Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lee Kuan Yew

Today is Singapore national day, this is the day that all Singaporeans must celebrate. We need to learn the history. The first person that we all need to know is Singapore modern father Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. According to his autobiography on wiki, Lee is a fourth-generation Singaporean. His Hakka great-grandfather, Lee Bok Boon, who was born in 1846, emigrated from Dapu County,  Guangdong province, China, to Singapore in 1863. Lee Bok Boon came to Singapore in 1863. He married a shopkeeper's daughter Seow Huan Nio in Singapore but returned to China in 1882, leaving behind his wife and three children in Singapore. Upon his return, Lee Bok Boon built a little manor in southern China in his home village, and bought himself a mandarinate, but he died two years after his return, in 1884.
Lee Kuan Yew's grandfather is Lee Hoon Leong. He was born in Singapore in 1871, and was a British subject.  He was educated in English at Raffles Institution  to standard V, which is equivalent to lower secondary school in Singapore today. Lee Hoon Leong worked as a dispenser -- an unqualified pharmacist -- when he left school, and later worked as a purser on board a steamer which belonged to the Heap Eng Moh Shipping Line, which was then owned by Chinese businessman  Oei Tiong Ham. 
While Lee Hoon Leong was working as a purser, at age 26, he married Ko Liem Nio, aged 16, in Semarang,  a city in central Java, Indonesia. As was common at that time, theirs was an arranged marriage. Both families were middle-class and successful, and both bride and groom were English-educated. Lee Hoon Leong's maternal grandfather owned the Katong market, a few rubber estates and houses at Orchard Road. Lee Hoon Leong later became a managing director in the Heap Eng Moh Steamship Company Ltd. 
Lee Hoon Leong would go on to have two wives (common for Singaporeans at that time), five daughters and three sons. One of his sons, Lee Chin Koon, also English-educated and a British subject, would go on to marry Chua Jim Neo, who gave birth to Lee Kuan Yew, in 1923, at 92 Kampong Java Road in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew has three brothers -- Dennis Lee, Freddy Lee and Lee Suan Yew. He also has one sister -- Monica Lee. 
Lee Kuan Yew's grandfathers' wealth declined considerably during the Grear depression  and his father, Lee Chin Koon became poor and became a storekeeper. 
Lee's brother Dennis read law at the University of Cambridge, just like he did, and set up a law firm -- Lee & Lee -- with Lee and his wife Kwa Geok Choo, Edmund W.Baker, a good friend of Lee's, also joined the law firm. Lee, together with Barker, later left the law firm to enter politics. Another of Lee's brothers, Freddy, became a stockbroker, while his third brother Suan Yew read medicine at theUniversity of Cambridge and set up a successful practice.
Lee and his wifeKwa Geok Choo  were married on 30 September 1950. Both speak English as their native tongue. Lee started learning Chinese in 1955 at age 32, before that he was illiterate in Chinese.  Lee also learned Japanese as an adult and he worked as a Japanese translator during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.
Kwa Geok Choo died on 2 October 2010 in her sleep. Lee and Kwa have two sons and one daughter.
Lee's eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong,   a former Brigadier-General, became Prime Minister of Singapore in 2004. Lee Hsien Loong was educated at the University of Cambridge as well, where he studied mathematics and computer science. He graduated as a Wrangler, where he scored 12 more alphas ([an alpha is one problem solved) than his nearest competitor, which has never been seen in the history of the Tripos at Cambridge. He later went on to Harvard University to gain a Master in Public Administration. 
Several members of Lee's family hold prominent positions in Singaporean society. His youngest son,  Lee Hsien Yang was also a former Brigadier-General and former President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  SingTel.  Lee Hsien Yang was also educated in the University of Cambridge, where he read engineering and graduated with first class honours. He is currently the Non-Executive Director and Chairman of Fraser and Neave Ltd and Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). 
Lee's daughter, Lee Wei Ling, runs the National Neuroscience Institute. Lee Hsien Loong's wife,Ho Ching,  is the Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings. 

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