Singapore

3 options for 38 Oxley Road but no decision needed now

Fate of Lee Kuan Yew's house to be decided by future government: Ministerial committee

The ministerial committee tasked to consider the future of 38, Oxley Road has laid out three broad options for the house but left the final decision to a future government.

It released a 21-page report yesterday listing the three possibilities for founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's home:

  • Retain the house by gazetting it for conservation or as a national monument;
  • Retain the basement dining room ,which has the greatest historical significance, and tear down the rest of the house;
  • Allow it to be fully demolished for redevelopment, either by the property owner or the state.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who chaired the four-member panel, said it did not make any recommendations as no decision is required now.

Mr Lee's daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, has said she intends to continue living in the house.

Said DPM Teo: "Ultimately, in the fullness of time, a future government will have the responsibility to consider the public interest aspects of the property, taking into account Mr Lee's wishes. They will have to decide what to do with the property and be able to carry the decision."

The committee assessed that 38, Oxley Road - where the People's Action Party was founded - has architectural, heritage and historical significance.

It also concluded that the late Mr Lee's preference was for his house to be demolished after his death, based on evidence that included statements he had made.

However, he was also prepared to accept options other than demolition, the committee added, citing documents such as his Dec 27, 2011, letter to the Cabinet saying that if the house was to be preserved, it should be refurbished and let out for people to live in.

Responding to the report, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on Facebook: "Speaking as a son, I accept the committee's conclusion on what my father's wishes were regarding the house at 38, Oxley Road, and the range of options it has laid out."

He noted that he had recused himself from discussions on his father's property and expressed his hope that when the time comes, the report will help the government of the day "make an informed decision that both respects my father's wishes and is in the public interest".

PM Lee's siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee, did not respond to calls for comment.

The duo had, in June last year, accused PM Lee of misusing his power in a bid to preserve their late father's house. They alleged that he was doing it for political gain. Among other things, they alleged PM Lee had used his position to influence the ministerial panel into challenging the validity of a clause to demolish the house in Mr Lee's final will.

DPM Teo yesterday said the committee felt it owed it to Singaporeans to release its findings, as the dispute over 38, Oxley Road had thrust its work into the spotlight.

He added: "With this, we hope to close the chapter on this topic and focus on other pressing national issues ahead of us."

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