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Shanmugam, Vivian's colonial bungalow rentals in Ridout Road in full compliance with procedures: SLA

SINGAPORE - Two colonial bungalows in Ridout Road are being rented by Cabinet ministers K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said on Friday.

Both properties – 26 and 31 Ridout Road – had been vacant for several years, and the rentals were done in full compliance with the relevant SLA procedures, the agency said in a statement.

The SLA issued the statement in response to media queries on social media posts about both properties over the past week, that were published by opposition politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

More details on the matter will be provided when Parliament next sits in July, the SLA added.

Mr Jeyaretnam, who is secretary-general of the Reform Party, had written on May 6 that it was difficult to see how the ministers “could afford to pay the market rent for such a pricey property”.

“I hope that SLA can shed some light on the auction process for these properties and what bids were received,” he added.

In its statement, SLA gave details of how the properties came to be rented by the ministers.

In the case of 26 Ridout Road, the agency said the property had been vacant for more than four years since December 2013.

In June 2018, it was tenanted to Mr Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Home Affairs, who was the only bidder for the property.

“His offer, made through an agent, was higher than the guide rent, which was not disclosed to him,” SLA said. The guide rent is a reserve rent, based on market rates as determined by qualified valuers.

“Mr Shanmugam notified a senior Cabinet colleague that he was making a bid for the property,” it added, without naming the senior minister.

Mr Shanmugam renewed the tenancy for this property in June 2021 for another three years, SLA said.

Meanwhile, 31 Ridout Road had been vacant for more than six years since July 2013 before it was tenanted to Dr Balakrishnan.

In November 2018, Dr Balakrishnan, who is Minister for Foreign Affairs, put in a bid that was above the guide rent.

The guide rent was not disclosed to him, SLA said.

But Dr Balakrishnan was the highest bidder, and tenancy was granted with effect from October 2019.

Dr Balakrishnan renewed his tenancy in October 2022, SLA added.

The agency did not say how many bids were received, or how much the properties were rented out for.

Its statement added: “More details on this issue will be provided during the next parliamentary session in July.”