PM Lee shares memories of his parents as law firm Lee & Lee celebrates 60th anniversary

PM Lee Hsien Loong at a staff party on Oct 15 to celebrate law firm Lee & Lee's 60th anniversary.
PM Lee Hsien Loong at a staff party on Oct 15 to celebrate law firm Lee & Lee's 60th anniversary.PHOTO: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

SINGAPORE - Lee & Lee, one of Singapore's oldest law firms, celebrated its 60th anniversary recently. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose parents and uncle started the firm, shared memories of his parents as well as the firm's history at a staff party on Thursday (Oct 15).

Mr Lee, 63, who was a toddler when the firm was started on Sept 1, 1955, reminisced about how he used to visit the office which was then in Malacca Street.

"The office was a long, narrow room, about the shape of the shophouse plot on which it sat, and the partners had small rooms right at the end, overlooking Malacca Street," he recalled.

Furnished with second-hand furniture, there was one photocopy machine in the office.

It was "a precious instrument that was very rare, not a Xerox machine - those had not been invented yet - but a wet chemical process, messy and finicky to use".

The firm, which is now at Raffles Place, was started by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, and Mr Dennis Lee Kim Yew. Mr Lee, who went on to be Singapore's Prime Minister, died in March this year at the age of 91. Madam Kwa passed away in 2010 at the age of 89, and Mr Dennis Lee died in 2003 at the age of 77.

Addressing the gathering at Raffles Town Club, PM Lee remembered the once-smelly Singapore River and described his journey to the law firm as "an odoriferous experience" because he would have to cross the river to get there.

He also paid tribute to some old staff of the firm, such as Madam Molly Yap, the long-term personal assistant of PM Lee's mother, and Mr Ow Yong Thian Soo, who is still working with the firm. Mr Lee presented Mr Ow with a long service award.

Quoting a Chinese saying that means "it is hard to start a business, but it is even more difficult to keep it growing", Mr Lee thanked the generations of lawyers and staff for their contributions.

Read the full speech here.