Karpal Singh - Malaysia’s Stalwart is Gone But Never Forgotten

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, 17th April, news trickled in via Twitter that YB Mr. Karpal Singh, MP for Bukit Gelugor, lost his life together with his wingman, Michael Cornelius.

Apr 24, 2014

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, 17th April, news trickled in via Twitter that YB Mr. Karpal Singh, MP for Bukit Gelugor, lost his life together with his wingman, Michael Cornelius.

Time just froze. Malaysia had just lost a 74-year old man in the most tragic of circumstances, a man who had fought the good fight, in the most principled of ways.

Tributes from all Malaysians, be they from the government or opposition, flew in to commemorate the life Mr. Karpal Singh had lived.

It would be nigh on impossible for me to go on listing down his accolades, and endless achievements here, for that would certainly require a book to be written, speaking of which Tim Donoghue has done an admirable job.

However, the ‘Tiger of Jelutong,’ as he was so fondly known, was one who despite all his struggle and hardship, never brought to a halt his drive to persevere for a better Malaysia, for all Malaysians. Even his final journey en route to Penang was to prepare for a case in court.

On the world stage, young people in the 80s and 90s, even before that, grew up revering the late South African President, Nelson Mandela. A man who sought equality for all notwithstanding their background or colour of their skin.

Here though, (and I do not think I am wide of the mark to speak on behalf of others), Malaysians during that period, held Karpal Singh in equally high esteem. Equality, social justice and the rule of law are just some of the many things he stood for, unflinching of his principles.

Some might not have known the gentleman, but he had set a benchmark of which many would intend to follow.

When someone speaks with a bit of sense coupled with courage in any situation to right a wrong, the general reply could be, “Ahh, you speak like Karpal Singh. Do you want to be a lawyer?”

That is testament of the man, that whoever so dared to speak in defence of themselves and others, would be looked at as following in the ever brilliant precedent of YB Karpal.

One who highly believed in justice, he was also rooted in forgiveness, clearly displayed in his constant calling for the death penalty to be done away with in Malaysia. When he spoke, either in Court or Parliament, or even in regular speeches, there was pin drop silence. That sort of aura was something he always had. When he spoke, people listened.

It did not matter whether one was a friend or foe, be seated in the higher stratum of society or an ordinary person, when that person acted outside the bounds of the law, Karpal would make sure that person knew of his error. His final speech in Parliament is still ringing in my ears, when he mooted to the Speaker, Jangan main-main dengan Perlembagaan, Tuan Speaker, alluding to a breach of procedure in the Dewan Rakyat. ‘Upholding the Constitution’ and the name ‘Karpal Singh’ are often mentioned in the same sentence.

Weeks before, he was even convicted for doing just that, mentioning that no one is above the law. He probably lived to the fullest the saying of Sir Ivor Jennings: ‘Be you ever so high, the law is above you.’

YB Karpal was detained without trial, yes, he even was convicted of sedition and did not get a chance to appeal. Even then, he respected the decision of the court. Malaysians are witnesses of the heroic battles that he fought in an unfinished struggle. We are duty-bound to be liberated from that very struggle.

As he put it perfectly, “Eliminating me from the political terrain will not be the end of Karpal Singh. It will in fact lead to the rise of many Karpal Singhs!” We may have lost the man, but the roar of the tiger can still be heard.

Gone, never forgotten.

Jay Jay Denis,

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