Mr P. Suppiah (Suppiah Pakrisamy)
There are some we meet in passing and forget as soon as they go. There are some we remember with pleasure and feel honoured and privileged to know. He was that kind of person who leaves fond memories behind. That person is P. Suppiah or “Sup” as fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues here in Singapore and Malaysia.
At the age of 89, he continued his law practice and attended court hearings in Singapore and Malaysia. His last case in 2019, in Singapore was a capital offence criminal case where he managed to get the capital charge reduced to a non-capital offence and the accused was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. On 25 November 2019 he was to appear before the Court of Appeal in Malaysia on behalf of his corporate client. But death filched him before he could attend the said hearing.
With the help of his close friend, an eminent lawyer, Mak Kok Weng (retired) I started my pupilage with him which paved the way for my journey into law.
The Honourable Justice Belinda Ang once told me that “Mr Suppiah is a very technical lawyer.” I saw this in one of the High Court trials we did together when he only asked five questions from the opponent’s witness (in the entire proceedings) and destroyed their case.
Suppiah was called to the English bar in 1959 and was a member of Lincoln’s Inn in London. He joined the Singapore Bar in 1960 and the Malaysian Bar in 1961. He held the rank of Major in the Malaysian Armed Forces and published a book on Military Law. He also sat as Judge Advocate in the Malaysian Military Court. He saw the separation of Singapore from Malaysia and signed the separation agreement on behalf of the Malaysian Armed Forces in 1965. In the late 70’s he was invited to be a Judicial Commissioner in Malaysia which appointment he declined. He was conferred the title of “Dato” by the late Johore Sultan Ismail. He was the Chairman of the Johore Bar Committee in 2010/2011. He had acted in many high profile cases in Singapore. He defended three accused persons in their Appeal to Court of Criminal Appeal in the Pulau Senang case and also acted for an accused person in the gold bar murder case (his client was acquitted after becoming the prosecution witness). As Mak Kok Weng always remembered, “Sup is a fighter and will leave no stones unturned.” He always had that fighting spirit and fought relentlessly to advance his clients’ case in court.
Two sports were close to his heart. Football was one and the other golf. These two sports bode well with his nature and character. In 1957 he attended the Football Association coaching course in London. He was also a London qualified football referee. He was the Vice-President of Singapore Amateur Football Association in 1963/1964 and sat on its Coaches’, Referees’ and Selection Committee. At one time he was the legal advisor for the Asian Football Confederation.
He played golf every week with his friends and won the Singapore Amateur Championship in 2005 (Division D). He was a member of the Singapore Island Country Club and was its Vice President from 2011 to 2013. He was also a member of the Singapore Senior Golfers’ Society.
Suppiah had achieved his aims and desires and led life to the fullest. He will be dearly missed. He will always be remembered and will forever remain in our hearts. Let his soul rest in peace.
Messrs Elengovan Chambers
Photos: Mr P Suppiah’s family