Hubert Burda Media

Measure of A Man

As Singapore grieves the loss of one of its leading criminal lawyers SUBHAS ANANDAN, we reflect on what made him so well-respected.

The altruistic ways and legal prowess of Subhas Anandan came to an abrupt end when the revered criminal lawyer passed away from heart failure on January 7, 2015. He was 67.
Called to the Bar in 1971, the senior partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP had taken on more than 2,500 cases over the course of his decades-long career. A household name for defending notorious criminals and those who had no one else to turn to, Anandan was driven by the belief that “However heinous your offence is, I think you deserve a proper defence, especially in capital cases,” he told the The Sunday Times in a November interview.
Among the many tributes from the legal fraternity, Law and Foreign Minister K Shanmugam described his friend as a “legal legend” on Facebook. He added: “His unswerving belief in fair representation for the accused, and granting them a second chance in life, makes him an inspiring role model for the rest of the Criminal Bar.”
Defending many of his clients pro bono, Anandan was involved in some of Singapore’s most high-profile cases, including that of Anthony Ler, who hired a teenager to kill his wife; Took Leng How who killed an 8-year-old girl; and Leong Siew Chor in the Kallang body parts case.
He was also the founding president of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore and was lauded by the Association of Muslim Lawyers last year for his efforts in undertaking and championing pro bono work. In October, the Yellow Ribbon Fund named a bursary, the Subhas Anandan Star Bursary Award to provide financial support for ex-convicts who wish to pursue further studies that will give them a second chance at accomplishing their dreams.
His long list of endeavours and contributions to society also earned him a spot on Prestige‘s regional Power 300 list published earlier this month, and on its 2013 Power List.
Hailing from Kerala, India, Anandan came with his parents to Singapore in 1947 as a 5-month-old. He has also authored two books. The first, titled The Best I Could — which went on to inspire the release of a local crime drama of the same name — was released in late 2008 and revealed details of his most famous cases. His second book, It’s Easy to Cry, is expected to hit the shelves later this year.