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After attending the London School of Economics, Lee graduated from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, with double starred-first-class honours in law. Lee eschewed populist policies in favor of pragmatic long-term social and economic measures. On 23 March 2015, Lee Kuan Yew died of pneumonia, at 91. In a week of national mourning, 1.
7 million residents and guests paid tribute to him at his lying-in-state at Parliament House and at community tribute sites around the island. Lee’s English-educated parents named him “Kuan Yew”, which stands for “light and brightness”, with an alternate meaning “bringing great glory to one’s ancestors”. His paternal grandfather gave him the English name “Harry”. Lee was a fourth-generation Singaporean of ethnic Chinese ancestry of mostly Hakka and half Peranakan descent.
Lee Hoon Leong had two wives, which was common at that time, and fathered five daughters and three sons. Peranakan, who gave birth to Lee Kuan Yew, their first child, in 1923, at 92 Kampong Java Road in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew’s grandfathers’ wealth declined considerably during the Great Depression, and his father, Lee Chin Koon, became a shopkeeper. His aunt, Lee Choo Neo, was the first female doctor to practice in Singapore. Lee and his wife, Kwa Geok Choo, were married on 30 September 1950. Both Lee and Kwa spoke English as their first language.
Lee and Kwa had two sons and a daughter. Lee’s elder son, Lee Hsien Loong, a former Brigadier-General, became Prime Minister of Singapore in 2004. Several members of Lee’s family hold prominent positions in Singaporean society. During 1931, Lee Kuan Yew had his primary school education at Telok Kurau English School. He described his schoolmates at Telok Kurau as generally poor and not very bright.
Lee’s university education was delayed by World War II and the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1942 to 1945. After the war, Lee went on to study in England. The college said he was placed above two contemporaries who later became Professors of Law in Cambridge. Lee was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1950. Lee experienced hardship during the tough years of the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945.
Lee had a near-miss with a Japanese Occupation atrocity. The Japanese army was rounding up Chinese men for questioning and Lee was told to fall in and join the segregated Chinese men. Sensing that something was amiss, he asked for permission to return home to collect his clothes first, and the Japanese guard agreed. After the war, whilst studying in England, Lee campaigned for a friend named David Widdicombe, who was in the Labour Party. He drove Widdicombe around in a lorry and delivered several speeches on his behalf. Widdicombe lost the election in 1950, but went on to become members of the Inner Temple with Lee.