Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told a touching story about how he started out in life living in HDB flats, up until his presently-rented state-owned colonial bungalow that has a gross land area the size of a shopping mall.
He also said that in doing so, he is running a “deficit”.
Nevertheless, he rented it because he has “long liked black-and-white houses”.
This has sparked some Singaporeans to consider starting a GoFundMe page to help Mr Shanmugam afford the S$26,500 monthly rent for the huge property.
Said one netizen:
“It would be a huge shame that a public servant has to suffer so much while petty Singaporeans staying in HDB flats keep complaining about their lifestyles. It is the politics of envy.”
Another netizen added:
“Shanmugam has spent so much of his hard-earned savings to pursue his dream of living in a home long reserved for elite colonial masters. It’s time that Singaporeans show him our support.”
Mr Shanmugam said that he reviewed his personal finances in 2016 as he was approaching his sixties, and decided that he would sell his good class bungalow.
He then decided to rent a place while the bungalow was put up for sale.
“I looked at several rental properties, including black-and-white houses. I have long liked black-and-white houses.”
But renting the state-owned colonial bungalow, which some have described as “palatial”, came at a cost.
“I pay for the rental of 26 Ridout Road, mostly from renting out my family home. But taking into account property tax, because the family home is now non-owner-occupied, and two, income tax on the rental proceeds, there is a net deficit. I top up the deficit. I am, in essence, using my previous lawyer’s income to pay for the rental for 26 Ridout Road.”
Without tapping on his savings, he would not have been able to rent his dream home.
“Based on my current income, I would not have offered to rent 26 Ridout Road. That is based on my personal approach to finances.”
Mr Shanmugam said that he has spent a tidy sum of money, roughly S$500,000, doing up the house.
And, perhaps for altruistic reasons, he is content with such spending as it will eventually go towards Singapore.
“The money that I put in, I knew that I would not benefit from it after my lease is over – it would all go back to the State. That is the deal when one rents a black-and-white, and I knew that.”