Pioneer woman MP quits politics

Mrs Seow Peck Leng
Mrs Seow Peck Leng. ST FILE PHOTO

Singapore's first woman opposition MP, Mrs Seow Peck Leng, announced this week in August 1965 that she was quitting politics to focus on volunteer work.

The announcement came two years after she lost in her bid to represent Joo Chiat constituency.

In 1959, she was one of five women elected to the Legislative Assembly, winning the Mountbatten seat in Singapore's first general election as a candidate for the opposition Singapore People's Alliance.

She and other female lawmakers - all from the People's Action Party - fought to end polygamous marriages, paving the way for the passing of the Women's Charter in 1961. She also lobbied for women to be paid the same wages as men.

Mrs Seow, who never used her maiden name Chua Seng Kim, was formerly a school principal.

As a young student, she attended Singapore Chinese Girls' School and Raffles Girls' School.

She was the founding member of the Singapore Women's Association and, after leaving politics, devoted herself to volunteer and community work.

She died in 2007, aged 95.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'Pioneer woman MP quits politics'. Print Edition | Subscribe