Dr. Lee Choo Neo (1895-1947) is the daughter of Lee Hoon Leong
. (Lee Hoon Leong is Mr Lee Kuan Yew's grandfather). Born in 1895, Dr. Lee Choo Neo received her education in Singapore Chinese Girls' School and later, 3 years in Raffles Girls School. Lee Choo Neo was the first Straits Settlement woman to obtain the Senior Cambridge Certificate in 1911. She excelled in school and was also active in organising plays in aid of the Chinese Red Cross Society
First Female Chinese Doctor and a Progressive Woman
She joined the King Edward VII Medical School despite criticism and discouragement from outside her family circle and in 1919 became the first Chinese woman to graduate in Medicine and was appointed Lady Assistant Surgeon at the General Hospital. She was a progressive woman and was one of the founders of the Chinese Ladies Association of Malaya, promoting physical and social education of Chinese woman including outdoor sports such as lawn tennis and badminton. She was involved and volunteers in the Child Welfare Society as well.
|Dr Lee Choo Neo|
(this photo was the same one used for her tomb)
Dr. Lee Choo Neo married Teo Koon Lim (son of Teo Chye Hong) at 114 Emerald Hill on 21st September, 1922 and had 1 son (Teo Cheng Ann) and 2 daughters ( Eileen Teo Cheng Sim and Winnie Teo Cheng Kim) .After several years in the government service, she resigned and followed her husband to Kuala Lumpur who had business there. She returned to open her own clinic at 74-3 Bras Basah Road.
Before the war, their family neighbours were a Japanese dentist and his family (The Tsutadas). The children of the families were childhood playmates, but the Tsutada's return back to Japan before the start of the war. Just before the fall of Singapore, as Dr. Lee Choo Neo's clinic was at the heart of the city, she helped many war victims before the fall of Singapore. Amidst the chaos in the initial days after the fall of Singapore, Japanese soldiers came knocking on her door. It was one of Tsutada's son, Nachang, a lieutenant in the Japanese army. Dr. Lee Choo Neo and family were spared further harassment and who knows, maybe even death.
|Lee Dispensary at 74-3 Bras Basah Road|
(photo courtesy of Sylvia Khoo)
|Tsutada (the Dentist neighbour)|
|Straits Times 1912. The tickets where available from|
who's who in Singapore.
|Lee Choo Neo |
Robbery and Funeral
Dr. Lee Choo Neo passed away on 7 September 1947, after a short illness. During a pre-funeral rites at her home in Bras Basah road on the 11th, a gang of seven dashed in at 4 am in the morning and robbed the 20 people present. One brandished a gun while the rest of the thugs took cash and jewellery amounting to $250. She was buried on the day itself in Block 1 Division B, plot 446 Bukit Brown. Her father, Lee Hoon Leong is also buried in Bukit Brown. Her mother, Madam Mak Hup Sin is buried nearby.
|Tomb of Dr Lee Choo Neo |
Location of tomb
Block 1 Section B, plot 446
Dr Lee Choo Neo. (1935,November 24). The Straits Times.
Death. (1947, September 9). The Straits Times
Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
Gun man rob mourners. (1947,September 11). The Straits Times.
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