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Retired judge and Public Transport Council chairman Richard Magnus dies aged 78

Retired judge and Public Transport Council chairman Richard Magnus dies aged 78

Public Transport Council chairman Richard Magnus died on Mar 14, 2021. (Photo: Facebook/Public Transport Council)

SINGAPORE: Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of the Public Transport Council (PTC) and retired chief district judge died on Monday (Mar 14). He was 78.

Mr Magnus was appointed chairman of PTC in 2014, having served the council since 2012. Before joining PTC, Mr Magnus was Board Director of the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

He was also the founding chairman of Temasek Foundation Cares and deputy chairman of Temasek Foundation.

Mr Magnus graduated with an LLB (Hons) and LLM from the National University of Singapore, and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and the John F Kennedy School of Government. He served as Senior District Judge, a post now referred to as Chief District Judge, of the State Courts of Singapore, retiring after 40 years in the Singapore legal service.

He also served as Singapore’s first representative at the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and as the country’s non-resident ambassador to Finland.

Other positions he held include vice-chairmanship of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Bioethics Committee, as well as board membership of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Independent Review Panel.

He was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Gold) (Bar) in 2003, the Meritorious Service Medal in 2009, the Public Service Star Medal in 2015 and the Distinguished Service Order for the 2021 National Day Awards for his contributions to public service.

He was also adjunct professor for the School of Law at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.


In a condolence message posted on Facebook, President Halimah Yacob said she remembered Mr Magnus as one who "was always working to serve others; to create a kinder, more inclusive society". 

"Richard exemplified the definition of selfless service. He will be missed," wrote Mdm Halimah.

As a judge, Mr Magnus was "exceedingly kind and fair", said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

"He was the longest-serving head of the Subordinate Courts (now known as the State Courts). He was instrumental in transforming and modernising the court processes to what they are today," Mr Shanmugam said in a Facebook post. 

"I dealt with him frequently, when he was serving on the Home Team committees. He worked hard to ensure racial and religious harmony in Singapore, and was always a counsel of wisdom, good sense, a calming influence, when people around him get worried."

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also expressed his condolences to Mr Magnus’ family.

He described Mr Magnus as a “wonderful upright gentleman who epitomised justice, integrity, compassion, humility and service to his nation”.

“I had the privilege of working with him in (the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports) when we were crafting legislation that would ultimately become the Mental Capacity Act 2008,” Dr Balakrishnan wrote.

“His keen insights, attention to detail and due process were invaluable. Over the years I have been blessed to interact with him in diverse fields.”

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung recalled in a Facebook post that he had first worked with Mr Magnus when he was then transport minister.

"I could always count on him to lead the (Public Transport Council) to recommend what was right - striking that difficult balance between transport fares and transport cost," said Mr Ong. 

He added that as chairman of the Bioethics Advisory Committee, Mr Magnus was "at the frontier of policy thinking in healthcare".

"He will be sorely missed as a colleague, friend and teacher."

PTC said it was "deeply saddened" by the demise of Mr Magnus. 

"More than a man of principle and conviction, Mr Magnus cares deeply for the community, especially the vulnerable and those with special needs," added PTC.

CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust Management CEO Tony Tan said in a statement that Mr Magnus' "integrity, wisdom and sound judgment had been a source of inspiration", adding that the company's board and management had "benefitted tremendously from his guidance and insights". 

Non-profit organisation PAVE also paid tribute to Mr Magnus in a Facebook post, calling him “one of the finest human beings we knew”.

“As a Judge, he was very in tune with social work issues and had a real compassion for the vulnerable, children, youth, elderly and families,” the post said.

“When he was in the Family Court, he recognised the importance of community justice and when PAVE approached the Family Court to provide services to survivors of family violence in the community, he loaned us our first ever video link system, which was a game changer for the provision of immediate help to those who needed protection.

“This was in 1999. PAVE will forever be in his debt. This is a great loss to Singapore and we grieve the loss of Mr Magnus alongside his family and friends.”

Source: CNA/ga(ac)


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