The Liabilities and Assets of Political Wives

They say behind every successful man there is a woman. Sometimes, it’s the reverse – behind a politician’s downfall is a woman of extravagance.

And they don’t come any more extravagant than Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Long known for her epic shopping sprees, she has reportedly burned millions at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and Harrods in London.

Bouffant-haired Rosmah has a thing for Hermes Birkin bags – she apparently has one of the world’s largest private collections, owning dozens of them, some costing up to US$200,000 each. Since the ouster of her husband, a police report has been lodged alleging an attempt to stash away 50 Birkin bags.

Funds stolen from 1MDB have also been allegedly used to buy jewellery for Rosmah, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond.

Before marrying Najib (her second husband), Rosmah was said to have designs on the Sultan of Brunei. What a potent mix of femme fatale and Lady Macbeth!

And there’s Imelda, wife of the deposed Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos. When protesters stormed Malacanang Palace, they discovered some 2,700 pairs of shoes left behind in Imelda’s wardrobes. Most of them were in pristine condition – beautiful handmade Italian marvels. Hundred are now housed in a museum in Marikina.

Imelda had the temerity to exclaim: “They went into my closets looking for skeletons but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes.”

However, here in Singapore, PM Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, has never been accused of extravagance. If anything, it’s the reverse. Her spartan styling and sloppy sandals, worn during overseas state visits, have made the headlines.

Ho Ching also made headlines of a different kind; she was caught in the crossfire of the Lee family feud. Arrows were pointed at her, accusations of abuse of power levelled by PM Lee’s siblings, including this claim:

Ho Ching has been ordering around people in the public service, even though she holds no elected or official position in government.

Both Ho Ching and PM Lee denied any wrongdoing.

There are political spouses who leave no excess, no baggage but exude quiet dignity and strength. One of them is Dr Siti Hasmah, 91, wife of Dr Mahathir Mohamad. She stood by her man when he decided to re-enter politics, without complaint nor intrusion.

She said: “I can’t deny that at first I was very disappointed because I thought we would have a good retirement period. But now that he’s back in politics, I have to support him and look after him.”

The late Mrs Lee Kuan Yew (Mdm Kwa Geok Choo) was selflessly devoted to her husband and children. She was often around her husband, yet she seemed to be only in the background, making sure she was there when he needed her.

And Lee acknowledged: “Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life.”

Some political wives come with a baggage, some are clearly assets. Some drive a wedge, some feed the rumour mill about excesses and extravagance, some are stoic and dignified in their support. They can help their political husbands ascent to great heights, or fan the flames of their downfall.

 

Augustine Low

The writer is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.

 

 

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13 Responses to “The Liabilities and Assets of Political Wives”

  • One big difference:

    Augustine should have also highlighted that among the wives he mentioned only Ho Ching holds a very high and important job in a government agency with a very high salary. Why is this allowed?

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  • Boh Kia See:

    One would expect both Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods to be reporting a loss in trading this coming year.

    Very Sad!!.

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  • cb:

    Bloody arseEnlargeMentSteam @99 $0 by who to eighteen Hellgate…..assets……burden……what u think,Sir/mdm

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  • Which one am i?:

    Some people are driven by power or money , or both.
    Some people are ‘just driven’!
    they are the drivers of change in our world ..

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  • LIONS:

    Seriously,the wives of top political leaders must love the nation much more than *$*.
    If they love $ more,she will be a disastrous liability!
    Many REAL LIFE EXAMPLE$ !

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  • Bapak:

    There must be constitutional rules that wives of PMs and high level government civil servants and ministers cannot hold office of any government’s entities.

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  • LuHsien Lwong:

    Money is the root of all evil.

    Remember what our ex-top civil servant Ngiam TD once said:

    “When you raise ministers’ salaries to the point that they’re earning millions of dollar, every minister — no matter how much he wants to turn up and tell Hsien Loong off or whatever — will hesitate when he thinks of his million-dollar salary. Even if he wants to do it, HIS WIFE will stop him.”

    Why hadn’t there ever any negative news about the wives of SG’s old guards? There was no big paycheck! Our 1st generation ministers were paid decently. They willingly served the country and not lured into politics because of the humongous salaries.

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  • Monopoly NTUC:

    First ferdinand marcos in phillipines fell becaue of his wife, second is Najib , whos next? no prizes for guessing…

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  • What is you take?:

    Although some wear sloppily, they have hidden agenda……..they abused powers n order people around in government. They also gamble n lost? What is your take?

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  • LIONS:

    Most powerful women title$ costed sg taxpayers tens of BILLION$ from TH’s $quandering on *TOO BIG TO FAIL BANKS*??,
    NAJIB’S bini pales in compari$on,betul?

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  • LIONS:

    As for Sg,i remember President Sheares’ wife with fondness fot her grace n decorum.
    Lky’s wife was a different breed even if she outwardly attempted to be her husband’s handmaid?

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  • Bapak:

    I congratulate all Malaysians for voting in the right PM – https://sg.yahoo.com/news/dr-m-critics-not-arrested-051928647.html.

    None of PAP candidates can match such quality. What a shame!

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  • Change We Must:

    HC leads Temasek is not conflicts of interest, yes because they are the government now. Once they lost the power, it would be a conflict of interest.

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