The Mother of Singapore

A nation mourned when Madam Kwa Geok Choo, or Mrs Lee Kuan Yew as she was more commonly known, passed away on Saturday. An exceptional lady, she was the woman behind Minister Mentor Lee, the father of modern Singapore.

Madam Kwa Geok Choo was also outstanding in her own right. Stepping out of MM Lee’s shadow, we find a woman who was his equal in more ways than one.  

She was a brilliant lawyer who, together with MM Lee’s younger brother, managed the law firm Lee & Lee; a voracious reader with an insatiable thirst for knowledge; a caring mother of three; and an exemplary wife to the man who brought Singapore from the third world to the first.

And who would have thought that in 1940, she topped Raffles College in both English and Economics, leaving our distraught MM Lee in the second place?

From behind the scenes, the intelligent lady proofread and corrected his speeches, as well as edited his memoirs. He even credits her for curing the convoluted manner he used to write.

But more than that, Madam Kwa supported MM Lee as he plotted the course of Singapore’s history. As his pillar, his confidante, his soul mate, she was there every step of the way to ensure MM Lee fulfilled his destiny. She was his “insurance policy”, the reason he could focus his energies on politics while she took care of the family. She was also the reason that he got up each and every day ready to tackle the day’s problems.

As MM Lee stayed true to the cause, she was always right next to him. And the rest, as we know, is history.

If a woman’s responsibilities today cover both her career and her family, a forerunner and exemplar would be Madam Kwa who found success in both work and at home.

Rest in peace Madam Kwa Geok Choo. Our entire nation today thanks you for being the remarkable lady you are. Thank you, Madam Kwa Geok Choo. You truly are the mother of Singapore.

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