Satwant Singh currently runs his own law practice, Satwant & Associates. He did a correspondence law degree with the University of London and was admitted to the Singapore Bar in March 1997; he has since been in the profession for more than 20 years. Recently, Satwant was featured in The Straits Times and nominated for Singaporean of the Year 2017.
This Letter is addressed to himself upon receiving the news of his nomination.
My heartiest congratulations for being nominated for Singaporean of the Year 2017. Even though life has always been a challenge for you, you have never once let it be a burden or felt sorry for yourself, but picked yourself up each time to strive even further.
You have come a long way. Growing up with a big family, living in a one-room rental flat, not having the luxury of pocket money for school and having to work from the age of 16 has made you even hungrier to establish yourself, never forgetting your humble beginnings. Being an office peon at the age of 16, a clerk at 17, a salesman and security guard while studying at night and serving as a Physical Training Instructor in between has made you grow up quickly and taught you to be an independent and responsible person.
Having to work and study requires a lot of will and determination, but you have been blessed with an inspirational family that encouraged you each step of the way. Your parents were your everything; they gave you all your happiness and always reminded you to lead an honest and respectful life. Working to contribute to your family finances was natural, never a burden. Love your family. They will always be by your side, through the thick and thin.
I am not sure how you managed to juggle your time while being married, having two children, working during day time and studying law at night. Those must have been trying and challenging times for you and the will to succeed must have been the driving force. The determination and the will to succeed were your cornerstone and belief in life. Giving up was not an option.
You once said that respect must be earned and that is why you were always involved in whatever you do. You never stood aside to observe as a “boss”. It never mattered to you that you had a law degree, while your colleagues had very little education. You packed clothes with your colleagues when you were a salesman and carried heavy cartons with them and ate from the same plate with them to show that to be a leader, you must lead by example and never look down on your subordinates. You have treated all of them as your equal and that is why they worked hard with you.
Time and life on earth is precious to you and I believe that is why you have spent your time and life wisely by being involved in grassroots work, humanitarian work, social organisations, running a law practice, and having a family. You have always been grateful that God has taken care of you and that is why you go to temple everyday at 6am to cook chapatis till 7.30am before you go to work.
I remember you saying and sincerely believing that law is a noble profession, and being a lawyer is not about making money, or going to court to litigate. Being a lawyer is about having the power to help and make a difference to a fellow human being. Hold steadfast to your belief that a lawyer has in his arsenal all the ammunition to make this place a better place, and you will surely encourage all those entering the profession to hold the values of a lawyer to the highest standards.
Life is always a challenge, but it is how you handle it. No one is born without any challenges. If we embrace the challenges, life will be meaningful and a joy. If not, every day will be a drag.