Legal luminaries are just loving fathers

Mr Davinder Singh SC and Mr Subhas Anandan are well known in legal circles and their work has been widely publicised. But to Mr Hanspreet and Mr Jaspreet Singh and Mr Sujesh Anandan, these legal luminaries are just loving fathers and even best friends who have found the time to nurture and mentor them despite their busy schedules.

They have followed their fathers' footsteps into the legal profession, with Mr Hanspreet and Mr Jaspreet working under their father in the same firm.

In the lead-up to Father's Day (June 20) this year, they told the Singapore Academy of Law about the special bonds they share with their fathers and how they have been inspired to carry the torch for the legal service.

Mr Sujesh was 24 when his father Subhas died in 2015. He remembers his father with fondness every day. "I can still hear some of his famous (or infamous) one-liners. Whenever I'm in doubt, I think of him and think about how he would have advised me."

He is especially grateful for his father's gentle nudge towards a law degree. "He never pressured or put any expectations on me," said Mr Sujesh. "But I know that he was very happy when I eventually did pursue law. He was never too bothered with academic success. Instead, he always echoed the importance of being a good person, to help people whenever possible."

Mr Subhas may have appeared in numerous high-profile cases, but he hardly spoke to his son about them. Mr Sujesh only got to know about them from reports in the newspapers and on television: "His success and the publicity definitely made me proud. But it did not set me on the path to becoming a lawyer," said Mr Sujesh.

Mr Sujesh, who practises at Quahe Woo & Palmer LLC, said that his inspiration came from seeing how his father used his career to help those in need. "I have always believed that if he was not a criminal lawyer, he would have found a way to give back. Criminal defence was just a vehicle for him to do that," said Mr Sujesh.

One of the key lessons that the younger generation have learnt from their fathers is the importance of being upright and helping others in need.

Mr Sujesh remembered that his father always found time to give back no matter how busy his schedule was.

"I never got to work under my father, unfortunately. So I try to follow the lead of my cousin Sunil and close family friend Diana Ngiam who worked under my father for several years," said Mr Sujesh. "They are active volunteer lawyers with the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme and for the Enhanced Guidance for Plea Scheme administered by the State Courts' Community Justice Centre."

When asked about the lessons they learnt from their father, Mr Hanspreet and Mr Jaspreet said: "Dad has taught us the importance of being closely knit as father and sons and why that is all that matters.

"When we were younger, he taught us many lessons which we remember to this day and which guide how we approach life. Some examples are the importance of honesty in one's work and the importance of staying healthy and fit. He is a big believer in the value of hard work and of applying oneself fully to the task at hand. He also taught us that if we have the chance to do something good for someone, we should do it."

Beyond being mentors and a source of inspiration, these famous fathers also share a loving and close relationship with their children.

Recalled Mr Sujesh: "He used to love to tell the story of how when I was three or four years old I would tell everyone he was my friend first, father second. In all honesty, that remained true till he passed away.

"He was always my best friend and I knew I could go to him for anything. There was also always the respect and admiration that sons have for fathers."

For Mr Sujesh, a typical Father's Day in the past would be spent over a nice meal at his father's favourite restaurant, Imperial Treasure, and watching Sunday night football.

On the best Father's Day gift he has received, Mr Davinder said: "That my boys remind me that Father's Day is coming and suggest what we can do together. That is the best gift."

Singapore Academy of Law

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