38, Oxley Road: Ministerial committee says statements by Lee Hsien Yang, Lee Wei Ling will be lodged with Cabinet Secretary

The ministerial committee set up to consider the future of 38, Oxley Road, laid out three options for the house for a future government to decide. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Ministerial Committee tasked to consider the future of 38, Oxley Road said on Tuesday (April 3) the latest statements by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling will be lodged with the Cabinet Secretary for a future government to refer to.

The siblings had earlier posted on Facebook, saying the committee's report released on Monday did not accurately represent the wishes of their late father, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

In response, the committee - which is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean - said: "These views expressed by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling had already been carefully weighed by the Committee, together with other submissions from the parties in their personal capacities, including those in the form of statutory declarations, and objective evidence in the form of documents signed by Mr Lee Kuan Yew."

It reiterated that it relied on three key objective documents from the late Mr Lee, which it said gave concrete expression to his thinking and wishes.

The documents are: the entire demolition clause in Mr Lee's last will, Mr Lee's letter to the Cabinet dated Dec 27, 2011, and Mr Lee's application dated March 29, 2012 to the Urban Redevelopment Authority for renovation/redevelopment plans for the property, as well as URA's subsequent approval in April 2012.

In his statement, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was forced to consider options other than demolition, as "(PM Lee) insisted that the gazetting of 38, Oxley Road was 'inevitable'".

Mr Lee Hsien Yang cited an email by his father to his children on Oct 3, 2011, in which he said that "Loong as PM has indicated that he will declare it a heritage site".

Wrote Mr Lee Hsien Yang: "In light of this false impression given by Loong, Lee Kuan Yew was forced to consider options other than demolition."

On the renovation plans submitted to the URA in 2012, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said: "Our father reluctantly went along only because he believed the government already intended to thwart his hopes."

In its 21-page report, the committee noted that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had approved detailed plans to entirely overhaul the interior living areas while retaining the external structure and basement dining room.

It detailed how Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife, Madam Ho Ching, had sent an e-mail on Jan 2, 2012 to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the rest of the family about the plans.

A day later, Mr Lee Kuan Yew told Madam Ho via e-mail: "I have confidence in your judgment. Do what gives you maximum opportunities for later use."

The committee set out in its report three broad options for 38, Oxley Road, ranging from preservation at one end, to demolition and redevelopment at the other.

"As we noted in our report, there is no need to decide now," the committee said on Tuesday. "The various options in the report are meant to help a future government make an informed and considered decision when the need arises."

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