Bajwa & Co
Ambika (left) at Vi Ming's office
Ambika was a truly unique, exceptional and extraordinary friend.
I count it as one of the great privileges of my career to have worked with Ambika for many years. The professional interaction first presented in the administration of the Law Society Professional Indemnity Scheme, both during the time she was a member of the Broker’s team and then in the last seven years or so, when she was the Secretariat representative to the PI Committee; and then as Director of the Conduct Department of the Law Society. She was excellent in both roles, an ever reliable source of institutional information and the ever present voice of reason in the discharge of her duties.
Ambika’s gift to me was not just in the excellence of her work or the certainty of her resourcefulness, but in the sincerity of her friendship, in her enthusiasm for the pursuit of fairness for everyone who needed it, and for her laughter and for her joy. I had been a recipient of all of these gifts, generously offered by Ambika over the years. She was also full of grace, generous in her praise and affirmation of others. She never measured the achievements of her friends with scales of jealousy or envy, but whole-heartedly rejoiced, and always sought to lift and to encourage, not with insincere or obligatory platitudes, but with good wishes from her heart. Whenever I think of Ambika in those terms, I am humbled by my own lack of grace and my own failure to let her know that it was such a privilege to have known her and to have enjoyed her friendship.
I last saw Ambika at the end of June this year. We had just presented a seminar to a law firm on Professional Conduct with colleagues from the Law Society Secretariat. She was in her element, reeling off the Professional Conduct Rules with ease and holding every lawyer in the room in rapt attention. The team then adjourned to Ya Kun at the ground floor of the Golden Shoe Multi Storey Carpark building, where we enjoyed iced milo and kaya toast. There in that small dining room, Ambika’s laughter frequently punctuated the atmosphere as we joked and gossiped. I knew she had been fighting the illness for close to 18 months by then, but had no idea that would be the last time I would see her. Ambika would not allow her friends to be weighed down by her own worries, and that was perhaps the reason why she fought with so much courage and with no complaints or self-pity. And why she presented herself always with so much grace.
Ambika was grace, compassion, courage, excellence. There was never a time I could recall when she lacked or failed to display any of these. I will miss her immensely.
She was a truly unique, exceptional and extraordinary friend.
Lok Vi Ming, SC
LVM Law Chambers
Past President, The Law Society of Singapore
Chairman, Professional Indemnity Committee
Ambika (seated, second from left), with the Secretariat CEO and directors
Letter from Secretariat to a Friend
2 August 2017
Your cubicle is empty.
You have left us all too soon. Adjusting to a routine without your familiar presence is not easy.
“Director of Conduct” was your official title during the nine years you were in Secretariat, but in truth you were much more. You were our colleague, legal adviser, counsellor, and friend. We talked to you about work. You advised us on the law. You gave us clear and pragmatic advice. We talked to you about friends, family, about life. We laughed and shared many happy times. You always had the time and patience for serious issues or banter.
We remember your smile that greeted us each time we stepped into your cubicle. It was also the last thing we noticed as we headed back, with a skip in our step, to our own cubicle.
You may not have realised it, but you inspired us. You listened and counselled without agenda or judgment. Spending time in your company gave us a new breath of enthusiasm.
Stephen Covey must have had you in mind when he penned these lines:
“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”
Empathy is a quality you possessed in abundance. You understood and shared our feelings. We never asked … but can a person learn empathy? How did you develop or acquire this gift? We suspect your empathy was innate.
The buzzword these days is technology. There are lively debates on whether technology, in particular, artificial intelligence, will displace lawyers. There is a school of thought, and this appears to be the predominant perception, that technology can never completely replace a lawyer because certain human qualities cannot be automated. I gather that empathy is one such quality that is beyond a machine. If empathy is a valued skillset of the lawyer of the future, you were far ahead of your time.
It was so heartening, so refreshing to have you in our midst, especially in this day and age where it is easy to find fault, to criticise, to bully.
There is now a void. We struggle to come to terms with your absence. By emulating your care and kindness, bit by bit, day by day ... we can gradually fill the void.