the circumstances under which the properties came to be rented out to the two ministers.

Meanwhile, the opposition Workers’ Party has said that its chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh would ask at the July Parliament sitting, the government’s reasons for not calling a press conference to address the public allegations regarding the matter.

He will also ask how the government will assure the public that both ministers were not in receipt of any privileged information pertaining to the lease of the two properties.

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