by Looi Sue-Chern
The Malaysian Insider
April 18, 2014
It was a sombre, moving scene at the home of Karpal Singh this afternoon as veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang draped the party flag over the casket of his “brother-in-arms” in honour of the former chairman’s 44-year crusade for the opposition party.
Kit Siang, who brought along an old record book of the party, said that Karpal joined DAP during the “darkest hours” of the nation and the party on December 28, 1970.
It was more than a year after the May 13, 1969 racial riots and Kit Siang had just been released after a 17-month detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) following the riots.
“There were very few who came out to the forefront to lead the party at the time, but Karpal came. He had no hesitation to come forward to carry that banner,” he said of the man he called his ‘brother-in-arms”.
Kit Siang said the 1970s was also a time when DAP faced many legal cases, with its leaders charged with breaching laws like the ISA, Official Secrets Act and the Police Act.
Karpal was one of the leading lawyers defending the DAP leaders on the various charges.
“When I was charged with the OSA in 1978, Karpal defended me,” he said, referring to the time he got into trouble for exposing the scandal involving the Malaysian Royal Navy’s purchase of RM9 million SPICA-M weapons from Sweden.
“Karpal remains an inspiration to Malaysians in the struggle for justice, democracy and upholding the rule of law. Malaysians must now carry the torch he has passed on.”
Among a steady stream of mourners who visited the house to pay their respects to Karpal was former Bar Council chairman Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, who said the nation and legal profession had lost a patriot.
He described Karpal as a real gentleman who was highly principled, and a person who never turned anyone away if they sought his help to defend their rights.
“I spoke to him about politics and the law and between the two, his first love was the law. Politics was secondary to him… so much was his love for the law,” he said today.
Karpal, Param said, had the respect of the judiciary, earning no complaints but high standing before the courts.
“Karpal was so entrenched in the finer qualities of the Bar and in the 1980s, senior judges highly commended his conduct in the courts.
“He stood for the highest qualities. Judges were also respectful of him. We’ve really lost someone who is very hard to replace, a leading light in the legal and political arenas.
“However, I see his four children in court. I think they will carry on the torch he has left behind,” he said, referring to Karpal’s sons – Jagdeep Singh Deo, Gobind Singh Deo, and Ramkarpal Singh, and daughter Sangeet Kaur, who are also lawyers.
Karpal, 73, was killed in a car accident about 1am yesterday on the North-South Expressway near Kampar, Perak when his Toyota Alphard multi-purpose vehicle collided with a lorry.
His long-time aide Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu also died in the crash while Ramkarpal and the driver escaped with minor injuries.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will present the Penang flag to the family tomorrow.
On Sunday, the funeral procession will stop at important landmarks of Karpal’s life and illustrious legal career.
Penang DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow, who is overseeing the funeral arrangements, said the casket was scheduled to leave Karpal’s home in Jalan Utama at 8.15am on Sunday for the public ceremony at Dewan Sri Pinang at 9am.
“The public can pay their respects until 10am. Then, the ceremony will be opened to state dignitaries like the governor, political parties, and non-governmental organisations before ending by 11am with a religious ceremony for Karpal’s family.
“The casket will then stop at the Lebuh Light-Jalan Greenhall junction in front of the Penang High Court. Karpal’s firm is on Jalan Greenhall,” he said.
The casket will also stop at the state legislative assembly building, where Karpal began his early political career. He won the Bukit Gelugor state seat in the 1978 general election when the seat was under the Jelutong parliamentary constituency, which he also won.
Then, the procession will proceed to St Xavier’s Institution, which was his alma mater, to which he had made many contributions in recent years, Chow said.
“The school band will accompany the procession as we leave for the Batu Gantung crematorium for the final ritual,” he said.
Karpal’s eldest son Jagdeep, who is a state executive council member, thanked the state government for according his father state honours.
“It would have made him very proud to be regarded a son of Penang and for his sacrifices to be recognised. He had never asked for such acknowledgements.
“Our family will also not forget the kind wishes from the thousands of people who have offered their sympathies. Please continue to remember us in your prayers and we hope to see all of you on Sunday,” he said. – April 18, 2014.