Photo of Lawrence Wong from Ngau Kai Yan CNA

In the latest protectionist measure to protect the hotels, the Singapore government ruled that short-term leasing like Airbnb will be banned in a new law introduced yesterday (Feb 7).

Residential properties will not be allowed to be used for short-term leasing, said Minister of National Development (MND) Lawrence Wong. Minister Lawrence Wong however said that the government will a new building category for private residences to be used as short-term rental apartments. The new building category will be subjected to taxes and regulations.

Airbnb responded to media enquiries saying they are still trying to work with the Singapore government to open up and that the Singapore government is being a hypocrite in their calls to open up:

“We have repeatedly offered our support to relevant agencies to develop a framework that promotes responsible home-sharing. Nearly two years since the URA’s public consultation, it’s disappointing that the discussion has not moved forward. Penalties for unlawful short-term rentals is not compatible with Singapore’s vision to stay ahead in an age of disruption and innovation. Under the law, home owners who flout the rules on short-term rentals face a fine of up to S$200,000 or jail for up to a year.”

In fact, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan just spoke up about the need for small countries to open up at a forum for 14 Pacific island states held yesterday (Feb 7):

“Small countries need to remain open and engaged with global networks if they are to survive and thrive, especially in the current world.They do not have the option of turning inwards.”