Ministerial committee quietly offers three options on what might be done with 38 Oxley Road

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The ministerial committee charged with formulating options for what might be done with the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s home at 38 Oxley Road have quietly released three broad options for the property in a report this afternoon.

The committee – which is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and includes Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, MCCY Minister Grace Fu and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong – offered that the property could be preserved, certain parts of the property could be retained or that the entire house could be demolished and redeveloped.

The three options laid out by the committee are:

The committee’s chair, DPM Teo revealed that the group sought representations from all three of Lee Kuan Yew’s children: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Lee Wei Ling, and Lee Hsien Yang. These representations were “carefully studied” by the committee, according to DPM Teo:

“We relied particularly on the objective evidence placed before us and the key concrete steps that Mr Lee himself took in his lifetime to put his wishes into effect.

“This included the demolition clause in Mr Lee’s last will, his letter to Cabinet dated Dec 27, 2011 as well as the renovation/redevelopment plans for 38 Oxley Road which he submitted to the URA in March 2012, and obtained approval for.”

The committee also noted that while Lee Kuan Yew desired for the property to be demolished, he was apparently prepared to accept alternatives, “provided that suitable arrangements were made to ensure that the property was refurbished and kept in a habitable state and the family’s privacy was protected”.

The report was released to all three of Lee siblings at the same time.

What now?

DPM Teo asserted that the committee did not make any recommendations on what should be done with the house since Dr Lee Wei Ling still resides in the house. He revealed that the plans are instead meant to help the future government decide what to do with the house when a decision is required:

“The various options outlined in this report are drawer plans to help a future government make an informed and considered decision about the property when it becomes necessary.”

The DPM added that he hopes the release of the committee’s findings will mark the end of the Oxley Road dispute between the Lee siblings that erupted last year: “We hope to close the chapter on this topic, focus on other pressing national issues ahead of us.”

The public feud made headlines worldwide when Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang accused their elder brother of abusing his power as head of government and using state organs against them to preserve the house against their father’s wishes, in a bid to consolidate his grip on political power.

The younger children of Lee Kuan Yew also alleged that PM Lee had convened a secret committee to make a decision on the house, thereby attempting to circumvent their authority as executors of their father’s will. The committee that released its report today was set up in June 2016 – nearly a year before the dispute spilled into the public domain.