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As SLA’s Silence Becomes Ever More Inexplicable, Is It Time Yet to Ask Whether Shanmugam and Vivian (and Also LHL and the Cabinet?) Have Committed an Offence of Criminal Breach of Trust?

I still have not had any response from the Singapore Land Authority or from Minister of Law Shanmugam or Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan to my post of two days ago. This highlighted the fact that both PAP Ministers appear to be occupying former colonial mansions (26 and 31 Ridout Road) owned by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) sitting in estates that are palatial by Singapore standards and it was not clear what rent they were paying or whether the properties had ever been offered in an open tender. I understand both men have been occupying the properties for some time despite the requirement that these Government owned properties are only supposed to be leased for two years at a time.

After publishing my post The Online Citizen Asia (TOC) repeated the salient details, crediting my blog, and also revealed that they had some time back sent queries to the SLA as to what rent had been paid but has not received any response. They repeated images from Google Street View showing that both properties were gated with a barrier and a police box indicating that they were occupied by a Minister or high Government official. Mysteriously there now appears to be no Google Street View of 26 Ridout Road available. I reproduce my own screen shot of no. 31 below showing the police post.

Shanmugam is the Minister for Law under whose jurisdiction SLA comes. So if he is renting or has bought one of these mansions from SLA that at the least would be a very serious breach of fundamental principles governing conflict of interest. If he (and Vivian Balakrishnan) have obtained the use of these properties without paying the full market rent then that could be a criminal offence. Section 405 of the Penal Code 1871 states:

405.  Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any legal contract, express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or intentionally suffers any other person to do so, commits “criminal breach of trust”.

and section 409 extends the offence to public servants:

409.—(1)  Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property —

(a)in his capacity as a public servant;
(b)in the way of his trade, profession or business as a banker, a merchant, a factor, a broker, an attorney or an agent;
(c)in his professional capacity (other than by way of a trade, profession or business mentioned in paragraph (b));
(d)in his capacity as a director of a corporation;
(e)in his capacity as an officer of an unincorporated association;
(f)in his capacity as a partner in a partnership;
(g)in his capacity as a key executive of a corporation, an unincorporated association or a partnership; or
(h)in his capacity as a fiduciary,
commits criminal breach of trust in respect of that property, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 20 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Of course there may be a perfectly innocent explanation for these apparent irregularities and Shanmugam and Vivian may be paying the full market rent for these luxurious and palatial properties (which must make them feel that they are reliving the glory days of the British Empire except of course that only white men were permitted to live in such magnificent mansions then). Perhaps it was approved by LHL’s supermajority in Parliament in a secret vote to provide humble PAP “servants of the people” with additional remuneration for all their unselfish hard work to make Singaporeans’ lives better? But if they are paying the market rent then that might be a stretch even on their exalted level of remuneration, though of course their spouse may also by great good fortune or natural talent have secured a job that pays the same or even a multiple of a Ministerial salary, like Ho Ching.

If Shanmugam and Vivian are paying less than the market rent then there is also the question of whether this has been declared to Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) to ensure that this perk is taxed as income (even at Singapore’s very low rates for the rich).

The irony of either or both Shanmugam and Vivian paying less than the fair market value for their residences, if true, should not be lost on Singaporeans. This after all is a government which continually lectures the people on the need to pay full market value for state land determined in an open auction. Anything else it claims would be cheating future generations of Singaporeans as yet unborn. It uses this as the reason why HDB prices must reflect the full cost of the land. It is continually warning against a profligate and spendthrift Opposition for suggesting that HDB prices be based on the true cost of the land. If it is indeed revealed that these properties have been rented for less than they are worth, then it will just be further confirmation of the PAP’s hypocrisy and that there is one law for the elite and another for the peasants.

If I do not get an answer soon, I propose to make a police report and post a photo of myself holding it up, just as my father was asked to do by Tang Liang Hong in the 1997 GE. My father was sued by Goh Chok Tong and ten other Ministers for defamation, which resulted in him being bankrupted and losing his seat in Parliament for a second time. I challenge the Government to do so without providing any answers to this and other questions I have raised. I do not think they will find it so easy this time.


  1. You have done it right for our locals to understand better why they are so special.


  2. Chase them for answers, clear, unequivocal answers, to your inquiries. It is a matter of public interest.


  3. Please say something & do something about Dictator GR visit to Singapore & had No conseqvences for his role on Genocide/ war crimes / crimes against humanity 2005-2022!
    Also the poor Tamil Who was hanged due to narco- business which is not acceptable to civilised Nations!


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