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Indranee Rajah questions urgency of demolition of LKY's home

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Minister's Facebook post raises issue of redevelopment for Oxley Road house

Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah put up another Facebook post last night about the ongoing dispute over Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's home in Oxley Road.

In it, Ms Indranee questioned the motives behind Mr Lee's son Mr Lee Hsien Yang's desire to demolish the family home so urgently and asked why there was a need for a government decision on this issue now.

Here are her four points:

1. Some facts about 38, Oxley Road

The freehold site with a land area of 12,060 sq ft is currently zoned for a two-storey landed property, and it is estimated to have a value of about $20 million.

But with the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the rationale for the two-storey zoning in the area for security reasons is gone.

The owner of the land could appeal for re-zoning to increase the plot ratio and eventual redevelopment.

If granted, this could increase the land value "well beyond" the current market value.

"In that event, one can expect many developers to line up to buy the property," Ms Indranee said.

She gave the example of the land being used to build a 20-storey condominium that could be marketed as a "unique trophy address" and allow the potential new residents "bragging rights" to say: "I am living where Lee Kuan Yew lived."

2. What financial interest does Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have in 38, Oxley Road?

None, said Ms Indranee.

Noting that PM Lee had sold the house to Mr Lee Hsien Yang and donated the entire proceeds to charity, she said the house now wholly belonged to the youngest Lee sibling.

3. What could happen to 38, Oxley Road?

There are four options:

  • Demolish it: This would be irreversible and would no longer allow for future preservation or conservation.
  • Preserve it: The property will be subject to stringent preservation guidelines, and no works can be done to it without approval from the National Heritage Board.
  • Conserve it: Under the Planning Act, this is less restrictive than preservation. Works can be done to the building as long as they are under Urban Redevelopment Authority guidelines, and the land cannot be redeveloped.
  • Acquire it: There would be no possibility of redeveloping the land if it is acquired by the Government. Mr Lee Hsien Yang would receive compensation under the Land Acquisition Act at market value at the time of the acquisition, which means the value on the basis of it being a two-storey landed property.

4. Why is the Government being asked to demolish the house now?

Why is Mr Lee Hsien Yang asking for an immediate commitment to demolish the house?

Ms Indranee asked: "What is the urgency?"

Pointing out that Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling plans to stay in the house for some years to come, and the government has said it does not intend to do anything with the house until Dr Lee leaves it, Ms Indranee then noted that the question of whether to demolish is therefore not one that might arise for another 20 to 30 years.

She noted that Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said he has not thought about "what lies beyond demolition", "it would appear he has not ruled out redevelopment".

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