Besides her marriage to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and her career as chief executive of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Ho Ching is perhaps most well known for her sense of style – or lack thereof.
Mdm Ho’s choice of footwear has particularly irked Singaporeans time and again after she sported open-toed sandals that have been criticised as “sloppy” and “disgraceful” to official events.
During the National Day celebrations last weekend, Mdm Ho stood out as the only one wearing open-toed sandals as she posed with foreign dignitaries who graced the National Day Parade (NDP).
Wearing open-toed shoes to official events is widely considered inappropriate. Despite this, open-toed sandals seem to be Mdm Ho’s preferred choice of footwear no matter where she is – even if she is accompanying her husband at official events in Singapore and overseas.
This year’s NDP was attended by foreign state leaders like Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo. The leaders were accompanied by their wives.
PM Lee and Mdm Ho posed for a shot with the foreign leaders and their spouses. The photo shows that Mdm Ho stands in stark contrast with the other men and women, with her open-toed footwear:
Another photo, capturing Mdm Ho with PM Lee, President Halimah Yacob, her husband and celebrities who performed at the NDP, also shows that Mdm Ho is the only one wearing open-toed sandals:
This is not the first time Mdm Ho has worn inappropriate footwear while accompanying her husband at official events and state visits.
Last month, on Thursday (11 July), Mdm Ho sported open-toed sandals and stood apart from the other women who wore appropriately covered shoes as she accompanied her husband at the President’s Annual Diplomatic Reception 2019.
The event, hosted by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana, was attended by nearly 300 heads of diplomatic and consular missions, along with the representatives of international organisations and their spouses.
Asserting that wearing open-toed shoes to such events is a strict etiquette no-no, Facebook user Elisa Boon wrote: “When I was modelling, we were taught how to dress, behave and professional etiquette. And for shoes, usually basic rule “Keep it neutral, keep it classy, keep it covered”.
“You are not going to the market or downstairs kopitiam so you don’t wear shoes that exposed your toes. God knows if they’re even well maintained. Take a look at the other delegates wives and take a look at yourself please.”
Referring to Temasek’s continued refusal to publish the details of Mdm Ho’s pay package as head of a sovereign wealth fund, Ms Boon added: “The things you’re supposed to expose (like your salary) you don’t, but you expose your ugly toes which we do not want to see.”
Several netizens echoed Ms Boon’s distaste for Mdm Ho’s choice of footwear and wondered why the wife of a head of government and leader of a sovereign wealth fund would persistently wear inappropriate sandals despite repeated criticism.
In November last year, Mdm Ho wore sloppy sandals to the luxurious 33rd Asean summit gala dinner that was graced by regional leaders like South Korea Prime Minister Moon Jae-In, Chinese premier Li Keqiang, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, among others.
That same week, Mdm Ho again wore a pair of open-toed sandals as she greeted visiting US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, alongside PM Lee. The national broadsheet had painted Vice President Pence’s as the latest in a series of “high-level” bilateral engagements between the US and Singapore.
In October 2017, Mdm Ho drew criticism when she was spotted wearing a pair of sandals when she accompanied her husband on his official visit to the United States of America to meet with US President Donald Trump at the White House.
She had also sported open-toed sandals at an official US visit back when Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama was in office as well.
Netizens were quick to point out the difference in dressing between former US President Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle Obama and Ho Ching, when PM Lee and his wife were invited to a state dinner at the White House.
Among others who criticised Ho Ching then, aesthetics doctor and Save our Street Dogs founder, Dr Siew Tuck Wah commented:
“Its a historic occasion for Singapore Prime minister Lee and wife Ho Ching to be invited to the White House. But while first lady Michelle Obama made headlines with a Naeem Khan bright yellow floral dress, Ho Ching really could have chose something, well, more cheery.”
He added: “We need to get a stylist for her please.”