LKY’s Relations to Opium Trade

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Thanks to some netizens for fact-checking, etc.

Verification, excerpts, and additional info below.

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1) VERIFICATION (STARTING from KWA GEOK CHOO / MRS. LKY)

1. Kwa Geok Choo’s uncle-in-law is Tan Chin Tuan, whose nephew is Tony Tan.

Kwa Geok Choo’s mother was Wee Yew Neo. Wee Yew Neo’s father was Wee Theam Seng, the oldest Straits Chinese Christian and Manager of Chinese Commercial Bank.

2. Wee Theam Seng had a brother called Wee Theam Tew (a graduate of Raffles Institution and later a solicitor, who went to China in 1904 and served as the secretary of Prince Su, the military governor of Peking and Minister to the Emperor).

3. From Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources:

Wee Theam Tew, one of the leading Chinese legal practitioners of Singapore, comes of a family who have resided in the Straits Settlements for three generations. His grandfather, Mr. Wee Theam Soo, came from China as a literary graduate, and, together with Dr. Lim Boon Keng’s father and Mr. Cheng Hong Lim’s father, to whom reference is made on another page, acquired the first opium farm in the colony.

4. Lee Kuan Yew’s father, Lee Chin Koon,  was a storekeeper and depot manager for the Shell Oil Company. Lee Chin Koon’s father was Lee Hoon Leong. Hoon Leong worked with the Heap Eng Moh shipping line for tycoon Oei Tiong Ham. He rose in Oei’s estimation, until he was afforded power of attorney over the tycoon’s assets in Singapore.

5. Oei Tiong Ham was the wealthiest man of his era in the Dutch East Indies, and he made a fortune as an opium revenue farmer (opium farms were only part of his commercial empire).

Oei’s vast fortune amounted to 200 million guilders at his death and he lived in a large house in Semarang resembling a fairytale palace. There were no less than 40 servants and huge banquets specializing in different cuisines were given.

  • NOTE: The surnames Wee and Oei are part of the Huang Surname Clan (which puts “Wee Theam Soo” and “Oei Tiong Ham” in the same clan).

6. Oei Tiong Ham had 8 official wives who bore him 13 daughters and 13 sons (plus 18 concubines with a total of 42 children). His son, Oei Tjong Tiong, married Lim Chit Geck, the daughter of Lim Nee Soon.

7. Lim Nee Soon was one of the pioneers of rubber planting. His big investments in the pineapple industry won him the nickname “Pineapple King.” He was a generous charitable benefactor with a keen interest in social and community matters, and one of the most influential businessmen of the day.

Lim Nee Soon was a leading member of the Teochew clan association Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan.

On the formation of Huay Kuan association:

. . .The Kongsi’s accounts were kept private by the Seah family, and undisclosed even to other members. In 1929, a rival Teochew faction led by Lim Nee Soon founded a new association known as the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan (潮州八邑会馆). The Huay Kuan mounted a lawsuit against the Seah family, alleging that the latter monopolised Kongsi affairs.

Lim Nee Soon was also a close friend of Dr Sun Yat Sen.

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Special guests MP Mr Teo Ser Luck and Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean at the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan Anniversary Dinner.

8. When Lim Nee Soon was eight years old, he was left in the care of his maternal grandfather, Teo Lee.

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“Teo Lee is the great-great-grandfather of Teo Chee Hean, DPM of Singapore.” Source: Teo Lee Family

Teo Lee’s descendant is Teo Chee Hean, who is the cousin of Ivy Lim Seok Cheng. Ivy Lim’s spouse is Kwa Soon Chuan, the brother of Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. LKY / “The Dragon Lady“).

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2) EXCERPTS ON OPIUM TRADE

Some excerpts on the history of opium trade in the region.

a) Over time, Tan [Seng Poh] rose through the ranks of Singaporean Chinese society to become a Justice of the Peace, an Honorary Magistrate, a Municipal Councillor as well as a wealthy opium farmer.

After 1870, syndicates of Straits Chinese controlling the lucrative opium farms extended their involvement in the trade beyond Singapore to Bangkok, Saigon, and Shanghai.

Source: Asia Research Institute — Transcultural Diaspora: The Straits Chinese in Singapore, 1819-1918 (PDF Download)

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b) One Chinese witness (Mr. Koh Seang Tat) says that he has never known of heard of an opium consumer breaking himself of the habit, and this view is supported by one medical man.
(Appendix 151)

Opium is commonly smoked by the Chinese in this colony, especially by the lower classes, artisans, and coolies.
(Appendix 165)

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Singapore, view inside opium den, 1941. Photographer: Harrison Forman.

Opium consumption is considered as a great vice by our Chinese. The habit of opium consumption in many cases reduces the habitués to extreme poverty and eventually to a stealthy and dishonest life.
— Chan-U-Pai, Director of the Po Leung Kuk, Hong Kong (Apendix 204)

Source: First Report of the Royal Commission on Opium, 1894

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c) Coolies were given to opium inhaling to relieve their tired bodies of its soreness and to gambling in an attempt to escape from their misery. The whites and wealthy Chinese employed the coolies mainly because of their willingness to work hard for little money.

Source: Blog to Express

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d) “. . .that most debasing and pernicious drug, opium, in combination with the Chinese secret societies of which spring many of those daring outrages and robberies that disgrace our settlements.”  (Pg-449)

In 1910 in Singapore, the development from opium farming to Opiumregie, like elsewhere, was completed by the opening of a modern opium factory. Once the mechanization of opium production and distribution was a fact, mass addiction could be realized. (Pg-453)

It is well described by Trocki:

“Most important was the expansion of the global market communicated to Singapore through the major trades: opium, capital, and manufactures from India and the West. In addition to redirecting the commodity flows to the West, the shift created a vast demographic eruption. It was as if the current of wealth flowing out of China began to pull with it the Chinese peoples themselves. Singapore came into being as a result of these global forces.”

Opium played in this global shift the most crucial role. Singapore’s opium scene in the 19th-century is, therefore, much more important than only in a local or regional context.

Officially, nearly half of all revenues of the British was earned by opium. It cannot demonstrate how much private or individual British officials, military men or bankers earned. Indirectly, it also suggests how much a very few super-wealthy people (Chinese) pocketed as their share of the opium rents in this century.

Source: History of the Opium Problem: The Assault on the East, ca. 1600 – 1950 (BRILL)

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e) Chan Wing was a man of principle and did not invest in sinful businesses like opium dens, tax-farming and slave trading.

Source: Insider’s Kuala Lumpur (3rd Edn)

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f) In 1879, Banhap, together with Cheang Hong Lim (one of the trio of Singapore opium farmers who made up the “Great Syndicate”) launged a daring attempt to seize control of the entire Asian opium trade.

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Cheang Hong Lim 章芳琳 (1841-1893). Source: RL

When Banhap and Cheang Hong Lim acquired the Hong Kong opium farm, it was not simply an attempt to extend their control over yet another colonial port. The Wo Hang and Yan Wo, the two major opium syndicates in Hong Kong, also controlled the coolie trade of Hong Kong. . .the two firms also sold prepared opium to Chinese immigrants. . .The goal of Banhap and Cheang was to take control of this trade in prepared opium which would have been worth about $3.5 to $4 million per year.

They were among the wealthiest men in Asia at the time and were linked to a vast network of kin, business associates, clansmen, and dependents.

Source: Connecting Seas and Connected Ocean Rims (BRILL)

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g) The Singapore opium farmer simply purchased his supplies on the open market in Singapore. He processed the opium into chandu and distributed it to local opium shops for retail consumption by the population of Chinese coolies.

As a group, it is clear that the farmers were among the most influential and “respectable” of Singapore’s Chinese. They were also economic leaders and were deeply involved in the papper and gambier economy of Singapore and the surrounding territories. These plantations were the major employers of the Chinese coolies who were the major consumers of opium. It is also probable [that] the farmers were intimately connected to the Chinese secret societies of Singapore.

Source: The Rise of Singapore’s Great Opium Syndicate, 1840-86 (Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Department of History, NUS)

3) ADDITIONAL INFO

1. This photo album has some Singapore opium photos (uploaded by Julia Di Lorenzo).

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2. This chart shows the intermarriages between Straits Chinese Banking Families in Singapore. Done by Roy Ngerng (originally posted on his blog, TheHeartTruths).

Wee Theam Seng (Mrs. LKY’s grandfather + senior OCBC banker on the right side of the opium image) is circled in this image.

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3. This post takes a look at the close historical ties between the Singapore government and Burmese military junta.

Kwa: Family Tree (Government Positions)

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A Kwa family tree, showing some family members and their titles / positions. Links with verification and additional info below.

Thanks to several diligent netizens for contributing to this post.

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KWA GEOK CHOO:

Kwa Geok Choo (“Mrs. LKY”) was married to Lee Kuan Yew for 63 years.

Kwa was the co-founder of Lee and Lee law firm. She participated in drafting the PAP party’s constitution and gave a speech on radio urging women to vote for the PAP in the upcoming elections.

ANTI-CLOCKWISE DIRECTION (from top left corner):

1. Kwa Kim Li is a niece of Kwa Geok Choo. Kwa Kim Li is a director at Mapletree Commercial Trust (a GLC and unit of Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd.’s property arm, Mapletree Investments).

2. Kwa Chong Seng, Public Service Commission (PSC) Member and former Temasek Holdings chairman, is a nephew of Kwa Geok Choo.

According to Wikipedia, Singapore’s Constitution, and PSC’s 2012 Annual Report:

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is constituted under Part IX of the Constitution of Singapore and its constitutional role is to appoint, confirm, promote, transfer, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over public officers in Singapore.

The PSC also retains two key non-constitutional roles. It considers the suitability of candidates for appointment as Chief Executive Officers of Statutory Boards; it is also responsible for the planning and administration of scholarships provided by the Government of Singapore.

3. Kwa Chong Guan, chairman of the National Archives, is a nephew of Kwa Geok Choo. Read more about his influential titles at the end of this post on the National Heritage Board.

4. Kwa Soon Bee, former Permanent Secretary for Health and Director of Medical Services, is a brother of Kwa Geok Choo.

5. Kwa Soon Chuan was the first local appointed to the Colonial Administration. He is a brother of Kwa Geok Choo.

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Kwa Soon Chuan’s titles. Source: ST / NLB, 5 Jan 1977

Kwa Soon Chuan’s spouse is Ivy Lim Seok Cheng (daughter of Lim Chong Pang). Ivy Lim’s link to Teo Chee Hean is through Teo Chee Hean’s great grand aunt (Teo Choon Lian), who was married to Ivy Lim’s great grandfather (Lim Peng Nguan; spouse of Teo Choon Lian). So Ivy Lim and Teo Chee Hean would address each other as 表姐, 表弟. In English, “cousin.”

6. Yong Nyuk Lin, Minister for Education in PAP’s first cabinet, is a brother-in-law of Kwa Geok Choo. His spouse is Kwa Geok Lan, elder sister of Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. LKY).

7. Earnest Lau was the principal of ACS. His mother was Madam Yong Soong Moy, Headmistress of Geylang Methodist Girls’ School (1930s), and his father was Reverend Edward Sing Lau (Ee Sing), Pastor of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (1929-1930), Geylang English Methodist Church (1930-1951) and Straits Chinese Methodist Church (1952-1963). Earnest Lau’s spouse is Kwa Geok Lian, sister of Kwa Geok Choo.

8. According to a couple of thorough online comments, Kwa Chong Teck, Senior Advisor at National Dental Centre Singapore, is the brother of Kwa Chong Seng.

ADDITIONAL INFO:

This blog post takes a look at Kwa Geok Choo (the “Dragon Lady”) through the perspective of Peranakan culture.

Mrs. LKY: “The Dragon Lady”

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A look at Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew) through the perspective of Peranakan culture.

This post is presented in 12 sections:

1. Peranakan Roots + Family Background
2. The Dragon Lady
3. Kwa Geok Choo’s Gold Coin Necklace
4. Images of Gold Coin Necklace
5. Peranakan Culture: General Info
6. Peranakan Culture: A Hidden Matriarchy
7. Peranakan Culture: Phoenix Symbol
8. Peranakan Culture: Females
9. Lee Kuan Yew on Kwa Geok Choo
10. Kwa Geok Choo: Intellect and Capabilities
11. Kwa Geok Choo: State Funeral
12. Kwa Geok Choo: Political Legacy

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1. PERANAKAN ROOTS + Family Background

1) Madam Kwa and her husband, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, both Peranakans, are featured in the Great Peranakans — Fifty Remarkable Lives exhibition.

Source: The Straits Times (2015)

2) . . .born to a well-to-do family, studied law as a Queen’s Scholar in England’s Cambridge University, [and] remained a deeply private person.

Source: Philly.com

2. THE DRAGON LADY

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Mrs and Mr LKY | Image from HerWorld

“Dragon Lady”: A woman of somewhat sinister glamour often perceived as wielding ruthless or corrupt power. (Dictionary.com)

Kwa Geok Choo was described as a “proverbial dragon lady” by a former senior correspondent for The Straits Times.

Francis Seow also referred to Kwa Geok Choo as a dragon lady (short version below; click here for the full-length interview):

Transcript:

The whole structure of government, from the time [Lee Kuan Yew] took office, to the present day, has been designed in such a way that his son will succeed him. And the son has succeeded him, you know?

Now in order to preserve that legacy that he has passed on now to his son, all the troublemakers have to be run out of town, to use an American expression. Behind all this grand scheme of things is. . .the word I’m looking for is. . .The Dragon Lady.

Lee Kuan Yew’s wife. She’s the one with the overweening ambition for her son to take over. She is the one who has been advising Lee Kuan Yew what to do, how to do it, etc.

Many people don’t know this.

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Dowager Empress Cixi.

But I’m telling you today, the power behind the throne is the dowager. The dragon lady, if you like. And she is very smart! That is why all these guys have to get out of the way, and they had to be ruined. Or like me, driven out of the country. If I were to go back, I would go straight from the aeroplane to jail.

— Interview with Francis Seow (former solicitor-general of Singapore)

3. KWA GEOK CHOO’S GOLD COIN NECKLACE

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Kwa Geok Choo’s gold coin necklace.

1) A nyonya and her jewellery are never apart. . . the display of opulence was not just a statement of wealth but also spoke volumes of their shrewdness and austerity.

Source: A Nyonya and Her Jewellery

2) For the 25th anniversary of Lee & Lee law firm in 1980, the firm’s partners had two gold coins specially made for the two senior partners, Mrs Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Dennis Lee.

Unbeknownst to them, Mrs Lee had a chain made for the coin, and would wear it as a necklace on special occasions and at formal functions.

Long after she left the firm, partners would glimpse the gold coin around her neck when her image appeared on TV or in newspaper pictures.

She was appearing at those formal functions as the wife of Singapore’s founding father. But the gold coin around her neck was a reminder that she was also a trailblazing legal luminary in her own right.

Source: Straits Times

4. IMAGES of KWA GEOK CHOO’s GOLD COIN NECKLACE

5. PERANAKAN CULTURE: General Info

1) The Baba Culture is one that is unique to the early settlers along the Straits of Malacca. Since the 17th Century, Chinese traders arrived and lived along these coastal lands bringing with them their wealth of wares, customs, traditions and religions from the south of China.

The off-springs of these ‘locally born Straits Chinese’ were called Peranakan Baba (or Nyonya for womenfolk).

With the arrival of the Europeans in the 18th Century to this part of the world, the Babas were quick to adapt to the changing environment. They became the compradors or ‘go-betweens’ for the Europeans and the locals. Many Baba men held office and important positions in the Portuguese, Dutch & British governments and they rose in status & stature to become successful businessmen who even took on leadership roles in society.

Source: The Main Wayang Company

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President Yusof Ishak with Mrs. LKY’s Parents, Kwa Siew Tee (left) and Wee Yew Neo (right), 1968. | Image from NAS

  • Note: Kwa Geok Choo’s father, Kwa Siew Tee, had several leadership roles (he was one of the founders of the OCBC Bank which he served as General Manager from 1935 to 1945, the Municipal Commissioner of the Colony of Singapore in 1947 and Public Service Commissioner in 1953). (Source: PDF download)

2) Peranakans were bilingual, speaking English as well as their dialect of Baba Malay, and embraced influences from various religions including Buddhism, Taoism, ancestral worship and Christianity.

Source: Five facts about Asia’s unique Peranakans

6. PERANAKAN CULTURE: “A Hidden Matriarchy”

“Matriarch”: A woman who controls a family, group, or government. (Dictionary.com)

1) “While the males are out working to support the family, it is the females that preside the household. A hidden matriarchy, the Nyonya wives rule the household with an iron fist, managing and directing the day to day activities of the household and also controlling the funds in the family.”

Source: Women in the Peranakan Family

2) As someone who married into a Chinese/Peranakan family, [KMN’s] family does hold fast to one Perankan tradition: a powerful matriarchy. The women plan the gatherings, steer the families, and in my observations, usually have the first (and last) say on many matters of importance.

Source: I Married Into a Matriarchy

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Source: ST

3) Chris reminded me that Peranakan families are ‘outwardly patriarchal and internally matriarchal’. Of course! Look at the Little Nyonya, scheming matrons obviously reigned over the households, pretending to be subservient to weak-minded husbands on the surface. Chris, who is Baba by the way and should be awarded some authority on the subject by way of relation, attests to the *fact* that the average Baba man is weaker than the Nyonya woman.

Source: Baba Bling: The Peranakan Museum

4) The portraits of matriarchs displayed above Peranakan Chinese altars in Malacca indicate the powerful position of the matriarch in ruling over the family. These Nyonyas came across as assertive, even bossy as they rose to the position as matriarchs in charge of running an extended family under one household. A mature Baba with great status and influence in the society would have to submit to an uncompromising mother at home.

Source: China Media Research: Analyzing the Little Nyonya

7. PERANAKAN CULTURE: Phoenix Symbol

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What appears to be a “Phoenix” motif on Mrs. LKY’s cheongsam. The bird has a crest of feathers on its head.

1) [Kelvin Pow] explains that the Peranakan culture is matriarchal, hence the phoenix rather than the dragon is the preferred embellishment in its decorative arts.

“I think it is very important that we retain our heritage. I think it is also important for people, especially younger Singaporeans to understand their culture and where they came from.”

Source: ST Jobs — House of Antiques

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Nyonya porcelain featuring a phoenix motif, at the Peranakan Museum.

2) A typical motif used in nyonya porcelain ware is the Phoenix, a symbol of the matriarchal infrastructure of a Peranakan household.

Source: On the Trail of the Phoenix

3) The images above show the Peranakan traditional wedding costume donned on the bride. The geometric layering around her neck is the phoenix collar to symbolise the power of the feminine phoenix in Peranakan society.

Source: lonelytravelog (Peranakan Museum + Phoenix Collar)

8. PERANAKAN CULTURE: Females

a) Young Women

In contrast to her sheltered teenage years, the married Nyonya was given relatively more freedom. It was as if she had served her time, and was now qualified to manage a household and take care of herself.

As she gained more confidence in her dealings with her neighbours, friends and counterparts, her role was likened to that of the strong-willed managing director of a corporation. She controlled almost everything that happened at home.

In public, however, it was the husband who was seen to be the number one person.

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Image from BBC / Getty

b) Keeping it within the Family

In the early days, the younger members of the community married among themselves. This desire to remain within the community was so strong that it was common for people to marry their relatives, even their cousins. The only restriction imposed involved unions between paternal cousins.

c) Colourful Metaphors

Be warned that Peranakans have a way with words. Eavesdrop on two Nyonyas having an animated conversation, and you will be in for a linguistic experience that is hard to forget.

Source: Asiapac Books (Gateway to Peranakan Culture)

d) Cooking + Sewing

“Peranakan families are matriarchal, though the nonya’s role is often seen as supportive to the husband – women are often expected to cook and sew well.”

Source: FRV Bali: Peranakan Museum SG

“She was a skilful knitter, and knitted us sweaters to stay warm, one after another.”

Source: Lee Hsien Loong on Mrs Lee Kuan Yew

9. LEE KUAN YEW on KWA GEOK CHOO

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1) “Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life.”
Lee Kuan Yew

2) “. . .a discerning judge of character. She would tell me whether she would trust that man or not. And often she is right.”

Source: Straits Times

3) “My great advantage was I have a wife who could be a sole breadwinner and bring the children up. That was my insurance policy.”

Source: LKY: The Man and His Ideas, Page 235

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Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo. Image: ST

4) “. . .[she’s my] tower of strength.”

Source: Philly.com

5) “Over the years I’ve been a kept man. My wife keeps the family.”

Source: Lee Kuan Yew in Parliament, 1985

6) Lee Kuan Yew discussed the possibility of euthanasia with his doctors and family in his final years as he struggled with illness and mourned the death of his wife.

Associate professor Michael Barr, who has studied and published on Singapore, said Lee had been left lost and distraught following the death of his wife, Kwa Geok Choo, in 2010, to whom he had been married for 60 years.

Source: South China Morning Post

10. KWA GEOK CHOO’S INTELLECT and CAPABILITIES

1) The late Madam Kwa, wife of Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, was undoubtedly an excellent Peranakan woman, steel clothed in velvet, as Peranakan women were known to be!

Source: Passage Magazine by FOM.sg (PDF download)

2) Mrs Lee Kuan Yew was the firm’s ‘intellectual mind‘, while Mr Dennis Lee took care of the business side of things.

Mrs Lee’s personality, according to one prominent lawyer who declined to be named, is best summed up in the way she always dressed impeccably in a cheongsam to work, but would change into rubber flip-flops once there.

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White cheongsam worn by Kwa Geok Choo. Image: Peranakan Museum.

‘When we heard her walk around in the flip-flops, I would joke that that is power,’ he said. ‘Power in rubber flip-flops.’

Source: Straits Times

3) In 1940, Geok Choo entered Raffles College where, to Kuan Yew’s consternation, she beat him in the English and Economics examinations.

They married while in Cambridge, and graduated together with first class honours degrees in 1949. Geok Choo did it in two years; he in three. She was the first woman in Malaya to get a first class honours law degree.

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Lee Kuan Yew and his wife, Kwa Geok Choo in 1968. Photo: Benson Lo

Though she opted to stay in the political background and play the role of supportive wife, she was a founding member of the People’s Action Party (PAP). She was highly skilled in legal draftmanship, helping to draft the PAP Constitution, and later the crucial provisions that guaranteed Singapore’s continued water supply when Singapore separated from Malaysia.

Source: Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame

4) Standing proudly atop its box on the third floor of the Peranakan Museum, the barrister’s wig that belonged to the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo (21 December 1920 – 2 October 2010) is very much a tribute not only to its erstwhile owner, but also to the era’s fledgling coterie of able Peranakan women.

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Kwa Geok Choo’s barrister’s wig.

Source: Passage Magazine by FOM.sg (PDF download)

5) Known for her attention to detail, Kwa Geok Choo once interrupted the taping of an interview to touch up [Lee Kuan Yew’s] hair and makeup.

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Source: Straits Times

11. KWA GEOK CHOO: STATE FUNERAL

From the Press Statement from the PM’s office on the passing of Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew:

The family requests that no obituaries and no wreaths or flowers to be sent. All donations will go to the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) Health Research Endowment Fund.

Kwa Geok Choo was given a heroine’s funeral:

The glass-encased brown coffin of Kwa Geok Choo, who died aged 89 on Saturday after a long illness, was transported to a suburban crematorium on a ceremonial gun carriage normally reserved for state and military funerals.

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Casket of Mrs. LKY

The government said the usage of a ceremonial gun carriage “is in recognition of her exceptional and unique contributions to Singapore for more than five decades, beginning before Singapore became independent.”

12. KWA GEOK CHOO: POLITICAL LEGACY

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Mr. and Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew. Image: CNA

Her political legacy runs deep.

In 1959, she delivered her first and only party political broadcast during the general election that year, urging women to vote for the PAP. She was the only English-speaking woman in the party who had the requisite firmness and conviction for the broadcast.

‘I have been proof-reading and sometimes correcting [Lee Kuan Yew’s] speeches from his earliest 1950 speech to the Malayan Forum in London,’ she told The Straits Times in 1998.

The early history of the People’s Action Party (PAP) also bears the stamp of her involvement.

‘Who else would have drafted that Constitution for them?’ she said. ‘My husband doesn’t draft things. He was an advocate; he was a court lawyer.’

Drafting the rules of a society, by contrast, was her speciality.

Source: Straits Times

MORE INFO:

This blog post has a family tree of Kwa Geok Choo’s relatives holding government positions in Singapore.

Mrs. Goh Chok Tong and Mrs. LKY

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* Chart and verification below. If readers know of any inaccuracies, please contact me to verify the data. Thank you :)

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Short Version: Mrs. Goh Chok Tong and Mrs. LKY were in the same law firm.

Longer Version:

1) Mrs. Goh Chok Tong (nee Tan Choo Leng) is well-known for commenting that the annual salary of S$600,000 drawn by National Kidney Foundation’s CEO was considered “peanuts.”

This is Tan Choo Leng’s profile page as a Senior Consultant in WongPartnership. Note the line:

“During her practice as a senior partner with another top law firm in Singapore. . .”

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Tan Choo Leng, Senior Consultant | WongPartnership

Mysteriously, the above bio leaves out the fact that Lee & Lee law firm is the other “top law firm in Singapore” where Mrs. Goh Chok Tong was a senior partner.

2) In 1985, Goh Chok Tong commented that he was not worried of being viewed as a “seat-warmer” for the next Prime Minister.

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Source: SG Monitor (8 May 1985)

3) Lee Hsien Loong was sworn in as Singapore’s third Prime Minister on 12 August 2004.

4) Ho Ching became the CEO of Singapore Technologies Engineering in 1997.

5) Winston Tan Tien Hin was a non-executive director of ST Engineering from 1997 – 2011.

6) Former Old Guard Chua Sian Chin’s wife was Alice Tan Kim Lian. He became a partner in Lee & Lee law firm in 1965. Mr. Chua had helmed the Health, Home Affairs and Education ministries.

7) These screenshots show that Winston Tan is the brother-in-law of Chua Sian Chin.

Chua Sian Chin is listed here as the son-in-law (who is married to Alice). Winston Tan Tien Hin and Alice Tan Kim Lian are siblings.

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Source: ST.

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Winston Tan from “Singapore Technologies Engineering”; same mother’s name as above image. Source: ST.

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Wife = Alice Tan Kim Lian.

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SIDE NOTE:

A reader pointed out that “Tan Choo Leng was advising landlords as a senior partner (is that somehow related to why rental is so high in Singapore?).”

One wonders how much money a senior partner in Lee & Lee law firm makes, so much so that $600,000 is equivalent to peanuts.

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Teo Chee Hean – Related to Lee Hsien Loong?

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* Thanks to Veritas for making the original identification.

I have included a family tree chart and verification below.

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Short Version: Teo Chee Hean is related to Lee Hsien Loong.

Long Version:

1) Kwa Geok Choo is the mother of Lee Hsien Loong.

2) Kwa Soon Chuan is the brother of Kwa Geok Choo.

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Image from NLB.

3) Kwa Soon Chuan is the husband of Ivy Lim Seok Cheng.

4) Ivy Lim Seok Cheng is the daughter of Lim Chong Pang, a prominent businessman.

5) Lim Chong Pang is the son of Lim Nee Soon, one of the pioneers of rubber planting.

6) Lim Nee Soon is the son of Lim Peng Guan, who married Teo Lee’s eldest daughter (Teo Choon Lian). He died in 1887 and left his son Nee Soon in the care of his maternal grandfather, Teo Lee (1833).

7) Teo Lee was the husband of Tan Poh Neo, the granddaughter of the Kapitan Cina from Muntok. Teo Lee is the great-great-grandfather of Teo Chee Hean.

  • Teo Bah Tan = 5th son of Teo Lee.
  • Teo Eng Hock = Uncle of Teo Beng Wan (great-granduncle of Teo Chee Hean).
  • Teo Eng Hock = Brother of Teo Choon Lian and Teo Bah Tan (Father of Teo Beng Wan). 
  • Teo Beng Wan = Father of Teo Cheng Guan
  • Teo Cheng Guan = Father of Teo Chee Hean

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Some closing words by Veritas:

It has been wildly speculated [that] family members of top civil servants and elected officers from PAP either own big businesses or hold important appointments. Although information regarding families of our politicians are held almost like a top secret, some interesting dots between them can still be connected thanks to the Internet.