By Roger Valberg
By all measures of success, Datuk Dr Arunan Selvaraj is an amazing personality who has done well in life and continues to inspire all who get to know him. Considered to be one of Malaysia’s best family and divorce lawyers, his practice is thriving.
It is also noted from the ALB (Asian Legal Business) website that Arunan has won the Managing Partner of the Year Award 2019 and his firm won the Dispute Resolution Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award at the recently held ALB Malaysia Law Awards.
He is also a happily married man with three children, two of whom are studying medicine. On top of that, are of course, his passion projects of helping the less fortunate. These CSR efforts include taking a group of mentally handicapped children to climb Mount Kinabalu!
And did we mention he has just about completed his second book? This is a man who makes the rest of us look bad by just trying to be the best he can be … his achievements make us wonder how much more we could all do if we just tried a bit harder.
“Now you see why I get irritated when people tell me they don’t have the time,” Arunan tells us with a smile. “My trick, or key is to get up early.In my case, it is a 5am start. Anyone can do it and you will notice that most of your work, your workouts, your hobbies, they are all settled by around 7am. Then the rest of your day isn’t so hectic. Have a good breakfast and you can accomplish so much later.”
His first book was Saving Your Marriage and all proceeds went to Makna (National Cancer Council) and The Malaysian Association for the Blind. To be launched soon, his new book, entitled Parents – Where Life Begins & Love Never Ends is proof to another mantra, which is consistency.
Close to 200-pages, it is a guide into what makes a great family. From the excerpts provided, it thankfully isn’t a preachy self-help book. Rather, it is the thoughts of a man whose career has been spent keeping the peace for clients’ families and when necessary, taking it to divorce proceedings.
“My first suggestion is always reconciliation. That usually surprises people, as I’m a divorce lawyer. But I’m also a family lawyer and in many cases, divorce is neither necessary or the next step.
Many couples I encounter or families with issues, they see divorce as the only way out. Relationships are not easy and you should put in the work to make it work. Most issues can be worked out, if there is love and forgiveness.
“People make mistakes and of course, things need time to heal. But walking away opens up other issues and it’s messy.
So I always, always advocate reconciliation first. When this fails, then we put on the robes and move to litigation. Of utmost importance at all times is protecting the interest of our clients and ensuring that they receive what is rightfully and legally due to them.”
Arunan reiterates this in his second book where he suggests that one should develop a lust for life and not wait for circumstances.
Life is a journey of love, be it self-love or family love. He advocates that love is in fact a choice; as is happiness. And the proof is in the pudding.
Arunan’s many charitable efforts have been of the blockbuster kind. His Rainbow Team usually takes the spotlight, with its adventures to the Everest base camp and a journey to Kamchatka, both of which raised money for Makna.
He is also famous for his “Jom Botak” and “Movember-Ultimate Shave Off” campaigns to raise awareness for cancer. When I ask him about his endeavours for charity, he says:
“The feeling of giving is something else. It’s a very fulfilling emotion that comes over you. During my team’s trek up Kinabalu, we were amazed and educated by the ‘never say die’ attitude of our kids.” These kids were from the Selangor and Federal Territory Association for the Mentally Handicapped.
The project was called Puncak Harapan – No Mountain Too High, and thus it proved that even as dusk fell, the final kid went up the summit. With so many things going on in his life, I asked what would his advice be to everyone. Without hesitation he said:
“Don’t wait. Do something. Many of my friends tell me that they want to help but they are waiting for the right moment or project. Why? It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life. Even just taking the time to talk to people at old folks’ homes can make a massive difference. You can help yourself by helping others.” Wise words from a man who is successful in many ways.
A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Makna (National Cancer Council) as the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM). We apologise for that oversight.