光耀 李 GCMG CH

光耀 李 GCMG CH (1923 - 2015)

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光耀 "Kuan Yew, Guangyao, குவான் யூ, Kuvāṉ Yū, Kuvan Yu, Harry" GCMG CH aka Lee, Li, லீ, Lī
Born in 新加坡map
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 30 Sep 1950 in Singaporemap
[children unknown]
Died in 新加坡map
Profile last modified 14 May 2019 | Created 25 Mar 2015
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This video explains most of his achievements for Singapore and his heritage: Tribute to LKY

Name and Birth

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Lee (李).[1]
Lee Kuan Yew, GCMG, CH, SPMJ[1]

Lee Kuan Yew, GCMG, CH was born Harry Lee Kuan Yew on 16 September 1923. [1]


Lee's English-educated parents named him "Kuan Yew", which stands for "light and brightness", with an alternate meaning "bringing great glory to one’s ancestors". His paternal grandfather gave him the English name "Harry".[9][1]

Lee was a fourth-generation Singaporean of Hakka and Chinese Peranakan descent.[10] His Hakka great-grandfather, Lee Bok Boon, born in 1846, emigrated from Dabu County, Guangdong province, China, to Singapore in 1863.[11] [1]

He married a shopkeeper's daughter, Seow Huan Nio, but returned to China in 1882, leaving behind his wife and three children. He died just two years after his return.[12][13] [1]

Lee Kuan Yew's grandfather Lee Hoon Leong, was born in Singapore in 1871. He was educated in English at Raffles Institution to standard V, which is equivalent to lower secondary school in Singapore today. Lee Hoon Leong then worked as a dispenser, an unqualified pharmacist, and later as a purser on a steamship of the Heap Eng Moh Shipping Line, then owned by an ethnic Chinese businessman, Oei Tiong Ham.[11][1]

While working as a purser, Lee Hoon Leong, age 26, married Ko Liem Nio, age 16, in Semarang, Java, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).[12] It was an arranged marriage, as was then the custom. Both families were middle-class, and the bride and groom were both English-educated. Lee Hoon Leong's maternal grandfather owned the Katong market, a few rubber estates and houses at Orchard Road.[13] Lee Hoon Leong eventually became managing director of the Heap Eng Moh Steamship Company Ltd.[11][1]

Lee Hoon Leong had two wives, which was common at that time, and fathered five daughters and three sons. His son Lee Chin Koon, also English educated, would marry Chua Jim Neo, a Peranakan,[14] who gave birth to Lee Kuan Yew, their first child, in 1923, at 92 Kampong Java Road in Singapore. [1]

Lee Kuan Yew had three younger brothers: Dennis Lee Kim Yew (1926 – 2003; lawyer and member of Lee & Lee), Freddy Lee Thiam Yew (1927 – 2012; former Chairman of stockbroker J Ballas and Company[15]) and Dr Lee Suan Yew (born 1933; President of Singapore Medical Council); and one younger sister, Monica Lee Kim Mon (born 1929).[11] Like Lee Kuan Yew, his brother Dennis read law at the University of Cambridge, and they set up a law firm, Lee & Lee. Edmund W. Barker, Lee's close friend, also joined the law firm. Lee and Barker later left the law firm to enter politics. Lee's brother Freddy became a stockbroker; another brother, Suan Yew, read medicine at the University of Cambridge and opened a successful practice.[11][1]

Lee Kuan Yew's grandfathers' wealth declined considerably during the Great Depression, and his father, Lee Chin Koon, became a shopkeeper.[13] His aunt, Lee Choo Neo, was the first female doctor to practice in Singapore.[16] Lee Kuan Yew once described his father as a man who affected his family negatively due to his nasty temper, and Lee Kuan Yew learned from a young age to keep his temper in check.[17][1]

1930 Marriage to Kwa Geok Choo

Lee and his wife, Kwa Geok Choo, were married on 30 September 1950. Both Lee and Choo spoke English as their first language. Lee started learning Chinese in 1955 at age 32, before which he was illiterate in Chinese.[18][19] [1]

She was born in 1920 and died on 2 October 2010 in her sleep.[1]

1942 Japanese Occupation

Lee experienced the toughest years of the Japanese occupation from 1942–1945. During the war, Lee learnt Japanese and first worked as a clerk in his grandfather's friend's company—a textile importer called Shimoda. Lee then found work transcribing Allied wire for the Japanese, where he listened to Allied radio stations and wrote down what they were reporting in the Hodobu office (報道部 – a Japanese propaganda department).[25] Towards the end of the war, by listening to Allied radio stations, he realised the Japanese were losing the war, and fearing that a brutal war would break out in Singapore as the Japanese made their last stand, he made plans to purchase and move to a farm on the Cameron Highlands with his family. However, a liftboy in his office told him his file had been taken out by the security department, and he realised he was being followed by Japanese security personnel (which continued for three months), so he abandoned those plans as he knew if he went ahead, he would be in trouble. Lee also ran his own businesses during the war to survive, among which, he manufactured stationery glue under his own brand called "Stikfas".[13][26][27][1]

On one occasion during the occupation, Lee was asked by a Japanese guard to join a group of segregated Chinese men. Sensing that something was amiss, he asked for permission to go back home to collect his clothes first, and the Japanese guard agreed. It turned out that those who were segregated were taken to the beach to be shot as part of the Sook Ching massacre.[11][28] The occupation had a profound impact on the young Lee, who recalled being slapped and forced to kneel for failing to bow to a Japanese soldier. He and other young Singaporeans "emerged determined that no one—neither Japanese nor British—had the right to push and kick us around ... (and) that we could govern ourselves." The occupation also drove home lessons about raw power and the effectiveness of harsh punishment in deterring crime.[29][1]

Public Life

He was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades. [1]

He is recognised as the founding father of modern Singapore, and the only leader known to bring an entire country from third world to first world status in a single generation.[1]

He was In office 3 June 1959 – 28 November 1990 [1]

Lee campaigned for Britain to relinquish its colonial rule, and eventually attained through a national referendum to merge with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963. But racial strife and ideological differences led to its separation to become a sovereign city-state two years later. With overwhelming parliamentary control at every election, Lee oversaw Singapore's transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources to an Asian Tiger economy. In the process, he forged a system of meritocratic, highly effective and incorrupt government and civil service. Many of his policies are now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Lee eschewed populist policies in favor of pragmatic long-term social and economic measures. With meritocracy and multiracialism as governing principles, Lee made English the common language to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the West, whilst mandating bilingualism in schools to preserve students' mother tongue and ethnic identity. Lee's rule was criticised, for curtailing civil liberties (public protests, media control) and bringing libel suits against political opponents. He argued that such disciplinary measures were necessary for political stability, which together with rule of law, were essential for economic progress.[6][7][1]


He died 23 March 2015 (aged 91) at Singapore General Hospital, Singapore[1]

On 23 March 2015, Lee Kuan Yew died of severe pneumonia, at 91. In a week of national mourning, 1.7 million residents and guests paid tribute to him at his lying-in-state at Parliament House and at community tribute sites around the island.[8][1]


Lee and Kwa had two sons and one daughter.[21]

  1. Lee Hsien Loong (b. 1952)[1]Lee's elder son, Lee Hsien Loong, a former Brigadier-General, became Prime Minister of Singapore in 2004. Lee Hsien Loong's wife, Ho Ching, is the Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings.[22][23] ref name="wiki"/>
  2. Lee Wei Ling (b. 1955)[1]His younger son, Lee Hsien Yang, was also a former Brigadier-General and former President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SingTel. He is currently the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).[22ref name="wiki"/>
  3. Lee Hsien Yang (b. 1957)[1]Lee's daughter, Lee Wei Ling, is the head of the National Neuroscience Institute.ref name="wiki"/>


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 Lee Kuan Yew, Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Kuan_Yew. Accessed July 9, 2016

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