A feud of Singapore’s ‘Noble’ dynasty the Lee around the house of late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is turning a banal bungalow into the City State hottest place for a selfie…
The house is surrounded by high fences and is barely visible from the outside. But it does not deter local visitors to rush there or passing cars to slow down to take pictures of the place. The colonial bungalow, built in the early years of the 20th century by a Singaporean-based Jewish merchant at Oxley Road 38 -a small street aside of Orchard Road- belonged to Lee Kuan Yew, the iconic Prime Minister of the City State, which was in power from 1959 to 1990 and who passed away a year and a half ago.
The house has a historical value for many Singaporeans as the home of the country’s first Prime Minister and also as a place where important decisions were taken. The dining room saw meetings from the “Oxley Group”, ‘Oxley Group’, a gathering of 14 men who were behind the creation of a political party to look for Singapore independence. This was happening in 1954.
However, a public feud emerged in the last two months between the children of the late Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong -Singapore current Prime Minister-, daughter Lee Wei Ling and son Lee Hsien Yang. They all quarrel over the 38, Oxley Road estate and its future. According to the late Lee Kuan Yew will, the house should be demolished following his death and once his daughter Lee Wei Ling moves out of the place. The latter has already expressed her wish to stay in the property sitting on 1,120 m2 of land, which includes beautiful gardens. Who would not?
However, the dispute goes now over a possible last-minute change in the will of Lee Kuan Yew. While the Prime Minister has said that his father finally wanted the bungalow to be preserved -but not turned into a museum to respect his family’s privacy- his siblings are assessing that the wish to destruction should be respected. Of course, the land where the house is sitting is premium in the heart of the city.
According to Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah, a demolition could make way to the construction of a 25-floor high luxury condominium. Such a development would also revalue the entire area with neighbours able to sell their properties at high prices. Until now, the two-story bungalow determined the height of houses along the entire street!
Rajah calls for an intermediary solution. Redevelopment could occur but the dining room could be preserved and attached to a heritage centre telling about the history of the place.
“This would substantially fulfill Mr Lee’s wish. His and Mrs Lee’s privacy would be respected. Pictures of the basement were already made public during Mr Lee’s time and are widely available. Nothing of the private spaces would be seen. At the same time, the history and heritage would not be lost and the crucible where the hopes and dreams of a nation were forged can be kept to inspire many more generations to come”, wrote Rajah on her facebook account.
In between, Oxley Road 38 has turned into Singapore hottest place to be seen for a selfie. Singapore newspaper Strait Times report that many social media users are now posting pictures on Instagram posing next to the former stateman house. At the same time, “38 oxley road” was also the third-highest trending topic on Twitter Singapore. Many Singaporeans and visitors rush to take pictures as they believe that the house is soon to be gone…
About the history of Oxley Road 38
The Oxley area that the bungalow is situated in an area belonging in the 1800s to British doctor Thomas Oxley, who owned a nutmeg plantation and was surgeon at Singapore General Hospital.
Late 1800s/Early 1900s: The bungalow was built by a Jewish merchant.
1945: 22-year-old Lee Kuan Yew and his family moved into 38 Oxley Road.
1952: Singapore current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was born.
1954: Founding members of the People’s Action Party (PAP) met regularly in the bungalow’s basement to discuss the setting up of the party.
1955 and 1957- Lee Hsien Loong siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang were born.