Ministerial Committee Report on 38 Oxley Road

SM Teo Chee Hean | 2 April 2018

The Ministerial Committee on 38 Oxley Road completed its work and released its Report on 2 April 2018.

 

MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE COMPLETES ITS WORK, LAYS OUT RANGE OF OPTIONS FOR 38 OXLEY ROAD FROM PRESERVATION TO DEMOLITION

1. The Ministerial Committee on 38 Oxley Road has completed its work and released its Report today.

2. The Report lays out a range of options for the Property – from preservation on one end, to demolition and redevelopment on the other. The Report does not make any recommendations and there is no need to make a decision on the Property now. The various options in the Report are meant to help a future government make an informed and considered decision when the need arises.

3. The Report addresses the Committee’s three terms of reference. First, the Committee assesses that the Property has architectural, heritage and historical significance. Second, it is the Committee’s view that while Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s preference was for the Property to be demolished, he was prepared to accept options other than demolition, provided that suitable arrangements were made to ensure that: (i) the Property was refurbished, and kept in a habitable state; and (ii) the family's privacy was protected. Third, the Report lays out the possible plans and options for the Property, and the considerations for each of them, to serve as drawer plans for a future government.

4. Cabinet (without the Prime Minister, who had recused himself from all discussions regarding 38 Oxley Road) decided in June 2016 to task a Ministerial Committee to prepare drawer plans of various options for the Property and to consider their implications, given the public interest on this matter. Cabinet felt it would be beneficial for a future Cabinet to hear the views of those who had directly discussed the matter with Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The Report has been considered and approved by Cabinet.

5. In drawing up this Report, the Committee invited representations from Mr Lee Kuan Yew's children, namely Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, in order to obtain as full a picture as possible of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking on 38 Oxley Road. A future Government can refer to this report and make a considered and informed decision when the time comes to decide on the matter.

6. The Report outlines a range of options that can be considered, as shown in the table below.

Option

(1) Retain the Property

(2) Retain the Dining Room and tear down the rest of the Property

(3) Allow the Property to be demolished fully, and allow redevelopment

Suboptions

a) Gazette and preserve as a National Monument; or

b) Gazette for conservation

The Dining Room would be gazetted as a National Monument, and integrated with an alternative use for the site (e.g. park, heritage centre)

a) By the owner for residential use; or

b) By the State for alternative use (e.g. park, heritage centre), after acquisition of the site

Remarks

Both sub-options could include further steps to significantly address Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s concerns about privacy (e.g. significant interior renovations of the private spaces, and/or with restricted access).

Even if there is public access to the Dining Room for national education purposes, demolition of the rest of the Property including the private spaces would ensure that the privacy of Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew would be respected.

Sub-option (a) could result in the loss of a historically significant property, and the potential of that history being leveraged for commercial profit.

7. DPM Teo, the Chair of the Ministerial Committee said:

"The Committee has considered a range of options for the Property as well as their implications. We did not make any recommendation because no decision is required at this point in time. Ultimately, in the fullness of time, a future Government will have the responsibility to consider the public interest aspects of the Property, taking into account Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes. They will have to decide what to do with the Property and be able to carry the decision.

The Committee has carefully studied the representations from Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s children. In reaching our views on Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes, we relied particularly on the objective evidence placed before us and the key concrete steps that Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself took in his lifetime to put his wishes into effect. This included the demolition clause in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will, his letter to Cabinet dated 27 December 2011, as well as the renovation/redevelopment plans for 38 Oxley Road which he submitted to the URA in March 2012, and obtained approval for.

The work of this Ministerial Committee was thrust into the public spotlight last year. We therefore felt we owed it to Singaporeans to release our Report, explain our work, what were our findings, and the options for the Property that could be considered by a future Government. With this, we hope to close the chapter on this topic, and focus on other pressing national issues ahead of us."

8. The Committee was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, and included Cabinet members responsible for heritage, land issues and urban planning i.e. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Minister for Law K Shanmugam, and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

9. The Report is attached.

PDF icon MC_Report_38_Oxley_Road.pdf (pdf, 398.83KB) (399KB)

PDF icon MC_Report_38_Oxley_Road_Annex_A.pdf (pdf, 872.80KB) (873KB)

PDF icon MC_Report_38_Oxley_Road_Annex_B.pdf (pdf, 2,118.07KB) (2.1MB)

PDF icon MC_Report_38_Oxley_Road_Annex_C.pdf (pdf, 3,127.83KB) (3.1MB)

PDF icon MC_Report_38_Oxley_Road_Annex_D.pdf (pdf, 1,561.19KB) (1.6MB)

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