In the Lion City, politicians perfect the art of marrying well

by Augustine Low

Our politicians have the habit of teaming up with spouses who are no shrinking violets. Put two high flying achievers together and voila! – we have a pair of super spouses.

Perched right at the top are Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Ho Ching – Singapore’s power couple for 14 years running, since the husband became PM and the wife became CEO of Temasek.

The rest of the super spouses are no slouches.

Heng Swee Keat, a front-runner to be the next PM, is married to Chang Hwee Nee, CEO of the National Heritage Board. She was formerly the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Education.

Ng Eng Hen was a surgeon who became Minister while wife Ivy Lim was a paediatrician who became CEO of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital before ascending to Group CEO of SingHealth.

As for Teo Chee Hean, he has a spouse who was a senior executive with a co-operative of the NTUC. Chew Poh Yim was previously a Director of NTUC FairPrice and General Manger of NTUC FairPrice Foundation.

Two ladies in the cabinet are also married to high fliers. Grace Fu’s husband is technopreneur Ivan Lee Boon Hong, co-founder and CEO of BLC Solutions, a spin-off company of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Josephine Teo’s spouse is also a top executive with a government-linked corporation.  Teo Eng Cheong is Surbana Jurong’s CEO (International). He was formerly CEO of International Enterprise Singapore.

On occasion, the reverse happens – the spouse of a ‘somebody’ becomes a politician. When Tin Pei Ling became a Member of Parliament, her husband Ng How Yue was Principal Private Secretary to PM Lee Hsien Loong.

Ng currently holds two key portfolios – Permanent Secretary for the Law Ministry and Second Permanent Secretary for the Health Ministry.

So there you have it, a snapshot of some of Singapore’s modern-day super spouses.

What’s the secret behind Singapore’s super spouses? Some will say it is simply the art of politicians marrying well.

Then there are those who say nay, it is simply an offshoot of meritocracy in Singapore . . . . called marry-tocracy.