Shanmugam says he has ‘nothing to hide’ on Ridout Road property, calls allegations ‘outrageous’
“I have nothing to hide. We should set out the facts, lay them before Parliament and the people. That's the only way to retain trust,” said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.
SINGAPORE: Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said on Tuesday (May 23) that he has “nothing to hide” about his tenancy for a colonial bungalow along Ridout Road and called the allegations that have emerged on the matter “outrageous”.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday afternoon that a review would be conducted relating to the rental of two state properties along Ridout Road by Mr Shanmugam and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
“This must be done to ensure that this government maintains the highest standards of integrity,” he said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday evening, Mr Shanmugam said: “These are public properties. People are entitled to ask questions. I know what I did. I kept to the rules.
“But when questions arise, you know how it works. The government will look into the matter.”
Mr Shanmugam said he had contacted the Prime Minister last week while away on a work trip to suggest an independent review.
This approach is needed “to make sure the system operates with integrity”, he said, adding that doubts about the integrity of ministers cannot be left to fester and be unaddressed.
“I have nothing to hide. We should set out the facts, lay them before parliament and the people. That's the only way to retain trust,” said the minister.
“And when Parliament next meets in July, the questions will be dealt with.”
On why he had asked for an independent review, Mr Shanmugam replied: “We are confident of how we had conducted ourselves so we asked the Prime Minister for an independent review.”
Responding to another question on the allegations that have emerged, the minister said he does not want “to comment too much” on these allegations until the independent review is done.
“But I will say, speaking from a personal perspective, the allegations are outrageous,” he said.
He added that both properties had been "empty for years" when the ministers put in their bids.
“I can see how that without full facts, some people may genuinely have legitimate questions, but there have been some assertions made which go well beyond just asking questions.
“Let the full facts come out, then people can judge for themselves.”
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also commented on the matter.
“I’m very glad that Prime Minister Lee agreed to have this review and to publish all relevant facts and findings before we have a full debate in Parliament,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
Ridout Road is off Holland Road and near the Dempsey Hill lifestyle and entertainment area.
The stretch is part of Ridout Park, which is classed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority as one of 39 "Good Class Bungalow Areas" in Singapore.
Earlier this month, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) confirmed that two colonial bungalows in Ridout Road – No 26 and No 31 – are being rented by Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan respectively.
In a statement issued on May 12, SLA said that both ministers had bid above the “guide rent” for the state properties along Ridout Road, and that the rentals were “performed in full compliance with the relevant SLA procedures”.
The issue will be heard in the next parliamentary session in July, with Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and three lawmakers from the People's Action Party (PAP) having tabled questions relating to the rental of the state properties.