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Lee Hoon Leong – grandfather of Lee Kuan Yew

Situated at a nondescript corner of Bukit Brown Cemetery sits the grave of one Lee Hoon Leong. If one had not known better, one would just give it a cursory glance, just as one would perhaps the more than 100,000 other graves at the graveyard just off Lornie Road. But Lee Hoon Leong is no ordinary man, given the distinguished lineage of which he is part of, and his role especially in the early life of his grandson, Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister and Minister Mentor of Singapore. In his memoirs, Lee Kuan Yew refers to his immigrant background as a fourth-generation Chinese Singaporean: his Hakka great-grandfather, Lee Bok Boon (born 1846), emigrated from the Dapu county of Guangdong province to the Straits Settlements in 1862. “My grandfather, Lee Hoon Leong – whom I addressed as Kung or ‘grandfather’ in Chinese – was born in Singapore in 1871, and according to my father was educated at Raffles Institution up to standard V, which would be today’s lower secondary school,” Lee Kuan Yew said in his memoirs. “He himself told me he worked as a dispenser (an unqualified pharmacist) when he left school, but after a few years became…