Rousing adieu in memory of top lawyer Subhas Anandan

Event raises more than $2m for pro bono schemes, a cause dear to the heart of the late Subhas Anandan

Instead of a moment of silence for the late Subhas Anandan, around 2,000 lawyers and students gave a long round of applause yesterday to celebrate his contributions.

Fittingly, this show of appreciation for the 67-year-old criminal lawyer, who died last Wednesday of heart failure, came at the end of the Law Society's first charity walkathon, which raised more than $2 million for its pro bono programmes.

The 5.4km early morning walk took the participants, who included Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Attorney-General V. K. Rajah and Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon, on a route past key legal institutions such as the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Law.

"Mr Subhas Anandan was actively engaged in pro bono cases long before the word became fashionable," said Law Society president Thio Shen Yi, after the walk ended at the Singapore Management University in Stamford Road. "If we aspire to emulate his conviction and spirit, his legal legacy (and) that of all other unsung pro bono champions will be honoured."

The funds raised included a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution from the Government's Care and Share grant, which was launched as part of Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations.

The money will go to the society's Justice for All initiative, which includes the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (Clas).

The scheme provides legal aid for those charged with offences under a list of 15 laws. This will be expanded to a broader range of cases, such as those who have decided to plead guilty. With the changes, Clas will benefit 6,000 people a year instead of the 400 now. The society also plans to hold more legal clinics for people to get free advice.

Part of the funds raised will support this year's islandwide roll-out of the Appropriate Adult Scheme, in which trained volunteers help mentally or intellectually disabled people who get arrested.

"We could characterise the Justice for All project as the legal profession's birthday present to Singapore on its 50th birthday, its year of Jubilee," said Mr Thio.

Criminal and civil lawyer Peter Ong, from Templars Law LLC, took part in the walk to show his support. "I saw many unlikely friends there, including those not doing criminal law or not yet involved in pro bono work," said the 48-year-old, who hopes the walk will inspire them to do their part.

jantai@sph.com.sg

'I first met Subhas in jail'