In tributes, DAP leaders say Karpal was ‘giant amongst men’

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, Pathma Subramaniam and Opalyn Mok | MMO
April 17, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Still reeling from the shock over veteran lawmaker Karpal Singh’s death, DAP leaders throughout the country recalled the “Tiger of Jelutong’s” legacy of principled fearlessness inspired them to follow in his footsteps.

For DAP deputy national chairman Tan Kok Wai, Karpal was an “irreplaceable” colleague, a “giant amongst men.”

“Karpal is well known for his outstanding bravery and his persistence and perseverance in fighting for an equitable society and equality for all,” he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

DAP deputy-secretary general Datuk Ngeh Khoo Ham who has known the Bukit Gelugor MP for 25 years, described the lawyer as a bold man who would “risk everything for what is right.”

“He was principled and [unwavering],” Ngeh told The Malay Mail Online.

Former DAP Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran recalled attending Karpal’s public talks at the Federal Hotel in the 1970s, and that his most memorable trait was his tenacity and consistency in fighting for what he believed in.

“Karpal was a towering figure,” Manogaran said.

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua said that Karpal was the “tiger that never lost his roar”, despite facing repeated persecution during his time on the opposition bench.

The 73-year-old, who would have celebrated his 74th birthday in June, was a controversial figure who spoke up during debates at the state legislative assembly and parliament and was known to openly criticise Barisan Nasional parliamentarians and even the royalty.

Last month, he was found guilty of sedition for questioning the Perak ruler on his decision to remove former Perak mentri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin from his post in February 2009.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court fined Karpal RM4,000 which prompted the lawyer to step aside as DAP national chairman just two weeks ago.

“We will miss you. But we will continue carrying the torch to stand up for Malaysia. We will fight for justice like you did, come what may,” said Pua.

DAP Seri Delima state assemblyman RSN Rayer said that Karpal was his “pillar of strength” and that news of his death was devastating.

“I am demoralised by his loss,” he told The Malay Mail Online.

A staunch opponent of the death penalty for drug cases in Malaysia, Karpal was also well known for the many court cases he fought and won in court, notably drug trafficking cases.

The lawyer, who was widely regarded as the best criminal and constitutional lawyer in the country, had also represented PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the 1998 sodomy trial.

Karpal was killed after the Toyota Alphard MPV he was travelling in crashed following a collision with a lorry along the North-South Highway near Gopeng, Perak early this morning.

Long-time aide Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu was also killed, while their driver is seriously injured. Karpal’s son, Ramkarpal Singh, sustained injuries.

Born in Penang on June 28, 1940, Karpal graduated with a law degree from the University of Singapore and joined the DAP in 1970.

He ran for Parliament in the 1978 general election and won the federal seat for Jelutong, which he held for five terms and which also earned him the moniker, “Tiger of Jelutong”.

Karpal leaves behind a wife, five children and four grandchildren.
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