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Murali Pillai, Jason Chan, Mohamed Faizal appointed Senior Counsel

Jason Chan Tai-Hui, Murali Pillai and Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir (from left to right) have been appointed Senior Counsel, joining the elite ranks of Singapore's equivalent of Britain's Queen's Counsel.

MURALI Pillai, who has his plate full as a lawyer and Member of Parliament, has proved his case that one can wear several hats and be successful at them. He is one of the three Senior Counsel newly minted on Monday.

Jason Chan Tai-Hui and Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir are the other two legal practitioners who earned the coveted title, with their outstanding ability as advocates, extensive knowledge of the law and the highest professional standing. 

Together, they join the elite ranks of Singapore's equivalent of Britain's Queen's Counsel, who at the latest count stand at 88.

Mr Murali, a litigator with 24 years of experience, has argued several landmark cases, including a recent one that ultimately secured an acquittal for a businessman and his trading firm. 

His clients were spared a three-month jail term, S$1 million in total fines and forfeiture of Madagascan rosewood logs worth US$50 million, when their convictions for illegally importing the logs were quashed at the end of the five-year saga.

A current case that the 52-year-old equity partner with Rajah & Tann Singapore is working on is a high-stakes lawsuit for Prudential Assurance Company Singapore. The insurance heavyweight has taken its former top agency manager to court for allegedly instigating the exodus of 244 agents to join its rival Aviva Singapore. 

Outside of court, he is Bukit Batok MP, after winning the single-seat ward in a by-election in 2016.

Mr Chan, a commercial and criminal litigator like Mr Murali, is a partner of Allen & Gledhill and co-head of its white collar and investigations practice. Leveraging his experience as a former prosecutor and judicial officer, the 42-year-old advises on regulatory and white-collar criminal cases, including market misconduct, regulatory breaches, corporate fraud and corruption.

He was one of the lawyers for City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee in his trial on criminal breach of trust of the church's funds. 

Mr Chan studied law on a Public Service Commission scholarship and graduated with a first-class honours degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He also has a master's degree in law from Columbia University in New York on a Legal Service Commission scholarship. 

He was once named the best oralist at the championship round for an international law moot court competition. 

Mr Chan's keen interest in law shouldn't surprise anyone - his father Jeffrey Chan Wah Teck was a President's Scholar who retired from the Legal Service as the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) principal senior consultant.

Mr Chan's ex-colleague at the AGC, Mr Faizal, also has a first-class honours law degree from NUS and a master's degree in law from Harvard University. His thesis at Harvard was awarded the International Insolvency Institute Gold Medal.

He commenced his career in the Supreme Court where the 39-year-old assisted the judiciary in research as a Justices' Law Clerk. He currently serves at the AGC as a deputy chief prosecutor and senior state counsel.

Mr Faizal has a desire to make a difference through education, having set up and funded the scholarships in his alma maters, Bedok View Secondary and Tampines Junior College. His contributions were recognised when he was one of the recipients of the President's Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards in 2015.

But his philanthropy did not stop there. He recently established a book grant - aptly named the Phoenix Grant - for NUS lower-income law students, to encourage them to rise above their challenging financial circumstances.