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Son of 'law legend' Subhas Anandan has big shoes to fill

Son of 'law legend' Subhas Anandan has big shoes to fill

Source: Straits Times
Date Published: 16 Apr 2019
Author: K.C. Vijayan

Called to the Bar last week, he has fond memories of his late dad Subhas Anandan.

Among the 51 lawyers called to the Bar before Justice Choo Han Teck in the Supreme Court last Wednesday was a 28-year-old with big shoes to fill.

Mr Sujesh Anandan's father is the late Mr Subhas Anandan, a lawyer hailed as a legend by many of his peers.

Mr Subhas, who died in January 2015 at the age of 67, was involved in many high-profile criminal cases - Anthony Ler (who murdered his wife in 2001), Took Leng How (who murdered an eight-year-old girl in 2004) and Leong Siew Chor (who killed his lover in 2005).

But Mr Subhas was also a champion of pro bono work and president of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore.

Mr Sujesh was 24 and in his second year of law school when his father died. "Leaving my mother and me alone, that period was difficult," he said, adding that the support he received from family, friends and his girlfriend helped him through it.

Mr Sujesh did not start out wanting to be a lawyer. After completing a three-year polytechnic course in banking and finance, he enlisted for national service before enrolling in the University of Nottingham in England to read law.

He was excited at the prospect of working with his father. "I never got a chance to do that... but I will work with Sunil (Sudheesan) and lawyer Diana Ngiam at Quahe Woo and Palmer LLC," he added.

There is continuity in the arrangement. After all, Mr Sunil began practising with Mr Subhas, his uncle, 14 years ago.

"Sujesh has the same sharpness, and is forthright like his dad, but how willing he is to be forthright will take time," said Mr Sunil, 39, who added that Mr Subhas was not one to hold back his opinions, including in his dealings with the media.

"It took some time for Subhas to be Subhas," he added.

Over the years, Mr Subhas handled more than 2,500 cases but one in particular stands out for his son.

Mr Sujesh said: "I was a teen when I saw the impact of the Took Leng How verdict. It affected my dad because he felt the guy should not have been given the death penalty. He took that one quite badly."

Took, a Malaysian, was convicted of the murder of Huang Na and later lost the appeal on a 2-1 majority.

"We were all shaken by the case," shared Mr Sunil, who started practising with that case in 2005.

Although Mr Subhas had expressed hope that his son would join Mr Sunil, he wanted him to chart his own path.

Mr Sujesh said: "Growing up, my father never put any sort of pressure on me to do law. He said, 'You do whatever you want, just be a good person, that is important'."

Mr Subhas also told his son that he had the tools to become a good lawyer.

"I think he was very objective, for someone like him to say that. Made a big impression on me," added Mr Sujesh, an only child.

Mr Subhas did have one other wish for his son.

In a 2014 interview with The Straits Times, when he was struggling with heart and kidney disease, he said anybody could become a good lawyer with hard work.

"But I want my son to be a good human being, not chasing after money all the time, and to show compassion to people less fortunate. I would have rather people say he's a good man than he's a good lawyer," he said then.


A FATHER'S WISH

I want my son to be a good human being, not chasing after money all the time, and to show compassion to people less fortunate. I would have rather people say he's a good man than he's a good lawyer.

MR SUBHAS ANANDAN, in a 2014 interview with The Straits Times. He said then that anybody can become a good lawyer with hard work.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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