Shanmugam & Vivian Welcome Review Of Ridout Road Bungalows As They’ve ‘Nothing To Hide’

Independent Review Of Ridout Road Properties Was Suggested By K Shanmugam To PM Lee

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan have recently been under the spotlight for renting two colonial-era bungalows at Ridout Road.

The bungalows are owned by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

However, Reform Party secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam raised questions about whether they had bid fairly to rent the bungalows.

Following this, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that an independent review would be conducted by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on the matter.

After the announcement, both politicians spoke to the media, saying they welcomed the review.

In particular, Mr Shanmugam said he has nothing to hide.

Shanmugam suggested independent review of Ridout Road bungalows

Speaking to the media yesterday (23 May), Mr Shanmugam said people were entitled to ask questions about the properties.

“I know what I did. I kept to the rules,” he said. “But when questions arise, you know how it works.”

Source: Channel NewsAsia on YouTube

He added that he had contacted PM Lee last week while both of them were on work trips, suggesting that the Government conduct an independent review.

“We need this sort of approach regardless of who is involved to make sure the system operates with integrity,” Mr Shanmugam said.

You cannot let doubts about the integrity of ministers fester and be left unaddressed.

He also welcomed laying down the facts in Parliament, saying he has nothing to hide, and that the questions will be dealt with during the next Parliament session in July.

Dr Balakrishnan also spoke to the media briefly yesterday, saying he was “very glad” that PM Lee called for the independent review.

Source: Channel NewsAsia on YouTube

“Serious allegations have been made”

When asked why he sought an independent review of the Ridout Road properties, Mr Shanmugam replied that it was due to “serious allegations” that’d been made.

They include allegations that the ministers had cut trees down illegally or that SLA had paid for work on a car porch, as well as a conflict of interest, as the SLA falls under the Ministry of Law, which Mr Shanmugam is the minister for.

“We are confident of how we have conducted ourselves,” he said.

I don’t want to comment much until SM Teo’s review is done. But I will say, speaking from a personal perspective, the allegations are outrageous.

“Let the facts come out, and then I will respond,” Mr Shanmugam added.

“You know, both these properties have been empty for years when we put in our bids. But let people judge for themselves in due time once they know all the facts.”

He then declined to answer further questions from the media regarding the properties, as he said “it would be highly improper” of him to do so while the review was ongoing.

Ridout Road properties questions first asked earlier this month

Mr Jeyaretnam had first brought up the Ridout Road properties in a blog post on 6 May, asking if there had been a fair bidding process before the ministers rented the properties.

On 12 May, SLA said in a statement that both had bid above the guide rent for state properties.

However, Mr Jeyaretnam had said, “It is difficult to see how the ministers could afford to pay the market rent for such a pricey property,” given how valuable the properties are.

SLA further noted that Mr Shanmugam had notified a senior Cabinet colleague of his bid, although it did not disclose their identity.

Mr Shanmugam’s bid, made through an agent, was the only one, SLA said. He renewed the tenancy in June 2021 for three years.

As for Dr Balakrishnan’s tenancy of 31 Ridout Road, he put in a bid in Nov 2018, that was apparently the highest, and it was also above the guide rent, according to SLA.

He started renting the property in Oct 2019 and renewed it three years later.

Both ministers were apparently not told about the guide rent prior to their bids.

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Featured image adapted from Channel NewsAsia on YouTube.

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