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Life with a Law Student: Copyright

Mr Cinical: “Can I pay you to write my essay for me? It’s on copyrights.”

Oh, the irony. 


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Life with a Law Student: Right of Pre-emption

“Right of Pre-emption”, as it applies in law: The right to acquire certain property/shares etc in preference to another person, i.e. you have the right of first refusal.


“Right of pre-emption”, as it applies in relationships:

Me: “I’m having dinner with my friend tomorrow (Friday), so do settle your own dinner plans.”

Mr. Cinical (wide grin): “Yes!”

Me (suspicious): “Why are u grinning? You had plans already? Who are you meeting? Where are you going?”

Mr. Cinical: “Oh, I was just thinking about the concept of the “right of pre-emption”. See, it’s a default that I’ll have dinner with you on a Friday night and that offer was on the table. But since you refused to have dinner with me on Friday, it means that I’m free to make my own plans.”

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Life with a Law Student: Do I Look Fat?

At some point in the relationship, the dreaded question surely is asked:

Me: “Do I look fat in this dress?”

Mr. Cinical: This is a question that has to be approached with sensitivity. It’s like asking me whether we have an independent judiciary*?

Me: I want an answer.

Mr. Cinical: (pauses for a long time) Answers to both questions are, I love you and all our judges are intelligent people.

*If you google “Singapore + independent + Judiciary”, I’m certain that a number of articles will come up arguing one side or the other.

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Life with a Law Student: Fantasy v Reality

Fantasy: Mr. Cinical and I, sitting together, discussing randomly interesting cases, like Donoghue v Stevenson on finding snails in gingerbeer.

Reality: Mr. Cinical and I sitting silently across the table from each other. He, buried in reading case summaries, and me assisting to summarize articles for his class on Comparative Legal Traditions.

2 down, 3 more to go.

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Life with a Law Student: Witness

Mr Cinical: I’m supposed to find someone to act as my witness in my upcoming Trial Advocacy class.

Me: Me, me, me!

Mr. Cinical: I need a witness who’s cooperative, takes my hints and directions, and stick to the facts when answering.

Me: And in which way am I not?

Mr. Cinical: Urm, when we are quarrelling…

Regardless, I arm-twisted Mr. Cinical to schedule me as his witness. I promise to be on my best-behavior. Damn, no theatrics.

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Life with a Law Student: It Depends

When you are in school, you are like a sponge, soaking all the knowledge up. Everything is new and exciting. And remember where there are certain words/phrases you keep repeating and repeating, regardless of whether they are appropriate contextually?


Me: So what do you think of [insert  subject/object]?

Mr. Cinical: It depends.


Me: What’s your view on this [insert summary/background of random news article in the newspapers]? 

Mr. Cinical: It depends.


Me: Will you like to [insert activity]? 

Mr. Cinical: It depends.

Me: Depends on what?

Mr. Cinical: Depends on how much you are going to pay me. *Laughs*

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The loss of Guru

Mr. Tiwari, or Guru as we used to call him, passed away today. We always joked that he looked like Mahatma Gandhi, with his trademark round glass, bald head and little moustache.

Like Gandhi, Guru was one of the most brilliant minds around, particularly in the field of international law. And like Ghandi, he was also one of the most humble people around, despite his very senior position as the Principal Senior State Council of the Attorney-General Chambers.

I first met him as a young officer in 2003, still wet behind the ears. I had to staff him and a few senior officials on a trip to the Philippines. I remembered him with his trademark back-pack wandering around the Filipino shopping mall that was selling a variety of pirated DVDs – “Field study”, he told me with a wink. He was then one of Singapore’s lead negotiator for intellectual property issues.

I also remembered him as being generous in spirit. During most occasions, on overseas delegation trips, he will always share his loot of mangosteens and doughnuts, imploring people to eat. Once, as I was struggling with bags of laptops, documents and gifts for an ASEAN Ministers’ meeting, he offered his help. He did not have to. He could have waved us off to check into the first/business class transit lounge.

Oh, and he, with his brilliant legal mind, who not only drafted, negotiated and interpreted agreements, but also had a heart for Singapore. In every negotiation, in every legal interpretation, understanding and safeguarding Singapore’s interests was always on his mind. I remembered working with him and his team, in long-drawn sessions, arguing at some points,on the nuances of an ASEAN agreement, interpreting its language as to what could or could not be done.

My last encounter with him was in 2006 at the ASEAN Ministers’ meeting, where Singapore had failed to push to push through some proposals that was championed by my organisation (ex) and I had worked my ass off for. I was visibly upset, and he shook my hand and said, “Thank you Cindy, you have done well, you have tried your best and that’s all it matters.”

And, yes, Guru, like what you told me then – you have indeed given your best too and that’s all it matters too.

PS: Mr. V pointed out – one of Guru’s last papers, which reads like a short memoir.

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