Wong Ming Yang
Read more about the Death of Wong Ming Yang (1982) here.
Wong Ming Yang
|Died||28 October 1982|
|Education||Bachelor of Medicine
Bachelor of ChiropodyMaster of Arts
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
|Spouse(s)||Lee Hsien Loong (m. 1978 - 1982)|
Wong Ming Yang (1951 - 28 October 1982) was the first wife of Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong and the mother of Li Xiuqi and Li Yipeng. She was a doctor at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, the United Kingdom at the time of her marriage to Lee Hsien Loong.
Wong Ming Yang was born in 1951 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to parents who worked as an insurance manager and a teacher. She had a brother, Wong Kok Kien, who was also a doctor.
Wong Ming Yang was a student of Bukit Bintang Girls’ School and Victoria Institution which were both located in Kuala Lumpur. She then studied at Girton College in Cambridge University and graduated with two Bachelor's degrees in Medicine and Chiropody (a branch of medicine dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of the feet). She also held a Master of Arts degree. Before starting her tenure as a physician at Addenbrookes Hospital, Wong did her training at Middlesex Hospital in London.
According to her mother, Wong Ming Yang first met Lee Hsien Loong in 1973 while they were both studying at Cambridge University. After university, Wong Ming Yang continued working as a doctor in Cambridge while Lee Hsien Loong returned to Singapore in 1974 to serve as in the Singapore Armed Forces. Lee Hsien Loong's paternal grandfather, Lee Chin Koon, told The Straits Times that:
"They (Wong Ming Yang and Lee Hsien Loong) were in university together and became very good friends. They continued to keep in touch after Hsien Loong came back to Singapore."
Marriage to Lee Hsien Loong
In May 1978, Wong, then 27, married a 26-year-old Lee Hsien Loong in a quiet ceremony at the Registry of Marriages in Singapore. The wedding was only attended by the immediate family of both sides, including Lee Hsien Loong’s paternal grandparents. In 1980, Wong gave birth to their first child, Li Xiuqi. Two years later, the couple had their second child, Li Yipeng who was born with albinism.
For a more complete account of Wong Ming Yang's death, click here.
On 28 October 1982, just three weeks after giving birth to Li Yipeng, Wong Ming Yang passed away at the age of 31. She had reportedly suffered a heart attack the night before. After being taken to the Coronary Care Unit at Singapore General Hospital, Wong passed away at 12.30 AM. The cause of her death was determined as a myocardial infarction. In a letter written by Lee Hsien Loong's mother, Kwa Geok Choo, that was reproduced by Lee Wei Ling and published in 2011, the former noted moments of her son's grief. She wrote:
"The first dinner must have been painful for him because it was less than a month before that he and Ming Yang were at a similar dinner, and at times, I saw his face drawn with pain and his eyes filled with tears. The second dinner, he was a little more composed. He must and will get over it. But it's so painful."
At the time of Wong’s passing, it was reported that her family opted to donate her corneas to patients who required cornea transplants. Her corneas were donated to Yeo Buck Hock, a student and Low Thoe Guan, a mechanic. Both recipients received successful transplants on the same day that Wong passed and could see and read a few weeks after their operations.
Lee Hsien Loong’s eulogy
On 31 October 1982, Lee Hsien Loong gave his eulogy for his late wife, Wong Ming Yang at her funeral service. He reminisced on the many memories Wong and him shared, saying:
“I remember her for her support and encouragement in rough times, for her strength in adversity, and for her tactful advice in all matters. I remember her for her warmth, her habit of making little telling gestures, and recalling in person little personal details, which showed her natural concern for and empathy with others. I remember her for the time we spent together, for the 10 years we have had. When she was not with me, in spirit she was always by my side, a constant inspiration to me to do her proud.”
Read the full eulogy here.
- Chua, Mui Hoong. “From the archives: Private side of DPM Lee”. The Straits Times. October 19, 2003. Accessed on 1 September 2020.
- Byramji, Nancy. “Proud and happy day for the Lees”. The Straits Times. May 21, 1978. Accessed on 2 September 2020. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
- Hale, Judith. “PM's eldest weds ex-fellow student from Cambridge”. New Nation. May 21, 1978. Accessed on 1 September 2020. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
- “Cabinet Appointments”. Prime Minister’s Office Singapore. n.d. Accessed on 2 September 2020.
- Lee, Philip. “I remember — by Col Lee”. The Straits Times. November 1, 1982. Accessed on 1 September 2020. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
- “Hsien Loong's wife dies”. The Straits Times. October 28, 1982. Accessed on 2 September 2020. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
- Lee Wei Ling. "Persisting despite everything". The Straits Times. April 24, 2011. Accessed on 9 September 2020. Retrieved from AsiaOne.
- "Dr Wong's eyes donated for transplants”. The Straits Times. October 29, 1982. Accessed on 2 September 2020. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
- Chong, Gillian Pow. “Gift of sight for boy who used to fall down stairs”. The Straits Times. November 25, 1982. Accessed on 2 September 2020. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
- "Mechanic can see after cornea transplant”. The Straits Times. November 5, 1982. Accessed on 2 September 2020. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.