Authorities in Guangdong province plan on investing 40 million yuan to turn Lee Kuan Yew’s ancestral home into a tourist attraction.
The residence, which is situated in Dabu county and apparently already attracts crowds of locals, will be ‘infused with Chinese Hakka cultural characteristics,” according to the Straits Times, citing Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po Daily.
Work on the project officially began last year, it said, and the first phase, which comprises a Lee Kuan Yew Memorial Hall, will be completed by the end of this year.
Mr Lee’s great-grandfather Li Muwen built the ancestral home, named Zhonghandi, in 1884 with money he had earned in Singapore.
Between 2007 and 2008, the house and its surroundings were refurbished by the local authorities, Wen Wei Po said.
The announcement comes just days after the death of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, news of which Chinese media had jumped the gun on by reporting five days ahead of time.
Online, Singaporean web users criticized the scheme as being exploitive, especially considering, well, it’s not even Lee’s actual home.
“Trying to capitalize on his fame for selfish gain. I doubt our beloved father have even step foot [sic] in a house built by his great grandfather. So how can preserving it be in his honor? We should seek the government to preserve his Oxley house even when this is against his living wishes,” wrote one Jess Lee, referencing the leader’s residence in Singapore.
“Lee Kuan Yew’s home is Singapore and Singapore is his home. [Don’t] confuse the [people] please,” another netizen said.
“Omg….not only opportunistic but fame-hunger [sic] too to tell the world all great and talented overseas chinese are descendent from China!” user Mee Mee said.
Another user, Chester Chen, spoke out in defense of the decision: “In Chinese society and culture, it’s common to worship someone in the same ancestral line who is deemed a great man. Anyway it’s in China so feel proud that they recognize the work of a fellow ethnic chinese and honours [sic] him this way.”
Arguments aside, let’s all just admit that at the end of the day we’d prefer a trip to the McCafé taking over the former residence of Taiwan leader Chiang Ching-kuo, anyways.