Punch Coomaraswamy


Punch Coomaraswamy (b. 1925, Segamat, Johor, Malaysia–d. 8 January 1999, Singapore) was a High Court judge and envoy to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, Fiji, the United States and Brazil.1

Education
Coomaraswamy received his early education at the English College in Johor and later obtained his law degree from the University of Nottingham in England.2


Career
He made his mark in the legal diplomatic arenas. Coomaraswamy was appointed as the Supreme Court judge 1984 and retired from this position in 1993. He was also acknowledged by noted lawyers as their teacher in the finer points of law during the 1950s and ’60s. He served as the high commissioner and ambassador to over eight countries.3

Death
After a bout of lung problems, Coomaraswamy died in his sleep at his Bukit Timah home on 8 January 1999 at the age of 73.4

Appointments5
1959–1969: Visiting lecturer, University of Singapore
1958–1960: Honorary Secretary, Singapore Bar Council
1960s:
Lawyer at Braddell Brothers

1961–1969: Lecturer, Board of Legal Education, Singapore
Feb 1966: Deputy Speaker of Parliament
Aug 1966–1970: Speaker of Parliament
Mar–May 1968: Acting president of Singapore
Jan 1970–Jul 1973: High commissioner to India, Sri Lanka; ambassador to Nepal
1972–Jul 1973: High commissioner to Bangladesh
Jul 1973–Sep 1976: High commissioner to Australia
Oct 1973Sep 1976: High commissioner to Fiji
Oct 1976–Aug 1984: Ambassador to the United States
Mar 1978–Aug 1984: Ambassador to Brazil
Sep 1984–Oct 1993: Appointed Supreme Court judge

Awards6
1946: Pacific War (1941 to 1945) Medal (United Kingdom)
1976: Public Service Star Award
1980: Meritorious Service Medal

Family7
Wife: Kaila nee Appachy
Sons: Mohan and Vinodh
Daughter: Shoba



Author

Bonny Tan



References
1. Morais, J. V. (Ed.). (1983–1984). Who’s who in Malaysia & Singapore (Vol. 2). Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: Who’s Who Publications, p. 98. (Call no.: RSING 920.0595 WWM); Ex-envoy and High Court judge dies. (1999, January 9). The Straits Times, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Punch Coomaraswamy to be appointed Supreme Court judge. (1984, May 6). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Judges and lawyers pay last respects. (1999, January 10). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Ex-envoy and High Court judge dies. (1999, January 9). The Straits Times, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Chan, S. K. (1999), A tribute to the late Mr Justice Punch Coomaraswamy (1925–1999). Singapore Law Review, 20, 4–5. Available via PublicationSG; Judges and lawyers pay last respects. (1999, January 10). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Former envoy Punch sworn in as judge. (1984, September 8). The Straits Times, p. 15; Ex-envoy and High Court judge dies. (1999, January 9). The Straits Times, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Know your law and apply it well. (1992, June 11). The Straits Times, p. 19; Ex-envoy and High Court judge dies. (1999, January 9). The Straits Times, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
After nine years, Justice Punch Coomaraswamy retires from Bench. (1993, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Coomaraswamy, P. (1985). The inaugural Singapore Law Review lecture delivered by Mr Justice Punch Coomaraswamy on the topic the perils of drafting. Singapore Law Review, 6, 41. Available via PublicationSG.

President and SM pay respects. (1999, January 13). The Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.




The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Community leaders
Law and government>>Public administration
Ambassadors--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community leaders
Judges--Singapore--Biography
Coomaraswamy, Punch, 1925-1999