Analysis & Opinions - The Straits Times

Symbol of the Singapore story

| June 24, 2017

Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was no ordinary Singaporean. His house is no ordinary house. These facts give Singaporeans a stake in its preservation, no matter how the tussle among his children ends.

As a citizen and former journalist who met him several times, the symbolic meaning of the house for me takes precedence over Mr Lee's own will. From a strictly legal perspective, the will says the last word on what should be done to 38, Oxley Road. But from a national perspective, the demolition of the house would represent a blow to a visual artefact that represents the nation's journey from Third World to First.

Singapore's political history literally was made there. The meetings in the basement, of anti-colonialists who would come to form the People's Action Party (PAP), laid the foundations of independent Singapore metaphorically.

Of course, the quest then was not for independence but for self-governance, and merger with Malaysia interceded between that period and eventual independence. However, the walls of 38, Oxley Road witnessed history in the making. The concrete habitation of that history cannot be demolished without injuring Singapore's self-awareness as a nation.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Pereira, Derwin.“Symbol of the Singapore story.” The Straits Times, June 24, 2017.

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