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.