A Singaporean on the move
Kin Wah is a Rouse Executive based in Jakarta and a Foreign Registered Lawyer with local IP law firm, Suryomurcito & Co., a member of the Rouse network.
Kin Wah grew up and began his professional life in Singapore, but has spent much of his time since in other countries, the last ten years or so in Jakarta. There, he has become familiar with a system quite different from the western legal systems he had worked with previously.
In Singapore, Kin Wah came from a Chinese-speaking background. At school, he majored in the Sciences and, along with almost all his school friends at the time, initially thought of becoming an Engineer. He’s now grateful for the two years of compulsory Military Service after he left school because it gave him time to think seriously about what he really wanted to do – and it wasn’t Engineering! He decided he would much rather be either an Accountant or a Lawyer. He chose Law only because the University offering Accounting was a long way from home, but it turned out well - he is happy with his chosen field of practice and more importantly to be working at a fantastic place like Rouse, where he truly feels part of an international firm .
His first legal job was in the general litigation department of a Singapore law firm and it was there that he was introduced to IP, patent litigation in particular. The idea of specialisation appealed to him, going into a subject area in depth rather than being a ‘jack of all trades’ general litigator. He moved to a specialised IP position in another Singapore firm, then, after several years, to an international IP firm in Hong Kong. There, because of his Chinese language skills, he was required to spend quite a bit of time in the firm’s China office. He enjoyed the experience; in particular having the opportunity to learn about the Chinese legal system and pick up on its subtleties from local practitioners .
Subsequently, while many of his peers were taking a sabbatical to do their Masters in Law, Kin Wah decided to study for, and sit, the New York bar exams. He has also subsequently gained admission to practice in both the UK and Australia. He says his understanding of all these different legal systems has helped greatly in a practice that is increasingly international, with clients from a range of different jurisdictions.
Kin Wah’s wife and two children, a son Ian and daughter Shaune, are all musical. Ian plays the piano – he has his own YouTube channel of piano performances of movie themes; Shaune plays the guitar (she has taken part in various band competitions); and Kin Wah’s wife played keyboard in church when she was younger. While not musically trained, Kin Wah said that he "participates passively by listening and cheering along".
In recent times, however, Kin Wah’s spare time has been largely taken up working on a newly acquired house and garden in Perth, Australia. Weekends spent there are busy with mowing, weeding and pruning, but it’s something Kin Wah enjoys. He says it’s his principal form of physical activity and one that he enjoys. He also dabbles in planting with varying degree of success. At one point, he planted some frangipani plants outside the family’s ground floor apartment in Singapore, even though he knew that the building’s managers might remove them – and they did! With the house in Perth, it is different. There, they can do more or less whatever they want in the garden and Kin Wah has lost count of the number of trees planted on the property. “Now”, he says, "the thing that keeps me awake at night" is whether the property insurance coverage is adequate.
He loves being in Jakarta and is grateful for his time at Rouse, working in an international environment, and learning how to navigate the unpredictable regulatory environment that exists in a vast country like Indonesia.