Lawyer Subhas Anandan dies: Many pay last respects to man who had 'touched lives of many'
Even the heavy afternoon downpour could not stem the stream of visitors to Leonie Hill Residences yesterday.
They went there to offer their condolences to the family of the late Subhas Anandan, Singapore's highly-regarded criminal lawyer.
They were there also to pay their last respects to Mr Subhas, who had touched the lives of many.
For one man, at least, the heavy rain that poured down on the condominium's driveway was a "good omen".
Mr Ramli Puteh, 67, who grew up with Mr Subhas, said: "It may be a sad day, but as Muslims, we believe this is 'rahmat' or a blessing."
Mr Ramli and three others from the same Sembawang kampung were among the hundreds who went to the funeral after hearing of Mr Subhas' death on Wednesday due to heart failure. He was 67.
Often seen as the leader of the "pack", Mr Subhas would organise games like football and rounders in the estate, Madam Teresa Quah, the sister of football legend Quah Kim Song, told The New Paper.
She said: "Our parents worked for the British and we stayed at the Navy quarters. Back then, we knew one another like brothers and sisters, and often ate at each other's home during festivities."
Mr Subhas would be remembered as somebody who helped without asking anything in return, said Madam Mary Chu, a childhood friend.
"He was the best. We're going to miss him," she said.
Although the kampung they cherished is gone, Mr Subhas' friends kept in touch for more than 60 years, celebrating Deepavali at his Leonie Hill condominium every year.
Perhaps the silent respect accorded to Mr Subhas can be appreciated by those who attended his funeral.
It was like a who's who of Singapore society. There were prominent lawyers, ministers, an ex-president, celebrities, a football star, veteran journalists and many nameless people who insisted on seeing Mr Suhbas one last time.
Among them was Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who described Mr Subhas as a courageous and reliable man who came from "a family of heroes".
Dr Balakrishnan said he knew Mr Subhas' late brother, Surash Anandan, who was a national footballer and a cabin crew member who had lost his life trying to save a passenger during the ill-fated SQ006 crash in Taiwan.
Singapore's former president SR Nathan and former member of parliament Zainal Abidin Rasheed visited the family in the afternoon.
Celebrity Bobby Tonelli and his female companion arrived to pay their respects, too.
There was some excitement when Tampines Rovers coach and Malaysia Cup legend V. Sundramoorthy appeared at around 3.45pm.
Sundram told TNP: "I grew up not far from Subhas in Sembawang and I learnt from my father that Subhas was somebody who was approachable and helpful. He was like family to us."
At about 4.30pm, after Mr Subhas' casket was put into the hearse following a short religious rite by family members, a convoy of friends made its way to the Mandai Crematorium.
At the entrance of Service Hall 3, close to 500 people gathered. The hall was packed and many had to wait outside.
Most had gone there after work and they listened intently as friends delivered their eulogies in the hall.
In the crowd were familiar faces like ex-MP Michael Palmer and former Central Narcotics Bureau director Ng Boon Gay.
Psychiatrist Tommy Tan, who had worked closely with Mr Subhas, said that the late lawyer's reputation was equally well known outside Singapore.
Dr Tan told TNP: "I found out about Subhas' death after my staff's friend in Hong Kong told her about it on Wednesday. That shows you how popular he was."
While the adults spoke in hushed tones outside the hall, a group of 17 students from Pioneer Junior College decided to make public their show of gratitude towards Mr Subhas.
They wrote on placards messages thanking him for being a "warrior of justice" and "may your legacy live on".
The college's vice-principal, Mr Lim Boon Tat, explained that since 2012, Mr Subhas had sponsored book prizes to students who excelled in General Paper.
The criteria for the prize include being a champion for a good cause to better lives of the community and being able to speak up in class, among others.
EXCERPTS OF EULOGY
Rajan Menon, senior partner, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing
"Throughout his life... he had constantly been the most loved, and most implicitly followed by family, relatives, friends, and the most dreaded by opponents.
"Having come from a kampung in Sembawang where his family moved to after his father retired as a clerk in the British Royal Navy, Subhas saw how circumstances can force people to turn to crime and yet not be able to defend themselves.
"He said: 'While criminal law is not the most lucrative line of legal work, since many clients cannot afford a lawyer, receiving the gratitude of those I represented was enough.' Some of them even offered him their organs.
"He also said: 'I may not have made so much money, but I think the goodwill I got, even the richest lawyer in Singapore will not have'."
K. Shanmugam, Law Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister (photo)
"We have lost a great man. It is our loss, it is our country's loss, and the country mourns his departure. The media - print, radio, TV - is awash with stories, a testimony to the standing Subhas had.
"To the legal fraternity, Subhas was like an elder brother. His 40 years of experience in overcoming the odds in court, in cases that had originally seemed to be lost, made him a legend in the criminal bar. His incisive intellect and dogged perseverance were tempered by a sharp wit and infectious sense of humour.
"To the people he defended and the general public, he was a hero. His reputation for taking up the toughest cases, often pro bono, and then succeeding against the odds, made him a mainstay in the news and a beacon of hope to the accused whom he defended."