Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, son and daughter of late Mr Lee Kuan Yew have made a Deed of Gift of some furniture and personal effects from 38 Oxley Road, the home of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, to the National Heritage Board (NHB).
The announcement was made in a news release on Thursday by Stamford Law, on behalf of the two, who are also the executors and trustees of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s estate.
The news release stated that the deed was signed with the NHB on Monday. The items donated to NHB include all the furniture from the dining room, the study room, and work area desks. The items have since been handed over to NHB in preparation for a planned major public exhibition at the SG50 Tribute Gallery in August or September.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang said in the news release, “We believe that these items would be of keen public interest and would serve as a very meaningful part of the exhibition,”
“In accordance with our late father’s last Will and Testament that his house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished, my sister and I, as the executors and trustees of the estate, believe it is only appropriate that some of his personal items of historic importance, that have been used by him at the house, be donated to the NHB for the people of Singapore who honoured him with their love and respect during our recent bereavement.”
NHB said in its statement that it welcomes “all artefacts that will enhance the story of our founding fathers”, including that from Mr Lee. It also said the National Museum of Singapore is in the midst of revamping it galleries and one will be dedicated to the core values and ideals of Singapore’s founding fathers.
The NHB added, “As for the Deed of Gift, there remains some questions which the National Heritage Board is in the process of clarifying with the executors of the Lee Kuan Yew estate,”
Soon after the departure of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in March, calls have been made to officially gazette his house at Oxley road as a national heritage site.
However, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling said in a joint statement in April that it was their father’s wish for the house is to be demolished immediately after his death or if the daughter, Lee Wei Ling, would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the House.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s will writes, “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.”
It is also said in Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s will, “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.”
It is uncertain if the house would be eventually demolished at this point.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who is also the son of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, said in parliament on 13 April,
“Mr Lee’s position on 38 Oxley Road was unwavering over the years, and fully consistent with his lifelong values. We should respect his wishes, as well as those of Mrs Lee’s.
“Dr Lee Wei Ling has informed me that she intends to continue living in the house at 38 Oxley Road. Therefore there is no immediate issue of demolition of the house, and no need for the Government to make any decision now.
“If and when Dr Lee Wei Ling no longer lives in the house, Mr Lee has stated his wishes as to what then should be done. At that point, speaking as a son, I would like to see these wishes carried out. However, it will be up to the Government of the day to consider the matter.”