Jeswan Kaur| April 20, 2014
Free Malaysia Today
Karpal Singh’s no-nonsense approach to BN’s machievallian ways of staying in power scared the wits out of those standing in his way for a just nation
If there was one voice that dared rattle the ruling government of Barisan Nasional, it was that of DAP’s Karpal Singh. His no-nonsense reaction to the BN leadership’s machievallian ways of staying in power scared the wits out of the ruling government. And it also made BN dislike Karpal, because he had the guts to pull the rug from beneath the federal government’s feet.
For over four decades as a politician, Karpal did just that – raising the red flag and cautioning the BN government of the latter’s nefarious ways of administering the country. The nation’s leaders, instead of taking cognisance of Karpal’s wise counsel, did the contrary – they punished him for speaking the truth.
The October 1987 Operasi Lalang saw Karpal along with many other opposition politicians detained, purportedly for inciting “racial tension”. He remained in prison until January 1989 and was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Karpal was detained under the now defunct Internal Security Act. If BN leaders thought the political hardships thrown at Karpal would scare him, they were in for a rude surprise.
Karpal refused to cower under pressure. His fight for a Malaysia that was fair and just was endless with the indefatigable Karpal determined to battle corrupt powers until the end.
The former DAP national chairperson was tireless in his quest to ‘educate’ the country’s leaders on the Constitution, opposing any move to recognise Malaysia as an Islamic state arguing that the Constitution provides for a secular nation.
Best known as the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’, Karpal remained true to his cause, until his very end. The seasoned politician passed away on Wednesday, fatally injured in a pre-dawn car crash which also took the life of his personal aide.
Karpal was 73, two months shy of 74.
The MP for Gelugor made sure the Federal Constitution was adhered to. He vociferously objected to PAS’ move to implement hudud in Kelantan, saying it was not in the best interest of the country.
He also denounced Kelantan Umno for indicating support for the move, saying it was doing so for political mileage.
Hudud is an element of Islamic law and refers to the class of punishments that are fixed for certain crimes, including apostasy, theft, fornication and consumption of intoxicants.
“The DAP’s position on hudud has been made clear time and again and that stand cannot be subjected to any compromise.
“It is fundamental to the party’s existence. The passing of such a law will not be in the national interest,” the late Karpal had reiterated.
Hudud not practical
Hudud remains a long standing ‘issue’ between DAP and PAS with the latter determined to get it going at any cost.
However, in December 2012 Karpal had described PAS as a “solid principal partner” of the Pakatan Rakyat pact, reassuring that all was good between the two despite the Islamist party’s hardline stand against hudud and the Islamic state.
PAS has repeatedly pushed for hudud to be introduced and has proposed for it to be implemented if Pakatan were to take over Putrajaya while the DAP has stood firm in its stand that Malaysia should continue being a secular state.
“We did not expect to work with PAS many years ago and now, under this alliance, we acknowledge that PAS is an important component in PR,” Karpal told a crowd of over 2,500 delegates at DAP’s 16th national congress in December 2012.
Then, Karpal said while the DAP and PAS had their ‘differences’, it did not divorce them within the Pakatan coalition.
But the scenario now has taken a drastically turn with Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob pushing for a private member’s Bill in parliament through one of PAS’ MPs.
(Kelantan passed the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Court Enactment in 1993).
“The passing of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Court Enactment II in the (Kelantan) state assembly in 1993 is, in the first place, unconstitutional,” Karpal, the country’s best constitutional and criminal lawyer said.
It was just last year when all was well between PAS and DAP. During its annual general meeting last year, PAS declared support to political cooperation with DAP and PKR.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang back then went so far as to claim that it was Umno and not the DAP that stood in the way of PAS going ahead and implementating the hudud law.
Kelantan, however, is not the only state keen to get the hudud going. Terengganu too, has a state enactment to implement hudud, having passed the enactment in 2002 when PAS ruled the state.
But now almost two years later, the scenario has taken a dip, with PAS vehement about its hudud agenda, indifferent as to how such move will influence its political ties with DAP.
Still, affect it did, as seen from Karpal’s response to the on-going statements by PAS leaders on the implementation of hudud laws.
“I regret that PAS is insisting that it will pursue its aim to bring in hudud, which is not in the common manifesto.
“DAP’s stand on hudud is very clear. It ought not and should not be brought into the country. When I say this, I speak on behalf of DAP,” Karpal said at a press conference.
Will DAP continue to stand firm on hudud?
PAS has gone so far as to declare support for party deputy spiritual leader Haron Din, who has insisted on hudud in a Pakatan Rakyat government even if DAP opposes it.
Karpal had asked that PAS leaders quit hankering about the hudud issue. He also wanted oppostion leader Anwar Ibrahim to make a stand on the matter.
As far as Karpal was concerned, hudud was not practical, the worry being that it would only go on to encourage more crime. The eminent lawyer believed would-be criminals would not fear hudud, knowing that it would be impossible to prove a case against them in court.
Hudud said Karpal would require proof beyond a shadow of a doubt.
“In a rape case, for instance, you must provide four eyewitnesses. It will be impossible to secure four people who saw the act.
“If hudud is applied, nobody will be convicted. It will be practically impossible to prove a case in court.”
Karpal said that without the cooperation of DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat, there was no way PAS could go ahead and amend the Federal Constitution to implement hudud in the country.
“There must be a two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution,” Karpal reminded PAS.
With Karpal gone, will DAP waver or stand firm and dismiss PAS’ never-ending obsession with hudud?
The biggest worry – how will the hudud ‘tug of war’ affect Pakatan’s chances at making it to Putrajaya, if it ever does, given that its most outspoken and outstanding politician Karpal is no longer around?