Lee Wei Ling

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Lee Wei Ling
Lee Wei Ling.jpg
Born
Lee Wei Ling (李玮玲)

1955
EducationNanyang Primary School, Nanyang Girls High, Raffles Institution
Alma materNational University of Singapore (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery)
OccupationNeurologist
Parent(s)
  • Lee Kuan Yew (father)

Lee Wei Ling is a Singaporean neurologist with the National Neuroscience Institute. She started her career at Singapore General Hospital’s Medical Unit in the pediatric ward.[1] She then became a Director at the National Neuroscience Institute institute. She has since become the Senior Advisor and a Senior Consultant in the Department of Neurology.[2] Daughter to the late Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Wei Ling is also the younger sister of Lee Hsien Loong and elder sister of Lee Hsien Yang.

Background

Early education & President's Scholar

Lee Wei Ling (left) received her karate black belt at 15 years old. Photo courtesy of Lee Wei Ling.
An 18-year-old Lee Wei Ling (right) receiving her President's Scholar Award from Benjamin Sheares (left). Photo from National Archives Singapore.

Lee Wei Ling was educated in Nanyang Primary School, Nanyang Girls High and Raffles Institution. While in Nanyang Girls High, a 13-year-old Lee Wei Ling started taking karate classes with Singapore Karate Association. She received her orange belt six months later. Within the next 2 years, Lee Wei Ling became one of the youngest girls to qualify for a karate black belt.[3][4]


She graduated with eight distinctions for her O-levels[5] and became a President’s Scholar[6] after scoring nine distinctions and being the top science student in her A-Levels.[7] Lee Wei Ling received her President’s Scholar Award from former President Benjamin Henry Sheares at the Istana on 1 July 1973.[8]

Tertiary education

She furthered her studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, being the only graduate to have passed with honours.[9] At 23 years old, Lee Wei Ling received five awards on her graduation ceremony for her academic excellence:[10]

  • Gubbe Gold medal
  • Ciba-Geigy Prise
  • Singapore Medical Association silver medal
  • Yeoh Khuan Joo gold medal
  • Singapore Dermatological Society book prize

She then pursued a Masters of Medicine in Pediatrics, MMed (Paed) and a postgraduate surgical diploma, MRCP(UK) (Paed).[11]

Certifications

Following two attempts, Lee Wei Ling was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) in recognition of her expertise, innovation and contribution to the medical profession.[12] Lee Wei Ling also obtained a board certification from the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN) for her competence in Clinical Neuropsychology.[13]

Former Director of NNI

Lee Wei Ling is passionate about her work as a doctor. As a former Director of National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), she frequently reminded her colleagues that the “purpose of our existence and the measure of our success is how well we care for all our patients”.[14] Lee Wei Ling succeeded Simon Shorvon as Director in 2004 after his dismissal.[15]

Personal life

Lee Wei Ling's Shiba Inu, Hiro. Photo from Lee Wei Ling's Facebook.

Singlehood

Lee Wei Ling is unmarried by choice. In a 2011 letter on The Strait Times, Lee Wei Ling shared that her late father Lee Kuan Yew had talked to her about marriage. On one hand, he saw the benefits of her singlehood in that she could care for her parents in their older years. Although they still preferred for her to be married, she had agreed that it would be “better lonely than trapped in a loveless marriage''. She focused on living her single life to the fullest, occasionally accompanying her father on overseas trips.[16][17]

Dog lover

Lee Wei Ling bought a puppy Shiba Inu named Hiro in July 2019. She admitted that she considers it more of a privilege to care for the “lovable rascal” than having a family of her own.[18][19]


In August 2019, Lee Wei Ling shared her love for dogs on Facebook and revealed the names of her previous canines. She had two labradors named Nicky and Wong Cheng, followed by a cocker spaniel named Toffee. The last labrador she kept in her adolescent years is a black Labrador named Lab Bonnie by her mother, Kwa Geok Choo.[20][21]

A Hakka Woman's Singapore Stories (2015)

Lee Wei Ling pictured as a child with her father, Lee Kuan Yew. Photo from Straits Times Press.

Articles for The Straits Times

In her free time, Lee Wei Ling wrote regularly with The Strait Times and its subsidiary The Sunday Times. Her column articles were about a plethora of subjects. Often within one article, Lee Wei Ling covered a variety of topics ranging from her personal life[22] to her views on Philosophy, Religion[23] and Society.


'A Hakka Woman's Singapore Stories' was a compilation of Lee Wei Ling’s seventy-five columns on The Straits Times over the last 12 years.[24] It was compiled and published by Strait Times Press on September 2015.[25]


In an interview with The Strait Times to promote her book, Lee Wei Ling shared that she embraces her eccentricity and candid nature, not wanting to conform to normal standards. She also shared that her convictions are drivers of her character, which can be gathered from the content of her writing.[26]

Conflict of interest with The Straits Times

In late March 2016, Lee Wei Ling announced on Facebook that “I will no longer write for SPH” due to a lack of freedom of expression.[27] She revealed that parts of her unedited article were considered unfit for publishing. This article was reportedly about the late Lee Kuan Yew's first death anniversary. In response, the Associate Editor, Ivan Fernandaz, published an article addressing Lee Wei Ling’s allegations. He claimed that the article in question had to be “honed and language tightened” and that parts of her content fell under plagiarism.[28]


On 9 April 2016, Lee Wei Ling responded to Ivan Fernandaz’s article on Facebook.[29] She explained that by comparing Mao and Churchill’s death commemorations to her father’s, she had only wanted to prevent a potential formation of a personality cult around Lee Kuan Yew. She also added that Ivan had not informed her of her alleged plagiarism. An excerpt from Lee Wei Ling’s Facebook post reads as such:

“My then SPH editor, Ivan Fernandez’s first response to my draft which included commemoration for Mao and Churchill … There were 5 subsequent emails with regards to this draft, never did Ivan bring up the issue of plagiarism… whether I intentionally plagiarized or as a filial daughter I wanted to stop any attempts at hagiography at the first anniversary of my father’s death”[30]

Lee Wei Ling has since moved on to posting regularly on her public Facebook page instead. The original version of the article in question has been re-posted on her Facebook page.

Medical debates

Tang Wee Sung kidney transplant (2008)

In 2008, CK Tangs Chairman, Tang Wee Sung tried to purchase a kidney and was charged for lying about organ trading to get his kidney transplant. In an article Lee Wei Ling wrote for The Straits Times, she criticised the court’s one-day jail term sentence and S$17,000 fine to Tang Wee Sung. She described the punishments as merely a “token sentence”.[31]


Attorney General Walter Woon Cheong Ming responded stating that “no one is above the law” and he did what “he thinks is right”.[32] This incident sparked debate within the medical community[33][34] and prompted certain lawmakers to rethink the Human Organ transplant Act (HOTA).[35] Luc Noel, a consultant for patient security at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva said that organ trading is exploitative and given the increasing number of foreigners who seek healthcare in Singapore, he thinks that “They [Singapore] don't want to be the place where you can obtain the parts of another person”.[36]

A*Star biomedical debate (2006)

In 2006, Prof Lee Wei Ling expressed her discontent on The Strait Times regarding the policy direction and usage of research resources by the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*Star) headed by Phillip Yeo.[37] She believed that A*Star should use “billions of taxpayers dollars” more efficiently on areas in the biomedical sector that directly impact the region. Her actual words on The Straits Times are as such:

“We should target our research on these areas where not only is it relevant to Singaporeans, but we also have an advantage over foreign countries with much more advance[d] research facilities… more rational approach will be to identify niche areas unique to the Singapore... a competitive advantage. Examples include hepatitis B, primary cancer of the liver, stomach cancer, systemic lupus erythematosus (more often known as SLE or lupus) and other autoimmune disease (where the body's immune system attacks the body's own organs), and the pattern of strokes and head injury.”[38]

Lee Wei Ling’s criticisms sparked a debate in the biomedical community.[39] Phillip Yeo responded by citing the high relevance and potential of A*Star. In an interview with TODAY, Phillip Yeo stated that A*Star and the biomedical sector had value-added to Singapore’s manufacturing output by 30 percent in 2006.[40]

Simon Shorvon dismissal (2004)

In 2002, the Singapore government funded a S$5.6 million study of Parkinson's disease and two other medical disorders. The study was headed by Simon Shorvon who was then the Director of the National Neuroscience Institute. Lee Wei Ling was a part of this study.[41]


In 2004, the Singapore Health authority investigated the joint project after Lee Wei Ling announced her resignation from the project. Lee Wei Ling alleged that the study had not gathered proper consent from the patients back in 2002. An independent investigation in March 2004 revealed that the way the testing was done compromised the patients’ well-being and safety.[42] Simon Shorvon was dismissed as head of the National Neuroscience Institute and was succeeded by Lee Wei Ling later that year.[43]

38 Oxley Road

An aerial view of 38 Oxley Road. Photo from The Straits Times.

Family disagreement (June to July 2017)

Lee Wei Ling was involved in the Oxley House dispute with her siblings, Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang.[44] The dispute erupted after Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling posted a statement on 13 June 2017 titled “What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew’s values?”. They revealed that Lee Kuan Yew wanted to demolish the family home in his will but Lee Hsien Loong had gotten in the way of their father's wishes. They added that they no longer trusted Lee Hsien Loong as a leader.[45]


The two alleged that Lee Hsien Loong was abusing his power and accused that his wife, Ho ching, had influenced the Ministerial Committee that was tasked to re-examine Lee Kuan Yew’s final will and the future of the house. PM Lee denied these accusations and made a public statement on Facebook saying that his siblings have “hurt our father’s legacy”. He expressed his disappointment towards the public nature of their family dispute and apologised to the nation.[46]

Parliamentary sitting & report (July 2017 to present)

After a parliamentary sitting in July 2017, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang released a 10-page public joint statement on Facebook detailing the summary of the dispute over the house, their previous accusations, supporting evidence and questions they had after the parliament session. They closed the statement welcoming Lee Hsien Loong’s wishes to settle the dispute privately. The siblings also agreed to stop posting any further evidence on social media on the basis that “we and our father’s wish [for demolishing the 38 Oxley Road house] are not attacked or misrepresented”.[47]

The Lee family pictured at their family home. Photo courtesy of The Lee Family, Eng Bow Kee.


On 2 April 2018, the Ministerial Committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, released a report giving three options for the 38 Oxley Road family home:[48]

Options Sub-options
(1) Retain the property a) Gazette and preserve as a National Monument; or

b) Gazette for conservation

(2) Retain the dining room and tear down the rest of the property The dining room would be gazetted as a National Monument, and integrated with an alternative use for the site (e.g. park, heritage centre)
(3) Allow the property to be demolished fully and allow redevelopment a) By the owner for residential use; or

b) By the State for alternative use (e.g. park, heritage centre), after acquisition of the site

As of 2019, Lee Wei Ling still resides in the family home.[49] On 10 September 2019, she reiterated her stand on Facebook with the support of Lee Hsien Yang.[50]

References / Citations

  1. “Doctor at last”. New Nation. December 31, 1978. Accessed 23 October, 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  2. “Prof Lee Wei Ling profile” National Neuroscience Institute. Accessed October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nni.com.sg/profile/lee-wei-ling
  3. “15 years old Wei Ling scores eight distinctions in exam”. The Strait Times. January 9, 1971. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  4. “Wei Ling gets her black belt at 15”. The Strait Times. October 10, 1970. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  5. “15 years old Wei Ling scores eight distinctions in exam”. The Strait Times. January 9, 1971. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  6. “11 President’s Scholars”. The Straits Times. May 24, 1973, page 13. Accessed October 21, 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  7. “Two top students of the 1972 singapore cambridge higher school certificate (hsc) examinations, lee wei ling (left) from the raffles institution who scored nine distinctions and pamela loke, at the straits times office”. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). March 7, 1972. Accessed October 21, 2019. Retrieved from National Archives Singapore.
  8. “President Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares Presents Awards To President's Scholars At Istana”. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). July 1, 1973. Accessed October 21, 2019. Retrieved from: National Archives Singapore.
  9. “Wei Ling top medical grad this year.” The Strait Times. April 8, 1978. Accessed October 22, 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  10. “Five awards for Wei Ling”. New Nation. October 22, 1978, page 2. Accessed October 21 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  11. “Prof Lee Wei Ling profile”. National Neuroscience Institute. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nni.com.sg/profile/lee-wei-ling
  12. “To what end, all the President’s Scholar?”. The Sunday Times. August 30, 2015. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from The Strait Times.
  13. “Prof Lee Wei Ling profile” National Neuroscience Institute. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nni.com.sg/profile/lee-wei-ling
  14. “Doing what’s right without fear or favour”. The Straits Times. July 30, 2008. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.asiaone.com/News/the%2BStraits%2BTimes/Story/A1Story20080730-79553.html
  15. “Row over medical project’s ethics”. The star. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2004/07/10/row-over-medical-projects-ethics/
  16. Stolarchuk, Jewel. “Lee Wei Ling discusses the “burden” of raising children and looking after a husband on social media.” The IndependentSG. September 4, 2019.  Accessed October 23, 2019.
  17. “Living a life with no regrets”. The Sunday Times. October 23, 2011. Accessed on October 23, 2019. Retrieved from The Strait Times.
  18. Dr Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. August 4, 2019. Accessed on 22 October, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/38OxleyRoad/posts/1313714028796798?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCHIFNt-ud9utvkLvGP8rCB04uYNBTuLr6XkXV4qImBXZqiYwBGpZUYNRVcNUupJo2o0YeoPX4gqDOyBGwQsFLugSuJexatEy_l55nsHGYGWMId-c8i-Izgc7KuCV0w3NTtkGY90x2tlsC03MfNeY7ePeaygHYaUZ_h3TEiThbBPvcSFdqapzKHefLJ6lKUPM871WAWBjDJyrHzeXCpEEC2t4zW0MN2yy_RwmSVexZU6lcuEPGQ-HLbTq_QnKU-0ZSIqqwSTRqm9fNnnQ3ds_4HgF49FPxquQcf1bnOzpVACB-M4DcUsutPdz4_uYfEXLMJHnqCcVLgpBKmEQ3GPD1K5g&__tn__=K-R
  19. Dr Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. August 28, 2019. Accessed 22 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/38OxleyRoad/posts/1331441223690745
  20. Dr Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. August 4, 2019. Accessed on 22 October, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/38OxleyRoad/posts/1313714028796798?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCHIFNt-ud9utvkLvGP8rCB04uYNBTuLr6XkXV4qImBXZqiYwBGpZUYNRVcNUupJo2o0YeoPX4gqDOyBGwQsFLugSuJexatEy_l55nsHGYGWMId-c8i-Izgc7KuCV0w3NTtkGY90x2tlsC03MfNeY7ePeaygHYaUZ_h3TEiThbBPvcSFdqapzKHefLJ6lKUPM871WAWBjDJyrHzeXCpEEC2t4zW0MN2yy_RwmSVexZU6lcuEPGQ-HLbTq_QnKU-0ZSIqqwSTRqm9fNnnQ3ds_4HgF49FPxquQcf1bnOzpVACB-M4DcUsutPdz4_uYfEXLMJHnqCcVLgpBKmEQ3GPD1K5g&__tn__=K-R
  21. Dr Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. August 28, 2019. Accessed 22 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/38OxleyRoad/posts/1331441223690745
  22. “My sweet, sweaty, life-long obsession”. The Sunday Times. July 05, 2015. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from the Strait Times.
  23. “More to life than the pursuit of happiness”. The Sunday Times.  February 21, 2016. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from The Strait Times.
  24. The Strait Times. “A Hakka Woman’s Singapore stories is available..”. Facebook. September 19, 2015. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/TheStraitsTimes/posts/over-the-last-12-years-dr-lee-wei-ling-daughter-of-the-late-former-prime-ministe/10153035049457115/
  25. “A Hakka Woman’s Singapore stories”. Strait Times Press. September, 2015. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://stbooks.sg/products/a-hakka-womans-singapore-stories-chinese?_pos=1&_sid=a3033dfc9&_ss=r%5D
  26. Kim Hoh, Wong. “Lee Kuan Yew’s Daughter: I’m a Martian anyway”. The Sunday Times. Accessed October 22, 2019. Retrieved from The Straits Times.
  27. Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. March 31, 2016. Accessed October 23, 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/weiling.lee.980/posts/220430131645+971
  28. Fernandaz, Ivan. “Why ST did not publish Dr Lee Wei Ling’s column”. The Straits Times. April 9, 2016. Accessed on October 23, 2019. Retrieved from The Strait Times.
  29. Dr Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. April 9, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/38OxleyRoad/posts/574400846061457
  30. Dr Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. April 9, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/38OxleyRoad/posts/574400846061457
  31. “Token sentencing for organ trading? The debate goes on …”. TODAY. September 8, 2008. Accessed October 22, 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  32. Wee, Eugene and Tay, Shi’An. “What’s the story, Prof Woon?” The New Paper, pg 2-4. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/news/1004/PDF/WOON-np-23april-p2-4.pdf
  33. “Are kidney patients dying because of a principle?” Catholic News. August 28, 2011. Accessed October 25, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.caritas-singapore.org/wp-content/uploads/2011_08_28CatholicNwesIssue106_Organdonation_2.16MB.pdf
  34. “Singapore tycoon faces jail in cash-for-organ case”. Bloomberg News. September 05, 2008. Accessed October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.smu.edu.sg/sites/default/files/smu/news_room/smu_in_the_news/2008/sources/NationalPost_20080905_1.pdf
  35. Kisha, Pratap. “Organ trading in Singapore - is it time to lift the ban ?”. Asian Law Network. January 3, 2019. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://learn.asialawnetwork.com/2019/01/03/living-organ-donation/
  36. Ritter, Peter. “Legalizing Organ Trade?” TIME. August 19, 2008. Accessed on October 22, 2019. Retrieved from: http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1833858,00.html
  37. P N, Balji. “CITIZEN LEE LAUNCHES A DEBATE … AND A WAITING GAME'." TODAY. February 12, 2007. Accessed October 23, 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  38. Lee, Wei ling. “What ails biomedical research in Singapore”. The Strait Times. November 6, 2006. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: http://takchek.blogspot.com/2006/11/lee-wei-lings-take-on-biomedical.html
  39. Shanley, Mia. “Singapore says no rethink of biomed policy after criticism”. Reuters. February 6, 2007. Accessed on october 23, 2019. Retrieved from: https://uk.reuters.com/article/singapore-biotech/singapore-says-no-rethink-of-biomed-policy-after-criticism-idUKSIN16843520070206
  40. “A loaded Farewell”. TODAY. March 16, 2007. Accessed on October 23,2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  41. Dyer, Clare. “GMC should not have thrown out case against neurologist, Singapore council says”. The bmj. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693589/
  42. Dyer, Clare. “GMC should not have thrown out case against neurologist, Singapore council says”. The bmj. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693589/
  43. “Row over medical project’s ethics”. The Star. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2004/07/10/row-over-medical-projects-ethics/
  44. “Running dispute over Oxley house”. The Strait Times. January 8, 2019. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from The Strait Times.
  45. Dr Lee Wei Ling. Facebook. June 13, 2017. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/38OxleyRoad/posts/790329584468581
  46. “PM Lee, Ho Ching deny Lee siblings’ allegation, say they hurt Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy”. TODAY Singapore. June 14, 2019. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://wwLHL's+Dishonest+Allegations+of+Cheating.pdfw.todayonline.com/singapore/pm-lee-ho-ching-deny-lee-siblings-allegations-say-they-hurt-lee-kuan-yews-legacy?cid=h3_referral_inarticlelinks_03092019_todayonline
  47. Oxley Road: Lee Hsuen Yang, Lee Wei Ling will stop posting evidence on social media - Full text of statement”. The Straits Times. July 6, 2017. Accessed on October 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/oxley-road-lee-siblings-issue-joint-statement-in-response-to-parliament-session
  48. “Ministerial committee on 38 Oxley Road lays out options house of Lee Kuan Yew”. Channel News Asia. April 2, 2018. Accessed October 24, 2019. Retrieved from Channel News Asia.
  49. “Lee Kuan Yew wanted 38 Oxley Road demolished: Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling”. Channel News Asia. April 3, 2018. Retrieved from Channel News Asia.
  50. “Dr Lee Weiling makes new Facebook post, Lee Hsien Yang shares it in support”. The Online Citizen. September 10, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2019/09/10/dr-lee-weiling-makes-new-facebook-post-lee-hsien-yang-shares-it-in-support/