OBITUARY

Legal sector pays tribute to 'every lawyer's friend'

Lawyers young and old visited the wake yesterday to pay their respects to Mr Foo, who had been a fixture at the State Courts bar room, which he managed.
Lawyers young and old visited the wake yesterday to pay their respects to Mr Foo, who had been a fixture at the State Courts bar room, which he managed. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Well-respected State Courts bar man was one of the few constants of court life

Mr Arthur Foo Kok Soon was every lawyer's friend, always ready with a cold mug of iced Milo or honey lemon after a long day at court.

For 30 years, Mr Foo was a fixture at the State Courts bar room, which he managed. Lawyers said his hearty laughter, served with his breakfast of coffee and toast were one of the few constants of court life. On Saturday, the 67-year-old died in hospital from liver cancer.

The Law Society called Mr Foo "a legend among lawyers", but to many of them he was a friend.

The bar room is a mess of sorts where lawyers socialise and unwind. It was a place that Mr Foo treated like his second home, and where everyone was an honoured guest.

Criminal lawyer Amolat Singh said: "It didn't matter if you were a junior or senior lawyer, Arthur treated everyone with respect. He always had a kind word or some advice."

Senior Counsel Lok Vi Ming remembers how Mr Foo took immense pride in his job.

"It was the little things," he said. "He finds out what people like and remembers it. I remember his barley drink. He knew I liked it so whenever I was there he made it for me."

Law Society president Thio Shen Yi said: "I remember him with fondness... Whenever I had a cold or a cough, he would automatically just pass me a hot glass of honey lemon, instead of my usual drink."

In a statement yesterday, the Law Society said it was grieving that Mr Foo would not be around to see the new State Courts building and its bar room.

"To us, Arthur Foo was an institution, as much a part of the legal landscape as the old State Courts' building," said the spokesman.

Mr Foo's struggle with cancer was sudden. He had suffered a bout of persistent diarrhoea in October, and tests later showed that he had advanced liver cancer.

Even on his sick bed, Mr Foo was thinking about others, according to criminal lawyer Shashi Nathan, who visited him in hospital a few weeks ago.

"He knew one of our associates who used to smoke, and Arthur beckoned him over and said 'Look at Uncle Arthur, you better stop smoking or you will become just like me'," said Mr Nathan.

"He didn't have to say that but, even in that state, he was thinking about young lawyers and their health."

Mr Foo's family told The Straits Times more than a hundred lawyers visited him after he was diagnosed and, at the wake yesterday, lawyers young and old were there to pay their respects.

Mr Foo's daughter Wendy, 41, told The Straits Times that although her father completed only Secondary 4, he was determined to put all his children through university.

"He always told us that we must be upright and honest. I learnt a lot from him and he inspired all of us," she said.

Mr Foo leaves behind a wife, three children and five grandchildren.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Legal sector pays tribute to 'every lawyer's friend''. Print Edition | Subscribe