38 Oxley must never become a commercial estate

Do you know the reason why beachfronts such as East/West Coast Park, Sembawang, Woodlands and Punggol never fell into the hands of private developers?

The Government did not (and still do not) want the limited seasides to be available only to the rich and wealthy. This is why a park was built and even behind the parks, the area had to be shared with HDBs. This is the case with Marine Parade and even the new BTOs at Bay Shore.

Some speculate that 38 Oxley Road will be fated to be sold to private developers after demolition is complete.

To allow that land to be sold for development into condos, only for the ultra-wealthy to buy for bragging rights is a vile, vile thought. The idea of it exchanging hands for $23m per unit (it has to be more expensive than Sentosa Cove doesn’t it?) is disgusting.

To exclude the world except the rich and famous is against all the values of Mr. Lee and of Singaporeans.

And what is this value? That there is no special, exclusive privilege to be wealthy.

The rich will queue for and eat the same bak chor mee as everyone else at the hawker center. They will get the same terrible service. Where all will face the same traffic jams as the taxis and buses, where all will experience the same train breakdowns as the working class. Where the terraced house, the condo and the HDB are just footsteps from each other, where they’ll enjoy the same parks, breathe the same Indonesian haze, shop at the same malls and buy the same Guccis as every HDB aunty.

Public resources will remain for the public good. There are no private roads, private islands, private helicopters, private leisure that are exclusively the domain of those with pedigree. Even Sentosa Cove is accessible by members of the public who wish to dine and entertain themselves there if they wanted.

Lee Kuan Yew will not be able to keep 38 Oxley Road in his family forever. The laws of equity will prevent him from keeping the property confined to “his children, grandchildren and lineage” forever, as a lawyer he knows that. Beyond Lee Hsien Yang, there is nothing preventing anyone in the Lee family line in selling the property or land, short of the Government of the day intervening of course.

So as much as this is a piece of private property, each Singaporean also has public equity in it. 38 Oxley, with or without the house on it is memory, it is respect, it is honour and a thousand years from today I hope it would still be around to tell future generations about its role in the building of Singapore.



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