Lee Kuan yewVerified by our team
Lee Kuan Yew was the first prime minister of Singapore, who served for thirty years. He is also widely known as the nation's founding father, with the country evolving from then third world country to first world country under his leadership in a generation.
The great former leader of Singapore is no longer in this world. He died on March 23, 2015, at Singapore General Hospital. Let's have a glance over Lee Kuan Yew's life.
Early Life and Family Background
Lee was born on 5th June 1959, in Singapore. Yew was a fourth-generation Singaporean of ethnic Chinese ancestry of Peranakan and Hakka descent.
His great-grandfather (Hakka) Lee Bok Boon moved from Dabu County, China, and settled in Singapore in 1863 and married Seow Huan Nio. However, he returned to China in 1882, leaving Seow and his three kids.
Kuan's grandfather Lee Hoon Leong was born in 1871 in Singapore. Hoon attended Raffles Instuitions and graduated in English. Soon after graduation Lee Hoon began working as a dispenser and later served as purser.
During the time, Hoon tied the knot with Ko Liem Nio, in Semarang Java, Dutch, East Indies. Leong had two wives, which was considered typical at the time. Altogether, he had three sons and five daughters.
One of his sons was Lee-Chin Koo, who later tied the knot with Chua Jim Neo. Their first child was Lee Kuan Yew. He also had three brothers named Freddy Lee Thiam Yew, Dr. Lee Suan Yew, Dennis Lee Kim Yew, and a sister Monica Lee Kim.
Talking about his studies, Yew first joined Telok Kurau English High School. During the time, Lee had friends whom he mentioned were weak and not good at studies. Later, he enrolled in Raffles Institutions in 1935.
Meanwhile, he also played tennis, chess, cricket, joined the scouts, and participated in the school debate competition. After graduating from the institution, Lee attended Raffles College (currently known as Raffles Institution Junior College).
After completing his college, Kuan could not join the university due to World War II. Later, Yew moved to England, where he studied at the London School of Economics for a short time. Soon, Lee joined Fitzwilliam College to study law.
Yuan received his graduation with First Class in both parts of the Tripos Part II Law in 1949. Additionally, Lee's name was listed above two top students who later served as the professor of Law in Cambridge.
Yuan had plans to return to Singapore to serve as a lawyer. After returning, he first worked at John Laycock's law firm.
Additionally, he also worked as a legal advisor to the students and trade unions.
The passionate lawyer stepped into politics when he became an election agent for Laycock. After being dedicated for many years in politics, Lee became the first P.M. of Singapore on 5th June 1959.
Since then, Lee made many significant improvements for his country like;
Back then, Singapore's political corruption rate was very high. To remove the corruption, Lee introduced his new legislation allowing CPIB (Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau) more power to raid, arrest, call up witnesses, and search.
Furthermore, he also gave them the power to investigate income tax returns and bank accounts of suspicious individuals.
Lee made many improvements on his country's economic development as a Prime Minister. In his 31 years of a political career, Lee was able to transform Gross National Product's per capita income from $1,240 to $18,437, and the country's per capita income is around $40,000 today.
Moreover, the external trade increased up to $205 billion in comparison to $7.3 billion in 1959.
On 6th November 2011, Yew's daughter said that her father was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. The news was delivered via Sunday Times.
Lee announced his retirement after the 2011 general election, and Lee Hsien Loong and his will have a clean slate.
Lee Kuan Yew's Marital Life
The former Prime Minister of Singapore was a married man. On 30th September 1950, Lee exchanged his wedding vows with Kwa Geok Choo.
Yuan and his wife used to communicate with each other in English until he began learning Chinese.
The pair first met in Raffles Institution. Lee's partner was the only one to score more marks than him in Economics and English.
Lee Kuan Yew's Children
The former Prime Minister of Singapore had three children from his nuptials. Two of them are sons Lee Hsien Loong (born on 22nd December 1984), Lee Hsien Yang (born in 1957), and a daughter named Lee Weing Ling (born in 1955).
Yew's elder son Lee Hsien Loong previously served as a Brigadier - General. In 2004, he became the Prime Minister of Singapore.
Lee's younger son Lee Hsien Yang also was a Brigadier-General Officer. Moreover, Yang also worked as the Chief executive officer and President of SingTel.
Additionally, Lee's daughter Lee Wei Ling is known as the head of the National Neuroscience Institute.
Death of the Ex-Prime Minister
As Lee was getting old and diagnosed with various illnesses. He was admitted to Singapore General Hospital for the treatment of cardiac dysrhythmia, which blocked the blood flow to his brain.
Due to this, Lee could not attend the yearly Chinese New Year dinner for the first time. A year later, a picture of Yew was released, which showed he was released from the hospital.
However, on 5th February 2015, Yew was again admitted to the hospital. This time he was kept inside a ventilator at ICU. A few months later, the former Prime Minister was reported to be critically sick after he had some infection.
Following the news, a death hoax website also announced the death of Lee Yew on 18th March 2015. However, it turned out to be fake.
Unfortunately, Loong (Lee's elder son), announced Yew's death on 23rd March 2015. The first Prime Minister of Singapore passed away at the age of 91.
The First Prime Minister of Singapore made a staggering fortune in his 30 years of career. He was the one who increased the capita income of the country from $400 per year to $40,000.
According to some sources, Yew's net worth was around $60 million at the time of his death, which is more than an American politician, Bernie Sanders, with a total wealth of $2.5 million.
Lee began his journey as a lawyer when he worked for John Laycock's law firm for $500. In 1973, when Lee was the Prime Minister, he made $9,500 as monthly income.
His yearly wage was $360,000 per year. In 2012, all the ministers took their first pay cut, where Yew's received $2.2 million yearly.
Lee Yew's House
Lee Yew's 18 Oxley Roadhouse is getting controversial after Lee Hsien Loong faced allegations raised by his brother and sister.
The conflict is about the demolition of the house which LHL is against. At present, his brother Lee Hsien Yang has the full authority of the house as he paid the total market value of the mansion, including an additional 50% of the value as a charity.
Moreover, Dr. LWL said,
''My father made it well known in his life that he would like 38 Oxley Road demolished when I no longer need it. Papa doesn’t mince words, yet a special committee of the Cabinet was formed to divine what Papa wants!!''
But, the elder son Lee Hsien Loong does not wish to agree.
The house is made on 12,060 square feet area and is worth $30 million as of 2019.
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