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Justice Choor Singh:
Singapore Loses a Noble Leader



His rise from a law clerk to the bench of the Supreme Court of Singapore made him a "a symbol of a self-made man," in the words of a Bar Commission member.

He is described by many as his country's toughest and fairest judge.

It was a fitting tribute to Mr. Justice Sardar Choor Singh, a son of a port security guard, who died on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at the age of 98.

He was four years old when he arrived in Singapore from Punjab with his mother and sister to join his father.

After his primary education in Pearl's Hill School and Outram School, he studied at Raffles Institution, successfully completing his Senior Cambridge Examinations in 1929.

He became a clerk in a local law firm. Three years later, he joined the Government Clerical Services and was posted to the Official Assignee's chambers.

He had far loftier ambitions.

Determined to be a lawyer, he spent his spare time reading law books while saving to do a law degree in England.

He did not have to. A change in the education policy then allowed him to study law at Gray's Inn as an external student and he was called to the English Bar in 1955.

Although studying for his degree, Sardar Choor Singh also worked hard and earned an appointment as assistant coroner in 1948.

Two years later, he was a full-fledged coroner, and became a district judge in 1960.

He was elevated to the Supreme Court bench in August 1963.

Justice Choor Singh also authored two law books, titled Gaming in Malaya published in 1960 and The Law Relating to Money Lenders in 1963.

In his retirement, he turned to scholarship in the area of Sikh history and philosophy, and wrote a number of books, including:

Sikhism: Its Philosophy & History

Bhai Maharaj Singh: Saint-Soldier of the Sikh Faith

Who is a Sikh? & Other Essays

Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale: Saint & Martyr

Understanding Sikhism: The Gospel of the Gurus


An avid cricketeer in his younger days, he also turned to gardening after his retirement in 1981.

In 2001, to commemorate his 90th birthday, he donated $140,000 to the Singapore Management University (SMU). This personal donation helped launch the SMU Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies (CCCS).

He leaves behind two sons and a daughter. His wife died earlier.


[Courtesy: The Strait Times]

April 2, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Dharamveer Singh (Mumbai, India), April 04, 2009, 7:57 AM.

My respects to your memory, Justice Choor Singh ji, and my prayers for your family.

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Singapore Loses a Noble Leader"

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