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The love story of Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo

  • Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily.

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE

Everyone used to address her as Mrs Lee Kwan Yew and most have actually forgotten that her name was Kwa Geok Choo. She passed away peacefully at home on 2 October 2010 at the grand old age of 89.

Kwa Geok Choo, the wife of Singapore's founding father and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and the mother of the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, looked ordinary and mild. The media had described her as "a simple woman who did not seek for fame and wealth and had always kept a low profile. People do not know her much".

However, in the history of Singapore, Lady Kwa was definitely an important driving force behind the scene.

Lee has been diligent, resolute and courageous in pursuing his dreams and love.

Kwa was the only female student in the prestigious Raffles College in Singapore where she first met Lee. She was then awarded the Queen's Scholarship and studied at the Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and became the first woman in Asia obtaining a first-class honours degree in law from Cambridge.

When they were still students, Lee and Kwa were competitors. Kwa's English and Economic Science results had been ranked the best of the school while Lee's ranked the second. From competitors, they turned into lovers. They then secretly registered and married in the United Kingdom without notifying their parents.

Lee has been engaged in politics over all these years and he has many political opponents who said he is ruthless. But his love for his wife is a very touching story.

Their daughter Lee Wei Ling said her father is a precious eldest son born in a traditional Peranakan family. He could not even crack a soft-boiled egg and he had been well taken care by his mother even after he got married.

However, after suffering two strokes in 2008, his wife was confined to bed. From a "male chauvinist", Lee has turned into an affectionate caring husband.

He sat by her bed, told her what he did in daytime and read her poems every night, except when he was away for business trips. Even though he does not believe in religion, he still prayed for her.

What would happen to Lee’s political career if he did not marry Kwa?

There is no if in history. But Lee admitted that Kwa's consistent rational and emotional support had been the driving force that pushed him forward. His life must be totally different if he married another girl.

However, the couple's loving relationship has brought an invisible pressure to their daughter. In an article, she wrote that the reason she decided to remain single was because she could not live her life around a husband, nor would she want a husband to live his life around her.

How beautiful it is to have someone hold your hand and grow old with you! Regardless of how you assess Lee's political finesse, you can never deny that his love for his wife is really impressive while his wife's love for him is even heart-stirring!

Sin Chew Daily

MySinchew 2010-10-04


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