Seet Ai Mee

by Tien, Mui Mun

Seet Ai Mee (Dr) (b. 31 March 1943, Singapore) was Singapore’s first female cabinet minister. She assumed the position in July 1991 when she was appointed acting minister for community development in a cabinet reshuffle.1 She was also the first cabinet member to lose a parliamentary seat when she lost by a narrow margin to Ling How Doong of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in the 1991 general elections.2

Seet received her early education at Methodist Girls’ School, and attended a high school in Malacca. A Colombo Plan scholar, she studied at the University of Adelaide and graduated in 1964 with first class honours in biochemistry. In 1969, Seet obtained her PhD in clinical biochemistry from the University of Singapore (now the National University of Singapore).3

Seet was elected member of parliament (MP) for Bukit Gombak in the 1988 general elections as a People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate. She joined three other women who were elected into parliament in 1984 as PAP MPs. They were Dixie Tan (Dr), a medical doctor; Aline Wong (Dr), a university lecturer; and Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, a trade unionist.4 Prior to them, the last woman to hold a parliamentary seat was Chan Choy Siong, who retired from parliament in 1970.5

In 1991, Seet lost the parliamentary seat to Ling How Doong of SDP by 1.4 percent of the votes.6

Career and political appointments7
1965: Research fellow and tutor, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.
1966: Biochemist, Ministry of Health, Singapore.
1973: Senior research fellow, Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research.
1977: Managing director, AML Sci-Ed Consultants Pte. Ltd.
1984–1988: Chairman, school executive committee of Blangah Rise Primary School.
1985–1988: President, Singapore Association for the Deaf.
1988: Member of parliament for Bukit Gombak.
1 Nov 1988–30 Jun 1991: Minister of state for education and community development.
1 Jul–6 Sep 1991: Acting minister for community development and sports.
1992: Founder chairman, Dover Park Hospice Governing Council.
1992: Director, Courts (S) Ltd.
1994: Director, Informatics Holdings Ltd.
1995: First chairman, Singapore Hospice Council.
1995: Director, Datacraft Asia Ltd.
1996: Director, Ming Wah Universal (Bermuda) Co. Ltd.
1997: Director, Jade Technologies (S) Ltd.

Husband: Seet Lip Chai (Dr).
Children: A son and a daughter.

1997: Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star).
1998: Justice of the peace.

Jenny Tien

1. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 348. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO); (1991, July 1). PM Goh reshuffles Cabinet. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Chang, R. (2011, March 19). Why I lost in Bukit Gombak. The Straits Times, p. 43. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 348. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
4. Wong, A., & Leong, W. K. (Eds.). (1993). A woman's place: The story of Singapore women. Singapore: PAP Women’s Wing, pp. 100–102. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 WOM).
5. More women in the House? Not likely. (1995, November 25). The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Bukit Gombak. (1991, September 2). The New Paper, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 348. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
8. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 348. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
9. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 348. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)

Further resources
Lam, J. L. (1993). Voices & choices: The women’s movement in Singapore. Singapore: Singapore Council of Women’s Organisation and Singapore Baha’i Women’s Committee, pp. 114–125.
(Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 VOI)

Seet, A. M. (c1992). Open universities: An Asian perspective. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
(Call no.: RSING 378.03095 SEE)

Zuraidah Ibrahim & Chua. M. H. (1991, June 30). Dr. Seet is first woman Ag Minister, with Community Development post. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Directors of corperations--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Political Leaders
Law and government>>Public administration>>Cabinet (Government Councils)
Women politicians--Singapore--Biography
Seet, Ai Mee, 1943-