SINGAPORE: Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and three lawmakers from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) have tabled parliamentary questions relating to the rental of state properties at 26 and 31 Ridout Road by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said last Friday that Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan had bid above the “guide rent” for the colonial bungalows. Their rentals were also “performed in full compliance with the relevant SLA procedures”, said the agency then.
In a statement issued on Thursday (May 18), the opposition Workers’ Party (WP) said: “Many members of the public have expressed concern over the circumstances surrounding Cabinet ministers tenanting the exceptionally large state black and white bungalow properties.”
PAP Member of Parliament (MP) Murali Pillai (PAP-Bukit Batok) also noted in a Facebook post that reports on the matter have “given rise to queries by the public”. He is one of three PAP MPs who said they have filed parliamentary questions on the matter.
The WP said its chief Mr Singh would, at the July sitting, ask about the government’s reasons for not calling a press conference to address public allegations in regard to the leases of 26 and 31 Ridout Road to Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan.
Mr Singh will also ask how the government will assure the public that the two ministers were not in receipt of any privileged information pertaining to their leases; and whether there are any rules, conventions or policies to ensure that Cabinet ministers do not take advantage of privileged information received in the course of their official or non-official duties in regard to the lease of Government properties.
The WP on Thursday said it continues to study the matter, and that its other Members of Parliament may also file related questions as more information emerges.
The party said: “As questions continue to be asked in the public domain about the circumstances behind the leasing of both properties to Cabinet ministers, we call on the Singapore Land Authority to release all relevant and material facts in advance, such as the guide rent for both properties, so as to make for a fuller and more meaningful debate in parliament.”
SLA previously said that “more details on this issue” would be provided during the next parliamentary session in July.