Kwa Geok Choo
Wife, mother of Singapore prime ministers
Kwa Geok Choo, 89, wife of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and the mother of the island nation's current prime minister, died Saturday at home, said a statement from the office of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. She underwent surgery in 2008 after a stroke and suffered a massive hemorrhage a month later.
Born in 1921, Kwa met Lee in the late 1930s when they studied at Raffles Institution, where she was the only girl in high school. At Raffles College several years later, they competed for the Queen's Scholarship, which allowed recipients to study at either Cambridge or Oxford University.
Kwa was the top student in English and economics, besting Lee to his "horror," he said in the first volume of his memoirs, which were dedicated to her. World War II interrupted their college studies, and Lee left Singapore in 1946 to study at Cambridge after the Japanese left Singapore. Kwa joined him a year later after winning the Queen's Scholarship, and they both graduated with law degrees.
She married Lee in December 1947, and they had two sons and a daughter. She was regularly seen accompanying Lee at state events and on overseas visits. Lee, 87, was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Wednesday for treatment of a chest infection, said press secretary Young Yoon Ying.
The couple's elder son, Lee Hsien Loong, was sworn in as Singapore's third prime minister six years ago, replacing Goh Chok Tong, who had taken over as prime minister in 1990. Lee has the role of minister mentor.
-- Times staff and wire reports