Volunteering makes better people out of us: Singapore lawyer Arfat Selvam

The Abdeali Tayebali Trust has honoured prominent Singapore lawyer and community leader Arfat Selvam with the Eighth Abdeali Tayebali Lifetime Achievement Award at an event at the Red Velvet Ballroom, Village Bugis Hotel, Singapore. 

Ameerali Abdeali, Chairman, Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust
Arfat Selvam (centre) with Ameerali Abdeali, Chairman, Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust and her family. Photo courtesy: Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust

“Arfat Selvam has certainly earned the highest respect of everyone in the legal fraternity who know her and remains a top corporate lawyer,” Ameerali Abdeali, Chairman, Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust, said at the awards ceremony.

Arfat Selvam is the Chairperson of the Hope Villages Fund, Managing Director of Duane Morris & Selvam LLP and a social and community leader. 

The guest of honour on the occasion was Murali Pillay, MP for Butik Batok.

Selvam has practiced law for five decades and is presently the Managing Partner of Duane Morris & Selvam LLP and Selvam LLC. She has been in the forefront of the development of the financial services market in Singapore. Selvam was elected as the President of the Law in 2003. She has chaired the Law Society’s Pro Bono, Learning and Support Services Management Committee, since January 1, 2008. 

“I am humbled by the award, especially after knowing the works of the great man in whose memory the Trust was set up. Thank you so much for everything you did for me today. It gives me the inspiration to overcome my grief and continue to carry on to be of service to others,” Selvam said in her acceptance speech.

Photo courtesy: Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust
Arfat Selvam delivering her acceptance speech. Photo courtesy: Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust

She was also a former Director of the Stock Exchange of Singapore Limited; a member of the Senate of the Academy of Law; the Board of Legal Education and was formerly on the Board of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. Arfat is a Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Directors.

According to the Trust, she has also made immeasurable contributions in the area of community service and social work. She continues to lead in many social service organisations, including the Breast Cancer Foundation, Muhammadiyah Welfare Home and Hope Villages Fund. 

“In her capacity as Chairperson of the Hope Villages Fund, her singular focus was to alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods of the underprivileged in Southeast Asia particularly in the villages of Cambodia and Vietnam,” Abdeali said.

On the spirit of volunteerism, Selvam said, “As a volunteer, it is your call on what, how and when you want to contribute. When volunteers see how their seemingly little efforts put a smile on faces, or light up the lives of the recipients, it is priceless and almost always, it makes better people out of us.” 

The Abdeali Tayebali Lifetime Achievement Award was envisioned in 2012 by Ameerali Abdeali, a retired civil servant. The three advisors to the Trust are K Kesavapany, Dr Mohd Saleem and Mohd Irshad. 

Photo courtesy: Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust
Arfat Selvam receiving the award from guest of honour on the occasion, Murali Pillay, MP for Butik Batok. Photo courtesy: Abdeali Tayebali Family Trust

The Award is presented to individuals who best encapsulate the following ideals:

  • Demonstration of courage and endurance in the face of a great challenge and adversity
  • Being a source of inspiration for others and a role model in the promotion of the spirit of adventure and sportsmanship in particular amongst the young in our society
  • Respect, consideration and sensitivity for the beliefs, cultural practices and traditions of people of all faiths and ethnicities
  • Concern for the general welfare of the community and an exemplification of dedication, compassion and empathy in the service of society

Past deserving recipients of the award and recognition include Dr Kumaran Rassapan, the first Singaporean-Indian to have scaled Mount Everest; KV Veloo, Pioneer of Social Service Development in Singapore; Dr Jackie Ying, Executive Director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology; Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement; Satwant Singh, a lawyer involved in disaster relief and charity in Singapore and India and Mohd Irshad, founder and president of Roses of Peace and former NMP.

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CtoI News Desk
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