Making peace by listening and persuading

Making peace by listening and persuading
From left : civil engineer V. Krishna, lawyer Amolat Singh and architect Johnny Tan are among more than 400 trained mediators whom the Singapore Mediation Centre can call on.

SINGAPORE- He is a formidable lawyer who saved a criminal from the gallows - twice - but the courtroom tiger turns pussycat when he puts on his peacemaker's hat.

Mr Amolat Singh is among a group of people here who have persuaded sworn enemies to shake hands, dissolved decades-long family feuds and transformed lawsuits into business deals.

Meet the magicians of mediation, who conjure conciliations from near-impossible disputes.

There are more than 400 trained mediators here whom the Singapore Mediation Centre can call on, and their day jobs can be anything from neurosurgeon to ship's captain.

What they do share in common are possessing a listening ear, empathy for the people they help, the gift of persuasion and the ability to cut through the "noise" to get to the root of the problem.

Mr Singh believes in taking a step back into the Asian society of old, to the days of the village council or community elder.

"Not everything has to be about a winner and a loser. In mediation, both sides can be victorious," said Mr Singh, 57.

In one instance, he said, two colleagues had been exchanging insults via e-mail, and both were so furious that they were prepared to sue each other for defamation.

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