Harry’s house:

In Property on 06/12/2015 at 6:47 pm

In a statement* posted on PM Lee’s Facebook on Friday, “Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang would like to honour the wish of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew that the house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished after Dr Lee Wei Ling ceases to live in it.”

In mid 2014 I had lunch with a retired ex-ST journalist. He told me about a book about the house where one Harry Lee was living in. The plan was for the book to be published early this year, but events intervened and I doubt the book will ever be published.

He said that Ah Loong persuaded his father to accept that the house will not be demolished after LKY’s death. It would remain a Lee family property and not be opened to the public. It would be left to a future generation of Lee’s what to do with the house.

The ex-reporter was half right going by the news reports. (This sentence was crossed out on 28 Feb 2020 at 6.00 to reflect what we now know. It reflected the penultimate version of the final will which did not have the infamous “demolition” clause.)

But as I doubt the book would see the light of day (I don’t think the publisher SPH would want to stir up feelings that the house must be preserved), I tot I’d share some interesting facts that I learnt at the lunch about the house, since the house is now back in the news.

It was built by a Jewish family of merchants who lived in it. But by the 1930s, they had moved on out of S’pore and the house was rented out. The Japanese seized the property and used it. Then the British took it over, renting it out until the owner came forward. No-one did until thee 1960s. Harry rented it from the state.

In the 1960s, he and Mrs Lee traced the owners (then living in London) and offered to buy the house foe about S$30,000 then. In 1065, they became the owners.


A terrace house in the Siglap area cost about that then. But LKY’s house was rent-control premises, and the previous owner would have gotten the rent that had accrued over the years. The money was sitting in a bank account awaiting a claim by the owners.


Finally, the house has no proper foundations. This means that any development along nearby Orchard Road would have shook the house regularly. LKY could only grin and bear: and he was the Leader.

Btw, wonder what has happened to this campaign? Any news?

A campaign to gather signatures for an online petition aimed at preserving the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s house as a national monument has so far garnered more than 1,450 supporters on

Benedict Yuen started the petition a few days ago because he felt the property at 38 Oxley Road had historical significance and should not be torn down.

(CNA earlier this yr)

I tot at the time and still do: “Wah so fast disrespect LKY? He wanted the house demolished because he did not want it turned into a monument.” I’ll blog on this topic one of these days.


*This is the full statement that appeared on Facebook:

My siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, and I have issued the following joint statement:

“To honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Lee Hsien Yang have each agreed to donate half the value of 38 Oxley Road to the charities named in the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s obituary notice.

Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang would like to honour the wish of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew that the house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished after Dr Lee Wei Ling ceases to live in it.

Mr Lee Hsien Loong has recused himself from all government decisions involving 38 Oxley Road and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish honoured.

Speaking as the children of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang hope the government will allow the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wish for the demolition of the house to be honoured and that all Singaporeans will support their cause.”

No this isn’t the house


  1. No foundations?!? Better tear it down. Wouldn’t do to turn it into a monument & then have it collapse on the heads of visiting presidents of US or China or the queen of England.

    BTW, talking about the shaking of the house due to Orchard Rd developments — with Old Fart’s extensive business deals and connections with developers and banks financing the deals, he indeed grinned a lot, but didn’t have to bear much. Heh heh heh…

    • A lot of old houses, especially single-story buildings are built without piles. No proper foundations does not mean no foundation. Most are built with raft footings which are more than adequate, especially if the ground is solid.

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