Tear house down, but keep historic basement

Disputes between immediate family members are always heart-rending. This is more so when the dirty linen of our establishment's foremost contributors is washed in the open.

It is inevitable that the line between the personal and public lives of our late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is sometimes very blurred, given his all-consuming passion for our country's well-being as well as his larger-than-life impact on it.

Unfortunately, this imprint includes his private residence at 38 Oxley Road, which also happens to be where the People's Action Party was founded.

While I fully support the filial piety of Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang to demolish the bungalow in accordance with their late father's wishes, I also hope a reasonable compromise can be struck to document our founding political leaders' immense legacy.

One possibility is to tear down the house as willed - but keep intact the basement where Mr Lee held many discussions on Singapore's future with his comrades.

There is no better location to give Singaporeans and our guests a symbolic sense of these political giants' contributions to our Lion City's early struggles for success.

38 Oxley Road and its historical importance cannot merely be couched in stark black and white terms.

No one is exempt from the due processes of heritage conservation. The rule of law must be adhered to by all, without exception.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Tear house down, but keep historic basement'. Print Edition | Subscribe