by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
May 02, 2014
Judges at the Court of Appeal used to eagerly anticipate Karpal Singh’s presence before them, and news of his appearance would immediately give them a ‘lift’, a former appellate court judge recalled this evening.
Speaking at a memorial service for Karpal in Petaling Jaya, Datuk Mahadev Shankar remembered how the fiery lawyer was popular with the judges, all of whom held him in high esteem.
“After I became a judge, I had the opportunity to watch Karpal in action, and I found that he was the best lawyer who ever appeared before me.
“I would rank him the best lawyer in the country,” Mahadev told some 100 people at the memorial organised by Karpal’s former schoolmates from SMK La Salle and St. Xavier’s Institution.
Other speakers at the memorial were Karpal’s son and Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, DAP advisor and Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang and former deputy minister of Land and Cooperative Development and former Penang deputy chief minister Dr Goh Cheng Teik.
“He never wasted the court’s time. When he came into court, he went straight for the jugular, without mincing his words.
“More often than not, I agreed with him. Other times, I did not, and I judged against him.
“But this was the opinion of all the judges that time: we put him as number one. When we heard he was coming to court that day, we immediately got a lift,” said the former judge.
Mahadev described every moment of Karpal in court as memorable, stressing that it was impossible to choose one example to illustrate the late veteran lawyer’s prowess.
He said one of the cases in which he disagreed with Karpal was over former deputy speaker of Parliament, D.P. Vijandran, whom Karpal had accused of being an actor in pornographic tapes in 1989.
“Karpal appeared before me in Shah Alam (court), and I thought the matter was related to Vijandran’s life, something he did in private, so I did not approve of Karpal bringing this up.
“I called him to my chambers and told him, ‘Karpal, I am very disappointed with what you are doing. Can you explain to me why you are doing this?’
“Karpal said: ‘I am an MP, and the father of that girl in the video came to me and told how traumatised she was, how she did not know she was being filmed.
“I must seek justice for her. As an MP, what would you expect me to do?
“I then told him: ‘Karpal, go out there and do your worst’,” Mahadev recalled, to laughter from the audience.
Mahadev said the last time he presided over a case in which Karpal appeared was at the VK Lingam inquiry, where Karpal made a “very forceful submission” to have one of the judges recused.
“Again, it was one of his best moments, although at the time he was in a wheelchair.
“However, when he starts talking, you don’t see the chair; you see a force coming out from that personality with all its logic and common sense and eloquence,” he said.
Mahadev added that he counted himself lucky for not ever having to face Karpal in court as a lawyer.
Recalling the impression Karpal made in the courts after graduating from university, Mahadev said: “In 1969 or 1970, when Karpal had just got out of university, I was regarded as a hotshot lawyer among my peers.
“One day a friend called me and said: ‘You’d better come to court and listen to Karpal, because I think he is much better than you’,” chuckled Mahadev.
Karpal, 73, died in an accident at 1.10am on April 17 when the multipurpose vehicle he was traveling in collided with a lorry near Gua Tempurung in Perak on the North-South Expressway.
His personal assistant Michael Cornelius, 39, also died in the accident. – May 2, 2014