Selina Hassan (née Lee) with her three children, in Sydney, around 1928
From left: Connie, Selina, Allan and Ruby Hassan.
Photograph courtesy of Selina Hassan.
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Selina, born and raised in Darwin, was the granddaughter of Lee Hang Gong and Sarah Bowman. Lee Hang Gong came to Victoria from Guangdong, China, in the early 1850s, setting up a store in Creswick on the goldfields. Sarah Bowman was a young midwife from London. In 1882 the family moved to Palmerston (later called Darwin). In 1919 Selina Lee married Ali Hassan, an emigre from Hong Kong who, originally a labourer on the building of Darwin's jetty, later worked his way up to be manager of Darwin's only butcher's shop. Ali Hassan died early in 1929. Selina started a tailoaring and drapery business and, when a garrison was set up in Darwin, did a good trade outfitting the military. In 1940, Selina decided that her duty to educate her children in the Chinese religion required her to move to Singapore. Although caught there during the Japanese occupation, they avoided the harsh treatment otherwise meted out to the island's Chinese population because they lived in the Malay quarter instead. When the war finished, the family moved again to Australia, setting up home in Richmond, Melbourne, where Selina Hassan bought a sub-newsagency.