SINGAPORE – Top litigator Davinder Singh, who represented Mr Lee Kuan Yew in his controversial lawsuits against opposition politicians and foreign media outlets, said on Monday that it was a “wild dream come true” to work for a man who was his parents’ hero.
“When I was growing up, I would hear my parents describe Mr Lee Kuan Yew as the greatest man alive who gave his people, especially the minorities, the ability to live with dignity and in safety,” he wrote.
When Mr Singh was a cadet in the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute in the 1970s, there was once a parents’ visit where Mr Lee was guest-of-honour.
“My father immediately stood up when it was announced that Mr Lee had arrived, even though he must have known that, standing so far away in the midst of hundreds of parents and cadets, Mr Lee would not have been able to see him. After he stood up, others from all races followed. It was then that I truly realised what this Chinese man meant to my Punjabi father who was not even born in Singapore.”
“I will also not forget the time when my mother was moved and actually applauded when towards the end of one of his National Day Rally speeches, Mr Lee said that that he would get up even as he is lowered into the grave, if something went wrong. And she did that while sitting on the couch at home.”
“It were these spontaneous reactions from migrants, who had seen what life was like in their home countries and now felt protected by a man they completed trusted, that made me pause and think.”
Mr Singh, who is chief executive of law firm Drew & Napier, said that working for Mr Lee was “the greatest, most unforgettable experience of my life.”
Mr Singh won court victories on Mr Lee’s behalf against opponents like opposition politicians Tang Liang Hong, Chee Soon Juan and foreign media outlets like The Economist, Bloomberg and the New York Times.
“I sat with and talked to this genius who, more than anyone, understood human nature and societies, who had the third eye and could see trends and dangers which we mere mortals were blind or oblivious to, and who knew with complete confidence what was best for his people and Singapore.
“It was not possible to leave a meeting with him without being spellbound. Although he had not practised for decades, he remembered the finer points of the law from his days at university.”
“Every discussion was an exhilarating lesson which he taught with conviction and passion. It would invariably begin with the matters on which he needed legal advice, but he would always use the occasion to share his views about the issues of the day and to remind me of the importance of standing up to those who would do us harm and of showing them that we are their equal. He was the consummate teacher, giving his time and attention to every detail, even if it was just to show me how to elegantly sharpen a barb.”
“I do not know why the stars contrived to give Mr Lee Kuan Yew to Singapore or why they bestowed on me the priceless gift of working for him. But they did, and for that, my family and I shall always be grateful.”