Authors: Subhas Anandan
© 2009 Subhas Anandan and Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Private Limited
First printed 2009.
Reprinted 2009 (three times), 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
This edition published 2015.
Editor: Lee Mei Lin
Designer: Benson Tan
Published by Marshall Cavendish Editions
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National Library Board Singapore Cataloguing in Publication Data
Anandan, Subhas, 1947-2015.
Subhas Anandan : the best I could. – Singapore : Marshall Cavendish Editions, c2009.
eISBN-13: 978 981 4677 88 2
1. Anandan, Subhas, 1947-2015. 2. Lawyers – Singapore – Biography. 3. Trials (Murder) – Singapore. I. Title.
340.092 -- dc22 OCN262489315
Printed in Singapore by Fabulous Printers Pte Ltd
I started my law firm, Subhas Anandan, Advocate & Solicitor, with $500 given to me by my elder sister, Subhashini, who was then working as a medical officer. When I told her that I needed $500 to start it, she was surprised I could start a law firm with just that amount. I told her that the money was to open a current account so I could issue cheques. My sister, who is a very generous person, offered me more money. But I refused with a caveat—I told her that if I needed more funds, I would call on her. True to form, I did call on her generosity many times and she did not turn me down once. I don’t think that I have repaid all the money I borrowed from her yet.
On my first day of practice, my younger sister, Sugadha, who was then a relief teacher (she is now a reading specialist in the Ministry of Education with a Master’s degree in English), gave me a poster which read something like: Aim High, Aim Far, Aim for the Sky, Aim for the Stars. I stared at the poster and wondered at the audacity of my sister to think I could reach the stars. I was just hoping to make ends meet. Today, when I hit the headlines, I think of that poster and my younger sister. She had the courage to dream for me.
My younger brother, Sudheesan, who was then working in the Ministry of Defence did not say anything. He is the sort who will not interfere but you can be sure he will be there for you through thick and thin. I owe him my undying gratitude for all he did for me when I was in prison in 1976. He played football for Singapore and was the captain of the National Youth Team but this fact is not known to many.
My late younger brother, Surash, was then a well-known footballer in the early 1970s. He played for Singapore and made a name for himself. His only goal against West Germany in Tokyo was, at that time, the talking point in many a sporting function. He was one of my biggest fans as I was his. During my days in prison, I was known as his brother and I was so proud of him when prisoners came to talk to me about him.
My father was more a friend than a father. I recall when my own son was three years old, he was asked by some friends how he related to me and his answer was: “My father is, firstly, my best friend. Secondly he is my partner, and thirdly, he is my father, and sometimes he is my enemy.” I am glad I passed on my relationship with my father to my son.
To my mother, I was everything. She openly showed her bias and to the credit of my siblings, they took this without any grudges. To some extent, they were all quietly spoiling me as well when I was growing up. In fact, they are still spoiling me even at this age. In many ways, my mother was also everything to me. She did say that I made her cry the most but I also made her laugh the most. She was the only person who could make me do what I didn’t want to do.
When I was studying for my ‘A’ level and university exams, she used to sit with me to keep me company. Quite often when my friends felt I needed a break, they would come by around midnight with fried chicken and all sorts of other goodies. They would provide entertainment for half an hour before they left me with my studies again. My mother did not know at the time that the chicken was probably stolen from some neighbour. She used to say that part of my law degree belonged to her while my friends said that they were entitled to part of my earnings for the sacrifices they made.
The death of my father was a blow to me. I was not able to deal with it for some time. I had started to earn good money and I wanted to share my good fortune with him. I could only do it for a short time. I remember the pride and joy on his face when he got into my first Mercedes 280S. When I switched on the air-conditioner, he told me to switch it off. I asked him if he was feeling cold. He said that he was not but using the air-conditioner would increase the usage of petrol. I laughed and told him that I could afford it.
At the slightest excuse, he would ask me to give him a lift to meet his friends and sometimes he even requested me to drive one friend to visit another. I realised he just wanted to show off his son’s car.
My mother’s demise was more acceptable. She witnessed my marriage and had a few years with my son. When my wife Vimi confirmed her pregnancy, she rang my mother up to give her the good news. As usual my mother was lamenting about her ill health and wondering why she was still alive. She was in one of her depressive moods. On hearing the good news, she was delighted and even today, everybody feels that the birth of my son extended her life by another five years.
When she died, in some ways, we were glad because she was suffering a lot of pain and it was terrible to see her controlling her pain to make us feel better. She is the bravest lady I know. She took many a blow and came back stronger. I attribute this to her great faith in her God.
Apart from my family, there are many people who shaped my life and my character. It is practically impossible to name all of them and if I have inadvertently left out some names, please forgive me.
I grew up in the British Naval Base. My childhood friends were many and they had a good influence on me. Friends like Ah Teng, Ah Tee, Chee San, Poh Leong, Ah Soo, Chee Kok, Ramli, Ismail, Mohd Noor, Narainasamy, Ah Sai, Sai Chee, the late Lai Beng, Sivalingam (otherwise known as Mark, who first taught me how to drive) and many others. With these friends, I learnt the meaning of loyalty and realised that true friendship knows no boundaries.
In Naval Base School, I had other friends like Yusof (the last I heard he was in trouble and had run away from Singapore), Resman, Teck Boo, Hin Kiew (whose football wizardry was remarkable) and many others. Teachers like Mr Ngoh Cheong Hock, Mr Gabriel Pillai, Mr Oliver Seet, Mr Haridas and many other teachers also helped to shape me.
I would also like to acknowledge my brother-in-law, Bhas, and my wife’s brother-in-law, Nala, for all the medical care they gave me unflinchingly and, of course, for free. My sister-in-law, Nan, for being one of the first to be at my bedside whenever I was in hospital, my sisters-in-law, Syon and Justina, and my niece Sunita for always being there.
To Philip Ong, who ignored his busy work schedule in Shanghai to be at my bedside on the eve of my heart by-pass operation. He was, and always has been, a pillar of strength to me and my family.
My secretary, Sandra Cheng, for assisting my wife in liaising with the publishers. Thusita de Silva for his help to me in writing this book.
Last, but not least, to the late Justice M Karthigesu and Mrs Rathi Karthigesu I owe a debt for all that they have done for me.
Strong friendships have been a very integral part in my brother’s life. Growing up in the British Naval Base workers’ quarters, he had the good fortune of having good friends in the different phases of his life. In his Naval Base school days, in Raffles Institution and the University of Singapore, Subhas had good friends that stood by him when he needed them. The friendships one makes growing up tend to mould the person one becomes. His growing up experiences with his friends, together with the love, support and guidance of our parents, have crystallised the adult Subhas. In his practise of the law, he had many successes and disappointments, but there were two very distinct phases in his life, and the law he loves passionately, that reveal the character of the man.