Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lawyer dies 3 months after comeback

Seelan Palay: I know Mr Guru's son personally and will extend my condolences.

TRAGIC END: Mr Guru, 55, contested the 1988 General Election and lost against Mr Lee Kuan Yew in Tanjong Pagar. He failed to get elected again in 1991. His wake (above) was held at Sin Ming Drive yesterday. Friends said he had been keen to rebuild his law practice. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

A LAWYER who took 13 years to be reinstated collapsed near his office and died later - barely three months after being allowed to practise again.

The incident took place near the Chinatown MRT station, apparently minutes after Mr M.G. Guru, 55,left his office on Monday evening.

Two passers-by tried unsuccessfully to revive him before an ambulance arrived at about 6.15pm. He died at the Singapore General Hospital about two hours later.

Mr Guru was a one-time opposition candidate whostood for elections twice as an independent.

In 1988 he stood against then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in Tanjong Pagar and lost, but kept his deposit. In 1991, he stood in Tanglin in a three-cornered contest, and lost his deposit.

He landed introuble for helping a client get a medical certificate to avoid a court date. He was convicted in 1993 and struck off the rolls the following year. At the time, he had been a lawyer for about nine years.

Over the next decade, he dabbled inconsultancy, sales and self-study to earn a Master's in Law.

He applied to be re-admitted to the Bar three years ago but was unsuccessful.

Undeterred, he re- applied in January. This time, a Court of Three Judges allowed his re-admission, only thethird in more than 25 years.

It had been business as usual for him on Monday, when he defended a 73-year-old woman charged with dangerous driving.

Back at his office at K. Ravi & Partners, he had about 40 other probate, divorce and criminalcases awaiting his attention.

Lawyers and friends expressed shock at his sudden death and spoke of an upbeat man who was looking forward to rebuilding his practice.

Senior lawyer Abraham Vergis said Mr Guru was 'just elated' at being allowed topractise again. 'I remember how he was overwrought and just hugged me on the day the court re-admitted him,' said Mr Vergis, who argued before the Court of Three Judges for Mr Guru's reinstatement.

He added that the ignominy which his friend had tobear during the years he was disbarred was 'very, very painful for him'.

He described Mr Guru as 'jolly, always positive, amiable and one who never had an unkind word'.

Senior lawyer Lee Chow Soon said he admired Mr Guru for his resilience,despite hitting that wall in his career.

'It showed his character. He was filled with passion for the law and also served as a lecturer to legal officers in Cambodia,' said Mr Lee.

Yesterday, Mr Guru's widow M. Jaya, 50, and his second son Thanes,21, showed up at his office to collect his personal effects.

The board above his desk had newspaper clippings on the cases he had handled, reports of his re-admission and testimonials supporting his re-admission, among other personal items.

Madam Jaya said of her 'soft-hearted' late husband: 'I feel sad because he put people before himself and, in a way, was cheated. People always came first for him. He was God-fearing - from day one, he was like that.'

She added that she took comfort in thefact that he died a lawyer, even though he had been one for just three months this time round.

'I am sad he went, just when he was starting to shine. If God had given him another year, it would have been so nice.'

The funeral is being held today, 3 July 08.