Mr Lee Kuan Yew's mother among 11 women inducted to Singapore Women's Hall of Fame

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's mother among 11 women inducted to Singapore Women's Hall of Fame

SINGAPORE - 11 outstanding Singaporean women past and present will be inducted to the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame (SWHF) Friday evening (March 27) at a gala dinner to mark International Women's Day which fell on March 8.

One of the posthumous honourees include Mdm Chua Jim Neo, mother of Singapore's founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Mdm Chua, better known as Mrs Lee Chin Koon, wrote her definitive Mrs Lee's Cookbook in 1974 when she was 67 years old.

Mdm Chua decided to produce a cookbook so that future generations would know about the intricacies of Peranakan cuisine.

She was just 15 when she wed Mr Lee Chin Koon in an arranged marriage. In his memoirs, her eldest son, the late Mr Lee wrote: "She had been married off too early. Had she been born one generation later and continued her education beyond secondary school, she could easily have become an effective business executive."

Other honourees this year include Mrs Constance Singham, who became involved in activism after she was widowed in 1978 at the age of 42. She joined the women's rights group AWARE when it was launched in 1986. In 2014, she was the prime mover behind the Singapore Advocacy Awards, which aims to recognise outstanding civil society organisations and individuals.

Fellow honouree, Lieutenant-Colonel Koh Chai Hong, made Singapore military history in 1999 when, together with another woman Major, she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1997, she was the first woman to be admitted to the Singapore Armed Forces' Command and Staff Course, the highest level of formal military training.

The SWHF, which is organised by the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations, was launched on March 14, 2014 with 108 inaugural honourees. Its aim is to recognise and celebrate the contributions of women to Singapore's development.

At the gala dinner, the 11 women or their representatives will be presented with The Flame, a trophy symbolising the vitality of the women in the SWHF and the torch of inspiration that is passed from one generation to another.

The Guest of Honour at the dinner will be Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament, who was inducted to the SWHF in 2014.

As a mark of respect for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, there will be a minute's silence at the start of the dinner, and a condolence book will be available for guests to sign. The planned entertainment for the night has also been cancelled. Instead, two dinner guests, a violinist and a guitarist, will play a few pieces of music.

stephluo@sph.com.sg

Full list of honourees:

1. Agnes Joaquim (1854-1899), the first woman in the world to breed a hybrid orchid

2. Tan Chew Neo (1898-1986), pioneering community worker

3. Ellice Handy (1902-1989), culinary pioneer and educator

4. Chua Jim Neo (1907-1980), author of the definitive Mrs Lee's Cookbook

5. Yuen Peng McNeice (1917-2012), philanthropist and pioneering conservationist

6. Nalla Tan (1923-2012), pioneering advocate for sex and public health education

7. Janet Yee, 81, pioneering social worker and advocate of children's rights

8. Constance Singam, 79, champion of civil society

9. Kartina Dahari (1941- 2014), award-winning singer known as the Queen of Keroncong

10. Bridget Tan, 67, champion of the rights of migrant workers

11. Koh Chai Hong, 56, trailblazer in the Singapore Armed Forces

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