Looking back on Dr Lee Seng Gee’s renewal of wedding vows

W&T sends our heartfelt condolences to Dr Lee Seng Gee’s family, on the passing of Dr Lee on Tuesday, May 10. We are very honoured to have interviewed well-known philanthropist Dr Lee and his beloved wife, Dr Della Suantio, back in 2011 when the couple renewed their wedding vows to mark their 20th wedding anniversary. Once again, we would like to share this heart-warming article on their renewal of wedding vows with the public.

Dr Lee Seng Gee, chairman of the Lee Foundation, married his wife, Dr Della Suantio, on this day, 11 January, exactly 20 years ago. A well-known philanthropist and educator in Singapore, most people wouldn’t have known that the respected Dr Lee is quite the romantic too.


Three years before their matrimony, Dr Lee met Dr Della at a business meeting in Singapore. The latter had come on her father’s instructions to discuss share options in the Hock Lee Rubber Company, a business co-owned by the two families. To this day, the couple remembers with fondness the details of their first conversation. In her lovable straightforward and candid manner, Dr Della’s first question to Mr Lee was “You buy us or we buy you?”

Dr Lee merely smiled and replied that he would have to wait until he heard from the company’s inspector general before he could make any decision. This bought him time and the ensuing excuses to keep calling Dr Della and meeting her whenever she was in Singapore.

While Dr Lee was clearly smittened, Dr Della’s first impression of Dr Lee was: slim, a button missing on his shirt and wearing a Citizen watch. She told her father that, “he is a very humble person, a good man but he probably isn’t doing very well, he drives an old Mercedes with windows that have to be manually wound down.” Thankfully, Dr Della is not one to judge by appearances. Three years later, the pair got married on 11 January 1991, 11am, at a Presidential Suite in Mandarin Hotel, solemnised by JP Dr Robert Loh. A wedding reception was held later on 7 July 1991, 7pm, at the Westin Hotel with 400 invited guests. The couple celebrate these 2 dates yearly as their ‘wedding anniversary’.

The digit ‘9’ was the number of the day as it rhymes with ‘chang chang jiu jiu’ (eternity) in Chinese. The number can be spotted on the license plate on the 8-metre long limousine used to ferry the couple and their bridesmaids. The dinner was a 9-course menu and the cocktail drink served was aptly named Eternal Love.

On 11 January 2011, the couple marked their 20th wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Singapore. The celebrant was Monsignor Nicholas Chia, the Archbishop of Singapore. The florist, Sing See Soon, dressed up the church in the bride’s favourite graduated colours, from light pink to fuchsia pink.

During the occasion, the couple exchanged plain white gold bands. “Our rings have no beginning and no end, a fitting emblem of perpetuity of holy matrimony. We just wanted a simple token of the love, peace and understanding that we have shared over the years and continue to do so”, said Dr Lee.

Later that day, a dinner was hosted by President Su Guaning of Nanyang Technology University, at the ballrooom in Conrad Hotel, attended by about 360 guests.

Apart from family and close friends, the occasion was graced by luminaries like the executives of NTU, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mrs Goh, Mdm Ho Ching, Parliament Speaker Mr Tarmugi and Mrs Tarmugi, Dr & Mrs Lee Suan Yew, Ministers Grace Fu and Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, and Mr and Mrs Tan Soo Khoon.

During the dinner, guests were entertained by a video clip of the earlier events during the day and by well-known performers who had came to wish the couple well. But the highlight of the evening was definitely when Dr Lee belted out a touching love song to his beloved wife.

“But we both wanted to celebrate the occasion, to affirm that our love will go on forever. To do it in the sight of God and those close to our heart meant so much for the both of us. We treasure our memories of the day and the warmth and love that surround us.”

For younger couples who are reading this and wondering how to ensure a long and loving relationship with your spouse, Dr Lee says that he loves his wife so much because she always does whatever she can to keep him happy, she is always there to listen to him and does whatever he asks of her, and all because she has made him the alpha and omega of her life.

Indeed, friends of the couple can attest that the two soulmates are always hugging each other when they are at home. And the ever doting Dr Della is always by her husband’s side, catering to his every whim and ensuring that he receives the best care 24/7.

For Dr Della, her husband is the most wonderful person she has ever met and whom she is deeply in love with even after 20 years of marriage. And every single day, she thanks the Lord for bringing him into her life.

Their secret to a loving marriage is to always keep in mind the following: “Ever thine, Ever mine, Ever ours, No selfishness but everlasting LTC for each other”!

“Our rings have no beginning and no end, a fitting emblem of perpetuity of holy matrimony. We just wanted a simple token of the love, peace and understanding that we have shared over the years and continue to do so.”