Colin Kang: A life full of meaning

This story was originally published by Catholic News Singapore on 11 February 2009. Republished with permission.

By Noelle Seet

COLIN KANG WAS diagnosed with Thalassemia Intermediate at the age of three. Thalassemia is an inherited recessive blood disease characterized by anemia. Since then the Kang family had made pilgrimages to Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje, and Santa Cruz in Malacca, praying with Colin that he would be able to lead a normal life.

Not only was Colin able to live a normal life, but he lived a life that was full of meaning. Everything that he did, he did wholeheartedly.

When he was in Catholic Junior College (CJC), Colin and several schoolmates formed a youth group named “Doulos Adonai”, which means “servants of God”. Doulos Adonai organized camps and retreats in CJC, the National University of Singapore, and various churches.

Doulous Adonai led Colin to serve in the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), where he taught catechism for five years. In 2002, at the suggestion of then-assistant priest Father Brian d’Souza, Colin set up the Post Confirmation Group (PCG) which trained and developed youth leaders over a period of three years to better enable them to serve in their desired ministries thereafter.

Colin believed in the youths and gave of his time to nurture and counsel them. As Father Brian observed, “Colin was instrumental in empowering the youth in the PCG by giving them confidence and exposure to do work at a parish level. He was a person who journeyed with the young people both within and out of the PCG… [This] allowed the youth to be creative for the parish. The young people in the parish were very active because he gave them opportunities to run programmes at parish level.”

“I would say that my faith today would not be so deeply rooted in God if not for him… His tenacity for God’s work and his endurance and enthusiasm are what I and the other youths would try to imitate,”says Nicholas Lee, a pioneer member of the PCG.

Since 2003, after surviving a life-threatening operation to remove an abscess of the liver, Colin devoted his time to the youth in IHM.

In 1996, Colin graduated from the University of Buckingham with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours). He was called to the Singapore Bar in 1997 and soon after starting practice he set up his own law firm.

Premchand Soman, Colin’s business partner since 2002, says, “A very large proportion of our work was either pro bono or semi-pro bono. Colin used to say that this was the charm of having his own firm. He could not stand by and not help someone when he saw that person was in need.

“He used his skill not just to make a living or to make money. Even though he could have earned a lot more working for someone else, he did not do that because he wanted the freedom to devote his time to his church activities.”

Colin particularly enjoyed doing matrimonial work because he felt that he could help people at a very personal level. He was unrelenting and tireless when it came to championing what he thought was a just cause.

Colin was a founder of the Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) and was also one of the coordinators of CLG’s Free Legal Clinics and Pro Bono Scheme.

A food lover, mealtime presented opportunities to commune with friends and family. Colin also immersed himself in plays, musicals and travels to foreign lands. To him, every minute counted.

“He wanted to live life to the full,” says Christopher DeRoza. “Friends, family, religion, food, he wanted to know everything, to try everything. He gave everything because he felt he did not have time to hold anything back nor did he have any time to waste. He wanted to spend every minute of his life doing something meaningful – whether it was to enjoy companionship with his friends, family, towards work or the church.”

Colin felt that the years he had were a bonus and that he had to make the most of them. Gerard, a friend of Colin since Junior College, recalls, “I have never seen Colin pity himself or feel sorry about his condition. He never gave people the impression that he was ill.”

It was not that Colin did not have his share of burdens but “what marks him out was the way he carried his cross… always with a cheer, hope and faith in heart,” describes Mark Goh, a fellow lawyer and friend.

Life was a mission to Colin. It was a mission that he strove to carry out to the end and to the best of his abilities. He was a very good friend to many… but he did not stop at just helping friends. Genuine compassion impelled him to assist those whom he perceived to be in need.

Son, mentor, counsellor, role model, benefactor, brother, uncle, friend – Colin had been called all these by those who benefited from their encounters with him.


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