BY Looi Sue-Chern | TMI
April 17, 2014
Tears flowed as Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh’s body arrived at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, Perak, at 7.25am today for a post-mortem following an accident near Gua Tempurung in Perak, early this morning.
His wife Gurmit Kaur, sons Jagdeep Singh Deo and Gobind Singh Deo, and daughter Sangeet were joined by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and other leaders at the hospital.
All of them broke down in tears as Karpal’s body was removed from the van and taken into the mortuary, which was just opened yesterday.
Karpal, who would have turned 74 in June, was believed to have been travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang to attend a court hearing scheduled for this morning.
Police said the multipurpose vehicle was badly-damaged after losing control following a collision with a lorry on KM301.6 of the North-South Expressway about 12.40am this morning.
Police said he died on the spot. There were four other occupants in Karpal’s Toyota Alphard, which has the iconic number plate KS9898.
His long-time assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu died on the spot while Karpal’s son Ramkarpal was injured on the forehead and knees.
Karpal’s driver and maid were also injured. The maid is said to be in critical condition.
The lorry driver was not injured in the accident.
Gurmit was inconsolable as she wailed “Why why”, while his son, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who was holding his mother all the way to the mortuary, also broke down.
Gobind Singh Deo (left) and Jangdeep Singh Deo (3rd left) seen outside the hospital’s mortuary in Ipoh, Perak, today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 17, 2014.Gobind Singh Deo (left) and Jangdeep Singh Deo (3rd left) seen outside the hospital’s mortuary in Ipoh, Perak, today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 17, 2014.The bodies of Karpal and Michael were later sent to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh for a post-mortem.
Born in Penang on June 28, 1940, Karpal graduated with a law degree from the National University of Singapore.
Karpal’s political career began in 1970 when he joined the DAP. He won a seat in the Kedah State Legislative Assembly in 1974.
He was first elected to Parliament in 1978 as the representative for Jelutong, Penang, and held the seat for more than 20 years until losing it in 1999. It is during this time that Karpal earned the moniker, “Tiger of Jelutong.”
He returned to parliament in the next general election, and led the DAP to its strongest ever performance in the 2008 general election.
Karpal leaves behind a wife, five children and four grandchildren.
Karpal, who recently resigned as DAP national chairman, became paralysed and wheelchair-bound after a car accident in 2005.
His assistant Michael is from Tamil Nadu and has been working with him for a decade. Michael leaves behind a wife and a son and a daughter, all of whom are in India. DAP will make arrangements to fly Michael’s body back to India.
The reaction to this tragic news has been swift with leaders from both sides of the divide taking to Twitter to express their sorrow.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wrote: “We have lost a friend, a fighter for justice Karpal Singh. We spoke at length on the telephone at 6.30pm yesterday. My condolences to the family.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also conveyed his condolences.
“I have just landed at Ankara when I heard the news that YB Karpal Singh died in a road accident. My condolences to the family,” read Najib’s tweet.
“Shocked and sad news! DAP chairman Karpal Singh passed away in accident tonight. Malaysia has lost a truly patriotic son,” wrote Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming.
“Our dear Mr Karpal is no longer with us… I just can’t accept it…,” said Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching.
Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming said: “We lost a national hero this morning, we will always remember the Tiger of Jelutong.”
Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim tweeted: “The country has lost a noted political figure and a competent lawyer. My condolences to the family of the late Karpal Singh.”
PKR’s vice-president Tian Chua tweeted about the tragic news and he said that he was sad and speechless upon hearing the news.
Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin wrote on his Twitter handle that he got a “sad” wake up call from Kepala Batas MP Reezal Merican Naina.
“I immediately called @GobindSinghDeo and Jagdeep. These are truly sad calls in life. There is a void, a huge void to be filled in parliament as well as in court rooms. Farewell, Tiger of Jelutong,” Sim tweeted.
Changkat Jering assemblyman and former Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said Karpal’s death was a great shock.
He described the late MP as a man of principle.
“He goes all out to correct what is wrong. A great loss to the nation and the Sikh community as well.
“I have known him for 20 years. I met him back in parliament and DAP events,” he said at the hospital in Ipoh.
PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also expressed her condolences on her Facebook page.
“Condolences! To the family of the late Karpal Singh who died in an accident early this morning.
“He was someone we knew as a fighter for justice and who had placed himself as the people’s champion.
“May the family stay strong in facing this challenge. Malaysia has lost another people’s champion,” her post in Bahasa Malaysia said. – April 17, 2014.