Top honours from the Singapore Academy of Law for former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong

Former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong was on Friday evening made an Honorary Member for Life and Fellow for Life of the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL).

Mr Chan, 75, retired last November after a legal career lasting more than 50 years. He is only the sixth person to receive the title, which is bestowed on distinguished SAL members for outstanding contributions to the legal and judicial system and to the stature of the legal profession here.

The other five who have been honoured were Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in 1990, former CJ Wee Chong Jin and Singapore's first chief minister David Marshall in 1991, former CJ Yong Pung How in 2007, and former law minister S. Jayakumar the year after. The latter two were among more than 250 members of the legal fraternity and guests present at a ceremony at the St Regis hotel on Friday evening.

At the ceremony, Mr Chan was lauded for achievements including those made over 25 years of private practice and as Attorney-General between 1992 and 2006. But it was during his six years as Chief Justice that he probably had the "greatest impact" on the legal system here, said current Attorney-General Steven Chong.

"The Supreme Court flourished under Chief Justice Chan's leadership and its jurisprudence has taken on a distinctly Singaporean character," Mr Chong said in a 10-minute citation. He noted the former CJ's "exemplary judicial temperament" and authorship of more than 380 judgments - many of them seminal decisions - as judicial commissioner, judge and finally the country's top judge.