By Zalinah Noordin and Michael Murty
The Rakyat Post
GEORGE TOWN, April 20:
The streets of Penang today were filled with tens of thousands of people from all walks of life who came out to celebrate the life of the late Karpal Singh.
The day started as early as 6am at Karpal’s residence today with many gathering outside his bungalow in Jalan Utama even before the gates were opened at 7.30am.
Things started to pick up from there as Karpal’s hearse left his home, accompanied by his eldest son, Jagdeep Singh Deo.
Jagdeep appeared composed, but somewhat forlorn as he sat in the front passenger seat of the van.
The past three days have also seen a steady stream of political leaders, supporters, friends, family and the common folk of Penang, who had adored Karpal, pouring into his residence to pay their last respects.
It was an emotional farewell as his hearse was brought to the Dewan Seri Pinang in Jalan Tun Syed Barakbah for a two-hour funeral service in which the former DAP chairman and Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament (MP) was accorded state honours.
The weather seemed to accommodate the thousands of people who waited patiently for their turn to pay their last respects to the man known fondly as the “Tiger of Jelutong.”
At the hall, there was a wide range of emotions.
Being there, it was apparent that people from all races and standing had come together to pay their last respects. They put their hands together in prayer, kneeling in respect and sobbing in honest despair at the death of a leader they had come to respect.
The energy exuded within the hall was unforgettable.
Karpal’s wife Gurmit Kaur and the couple’s children remained composed, shedding the odd tear, knowing that they had to be strong to see that he received the send-off he deserved.
His grandchildren were playful, their young age shielding them from the abundance of hurt their parents were going through.
Karpal was honoured by various people, parties and even the state governor Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and his consort, Toh Puan Majimor Shariff.
About noon, the cortege left the hall, making its way to four significant stops for Karpal before arriving at the Bukit Gantung United Hokkien Cemeteries crematorium.
The stops were the Penang High Court, the veteran politician’s office in Green Hall, the Penang State Assembly building as well as Karpal’s alma mater St Xavier’s Institution (SXI).
Penang came to a standstill for one of its most loved sons.
The cortege eventually made its way to where the last rites were performed at the crematorium by his family to the roar and cheer of the Penang folk.
Tensions arose when people refused to give space to the family to perform these rites, a testament to how much Karpal and his family had given to the people, even in his death.
His body was eventually cremated at 2.30pm and his ashes will be collected tomorrow and scattered into the sea.
As reporters covering the whole wake and funeral of Karpal Singh, it was hard for us to contain the tears ourselves as we realised how much this one man had meant to the people.
The massive turnout was an indication as to how he had dominated the legal fraternity, how much he had influenced the political scene in the country and how much he meant to those in the Pearl of the Orient, who had turned out to bid him their last goodbye.