Time and time again, Mdm Ho’s penchant for wearing open-toed sandals to offical events has irked Singaporeans who criticise her sense of style as “sloppy” and “disgraceful”. Wearing open-toed shoes to official events is considered a strict etiquette no-no, but neither this nor the widespread criticism she has received over her footwear has swayed the PM’s wife from wearing inappropriate footwear to official events.
The latest official event Mdm Ho wore inappropriate footwear to was the opening of Parliament, on Monday. A photo PM Lee posted on Facebook shows Mdm Ho posing with the Ang Mo Kio GRC MPs at Old Parliament House.
She is the only one wearing open-toed sandals. Even first-time MP Nadia Ahmad Samdin appears to be wearing more appropriate footwear:
Some observers pointed out that Mdm Ho’s choice of footwear stands in stark contrast to the classier footwear that the spouses of Workers’ Party (WP) MPs wore to the re-opening of Parliament. WP chief Pritam Singh’s wife, Loveleen Kaur, drew particular praise for the way she was dressed and was dubbed the “showstopper” at Parliament House by several netizens.
This is not the first time Mdm Ho has worn inappropriate footwear while accompanying her husband at official events and state visits. She has worn inappropriate footwear at events involving foreign leaders in Asia and beyond.
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 Naeen 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.”
In November 2018, Mdm Ho wore open-toed 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, she again wore a pair of open-toed sandals as she greeted visiting US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, alongside PM Lee. The Straits Times had painted Vice President Pence’s as the latest in a series of “high-level” bilateral engagements between the US and Singapore.
In July last year, Mdm Ho wore another pair of open-toed sandals to 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.
Among those who criticised Mdm Ho then was ex-model Elisa Boon who wrote on Facebook: “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 the 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.”