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In appreciation of the Madam Kwa Geok Choo programmes

13 April 2012

Guest-of-Honour Prime Minister Lee at the appreciation dinner

Prime Minister Lee with the generous donors of the Kwa Geok Choo initiatives

In honour of the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, wife of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister, the NUS Faculty of Law has established a series of initiatives reflecting different aspects of her life and legacy. The initiatives are the Kwa Geok Choo Professorship in Property Law, Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Programme, Kwa Geok Choo Bursaries, and Kwa Geok Choo Graduate Scholarships.

The initiatives have received generous financial support from corporations and law firms which include Ngee Ann Kongsi, Wing Tai Holdings and Drew & Napier. The total amount pledged is approximately S$5.6 million, with the government matching the donation with another S$5.1 million.

As a show of appreciation to donors for their generous support towards the Madam Kwa Geok Choo programmes, some 150 donors, students, faculty members and alumni gathered at a dinner on 12 April at the St Regis. Gracing the event were His Excellency Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of the Republic of Singapore and Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore.

At the event, NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan said: “The Madam Kwa Geok Choo initiatives enable us to celebrate and to remember a remarkable individual who has acquired a crucial role in our history. We have to commemorate such individuals in a meaningful way because they make our history and values come alive.”

Prof Simon Chesterman, Dean of the NUS Faculty of Law, shared that to reach the very top tier of law schools in the world - and to ensure that no deserving students are left behind in doing so - it is important to seek additional support from the wider community.

To-date, six NUS law students have received the Kwa Geok Choo Bursary and two NUS law graduate students have been awarded the Kwa Geok Choo Graduate Scholarship.

Mak Shin Yi, a second-year law undergraduate, said that while she was doing her best to be financially independent, obtaining the bursary was a huge relief. “Thanks to the Bursary, I’m coping a lot better now, especially since it saved me from borrowing money and living with the emotional burden of being in debt,” she said.

Constance Lee, a recipient of the Kwa Geok Choo Graduate Scholarship, is thankful for the scholarship. She hopes to hone her knowledge and understanding in commercial transactions through her course in Master of Law at NUS with a specialisation in Corporate and Financial Services Law.

Prof Kevin Gray, Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge, was appointed the first Chair of the Kwa Geok Choo Professorship in Property Law. Mr Gary Born, Chair of the International Arbitration Practice Group in WilmerHale, was named the inaugural Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitor.

Madam Kwa enrolled in Raffles College, a predecessor institution of NUS, in 1940 and resumed her studies there in 1946 after the end of World War II. A year later, she received a First Class Diploma in Arts and won the Queen’s Scholarship to study law at Cambridge University, becoming the first Asian woman to graduate with first-class honours in Law.

Madam Kwa started a law firm with Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his younger brother. Her intellect and fortitude shone through as she excelled in the legal arena as a leading property lawyer.