His family couldn’t afford to send him to university, but at 64 V K Rajan is a lawyer at last. He’s joining a shrinking profession in Singapore.

Life-long dream comes true for ex-diplomat who is among 168 called to the Bar V.K. RAJAN had always wanted to be a lawyer, but his family could not afford to send him to university.

His father was a Public Works Department labourer, then a rubber tapper before he opened a provision shop in Marsiling Road. His mother was a housewife.

Their son, the would-be lawyer, joined the Civil Service and studied law part-time. He got his law degree from the University of London in 1969 and qualified as a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn in 1977. He completed his postgraduate law course in 1978.

But it was not till yesterday that the 64-year-old became a practising lawyer, two years after retiring as a diplomat and 43 years after qualifying for a place at the then University of Singapore.

Former Chief of Protocol at the Foreign Ministry, once High Commissioner to New Zealand, Cyprus and Zimbabwe, and Ambassador to Egypt and concurrently to Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, he retired in December 2001.

In 1959, while doing the equivalent of the A levels now, he took an examination to enter the then Executive Service and was one of 15 called for an interview.

Yesterday, he posed for a group photograph on the steps of City Hall, and looked back to Dec 15, 1959, when he joined the then Ministry of Culture there. The Foreign Ministry, where he served, was also there.

He now practises with G. Raman & Partners, whose owner, Mr G. Raman, said: ‘He must be an inspiration to young lawyers who are half-hearted and who are becoming disillusioned.’

Mr Rajan enters a profession that has been shrinking since 1999. Though new admissions bring the total to 3,366, that is still 306 fewer lawyers practising than last year.

The profession also faces multiple crises for the first time in history – the threat of a global economic downturn caused by the Iraq war and the Sars outbreak, as Chief Justice Yong Pung How reminded the newcomers.

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