Leading criminal lawyer back in action

Leading criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan is "back from the brink" and set to appear for a high-stakes court case tomorrow after being out of action for six months.

Mr Subhas, 67, who is president of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore, had suffered long-standing heart and kidney ailments which involved frequent hospital treatment.

"The six-month layoff gave me time to do a lot of thinking and get my priorities right," he told The Straits Times yesterday.

He recalled the very depressing double blow about six months ago, when his wife was advised "to take him off" support machines after his condition worsened and his kidneys failed, which meant he needed to go for dialysis regularly.

Asked how he overcame this depression, he said: "I think it is not for the doctors to decide whether I am going or coming. I think it is for the Man upstairs.

"I said let it be but I will not roll down or go off just like that. I'm going to give it a fight."

The veteran lawyer, known for handling a series of high-profile cases such as those involving convicted murderers Took Leng How, Anthony Ler and Leong Siew Chor, said he had close brushes with death a number of times before and was "not going to give up just like that". "In 1978, when I had a major heart attack, I was paralysed and they thought I would not recover.

"In 2008, when my lung was filled with water because of heart failure, doctors told my wife, 'If you had brought him a little bit later, he would have died'."

Despite his absence, clients continued to seek his services, and his fellow lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam at RHT Law Taylor Wessing helped handle some cases in the courts.

Mr Subhas' return to defend businessman Stephen Tay, who is charged with breaching the Companies Act, is set to quash talk that he is done as a lawyer.

Mr Tay, chairman and chief executive of Singapore-listed magazine publisher and property company Eastern Holdings, faces two offences related to a $1 million loan transaction with Dormitory Investments.

He allegedly failed to declare to the board his interest in the loan between Eastern and Dormitory Investments, which owns a foreign workers' dormitory in Tuas. He is also alleged to have dishonestly concealed from Eastern's then financial controller Lim Jiah Sheng that he had an interest in the loan.

"Old lawyers, like old soldiers, never die, we just fade away," said Mr Subhas, who said the medical leave led him to start on a second book. "Except for the dialysis, I am back to normal."

This article was first published on June 4, 2014.
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