Annual Dinner and Dance 2014

The Law Society of Singapore held its annual Dinner and Dance at Marriott Hotel on Friday, 14 November 2014. 

Approximately 500 guests attended the dinner, including the Attorney-General, Judges and Judicial Commissioners of the Supreme Court as well as other distinguished guests. 

The emcee for the night was our own member, Mr Adrian Tan. 

At the Dinner, the C C Tan Award 2014 was conferred on Dr Gopalan Raman and the Pro Bono Ambassador Award 2014/2015 was conferred on Mr Suresh Damodara. 

Other award recipients for 2014 included the following: 

Volunteer of the Year Award: 
Large-sized law practice: Rodyk & Davidson LLP
Medium-sized law practice: Anthony Law Corporation
Small-sized law practice: S T Chelvan & Company
Sole-practitioner law practice: Lisa Sam & Company 

Contributor of the Year Award:
TSMP Law Corporation

Plaque of Appreciation: 
Mr Chan Leng Sun, SC, Ms Mimi Oh Kim Heoh, Mr Peter Keith Fernando and Mr Tham Lijing

Friend of the Law Society: 
Mr Patrick Nathan, Singapore Institute of Legal Education

Law Gazette Awards:
Prof Low Kee Yang, Mr Choo Zheng Xi and Mr Fong Wei Li

Fund-raising activities to raise funds for the Pro Bono Services Office’s upcoming initiatives namely “Justice for All” and “Just Walk”, included a silent ballot at the Dinner as well as sales of charity tables. 

The Law Society would like to thank the following firms who purchased the Silver tables: 

1. Ashurst LLP

2. Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow

3. Harry Elias Partnership LLP 

4. Sidley Austin LLP 


The Law Society would also like to thank sponsor Yamaha Music (Asia) Private Limited, our official media partner The Peak Magazine and our emcee Mr Adrian Tan. 

Citation for C C Tan Award 2014

This citation was read by Vice-President Mr Thio Shen Yi, SC.

Vice-President Mr Thio Shen Yi, SC, reading the citation

It is my privilege to read the citation of the C C Tan award 2014. 

For members of the profession who have had the privilege of knowing Mr Tan Chye Cheng, or C C Tan as he is fondly remembered by the Bar, they would say that he had throughout his long professional life embodied and exemplified the virtues of the legal profession – honesty, fair play, gentlemanliness and personal integrity.

The Council of the Law Society inaugurated the C C Tan award in 2003 in his memory and presents this award annually to a member of the Bar who exemplifies these qualities.

I am pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the C C Tan Award is Dr Gopalan Raman. 

Dr. Raman completed his LL.B. in 1966 and qualified as Barrister-at-Law in 1968 at Lincoln’s Inn. Clearly committed to lifelong learning, he obtained a Ph.D from the University of London in December 2003. He began practice in Singapore in 1969, has persevered in practice for 45 years, and is currently a Senior Consultant with KhattarWong LLP. Dr. Raman was also a Council Member of the Law Society of Singapore in 2004 and was elected Vice-President in 2005.

Known for his forthrightness and candor, he has no qualms in articulating his views, regardless of the identity of the other party. He does so however with grace, reason and respect, all in the best traditions of a senior advocate. He has a reputation of a senior lawyer possessed of magnanimity and integrity, who also happens to be the leading authority on Probate, Wills and Trusts in Singapore.  I remember that during my years serving as CPD Chair, we could always count on Dr Raman, “Mr Reliable”, to share his knowledge by helming extensive seminars and workshops on probate for the benefit of our members.

Dr Raman has chosen to specialize in probate practice, an area which some consider as less sexy or glamorous.  Upon being asked in an interview why he found probate practice so fulfilling, he said, with his typical clarity and empathy, that his cases offered “a revelation on what motivates certain people - Greed, vindictiveness in challenging what is not challengeable and a callous indifference to the feelings of beneficiaries inter se constitute the regular fare in probate work.” (If I may be permitted a digression from this citation, Dr Raman, you seem to have a fascination with the less salubrious aspects of the human condition!)

Piercing beyond his reputation as an expert on probate law, his gentlemanly demeanour makes him eminently approachable. I also have irrefutable hearsay evidence that he does not hesitate to render assistance when requested, particularly to younger members of the Bar. A member of this Council once remarked that in his first year of practice, he was assigned to defend a hopeless summary judgment application, and after he lost the hearing, opposing counsel Dr Raman took pains to speak to him to commend and compliment the effort. That encouraged a defeated newbie and made a lasting impression on him. It is Dr Raman’s spirit of generosity which has motivated and continues to motivate those around him. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr Raman personifies a role model for younger lawyers to aspire to (and I hope to include myself amongst them), and exemplifies the values celebrated by the CC Tan Award.

For his personal integrity, honesty and contributions to the legal fraternity in Singapore, the Council is pleased to present Dr Gopalan Raman .with the 2014 C C Tan Award. 

It is my privilege to welcome Dr Raman on stage to receive the Award, and to invite the President of the Law Society to present it on our behalf. 

Acceptance Speech by Dr Gopalan Raman 

Dr Gopalan Raman receiving the CC Tan Award from President Mr Lok Vi Ming, SC

The Honourable Attorney-General, Judges and Judicial Commissioners, President of the Law Society, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am privileged to be the recipient of this year’s C C Tan Award.  It is indeed a challenging task to live up to the ideals of Mr Tan.  I say “challenging” because in today’s material world where everyone is focusing on the bottom line, it is difficult to balance ideals with reality.

But balance we must. To-day’s event is a call for pro bono work and volunteering for civic work that the society is embarked on. Despite our affluence and belonging to the First World and a GDP anyone would be envious of, we have the disadvantaged in our society.

There is now a group of dedicated lawyers who have unstintingly given their time and labour to improve the lot of the underprivileged. These dedicated volunteers deserve our appreciation and gratitude.

There has also been a sea change in the Society’s relations with the government. The government is forthcoming in extending a helping hand. The spirit of co-operation is manifest. Our bond with the Academy of Law is strong.  There is a collegiate spirit between the two professional bodies although Singapore has the distinction of having two professional bodies representing the same profession.  

Older members of the Bar saw something ominous when the idea of the Academy was initially mooted. It came at a time when there was ferment in the profession which led to the government amending the Legal Profession Act.  Strictures were placed on what the Society can do. Imagine a provision that the Society can only deal with legislation referred to it and that we could not comment on any law unless invited to do so. With the passing of time the anxieties we had of a takeover of the Law Society’s functions by the Academy were laid to rest.  

But we now have another worry. This is the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act under which all professional matters of both local and foreign lawyers will be brought under the aegis of the Ministry of Law. A Director of Legal Services will oversee professional matters including disciplinary actions.  

I am a passionate believer in the autonomy of the Law Society. An independent Bar is a pre-requisite for an independent Judiciary. In fact we once had an AG, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim, Singapore’s 1st AG, who was against the nomination by the Law Minister of unelected council members. He was vetoed. Dr Ahmad Ibrahim was a lawyer worthy of that name. He brings to mind what Albert Einstein once said:  

“Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”

We do not want our fate to be in the hands of some unseen functionary who may owe loyalty to his appointor and not to the profession especially in today’s legal environment where business considerations may trump professional ideals.

We have bold spirits in our midst especially among the younger members of the Bar who nurture ideals to serve society. Some have been disillusioned and chose to quit the profession and pursue careers which do not clash with their ideals.  Let me send this appeal to them and to everyone else, 

“The future of the profession is in your hands.  Rally round and realize your ideals.”

It is my earnest hope that we would one day be able to translate into reality, more effectively, the objectives set out in the Professional Conduct Rules:

“To maintain the Rule of Law” and

“The independence and integrity of the profession.”

Thank you.

President Mr Lok Vi Ming, SC, giving a speech at the dinner

Emcee for the evening, Mr Adrian Tan

Mr Suresh Damodara receiving the Pro Bono Ambassador award from President Mr Lok Vi Ming, SC

Award winners and guests (L to R): Tham Lijing, Choo Zheng Xi, Fong Wei Li, Thio Shen Yi, SC, Melvin Chan, Patrick Nathan, Lok Vi Ming, SC, Kelvin Wong, Prof Low Kee Yang, Dr Gopalan Raman, Peter Fernando, M Lukshumayeh