Although best known for his role in boosting Singapore's football scene, N. Ganesan also worked as a lawyer for almost five decades, handling several prominent cases.
As state coroner, he ordered a police probe into Grand Prix driver Sunny Ang over the death of bar hostess Jenny Cheok who vanished during a diving trip near Sisters Island with him in 1963.
It emerged that Ang had insured the 22-year-old for $400,000 before she disappeared. He was convicted for murder and executed in 1967. It marked the first time the prosecution had won a case based entirely on circumstantial evidence as the body was not found.
Then-Straits Times news editor Peter Yeo Toon Joo said in a Facebook tribute post: "Ang kept pressing Gane to give a verdict after his coroner's inquiry.
"Gane, a great sleuth, told me that aroused his suspicion. Ang wanted a death certificate to be issued quickly so that he could collect the insurance money.
"Gane said that Ang's impatience was what tipped him off."
Lawyer P. Suppiah, 85, remembers Ganesan as the coroner who probed the death of Singapore soccer great Awang Bakar.
The 1950s national team idol collapsed in a match at RAF Changi in 1964 and died in hospital aged 28.
"I remember giving a statement then on Bakar's death who was found to have died of heart failure," said Mr Suppiah, who was then Singapore Amateur Football Association vice-president.
He first came to know Ganesan in London when they went to read law. "He was very much a fun-loving man and as a lawyer was even-paced in his work."
In a 1993 interview with The Sunday Times, Ganesan had said: "I enjoy the court work.
"It's very exciting and certainly less laborious than sitting in the office doing research and writing.
"Part of criminal work is also like social work, and I like that too."
Ganesan was a police officer for five years before he joined the legal service in 1962. In his first hearing as a magistrate in July that year, he acquitted taxi owner A. Noor Mohamed of giving false information to police, finding the case "fraught with discrepancies".
He served as a magistrate, deputy public prosecutor and district court judge. In April 1963, he was appointed state coroner and went into private practice in 1967.
In 1969, he defended 26-year-old William Tan, who was convicted of the murder of a motorcyclist killed in a collision with his car in Bedok Road.
The jury's murder verdict drew the death sentence but Tan succeeded on appeal with lawyer David Marshall's help and served a jail term instead.
Ganesan ended his legal career in 2011 and lawyer S. Radakrishnan, who also worked with him, said: "Ganesan was passionate about his clients, was very friendly, easy-going and likeable."
Farewells for a beloved pioneer
Singapore has bid a final farewell to the father of the Kallang Roar.
Former Football Association of Singapore (FAS) chairman N. Ganesan, who died on Thursday at the age of 82, was cremated yesterday at Mandai Crematorium, in a funeral service attended by more than 50 relatives and friends.
Among those in attendance were former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan and former Singapore captain Seak Poh Leong.
They listened as Ganesan's grand-nephew Dharmendra Nair delivered a moving eulogy, rounding off with a personal note from Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.
Ganesan's death rocked the local football scene but, perhaps fittingly, his wake at the Singapore Casket brought members of the fraternity back to Jalan Besar, the cradle of Singapore football.
Over the past three days, football heroes past and present, from "Twinkletoes" Chia Boon Leong, 90, to "The Dazzler" V. Sundramoorthy, 49, made time to pay their respects to "Gani", as he was affectionately known.
Sundram recalled the first time he met Ganesan in 1981.
Said the Tampines Rovers head coach: "It was the eve of the Lion City Cup. He came down to our hotel, and spent about 30 minutes talking to us, telling us how important the tournament was."
"As the chairman and a practising lawyer, he could have sent a representative to talk to a group of 16-year-olds," he added.
"But he made the effort."
Ganesan was not only generous with his time. He would also fork out his own money to support or incentivise footballers.
And he often formed a one-man cheerleading squad on the Singapore team bench.
His most noteworthy contribution, however, would be shifting home matches from the Jalan Besar Stadium to the 55,000-seat National Stadium, a move which gave birth to the Kallang Roar, and laid the foundations for generations of football fervour to thrive.
This article was first published on July 05, 2015.
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