Today, Singaporeans from all walks of life today woke up to an epic family drama with more twists and turns than the trashy Korean soap operas Mediacorp broadcasts every night.
Feuding siblings, incumbent Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his younger sister Lee Wei Ling, and younger brother Lee Hsien Yang, have gotten into a public spate again on Facebook over the ownership and fate of their late father’s historic 38 Oxley Road home. As if that was not enough, Lee Hsien Yang has even roped in his son, Li Shengwu, to publicly denounce his brother and the current PM of Singapore online.
The crux of the issue is that eldest brother, Lee Hsien Loong, has been a long time opponent of demolishing the house. According to his estranged brother and sister, Lee Hsien Loong wants to turn the site into a political and historic monument to his father.
Even before his death, the former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had adamantly refused to allow the house to be gazetted as a preserved historic site after his passing. PM Lee’s younger siblings, Wei Ling and Hsien Yang, say they are just trying to enact their father’s will.
In Lee Kuan Yew’s self-drafted will and testament, “I further declare that it is my wish, and the wish of my late wife, KWA GEOK CHOO, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629 (“the House”) 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. I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the House be carried out. If our children are unable to demolish the House as a result of any changes in the law, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the House never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants. My view on this has been made public before and remains unchanged. My statement of wishes in this paragraph 7 may be publicly disclosed notwithstanding that the rest of my Will is private.”
With all the drama surrounding the demolition of the century old Lee family home, rumors abound as to the mysteries that might be unveiled should the house be made open to the public. Still, practical minded Singaporeans have largely been in favor of the upholding the late prime minister’s last wishes. A poll of Singaporeans asking whether they supported the demolition of 38 Oxley Road has turned up with over three quarters of Singaporeans in support of demolishing the house.
This just leaves the final question, which part of “demolish the house” does the Prime Minister not understand?