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Lee Choo Neo

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The Tomb of Dr Lee Choo Neo, the first female practising doctor of Singapore


Lee Choo Neo (Chinese: 李珠娘; pinyin: Lǐ Zhū Niáng; 7 September 1895 - 7 September 1947) was the first female doctor to practice in Singapore. Her father, Lee Hoon Leong, was a merchant. Her mother was her father's second wife, Mak Hup Sin. Lee Choo Neo was also the aunt of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister; his father was her half-brother Lee Chin Koon.

In 1911 Lee Choo Neo became the first Straits Chinese girl to earn the Senior Cambridge Certificate, and in 1919 she graduated from King Edward VII Medical College, Singapore. She originally served as an assistant surgeon, overseeing two women's wards at the General Hospital. However, in 1930, she opened her own clinic on Bras Basah Road, which specialized in maternity care.

In addition to her medical work, she was a founder of the Chinese Ladies' Association of Malaya (later called the Chinese Women’s Association), founded in 1915, which raised funds for war, taught domestic skills, introduced outdoor sports, and sponsored a rescue home for at-risk women. She served as the Association's honorary secretary for many years. In 1925 she and two other women were appointed to the Chinese Marriage Committee, which was investigating the need for laws to govern Chinese marriage and divorce in the Straits Settlements. The Chinese Marriage Committee found that women wanted an end to polygamy, while men did not; their findings were a preliminary to the 1961 passage of the Women's Charter, which outlawed polygamy.

Lee Choo Neo died in 1947, and her grave is located in Singapore in the Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery.

The Singapore Women's Hall of Fame was created in 2014, and Lee Choo Neo was inducted into it that same year, under the category "Health."

References

Lee Choo Neo Wikipedia


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