updated 15 Nov 2010, 06:02
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Mon, Oct 04, 2010
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Kwa Geok Choo - The woman behind Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew

(Above pic: In this old photo taken in 1982,  Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, wife of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, is seen carrying her grand-daughter Xiuqi at Woodlands Town Garden in conjunction with the island-wide Tree Planting Day.)

Madam Kwa Geok Choo was born in Singapore on Dec 21, 1920. Her parents were Mr and Mrs Kwa Siew Tee. Her father was the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation’s (OCBC Bank) general manager from 1935 to 1945.

1936: Completes secondary education at Methodist Girls’ School. First in the Senior Cambridge Examination for the whole of Malaya.

1937-39: Joins Raffles Institution Special Class, where she meets Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

1940-46: Enrols in Raffles College in 1940 and returns in 1946 after end of World War II.

1947: Graduates from Raffles College with First Class Diploma in Arts, winning the Queen’s Scholarship.

1947-49: Reads law as a second-year student in Girton College, Cambridge University.

Places first in Part II of the Law Tripos – the first woman in Malaya to win this distinction.

1947: Secretly marries Mr Lee in December.

1950: Passes Bar final in May. Both she and Mr Lee are called to the Bar at the Middle Temple on June 21. Returns to Singapore. Marries Mr Lee again on Sept 30.

1951: Is admitted to the Bar in Singapore on Aug 7. Joins and becomes senior partner of a local law firm.

1952: Gives birth to son Lee Hsien Loong.

1955: The Lee & Lee law firm is established by Mr Lee, his brother Kim Yew and Madam Kwa.

1955: Gives birth to daughter Lee Wei Ling.

1957: Gives birth to second son Lee Hsien Yang.

1959: Mr Lee Kuan Yew is elected Prime Minister of Singapore. His brother and Madam Kwa take over the reins of Lee & Lee. They remain as consultants even after retirement from active practice.

1965: Helps in drafting parts of the Separation Agreement when Singapore leaves Malaysia.

2003: Suffers a stroke in October while on a visit to London. Recovers soon after and continues to accompany her husband on official trips.

2008: Suffers two strokes in May and in June, which leave her unable to get out of bed, move or speak.

2010: Dies at age 89, 11 weeks before her 90th birthday.

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