Lee Kuan Yew wanted 38 Oxley Road demolished: Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling

Lee Kuan Yew wanted 38 Oxley Road demolished: Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling

A view of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road residence in Singapore
A view of an empty guard post outside former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road residence in Singapore June 14, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su/Files)

SINGAPORE: Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said that he hopes a future government will grant his father's last wish to demolish their family home, in response to a report by a ministerial committee on 38 Oxley Road.

Mr Lee, who is the younger son of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Apr 3) that his father wanted demolition "unwaveringly".

"He wanted demolition unwaveringly and stated his wish repeatedly in private and in public," Mr Lee Hsien Yang wrote. He added that his father believed tearing the house down would be better for Singapore's future.

He also said that his elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, gave their father the impression that their house will inevitably be gazetted as a heritage site.

"In light of this false impression given by Loong, Lee Kuan Yew was forced to consider options other than demolition," he wrote.

Gazetting 38 Oxley Road was one of the future options for the house laid out in the report issued on Monday. The others include complete demolition and preserving just the basement dining room, which is considered the most historically significant part of the residence.

Chair of the ministerial committee, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said there was no need to make a decision on the house while the late Mr Lee’s daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, lives there.

“The various options outlined in this report are drawer plans to help a future government make an informed and considered decision," Mr Teo said.


Mr Lee Hsien Yang said that the committee's report does not accurately represent Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wishes.

The report said that it relied on three pieces of evidence to come to the conclusion that the late Mr Lee was prepared to accept options other than the demolition of the house.

This included the demolition clause in Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s last will, a letter from him to the Cabinet in 2011 and renovation/redevelopment plans for 38 Oxley Road which he submitted to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in March 2012, and obtained approval for.

However, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said that his father "reluctantly went along" with the submission of the URA plans because he thought his wish for the house to be demolished would be "thwarted".

He also disagreed with the committee's interpretation of the demolition clause in his father's last will and called it misleading.

"Our father never 'accepted' these options, he merely set out what he wanted if the government prevented his house from being demolished," he wrote.

He also noted that while Mr Lee Hsien Loong said he would recuse himself from discussions on 38 Oxley Road, the committee relied extensively on statements from him.

He concluded his post with the fact that probate was granted for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will in October 2015, so it is the "full, final, and legally binding statement of his wishes for the house".

"Combined with Lee Kuan Yew's numerous and unwavering public statements on the matter, there is more than enough documentary evidence for a future government to understand - and hopefully grant - our father's last wish," he concluded.

His sister also posted on Facebook that her father and mother wanted the house demolished.

"It would require unbelievable lack of intelligence or determined denial to not understand what Pa & Ma so unambiguously wanted," Dr Lee wrote.

READ: Dispute over 38 Oxley Road: A timeline of events

Source: CNA/hm(db)