2nd POFMA order issued to Kenneth Jeyaretnam for claiming Ridout Road houses rented out below market value

He made the claims on his Facebook page and LinkedIn account.

Joshua Lee | August 03, 2023, 11:07 AM



Opposition politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam has been served a second POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act) correction direction for his comments on the rental of state properties by ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan.

The Ministry of Law announced on Aug. 2 that the correction direction was for posts that Jeyaretnam made on his Facebook page and LinkedIn account.

He published the posts on Jul. 27, 2023.

Specifically, he claimed that the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) charged Shanmugam and Vivian rents that are below market value for 26 Ridout Road and 31 Ridout Road.

Rental paid by ministers not below respective guide rents

The Ministry of Law clarified that the rental paid by both ministers were "at fair market value and not below market valuation".

This was established by a review conducted by senior minister Teo Chee Hean.

"There was no evidence that the ministers were given favourable rental rates due to their positions," said the ministry.

The ministry went on to explain that guide rents are calculated for state properties to ensure that they are rented out at fair market value.

These guide rents are determined by professional valuers, who take into account factors such as location, use, floor area, physical condition of the property and prevailing market conditions.

They also reference rentals of comparable properties.

The ministry said the rent paid by the ministers for both 26 Ridout Road and 31 Ridout Road were not less than the respective guide rents for the properties.

The law ministry also explained that the SLA valuer who determined the guide rent for 26 Ridout Road did not know that the prospective tenant was Shanmugam until the matter was reported in the media.

In addition, the rent per unit floor area for 26 Ridout Road was the third highest when compared to that of the other nine black-and-white bungalows in the Ridout Road Estate which were tenanted out in 2018.

Inclusion of land plot in Shanmugam's lease

The ministry also explained why a plot of land adjacent to 26 Ridout Road was included in Shanmugam's lease, which ultimately increased the land size from 9,350 sqm to 23,164 sqm.

This was also explained in Parliament in June.

During a site visit before he rented the place, Shanmugam noticed an empty slope of land adjacent to 26 Ridout Road that had thick and overgrown vegetation.

Concerned that the overgrown vegetation might pose public health and safety risks, he negotiated with SLA through his property agent for the adjacent land to be cleared before his leasing of 26 Ridout Road.

He did not want to lease the additional adjacent land but offered to maintain the adjacent land at his own cost.

SLA felt that it is not a tenant’s responsibility to maintain beyond their rental property's boundary.

Hence, it negotiated with Shanmugam to include the plot of land within the boundaries of 26 Ridout Road.

The minister, as tenant, took on the cost of maintaining the plot of land, which would otherwise be borne by SLA.

First POFMA served in July

This is the second POFMA correction direction that Jeyaretnam has received with regard to the issue.

Previously, he was instructed to issue a correction for falsely stating that SLA gave the contract to renovate 26 Ridout Road and/or 31 Ridout Road to home interior and renovation company Livspace because the CEO of the company was Shanmugam's son.

Top photos: Kenneth Jeyaretnam/Facebook, Google Maps