Mrs Thio Ying Ying
Many knew Mrs Thio Ying Ying (“Mrs Thio”) for how she miraculously managed to raise six children, and two grandchildren, even while heading an entire litigation department and more. Yet others knew her for her heavy involvement in church, her passion for mentoring couples and her commitment to Catholic Junior College (where all her children studied). Somehow, she was able to live so much more of life with the same 24 hours that we have all been gifted with.
When facing opposing counsel, Mrs Thio was tenacious and would do everything in her power to make sure that the client’s interests were protected. She often likened it to being like a bulldog and pushing through with the important points even if it made you unpopular. Her memory for facts was amazing and she could tell you details of cases that she had argued years before.
In her dealings with clients and cases, Mrs Thio was fully committed and would give her all for each case that she was entrusted with. Even while she was on holiday, she would be sending out e-mails at all hours whether it meant that she had to wake up early to work (or quickly check her e-mail while her husband was in the washroom).
However, a few of us had the privilege of knowing Mrs Thio as a boss and a mentor. Mrs Thio was one of the founding partners at Kelvin Chia Partnership (KCP) and headed the litigation department since January 1997. She was a boss that cared for her employees as individuals and was a stellar example of how a human being should be regardless of your profession.
Personally, I first met Mrs Thio in September 2014 and will always remember what she said to me that day. Even after some 30 years in practice, she was still excited about work because she knew that this was what she was called to do; by working, she was ensuring that each of the families represented by the employees in KCP had food on their tables. She was a rare breed in the cut-throat world of disputes; a person who was motivated by others before herself.
There are many fond memories of Mrs Thio, big and small, that we at KCP have and will continue to hold dear. Hearing her heels coming down the corridor, the smell of scented candles that were constantly burning in her room, eating the countless snacks that she would buy for the office or simply just talking about our lives and watching videos of her grandchildren. At firm events or department outings, she was the life of the party with her contagious passion for life and constantly surprised us with her generosity.
For the younger lawyers, we will miss a mentor. No matter how busy she was, Mrs Thio’s door was always open to us and we could pop by at any time to discuss questions, get drafts reviewed and confess mistakes that inevitably occurred. While she was demanding and whipped us into shape where necessary, we knew she had our back and she was a pillar of support to us all.
It thus came as a shock when Mrs Thio was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2019. Even then, she remained upbeat and continued to fight hard for her cases whilst she fought a personal battle of her own. After this last and hard fight, she passed away on 20 January 2020.
All of us at KCP feel Mrs Thio’s departure deeply and she will always be in our hearts and minds.
Kelvin Chia Partnership