A letter from Singapore’s first Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew has once again been circulating around social media and the Internet. In his letter, he makes his wishes towards his residential home, 38 Oxley Road, clear, asking for it to be demolished.
The letter, addressed to the Cabinet on October 27, 2010, reads: “I have discussed this with my family many a time. They agreed with me that 38 Oxley Road should not be kept as a kind of relic for people to tramp through. Take photos of it or whatever else they want, but demolish it after I am gone.
I have seen too many places which are kept frozen in time. My most vivid memory is that of Nehru’s final home, that of the British Naval Commander of the Indian Ocean fleet in New Delhi. It was once a grand building. Kept as a monument with people tramping in and out, it became shabby. It is not worth the restoration, unless they restore it just for people to look at it.
38 Oxley Road has no merit as architecture. So please respect my wish to have it demolished when I am no longer around.”
On April 2, 2018, the ministerial committee formed on 38 Oxley Road issued its report laying out the options for the house when Dr Lee Wei Ling no longer lives in it.
The options include:
- Retain the property either by gazetting it as a national monument to be acquired by the state with an alternative use for the site, or gazetting it for conservation and allowing the owner to retain the property for residential use;
- Retain only the dining room and integrating it with an alternative use for the site;
- Demolish the house fully for redevelopment, carried out either by the owner for residential use, or by the state for alternative uses, such as a park or heritage centre.
The report also included the committee’s views that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was open to options other than demolishing the house, and it detailed the National Heritage Board’s assessment of the 120-year-old bungalow’s historical value.
PM Lee said in a Facebook statement that he accepted the committee’s conclusion.
In his post, PM Lee wrote, “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”.
“As the committee pointed out, there is no need to make a decision now. My sister is still living there, and is likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future”, he added.