25 December 1947|
|Died||7 January 2015
University of Singapore
Subhas Anandan (25 December 1947 – 7 January 2015) was a prominent criminal lawyer in Singapore. He had appeared in numerous high-profile cases, including a 2010 case involving actress Quan Yi Fong hitting a taxi driver, and a 2008 case involving retail tycoon Tang Wee Sung trying to illegally purchase a kidney from a living donor. At the time of his death, he was the senior partner in law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP and headed its department in criminal law. He was a founding member and the first president of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore. He was also the president of Cuesports Singapore, the national sports association for billiards, snooker and pool. Towards the end of his life, Anandan's health began to deteriorate and he died of heart failure in January 2015.
Anandan was born on 25 December 1947 to Raman Anandan and Govindan Pushpanjaly, in Kerala, India. When he was five months old, the family migrated from Kerala to Singapore, where his father had found work as a clerk in the British Royal Navy. They lived in the staff quarters within the British naval base in Sembawang until his father retired in the early 1970s.
Anandan attended primary and secondary school in the naval base, first at Admiralty Asian School and then Naval Base School. He excelled academically and in sports too, including cricket and football. In 1963, after achieving a first grade in his Senior Cambridge (now 'O' Level) examinations, he left for India to study medicine in Madras (now Chennai) under the request of his mother. But after the first few lessons, he was convinced that he was not meant to be a doctor. He returned home after three months and started his pre-university education at Raffles Institution in 1964.
After completing his Higher School Certificate (now 'A' Level) examinations, he wanted to join the police force but eventually enrolled in the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore) at the insistence of his father. While pursuing a degree in law, he participated in various extra-curricular activities, including playing on the university's football team and serving as secretary-general of the Socialists' Club. He obtained his law degree in 1970 and went on to become to the protégé of Chan Sek Keong, then a senior partner at law firm Shook Lin & Bok and, later, a Chief Justice of Singapore.
Later years and career
In March 1976, Anandan was arrested by a corrupt police officer for suspected involvement in a secret society under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act. He was exonerated in November of the same year following an investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
Anandan started the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore in 2002, with the goal of raising the number of criminal lawyers in the country. In 2011, Anandan, alongside law practitioners including Rajan Menon, founded RHTLaw TaylorWessing and stayed on as one of its senior partners until his death.
Anandan had started his practice handling mainly civil, accident and family cases but soon began gravitating towards criminal law. In his lifetime, he had handled over a thousand criminal cases involving a wide range of crimes, including murder, rape, domestic worker abuse, drug trafficking and white-collar offences. Known for his sharp and stinging attacks in the courtroom, he was nicknamed "the Basher" within the law community. His presence in court had been characterised as intimidating, given his fierce stares and voluminous beard. As one of Singapore's top criminal defence lawyers, he had appeared so frequently in the media that some people called him a "publicity hound".
While Anandan was critical of some aspects of the criminal justice system in Singapore, he believed that the system had to be followed. He also had a personal mantra of "the most heinous offenders deserve their day in a court of law"; hence Anandan had claimed to have never rejected cases because of the offence the person had been charged with.
Personal life and death
Anandan first applied for Singapore citizenship in 1972, but was informed a decade later that his application had been turned down. He tried again 2002, and was then finally granted citizenship.
Anandan was particularly passionate about big-capacity cars. He developed this liking in his secondary school days, when he saw other students driving or being driven around in luxury cars like Mercedes Benzes and Jaguars. Beside owning luxury cars, he liked collecting antique or miniature swords, sabres and kris. He often went to the Singapore Cricket Club to play snooker and billiards as a means of releasing work-induced stress. He also spent most of his time at the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple, where he was the chairman of its Board of Trustees.
An active sportsman in his youth, Anandan was taking 22 types of medication every day because of his deteriorating health in the later years up to his death. He had had three heart attacks, and had also undergone a heart bypass and an angioplasty. He had also lost one kidney to cancer and was a diabetic.
At around 2300 hours (GMT+8) on 7 January 2015, Anandan died while warded at Singapore General Hospital of complications from heart failure, which he was diagnosed with in 2014. His death triggered an outpouring of grief especially amongst members of the law industry in Singapore. Law Minister K. Shanmugam hailed Anandan as a "titan in criminal law" as well as a "legal legend", while Attorney-General V. K. Rajah lauded his "uncanny legal acumen". His funeral, which was attended by "hundreds", was held the next evening and Anandan's body was cremated with Hindu rites on the same day.
Anandan was honoured by the Association of Muslim Lawyers on 28 October 2014 for his substantial contributions towards the legal profession and being a champion of pro bono work for several decades. A tribute ceremony was held at the Supreme Court Auditorium and attended by some 400 members of the legal community, including Law Minister K. Shanmugam, former President S. R. Nathan, Attorney-General V. K. Rajah and several judges. At the ceremony, the newly formed "Yellow Ribbon Fund Subhas Anandan Star Bursary Award" worth S$250,000 was launched which would provide financial support to ex-inmates who wished to pursue further education and a second chance in society, a cause pioneered by Anandan during his four-decade career. Anandan's 2009 book, The Best I Could, documenting his more famous cases, was adapted into a Channel 5 television series of the same name. It ran for two seasons.
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