In conjunction with Fathers Day on June 18, we spoke to families whose children have followed in their father’s footsteps.

Happy Fathers Day to all the loving and caring fathers out there!

Former high court judge Richard Talalla’s three sons – Mark, David and John – are all chips off the old block. The trio have followed in their father’s footsteps and studied law.

“Dad never forced to us to read law. We were given the freedom to choose our careers but my brothers and I ended up walking down the same path as our father,” says Mark. His eldest brother Peter was the only one who did not study law; he is a pilot.

Mark and his brothers’ interest in law started from a young age. When they were growing up, the boys saw their father burn the midnight oil, immersing himself in legal cases and research materials. They were aware that their father had the responsibility of upholding the law.

“As a high court judge, Dad served as a keeper of people’s rights, analysing the factual and legal components of each case he presided over. His determination and passion for ensuring that justice was done further fuelled my passion to read law,” shares Mark, 52, who earned his law degree from Sussex University in Britain.

With four sons to preside over under his roof, the high court judge certainly had to draw on his experience of meting out justice (and punishments).

“We were boisterous boys who always got into trouble. Dad was a stern man but he was always fair. We’d get our knuckles rapped and had to face the music when we were up to no good. You can say the hammer fell on us pretty often,” recalls Mark, laughing at the memory.

Though the three brothers studied law, Mark is the only lawyer in the family. He is a partner at a law firm in Petaling Jaya.

Richard, 86, is based in Seremban but still drives to work thrice a week to consult on cases at Mark’s firm. Work keeps him active and his mind sharp, he says.

“I don’t believe in retirement. I’m still passionate about my job and enjoy handling legal cases. Plus, I have a connection with the partners of the firm and I look forward to coming to work,” says the grandfather of five.

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Former high court judge Richard Talalla (left) and son, lawyer Mark Talalla looking through a clients flile at their law firm. Photo: The Star

Mark says he is fortunate to be able to work with his father. He gets to learn from his father as well as bond with him. “Dad’s room is next to mine. Whenever I need advice, be it on legal or family matters, all I have to do is walk a few steps to see him for a quick chat. Another plus point about working together is we can go out for meals and spend quality time with each other,”adds Mark, who has a 13-year-old daughter.

Another benefit of following in his father’s footsteps is having him as a mentor.

“Dad has trained me to be meticulous and thorough with cases. He reminds me that the core foundation of a law firm is absolute integrity and honesty,” says Mark, who will spend Fathers Day with his parents.

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The late Major (rtd) Amat Puad was with the Territorial Army Regiment till his retirement.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but the late Major (rtd) Amat Puad was certainly not pleased when his daughter announced that she was joining the armed forces. He brought up his family in military style but he didn’t expect his daughters to go into combat.

Capt Nur Afida Ahmad Puad, 34, still remembers the day she told her father she intended to join the armed forces.

“It didn’t go down too well with Abah. As a member of the Territorial Army Regiment, he was worried about my safety, should I be mobilised to the jungles. He was also concerned if I could complete my military training,” recalls the third child of nine siblings.

It was only after Capt Nur Afida proved her mettle and was commissioned as second lieutenant at Kolej Tentera Udara in Kepala Batas, Kedah, that her father was convinced she had chosen the right path. She is now an air traffic controller with KD Rajawali at the Royal Malaysian Navy in Lumut, Perak.

“Abah was so proud and couldn’t contain his excitement after I became an officer. Soon, he started to encourage my siblings to enlist too,” says Captain Nur Afida, who has served for over 15 years.

Three other sisters have also joined the armed forces. Major Nurhuda Amat Puad, 37, is an officer with the pay corp department of the armed forces at the Defence Ministry in Kuala Lumpur and Captain Dr Nur Amirah Amat Puad, 35, is a family health specialist at Kem Perdana Sg Besi in Kuala Lumpur. Lieutenant Nurazuwa Amat Puad, 31, is a naval officer with KD Sultan Ismail in Tanjung Pengelih, Johor.

“From young, we admired Abah in his military uniform. He looked distinguished and respectable. We aspired to walk tall and serve in the army, just like Abah,” shares Capt Nur Afida.

Their father died of a heart attack in March, but his legacy lives on.

Nurazuwa recalls how her father emphasised values such as discipline, obedience and respect.

“At home, Abah was the commanding officer and we were like soldiers. No TV, radio or story books during school days. He was particular about our choice of attire too. Our rooms had to be neat and tidy; our beds were made like hospital beds, with sharp corners,” recalls Nurazuwa. Those spartan days are long gone but Nurazuwa and her siblings have come to appreciate their late father’s strict ways. The girls say they are motivated, organised and courageous because of how their father brought them up.

“Though a disciplinarian, Abah was a loving father. He taught us how to be compassionate and responsible. He always reminded us to be strong, caring and loyal in our undertakings – be it work or family matters,” says the mother-of-three, who will be spending Fathers Day with her family in Johor Baru.

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Appaduria (centre) is a happy father because his sons Viknesh (left) and Barath are close to him. Photo: The Star/Sheela Chandran

For 70-year-old Appaduria Kuppusamy, each day is Fathers Day because his two sons are close to him.

For the past 10 years, his sons Barath Appaduria, 38, and Viknesh Appaduria, 33, have been helping him and his wife Thanaletchumy Kumarasamy run their poultry business in Kluang, Johor.

Barath holds a business degree while Viknesh is an engineering graduate. Rather than pursue their careers elsewhere, the small town boys returned home to help their parents manage their farm, the Barath Poultry Farm.

“There was a sense of responsibility to help out with the business. Plus, we felt we could put the knowledge gained from our education into practice and expand the family business,” says Barath.

Viknesh chips in: “From young, we’ve watched Appa and Amma work hard to grow their business. We also grew up helping to sell eggs at the morning and night markets. It seemed like a natural progression to join the family business.”

They had always worked together as a family, but their business is now stronger because Appaduria recognised his sons’ strengths.

“Appa knows Viknesh and me better than anyone else. He harnesses the best of our abilities to manage the business. There aren’t any communication barriers as we know each other so well,” says Barath, a father-of-two.

He is in charge of marketing and distribution, while Viknesh manages the overall operations and also helps his father sell eggs in the market.

The brothers still live in the family home – located on their farm – with their wives and children.

Each day, Viknesh wakes up at 4am. After loading the eggs in his lorry, he heads off to the market with his wife, Jesminn Loh, and Appaduria. Their stall opens at 5am, and they work together to sort their eggs according to grades and serve their customers till they close at 11am. Meanwhile, Barath loads his lorry and travels to different parts of Johor to deliver the fragile goods. Barath’s wife Mukai Ganesan, 35, helps to manage the family accounts.

Ther working hours are long but the boys aren’t complaining.

For Viknesh, it’s all about continuing his parents’ legacy, the fruits of 30 years of hard work.

It’s also about staying united as a family.

“The best bit is that we are able to have homecooked meals together and our children are growing up together. Sometimes, business meetings are held over dinner with the entire family, with our mother and wives,” adds Viknesh.

For 70-year-old Appaduria, there’s nothing more rewarding than having his children by his side.