Why the Lee Kuan Yew Kwa Geok Choo love story is Singapore's greatest romance!

Why the Lee Kuan Yew Kwa Geok Choo love story is Singapore's greatest romance!

Here's taking a look at one of the greatest love stories Singapore has ever witnessed - the Lee Kuan Yew Kwa Geok Choo love story.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Today, we take a look at one of the greatest love stories Singapore has ever witnessed – the Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo love story.

A 63-year-old tale of love.

“Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life, ” Mr. Lee once said.

How they met

It was hardly love at first sight when Mr. Lee and Mdm Kwa first met at Raffles College. In fact, they were more like rivals.

Mdm Kwa frequently topped her Economic Science and English, with Mr. Lee coming in a close second. 

The fiercely competitive students however, soon became lovers. 

Mr. Lee once revealed, “As a young man with an interrupted education at Raffles College, and no steady job or profession, her parents did not look upon me as a desirable son-in-law. But she had faith in me.”

The couple got married secretly in December, 1947, at Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace. They later married officially a second time in September 1950, “to please our parents and friends.”

Soulmates and best friends

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew held his wife in high regard. To him, she was more than a wife- she was his confidante and advisor.

Lee Kuan Yew Kwa Geok Choo


Mdm Kwa was not just the chief caregiver of their three children, Mr. Lee also trusted her to edit his draft statements. She even helped him draft the Constitution of the PAP.

In his final farewell, Mr. Lee reminisced, “She had an uncanny ability to read the character of a person. She would sometimes warn me to be careful of certain persons; often, she turned out to be right.”

Mr. Lee and Mdm Kwa were not just lovers, but also soulmates and best friends…until the very end.

Why the Lee Kuan Yew Kwa Geok Choo love story is Singapore's greatest romance!


Former president S R Nathan once told The New Paper, “They seemed to have a lot to talk about, even after so many years of marriage, after so many children.”

“It was an unusual relationship even for an observer like me. I often wondered why they had so much to talk about.”

When stroke struck

The beauty and tenderness in their relationship was visible to all, and more so in Mdm Kwa’s final years.

Mdm Kwa’s health slowly deteriorated in the years following 2003, after suffering from multiple strokes. 

In a touching note, a young events executive once detailed the beautiful scene he had witnessed – of a frail Mr. Lee Kuan Yew insisting on pushing his wife in the wheelchair inside a museum.

He wrote, “Even in his weakness and old age at that point in time, I saw him struggle to push his wife in her wheel chair. They stopped at almost every painting (I followed them behind, keeping my distance and pretending to look at those paintings too).”

“And at every painting, he would bend down and asked her gently for her thoughts. They would share a quiet moment of discussion, and sometimes laughed together. It felt like no one else was around, and they felt very much still in love.

By 2008, Mdm Kwa was bedridden and unable to speak. Yet, every day after returning home from work, Mr. Lee would spend 2 hours with her, talking about his day, and reading her favourite poems.

Former US envoy Henry Kissinger once revealed, “The great tragedy of Lee’s life was that his beloved wife was felled by a stroke that left her a prisoner in her body, unable to communicate or receive communication …”

“He had faith that she understood despite the evidence to the contrary.” 

Coping with Mdm Kwa’s death

Mdm Kwa died in her sleep on October 2, 2010.

Most Singaporeans will remember that heart-breaking scene at her funeral service. Mr Lee walked to her casket and placed a stalk of red rose on her body. Then, he bent towards his beloved, reaching for her face with his right hand.

He brought his hand back, kissed his fingers and placed them on her forehead. Twice.

Lee Kuan Yew Kwa Geok Choo


In his final farewell speech to the love of his life, Mr. Lee said, “I have precious memories of our 63 years together. Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life. She devoted herself to me and our children.”

“At this moment of the final parting, my heart is heavy with sorrow and grief.”

A devastated Mr. Lee struggled to come to terms with Mdm Kwa’s death. He would place her photographs around his bed, listen to her favourite classical music and tear up whenever a memory of hers came up. 

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew died on 23 March, 2015. It was his wish to have his ashes mixed with his wife’s.

In a note addressed to his three children, he wrote, “For reasons of sentiment, I would like part of my ashes to be mixed up with Mama’s, and both her ashes and mine put side by side in the columbarium.”

“We were joined in life and I would like our ashes to be joined after this life.”

A love story for the ages. <3

Also READ: 10 Parenting lessons to learn from Lee Kuan Yew

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