Subhas Anandan

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Subhas Anandan
Subhas Anandan lawyer.jpg
Subhas Anandan
Born(1947-12-25)25 December 1947
Kerala, India
Died7 January 2015(2015-01-07) (aged 67)
EducationRaffles Institution
University of Singapore

Subhas Anandan[1] (25 December 1947 – 7 January 2015) was a prominent criminal lawyer in Singapore.[2][3][4][5] He had appeared in numerous high-profile cases, including a 2010 case involving actress Quan Yi Fong hitting a taxi driver,[6] 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.[3][7] He was a founding member and the first president of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore.[7][8][9] He was also the president of Cuesports Singapore, the national sports association for billiards, snooker and pool.[7] Towards the end of his life, Anandan's health began to deteriorate and he died of heart failure in January 2015.

Early life[edit]

Anandan was born on 25 December 1947[10] to Raman Anandan[11][1] and Govindan Pushpanjaly,[12] in Kerala, India.[7] 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.[13]

Anandan attended primary and secondary school in the naval base, first at Admiralty Asian School and then Naval Base School.[14] 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.[15]

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)[16] 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.[7] 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.[7]

Later years and career[edit]

In March 1976,[17] Anandan was arrested by a corrupt police officer for suspected involvement in a secret society under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act.[18][19][20] He was exonerated in November of the same year following an investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.[21]

Anandan started the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore in 2002, with the goal of raising the number of criminal lawyers in the country.[22] In 2011, Anandan, alongside law practitioners including Rajan Menon, founded RHTLaw TaylorWessing and stayed on as one of its senior partners until his death.[10][22]

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"[7] 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".[7]

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.[16][23]

In 2013, Amadan was part of the 12-member steering committee to guide the development of the Singapore University of Social Sciences School of Law. [24]

Personal life and death[edit]

Anandan first applied for Singapore citizenship in 1972, but was informed a decade later that his application had been turned down.[7] He tried again 2002, and was then finally granted citizenship.[7]

According to Anandan's book, The Best I Could, former Solicitor-General Francis Seow owed Anandan S$25,000 since the 1980s, after Seow left the country when faced with income tax charges.[25]

Anandan was particularly passionate about big-capacity cars.[3] 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[3] 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.[3]

An active sportsman in his youth,[4] Anandan was taking 22 types of medication every day because of his deteriorating health in the later years up to his death.[21][4] He had had three heart attacks,[26] and had also undergone a heart bypass and an angioplasty.[4] He had also lost one kidney to cancer and was a diabetic.[4][7][4][7]

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.[27] 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".[28] His funeral, which was attended by "hundreds",[22] was held the next evening and Anandan's body was cremated with Hindu rites on the same day.[22][29][30]


Anandan was awarded the Legal Eagle Award of 2001 conferred by the Law Society of Singapore.[3][7]

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.[31] 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.[32]


  1. ^ a b "R. Anandan Obituary". The Straits Times. 14 November 1984. p. 39.
  2. ^ Chan, C. (16 May 2007) "Regrets? He has a few..." The New Paper. Retrieved 29 January 2010
  3. ^ a b c d e f Interview with Criminal Lawyer, Mr. Subhas Anandan Archived 29 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine Singapore Law Review. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Joycelyn Wong (11 December 2008). "My own family scolds me for the cases I take". AsiaOne. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  5. ^ Shibani Mahtani (9 July 2012). "Singapore to Soften Death Penalty for Drugs". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 7 January 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Quan Yifeng pleads guilty to mischief". Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Yap, S. (30 June 2008). "Soaring legal eagle" The Straits Times. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  8. ^ "Church's remarks could interfere judicial process: Lawyers". AsiaOne. 30 June 2012. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Singapore to legalise anal, oral sex – but only for heterosexuals". Fridae. 9 November 2006. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Today we grieve the loss of a great man". RHTLaw TaylorWessing. 7 January 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Detained lawyer: Father's plea". The Straits Times. 31 January 1976. p. 11.
  12. ^ "Mdm Govindan Pushpanjaly" Obituary. (6 July 1995). The Straits Times, pg 34. Retrieved 29 January 2010
  13. ^ Anandan 2009, p. 4.
  14. ^ Anandan 2009, p. 3.
  15. ^ Anandan 2009, p. 12.
  16. ^ a b "Regrets? He has a few…". AsiaOne. 1 November 2007. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Lawyer Subhas acquitted". The Straits Times. 22 February 1976. p. 9.
  18. ^ "What it should have been". The Straits Times. 18 January 1997. p. 2.
  19. ^ "2011 U@Live featuring Subhas Anandan". National University of Singapore. Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Subhas case: CPIB probe". The Straits Times. 22 March 1976. p. 7.
  21. ^ a b Tay, Mark (2 December 2013). "Subhas Anandan". Esquire Singapore.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ a b c d Cheng, Kenneth (9 January 2015). "Hundreds pay last respects to Subhas Anandan". Today. Archived from the original on 11 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  23. ^ "'Second chance lawyer' Subhas Anandan went the extra mile for his clients". Channel NewsAsia. 8 January 2015. Archived from the original on 11 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Steering committee for UniSIM law school unveiled" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  25. ^ Anandan, Subhas (2009). The Best I Could (Chp 27). Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd.
  26. ^ Anandan 2009, p. 16.
  27. ^ Lum, Selina (7 January 2015). "Veteran criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan dies of heart failure, aged 67". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  28. ^ Lim, Yi Han (8 January 2015). "Tributes pour in for late criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Mass turnout at Subhas Anandan's funeral". Razor. 8 January 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  30. ^ "Legal legend dies of heart failure at 67". MyPaper. Archived from the original on 17 January 2015.
  31. ^ Lim, Yi Han (28 October 2014). "New education fund for ex-inmates named after criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  32. ^ "The Best I Could". Toggle. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015.