Photo of Lawrence Wong from Ngau Kai Yan CNA

After hearing news of two Airbnb hosts being charged and facing a jail term of up to 12 months and fines up to S$200,000 in Singapore, Airbnb criticised the Singapore government for being a hypocrite about embracing technology innovation:

“The current framework for home sharing in Singapore doesn’t reflect how Singaporeans travel or use their homes today… and also stands in contrast with Singapore’s commitment to innovation. The government drove $324 million of economic activity in Singapore in 2016. Airbnb is helping Singaporeans earn extra income, with local hosts having earned over $70 million in the past year, or an average $4,700 per host. Research has shown 40 per cent of hosts in Singapore say they rely on the extra income they earn through the platform to make ends meet while 15 per cent say the additional income has helped them avoid eviction or foreclosure.”

The two Airbnb hosts rented out their high class private condo apartment units at D’Leedon to tourists, breaching a 3-month clause under the repressive local law despite having no complaints lodged against them.

The airbnb spokesperson reiterated that they are open to negotiations with the Singapore government, like as they had with countries around the world:

“We have collaborated with authorities around the world, developing clear and sensible frameworks that allow home sharing to thrive, while addressing each city’s unique challenges and concerns. We remain strongly committed to doing the same here in Singapore, working alongside the government to find a way forward for home sharing, both to Singapore’s immediate and long-term benefit.”

The Singapore government is banning home-sharing ideas like Airbnb to protect the hotel industry, where Temasek Holdings and GIC have a huge stake in.

Earlier last week, the authoritarian government reminded Singaporeans that Airbnb is not allowed in Singapore:

“The minimum rental period for private homes in Singapore is three months, meaning typical short-term lettings on platforms like Airbnb are prohibited. This protects the living environment of neighbouring residents.”