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The underrated wives of 4 S’pore politicians & what’s known about them

The underrated wives of 4 Singapore politicians

Behind many great leaders often stands a partner whose contributions sometimes remain behind the scenes.

In Singapore, the wives of four prominent politicians — Joy Balakrishnan, Seetha Shanmugam, Lovleen Kaur Walia and Ho Ching — have made significant yet often unheralded impacts on society.

Each of these women has carved out her own path, contributing profoundly in areas such as social work, mental health, the arts and global finance.

Their stories are ones of quiet strength and resilience, playing a unique role in shaping the progress of our Lion City.

1. Joy Balakrishnan: Champion of social causes

Joy Balakrishnan, wife of Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, has dedicated much of her career to community service and social causes.

Source: HardwareZone

In 2004, she co-founded the MILK (Mainly I Love Kids) Fund and presently serves as its President.

Under her leadership, the non-profit organisation has initiated several educational and developmental programmes to empower underprivileged children.

She has also graced and hosted events at MILK Fund, such as its annual Charity Dinner to raise funds for needy beneficiaries.

Source: Tay Kewei 鄭可為 on Facebook

On the MILK Fund website, Joy Balakrishnan is described as an educator who “devotes herself to full-time community service”.

From 2007 to 2015, she also helmed Girl Guides Singapore as its President — a position held by the wives of several politicians such as Mrs Teo Chee Hean and Ms Chang Hwee Nee, the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

 

She was actively involved on the boards of the Compassion Fund and Beyond Social Services during her tenure.

Joy and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan married in 1987. The couple has a daughter and three sons.

They welcomed their third grandchild in February this year.

2. Dr Seetha Shanmugam: A voice for childrens’ health & wellbeing

Next is Dr Seetha Shanmugam, the spouse of Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam.

Source: Nee Soon Cares on YouTube

Dr Seetha is the current President of Girl Guides Singapore, a post she has taken on since 2020.

Beyond this role, Dr Seetha is a practising clinical psychologist who specialises in serious and chronic health conditions in children and adolescents.

In particular, her work extends to trauma, sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

She first received a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of California in Berkeley.

Thereafter, she furthered her studies at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, graduating with a Masters and Doctor of Psychology.

In 2016, Dr Seetha published an original book titled ‘Did You Hear That?: Help For Children Who Hear Voices’.

The illustrated book offers valuable guidance for psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health practitioners who are treating young patients experiencing hallucinations.

Dr Seetha has also spoken at multiple events, such as at the Mental Health Conference in Maldives last year.

Source: @igmhmv on Instagram

3. Lovleen Kaur Walia: Passionate advocate for the arts

In 2012, Lovleen Kaur Walia married Singapore’s Leader of Opposition Pritam Singh, who is concurrently the Secretary-General of The Workers’ Party.

Source: @pritamsingh76 on Instagram

With her passion for the performing arts, the theatre practitioner used to run the Kri Art and Theatre Company.

A comment on Sam’s Alfresco Coffee’s blog revealed that she was a Director of an English-language comedy titled ‘The Doctor Is In’ in 2011

According to the Singapore Business Directory, the company was struck off in July 2017.

Lovleen Kaur Walia and Pritam Singh have two daughters together. In an Instagram post, Singh shared that their older daughter took Mandarin in kindergarten, citing its utility.

Source: @pritamsingh76 on Instagram

Even so, they remain committed to keeping their children connected to their Punjabi heritage.

To further achieve her vision, Lovleen created an Instagram account to help younger learners pick up the Punjabi language in an enjoyable and lighthearted manner.

Source: @beebee.ji on Instagram

4. Ho Ching: Visionary leader in global finance

Last but not least is Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore’s third Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

Source: Lee Hsien Loong on Facebook

After they married in December 1985, the couple had two sons, Li Hongyi and Li Haoyi.

Ho Ching, who is 71 years old, is also the stepmother to Lee’s son and daughter from his previous marriage to the late Dr Wang Ming Yang.

From 2004 to 2021, she served as the CEO of Temasek Holdings, a global investment company owned by the Singapore Government.

Source: Temasek

In September 2021, she was appointed to the Board of Temasek Trust, which is Temasek’s philanthropic arm.

She stepped up as chairperson of Temasek Trust in April 2022, a position she continues to hold today.

Time and time again, Ho Ching has been recognised for being one of the most influential individuals in the world.

Last year, she was ranked 33rd in Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She was also the only Singaporean on the list.

Ho Ching received her tertiary education at National Junior College, where she was named Student of the Year.

The President’s Scholar was a student of engineering in Singapore University and subsequently, Stanford University.

Before her stint at Temasek, Ho Ching was an engineer with the Ministry of Defence and the CEO of the Singapore Technologies Group.

Contributions of the 4 politicians’ wives will inspire future generations

The journeys of these four women illustrate how their efforts have touched lives and influenced their respective fields over the years.

As they continue to lead in their sectors, their stories set a powerful example of service and resilience.

They are also a reminder that behind every successful man, there is a strong woman.

Also read: Loo Tze Lui: 5 things to know about PM Wong’s wife, a former banker with a heart of gold

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at news@mustsharenews.com.

Featured image adapted from Vivian Balakrishnan on Facebook, Nee Soon Cares on YouTube, @pritamsingh76 on Instagram and Ho Ching on Facebook

Amber Ang

Amber is an unapologetic fangirl and a huge Swiftie.

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