Dr Lee Wei Ling, the daughter of Singapore’s first Prime Minister has taken to her Facebook to remember her father on his birthday. In doing so, she let Singaporeans know for the first time that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had before his death, expressed to the Government that his marital house at Oxley Road would be demolished, and that he added a paragraph in his will because the Cabinet refused to accede to his request.
In her note Dr Lee said, “It is also impossible to say we honour him and dishonour his only request of Singaporeans.” Mr Lee would have turned 93 yesterday (16 Sep), if he was alive.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and National Heritage Board (NHB) said in a joint statement in April 2015 that the Government is unlikely to allow the site to be redeveloped in a way that would diminish its historical significance.
In December 2015, an online poll of 1,000 people by Hong Kong-based market research firm YouGov found that 77 percent of Singaporeans backed Mr Lee’s last wish that the house at 38, Oxley Road be torn down.
Just in case you can’t read what Dr Lee posted, this is what she said.
Papa would be 93 today if he were still alive. He lived a full life, committing most of his time and energy to advancing Singapore and Singaporeans’ welfare. He did so with no ulterior motives, abjuring any personality cult in spite of well-meaning intentions of his fellow Singaporeans.
He is a rare politician and statesman who dedicated himself to his nation because it was the right thing to do. He did not want to be hero worshipped, and throughout the last years of his life, he tried to get a promise from the Singapore government that his marital house would be demolished, so that it would not become a relic for veneration, and also because he knew how strongly Mama wanted her private life to remain private.
Because the Cabinet refused to do so, he added a last paragraph to his will, “It is my wish and the wish of my late Wife Kwa Geok Choo, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629, be demolished immediately after my death or, if my Daughter, Wei Ling, would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the House.”
In this age where prestige and power attract unscrupulous people to enter politics, Papa’s wish should be honoured as an example of an outstanding Singaporean who did not want to be hero-worshipped. To preserve the house sends a wrong message to Singapore’s politicians and aspiring politicians. It is also impossible to say we honour him and dishonour his only request of Singaporeans.