Ng Hwee Cheng Doreen
Lawyer Ng Hwee Cheng Doreen passed away peacefully in her sleep on 10 October 2016 at the age of 77. She is best remembered for her unflagging passion for law and strong support for legal education. In September this year, her estate had generously donated $100,000 to the Bar Memorial Scholarship Fund (BMS), the largest fund injection since its founding.
Her sister, Mdm Doris Ng, says, “She was kind, compassionate, unassuming and very hardworking.”
Doreen did not grow up in a wealthy household. As such, she was subject to more burdens than most. After graduating from Nanyang Girls’ High School, she attended Singapore Polytechnic to obtain a diploma in Chemistry at the behest of her mother despite her yearning to study law. While attending night classes there, she took up teaching to support her family. Although the responsibilities placed upon her were heavy, her love for her family and steadfastness helped her to persevere through those trying times.
“Her greatest achievements in life were climbing the career ladder and ensuring all her siblings had stable careers themselves,” says Mdm Doris Ng.
After graduating, Doreen worked for three years at Singapore General Hospital and later at Lam Soon Factory while saving money to pursue her dream to become a lawyer. She took off to London to study law in 1967.
“Doreen was motivated by her strong sense of justice and fair play,” says Mdm Doris Ng.
On 29 June 1972, Doreen’s dream was finally achieved. She was called to the London Bar and became a qualified lawyer. However, it soon became evident that her ambitions did not lie in a foreign land, but her home, Singapore. About a year and two months later, she was admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore.
Her first job as a lawyer in Singapore was with leading law firm Shook Lin and Bok LLP. There, she worked under two venerable lawyers, Mr Chan Sek Keong, the former Chief Justice and Mr L P Thean, a former Judge of the Appellate Court.
Never one to remain complacent, Doreen’s steadfast and single-minded passion for law led her to seek a Master’s Degree from the University of Leeds while working full time as a lawyer. The double challenge of pursuing excellence in both academics and career was one that Doreen had also faced in her youth. In both circumstances, she had thrived and exemplified the tenacious spirit and unflagging pursuit of knowledge that all lawyers should strive for. She graduated in 1997 and returned to Singapore.
As an experienced and independent lawyer, Doreen eventually set up her own practice, Ng and Company. She established a big, strong and satisfied portfolio of clients for over 40 years.
Doreen valued her roots. She was a member of the advisory committee of Nanyang Girls’ High School, her alma mater. She was also the Honorary Legal Advisor to a clan in Kinmen, Taiwan, which was her mother’s homeland.
In accordance with Doreen’s last wishes, Mdm Doris Ng donated $100,000 from the late Mdm Doreen Ng’s estate to the BMS.
The scholarship is an annual award of a maximum sum of $5,000 and may be awarded to any candidate who has obtained admission to or is currently taking a course in subjects of study relating to law and is a Singapore citizen.
According to Mdm Doris Ng, Doreen had wanted to donate part of her estate to a law scholarship in memory of her mother.
“As I come from a family of humble financial means, the full tuition fees for the JD Programme were quite a hefty burden upon us,” says Edward Ong, a BMS scholar attending the Doctor of Jurisprudence Programme at the Singapore Management University. “I am glad for this donation means that other students like myself would be allowed the chance to pursue their dreams in a law-related field.”
Wesley Poh, a BMS scholar studying Law at the University of Cambridge, says, “I am heartened to hear about the donation made by Mdm Doreen Ng’s estate. I believe that the BMS is not just about the financial support offered; crucially, it is an investment into the lives of future batches of lawyers that stays with them even after they have graduated.”
Alyssa Ng Yoke Shien
Membership & Communications Department
The Law Society of Singapore