Following the announcement by the Law Society that its President, Adrian Tan, passed away on Jul. 8, 2023, at the age of 57, multiple Singaporeans have penned tributes for his legacy and work, and expressed their condolences to his family.
Shanmugam: A "true Renaissance man"
In a Facebook post on Jul. 8, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam described Tan as a multi-talented "true Renaissance man" and called his passing a "big loss".
The minister highlighted Tan's status as a best-selling author while he was still an undergraduate, his viral posts on LinkedIn and how he took a second degree in Computer Science while he was a practicing lawyer.
As the Law Society President, Tan also worked to address long hours, and working conditions for young lawyers, Shanmugam added.
The minister further wrote, "Far too young, far too soon. He was witty, pleasant to spend time with. A sharp mind with a wonderful heart."Tribute was also paid by People's Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Nadia Samdin.
Nadia related her own experience of working together with Tan when he joined TSMP Law where she was also working as a senior associate in 2018.
She recalled his daily routine of walking past her room with a Starbucks cup in hand, "ever ready to pop his head in with a ready quip", and how he freely shared his time and knowledge when she had questions on Intellectual Property (IP) law.
Nadia also highlighted a moment when Tan took the time to message her following a "particularly difficult" speech she delivered in parliament.
"I deeply appreciated how thoughtful he was," she added.
"To our dearest unofficial LinkedIn King of Singapore - Adrian my heart is heavy. The clock may have run out but you fought hard and bravely. Thank you, Famous Author, for engaging with young lawyers, for always speaking your mind in a way that invited discussion and diverse view points, and for sharing your gift, wit, and ready smile with the world."
Books had a "profound impact"
Many Singaporeans also paid tribute to Tan as the author of the books "The Teenage Textbook" and "The Teenage Workbook".
Worker's Party MP Jamus Lim noted that these coming-of-age novels, which were published in the late 1980s, had a "profound impact on him" as he wrestled with adolescent doubt, insecurities and fears.
Lim added that this was very likely why he read the books more than a dozen times.
He was echoed by photographer Darren Soh, who said, "I have absolutely no doubt that thousands of 40-somethings today who read 'The Teenage Textbook' and 'The Teenage Workbook' would also agree that they were the greatest works of literature."
The publisher's of Tan's books, Goh Eck Kheng, recalled how he first met Tan through a magazine editor, and how both of them eventually ended up working on the final draft of "The Teenage Textbook" at a fast food restaurant in Holland Village until morning, as Tan was flying out for a university trip that day.
Goh, who runs the publishing firm Landmark Books, also recalled that Tan would go on to use the first royalty cheque he received to buy a fridge for his mother.
He also remembered being told by one of Tan's law lecturers that his school work was suffering because of his writing.
"Adrian once said sadly to me that his books were not considered literature. This great storyteller was wrong. The cover of 'The Teenage Workbook' appears on the front of 'Singapore Literature in English, An Annotated Bibliography' by Prof Koh Tai Ann.
This bibliography is in a bookcase in my office, its cover purposely turned to be visible from my desk. More than ever now, when I look up and see the back of Sissy Song, I will remember Landmark Books' first bestselling author."
As for the their last meeting, Goh said that it took place at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where Tan was attending a gathering of authors for a book commissioned by the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Community Fund.
Tan himself had contributed a chapter in spite of his illness.
"He was his usual cheerful self, unconscious of his baldness," Goh wrote.
Goh also highlighted another meeting with Tan that took place a few months before, in which Tan agreed to put his "If I Were the King of Singapore" LinkedIn posts into a book.
"The last time we spoke, he said that we would be able to meet in July..." Goh added.https://mothership.sg/2023/07/spore-law-society-president-adrian-tan-57-dies-after-battling-with-cancer-for-over-a-year/
Top left photo via K Shanmugam/FB, right image via Goh Eck Kheng/FB