A Commentary on the Singapore Oxley Road House Dispute

The Oxley Road house dispute began with a public feud between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. It seemed to Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah that the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew did not necessarily mean for the house to be destroyed. There were two clauses in his will; the first displayed his wish to have the house destroyed, however the second clause seemed to indicate the possibility of leaving the house intact if the law prohibited his children from demolishing it. Read on to learn of the main points that Indranee Rajah put across!

What does the 7th Will Actually Say?

According to Indranee Rajah, the 7th paragraph of the will does clearly state that it was Mr. Lee’s will and the will of his late wife, Mrs. Kwa Geok Choo, that the house be demolished. However, the interesting part is in the second clause of this paragraph where Mr. Lee mentions the possibility that his sons are unable to demolish the house due to any changes in the law. He then proceeds to give his will for that possibility. His will in this case is that the house remain closed off to the public and that only his descendants  may enter for as long as the house stands. It seems logical that Mr. Lee would only place this in his will if he anticipated the possibility that the house would not be lawfully able to be demolished.

Why is the Government even Involved?

The matter of who owns the house is private, however what happens to the house does have to do with the government; this is due to the fact that many historical events occurred in this house. The founding fathers of Singapore came together inside Oxley Road House, not to mention the decisions that lead up to internal self-government were made there as well. Because of these things and a number of others, the proposed demolition of the house has become a public matter and as such a government matter.

What is the Prime Minister’s Position?

The prime minister has removed himself from the decision making process and left it up to the rest of the Cabinet to decide. His reasoning for this is because his personal preference is to see his parent’s wishes carried out. However, as the Prime Minister, his desire to fulfill the will of his parents may clash with what is good for the country, hence why he has chosen to do nothing.

Is it Possible to Demolish the House now Anyway?

It is not possible due to the fact the Dr. Lee Wei Ling is still living in the house. It is stated in Mr. Lee’s 7th Will that the demolition was only to begin when his daughter was no longer living there. As far as can be seen Dr. Lee is not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. It seems, therefore, that only time will tell what decision is going to be made in the distant future!