By Michael Murty
The Rakyat Post
April 24, 2014
Amidst an estimated crowd of 4,000 people inside and outside the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, the memorial service for the late Karpal Singh started with everyone standing for one minute in silence in memory of the “Tiger of Jelutong”.
Those who could not get into the hall gathered outside, watching on a large screen.
Lights went off in the hall at one point, and what came was a poignant tribute to the former DAP chairman, through visuals and sound.
A video was played highlighting significant moments of Karpal’s life.
It began with pictures of a young Karpal from his school days, to him passing his Bar exam, marrying Gurmit Kaur, his detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and his other famous moments.
Also played on the screen were his famous quotes.
The video moved the packed crowd from cheers to applause and straight to tears within minutes.
It ended with a frame of his last parliamentarian quote: “Do not play with the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law.”
As soon as the lights were switched back on, photographers rushed to get pictures of people wiping off their tears.
DAP acting national chairman Tan Kok Wai started off the night by calling Karpal a “towering” Malaysian who had contributed tremendously to the country.
“We are here to pay tribute to this great man. His passing is still fresh in our memory.”
Tan, however, included in his speech, a condemnation of the government for not allowing organisers to use a bigger venue for the memorial service when they refused to allow them to use a school hall.
“That hall would have held more than double the capacity here. Shame on them.
“We at DAP, promise that we will do our best in the next general election to end the hegemony of crooks and tyrants,” he said.
There were heartfelt speeches that included poetry and song.
Lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar spoke of his personal connection with Karpal and the veteran politician’s family.
“We lived close by and all I remember is a towering figure I called Uncle Karpal,”
Karpal’s son and Puchong member of parliament Gobind Singh Deo begun his speech in tears but ended it by roaring Karpal’s words, “Jangan main-main”.
The crowd was moved by his speech, encouraging him and cheering him on.
“Last week, at this time, I was visited by the Tiger. My father met me in KL, before he left for Penang.
“You never know that, that would be the last time you meet someone, you are really never ready to lose them.
“He left my room at 10.30pm on Tuesday night and at 2am I was told that there was an accident. My wife came to see me and didn’t know what to say, she broke down and cried. At that time I was told that two members of my family had died.
“We did not know what actually happened. We rushed to the Kampar mortuary. In the journey, flashes of this great man went through my mind. As the news broke out, many people called in disbelief and shock, many didn’t know what to say.
Gobind said at the Ipoh hospital, people gathered from all walks of life, and everyone asked that one question, “Is it true?”
Tears flowed and emotions ran high, Karpal’s son said.
“Three days in the house and then the funeral. Tens of thousands of people lined up the streets leading to my house to express grief and sadness. It will take time before we come to terms with this loss.
“On behalf of my family we would like to thank all Malaysians who gave the Tiger the send off he deserved. We, our family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Special thanks to the state government of Penang.
“We are grateful to Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng. No words can describe how thankful we are for you to stand by us, not just as politicians but as family friends,” Gobind remarked, referring to the father-son DAP leaders.
“They tried for years to break him, they could not do it.
“I thank God for giving me such a father and to know such a great man. We must carry on his fight,” Gobind told the packed hall.
PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu described Karpal as a tiger and lion in Parliament and in court, but a tame cat at home and among his family and friends.
“100 or 200 Karpals can come, but to me they will never equal Karpal Singh,” he said.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim echoed those thoughts, saying there will never be a replacement for Karpal.
“The people had lost a courageous defender of their rights and I have lost a great friend.
“From the visits when I was in Sungai Buloh prison, and the service as my legal representation right through the latest case. He always said we would always fight tooth and nail but we would never use dirty tactics or cheat. He was that kind of man.
“Titles didn’t matter to him, instead how he was held in great esteem by everyone was important. That was evident in Penang when a sea of people paid tribute to him,” Anwar said.
Others who made speeches included the Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary General for Timor-Leste Dr Noeleen Heyzer, National Laureate A. Samad Said, DAP leader Lim Kit Siang, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, DAP party life adviser Dr Chen Man Hin and Bersih head Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.
There were also diplomats from Finland, representatives from the British and Australian High Commissions at the service as well as representatives from various non-governmental organisations like Bersih, Asalkan Bukan Umno (ABU) and the Malaysian Indian Voice, among others.
The memorial service was a tribute in all sense of the word, as its main purpose was to celebrate Karpal’s life by highlighting key attributes of the former Bukit Gelugor MP through speeches, poetry and songs.