Bust of David Marshall in 'the right place'

Dr Marshall at SMU's moot court with the bust of Mr Marshall, which is on loan to the university. The bust has been in the family since 1956, when it was sculpted by a London-based artist.
Dr Marshall at SMU's moot court with the bust of Mr Marshall, which is on loan to the university. The bust has been in the family since 1956, when it was sculpted by a London-based artist.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

He grew up seeing his father's picture appear regularly in The Straits Times and assumed it was the same for everyone else.

"I thought it was because you purchased the paper, you got your face sometimes on the front page," Dr Jonathan Marshall said yesterday. His father was Mr David Marshall, Singapore's first chief minister, from April 1955 to June 1956.

He had already grown accustomed to living with his father's constant presence. After all, in the family house stood a large bronze bust of his father. That bust is now on permanent loan from the family and is placed in the David Marshall Moot Court at the Singapore Management University's (SMU) School of Law, which was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Sunday was the 109th anniversary of Mr Marshall's birth. A top-notch criminal lawyer in his day, he served as a diplomat from 1978 to 1993. He died in 1995.

Dr Marshall said: "After he died, I would often look at the bust and think of him. And it was pleasant, it was a lovely thing to be able to reflect on my father while looking at an image of him which contained some of his fire and some of his strength and ruggedness.

"I don't think my father was particularly into images of himself. It is a special piece and I am very glad that it is available for others to see in an environment which he would be surprised and delighted."

The bust of the man once described by then Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong in 2008 as "undoubtedly the greatest criminal advocate that has ever graced the halls of justice in Singapore and Malaya", was sculpted by London-based Peter Lambda after the 1956 constitutional talks there that Mr Marshall attended, said his widow Jean.

"David never spoke about it and when I married him in 1961, it was already there, being commissioned in 1956," she added, noting that the bust was "rather big" for the private flat where they lived.

The works of Lambda, a famed Hungarian sculptor-writer, included busts of renowned thespian Laurence Olivier and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud.

Mrs Marshall said that when she heard SMU's Moot Court was named after Mr Marshall, she thought the bust should go there.

She added: "It is a very powerful piece and gives a forceful impression of David, and has a good likeness, except the chin is not quite right. We are all very happy - it is going to the right place and embodies David's legacy cast in bronze."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Bust of David Marshall in 'the right place''. Print Edition | Subscribe