Friday, April 11, 2014

Teo Soon Kim (pioneer female lawyer)

Teo Soon Kim (1904-1978) was a pioneer female lawyer, becoming the first Singapore woman to be admitted to the bar of the Straits Settlements in 1929 and the first woman barrister in Hong Kong. She studied in London and was the second Malayan Chinese woman to qualify as a barrister in England. Her female contemporary during the same period was Miss Lim Beng Hong ( Mrs B. H. Oon ) of Penang, who won the honors as the first Chinese Malayan woman admitted to the English bar and the first woman qualified to practice law in Malaya in 1927. After her came Miss Lucy See (daughter of See Tiong Wah) and Miss Teo Soon Kim, both from Singapore and finally Miss Lim Beng Teik (younger sister of  Miss Lim Beng Hong).

Miss Teo Soon Kim went to England in 1926 and for 3 years she studied and was mentored by Dr H. H Bellot, Secretary of the International Law Association and Grotius Society and finally called to the Bar in the Inner Temple. She even found time to travel to America and China.
Teo Soon Kim (Mrs Lo Teo Soon Kim)
Miss Teo Soon Kim married Dr Lo Lung Chi / Lo Long Chi in December 1928 at Wesley Church, Singapore. Mrs Lo Teo Soon Kim took oath in June 19, 1929 before Mr. Justice Deane and was admitted to practice as the first lady advocate and solicitor in the Courts of the Straits Settlement. She then head off to China in 1929. She returned to Singapore in 1931 after a two year absence to practice

Miss Teo Soon Kim and Dr. Lo Lung Chi solemised
by Rev Goh Hood Keng at Wesley Church 
Miss Teo Soon Kim and Dr. Lo Lung Chi 
In 1932, Mrs. Lo Teo made local history when she was assigned as defense lawyer for a murder case. The court was crowded packed to standing room with among those present were many interested womanfolk. She won the case after managing in securing acquittal for the accused. She moved to Hong Kong and was admitted to Bar there, a first for that colony as well.

I have no further information on her subsequently, but Madam Teo Soon Kim passed away at the age of 74 in April 23, 1978 and is interned in the Choa Chu Kang Christian Garden of Remembrance.

Teo Soon Kim's niche in Choa Chu Kang 
Revolutionary father and Rubber King
Born in Singapore, Mr. Teo Eng Hock was a prominent Teochew leader. He went on to take a post in the Chinese Affairs Committee in Nanking and eventually settled in Hong Kong. During the 1930's he was known as the rubber king and his competitor was  Mr. Tan Kah Kee. Mr. Tan Kah Kee took over reign as the Rubber King, when Mr. Teo's business declined. Mr. Teo Eng Hock was a staunch supporter of Dr. Sun Yat Sen during the Chinese revolution and acknowledged pioneer in the Tung Meng Hui (United League), precursor to the Kuomintang movement. He passed away after a short illness in 1959. 

Miss Teo Soon Kim together with her father, Teo Eng Hock in Nanjing, China.
Teo Eng Hock with Tan Chor Nam and Dr Sun Yat Sen
References
Untitled. ( 1928, November 24). Malay Saturday Post
The wedding of Singapore's first lady lawyer. (1928, December 22). Malay Saturday Post.
Our first lady Barrister. (1929, June 19). The Singapore Free Press
Social and Personal. (1931, June 27). The Straits Times
Woman assigned for the defence. (1932, January 8). The Straits Times
Mrs. Lo talks of her triumph. (1932, January 10). The Straits Times
Memorial at Nanking to Lim Nee Soon. ( April 19, 1936). The Straits Times
Woman called to bar. (1948, February 19). The Straits Times
Former rubber king dies in Hong Kong. ( 1959, April 11).The Straits Times

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