Kwa Geok Choo

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Kwa (Chinese: ; pinyin: ).
Kwa Geok-Choo
Spouse of the Prime Minister of Singapore
In office
5 June 1959 – 28 November 1990
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Tan Choo Leng
Personal details
Born (1920-12-21)21 December 1920
Died October 2, 2010(2010-10-02) (aged 89)
Political party People's Action Party
Spouse(s) Lee Kuan Yew
Children Lee Hsien Loong
Lee Hsien Yang
Lee Wei Ling
Alma mater Methodist Girls' School
University of Cambridge
Occupation Lawyer

Kwa Geok Choo (Chinese: 柯玉芝; pinyin: Kē Yùzhī; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kua Gio̍k-tsi; 21 December 1920 – 2 October 2010)[1] was most widely known as the wife of Singapore's former Minister Mentor and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and one of the partners in the law firm Lee & Lee.

Kwa was also the mother of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. She was a former pupil of Methodist Girls' School and read law at Girton College, Cambridge University, where she was a Queen's Scholar from Malaya.[2]

In Lee Kuan Yew's biography, he stated that he first met Kwa in 1944 at a party, and courted her from 1946. Kwa married Lee Kuan Yew in secret in London in 1947 and then remarried in Singapore on September 30, 1950. They had two sons—Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang—and one daughter—Lee Wei Ling. Her brother, Dr. Kwa Soon Bee, served as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health. She had three sisters, Mrs Cheah, who was a teacher at Methodist Girls School; Mrs. Yong Nyuk Lin (wife of retired cabinet minister Yong Nyuk Lin); and the late Mrs. Earnest Lau, who was also for a time a teacher at Methodist Girls School.

During Lee's years as Prime Minister and Senior Minister, Kwa was frequently seen with her husband, especially on diplomatic trips and meetings with other foreign ministers. After suffering two strokes in May and June 2008, she was bedridden and unable to speak, but remained conscious and able to understand speech.[3]

Kwa died in her sleep, following a long illness on 2 October 2010 around 5:40 pm SST.[1] She was given a state funeral and cremated at Mandai Crematorium on 7 October 2010. [4]

Contributions to Singapore[edit]

When Singapore separated from the Malaysian Federation, Kwa drafted the clauses in the Separation Agreement for the guarantee of the water agreements between the Malaysian state of Johor and Singapore. This guarantee was done via a constitutional amendment to the Federation of Malaysia's Constitution.[5]

It is also notable that before Singapore's merger with Malaysia, Kwa had told her husband Lee Kuan Yew that she did not feel positive about the merger. Her gut feelings were later proven true when the merger fell through shortly after it was passed.



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