PETALING JAYA: Veteran lawyer K Kumaraendran has been made the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the practice of criminal law.
Counsel N Sivananthan, who presented Kumaraendran with a plaque during the ceremony on Saturday, said the 77-year-old lawyer had excelled in his field and was a role model for young practitioners.
“He acts with force and vigour to protect the rights and liberty of clients in trials and appeals,” added Sivananthan who was once Kumaraendran’s pupil.
Kumaraendran, who is based in Penang, is currently on the legal team of Rosmah Mansor, who is facing several charges of corruption and money laundering.
Sivananthan told FMT that criminal lawyers who had been meeting at annual dinners for the past five years had decided to honour the senior counsel.
“In the past, we held the annual social gatherings to foster ties among our comrades. This year, a committee was formed to pick and pay tribute to a veteran lawyer who has contributed much in the area of criminal law,” he added.
The event at a hotel here was attended by about 200 lawyers.
Kumaraendran was called to the Bar in 1970. He was one of the pioneer lawyers who took up drug trafficking cases after the government amended the law to make the activity a capital offence.
He rose to international fame when he represented Frenchwoman Beatrice Saubin who was detained at the Penang International Airport in January 1980 over 534g of heroin found hidden in her suitcase.
She was the first foreign national to be sentenced to death. In August 1982, however, the Federal Court commuted her sentence to life imprisonment. She was freed from prison in 1990.
Sivananthan also shared a less known fact about Kumaraendran, saying the latter was cited for contempt of court in 1977 for remarks against a Sessions Court judge in the course of representing his client.
“On revision, his two-day jail term was set aside by the late Eusoffe Abdoolcader who was then a High Court judge.”
Kumaraendran thanked the organisers for selecting him and advised fellow lawyers to refrain from “stabbing each other” in the pursuit of cases.
He also drew loud applause with his closing remark: “Old lawyers don’t die, they only lose their appeal.”