Obituary: Lim Ewe Huat

'We're human beings first, office-holders second', taught law legend

Many in the legal services wanted to be posted to the Legal Aid Bureau because they wanted to work under and learn from Mr Lim Ewe Huat (above), says veteran lawyer Sat Pal Khattar.
Many in the legal services wanted to be posted to the Legal Aid Bureau because they wanted to work under and learn from Mr Lim Ewe Huat (above), says veteran lawyer Sat Pal Khattar.

Another legal giant of an earlier era who was eulogised by the Law Society on his death was Mr Lim Ewe Huat.

Mr Lim, who died at the age of 90 in March, served as director of the Legal Aid Bureau from 1965 to 1972. He leaves his wife Evelyn, four children, daughter-in-law, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Veteran lawyer, businessman and community leader Sat Pal Khattar penned the In Memoriam tribute in the society's Law Gazette: "His endearing nature, both to the people who needed help and his legal colleagues, was exemplary. Many in the legal services wanted to be posted to the Legal Aid Bureau because they wanted to work under and learn from Ewe Huat."

He noted that Mr Lim later became the Public Trustee, Official Assignee and Official Receiver and was well liked by all who dealt with him, including litigants and bankrupts.

Mr Lim held office during the days of high-profile cases like the 1972 Gemini Chit Fund fraud and 1985 Pan-Electric collapse.

After retiring in 1988, he continued to work with many social and charitable causes.

Mr Khattar wrote: "It is as a family man that underlines Ewe Huat's humanity and values. He was a very devoted husband to Evelyn and a caring, kind and supportive father to his four children, his daughter-in-law, four beautiful grandchildren and two great-grandchildren."

Retired district judge Emily Wilfred told The Straits Times that Mr Lim worked by example, taking on the more challenging and sensitive cases. "If there was ever any hiccup, he would face the music. He was our teacher, mentor and friend," she said.

Hong Kong University law faculty dean, Professor Michael Hor, in a tribute online, said Mr Lim taught him three things he had taken with him throughout his life, the first of which is: "We are human beings first and office-holders second."

Mr Lim's younger son Malcolm said: "My father was an unassuming and compassionate man who always made us aware of the less fortunate , the underprivileged and the plight of the severely disabled. He was president of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore for nearly 40 years."

Granddaughter Louisa Jean Lim said: "Granddad was full of life and love, generosity and graciousness, had a good sense of humour, and also humility. He was a respected man but more importantly, he respected all. Despite his stroke, his strength prevailed over infirmity and he let love prevail over darkness." 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline ''We're human beings first, office-holders second', taught law legend'. Print Edition | Subscribe