Singapore matriarch Kwa Geok Choo dies

Oct. 2, 2010 at 4:02 PM

SINGAPORE, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced Saturday night his mother, Madame Kwa Geok Choo, died earlier in the day at the age of 89.

A wake for Kwa, who was the wife of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, will be held at the prime minister's official residence beginning Monday, the prime minister's office told TODAYOnline.

Asia One said Kwa lived through Singapore's evolution from British colony into an independent world business capital.

Kwa was born in December 1920. Her father was a banker and she had seven siblings.

She was the only female student at the prestigious Raffles Institute where she met her future husband in 1944, a time when Singapore was under Japanese occupation. She went on to study law at Cambridge and helped found her husband's law firm.

Kwa was at her husband's side during his years as prime minister but told reporters in 1976, "I walk two steps behind my husband like a good Asian wife."

Kwa, who also is survived by two other children, suffered a mild stroke in 2003 and then two more strokes in 2008.

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