Karpal was a giant, among the top lawyers in the world, says legal fraternity

April 17, 2014

The late Karpal Singh was described as a “giant” in the legal fraternity by the Malaysian Bar which represents 13,000 lawyers.

Bar president Christopher Leong said Karpal, who had been in practice for more than 40 years, was a towering Malaysian and a courageous man.

Leong remembered Karpal recently telling him that even if he was gone, there would be 100 Karpals to take his place.

“How I wish that were true as Malaysia needed Karpal and continues to need more people like Karpal,” Leong said.

Karpal had made the remark last month soon after he was convicted of sedition by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

Leong said Karpal was of that special and rare breed of men who commanded respect for his leadership and courage in the values and causes he stood and fought for.

“He will be very much missed by Malaysians. The Malaysian Bar conveys its deepest condolences to Karpal’s family,” he said.

Queen’s Counsel Mark Trowell and an observer in Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy and Karpal’s sedition trials said Malaysia had suffered a terrible loss with the sudden demise of the legal eagle.

“He was truly a great Malaysian, not only because of his involvement in politics, but also as a lawyer,” he said.

Trowell said Karpal was larger than life and was a man who never took a backward step whatever the cost to him personally.

“His life reflected the modern history of Malaysia and the events that have shaped it as a nation since independence more than 50 years ago,” he said.

He said Karpal was very much an integral part of the nation’s history and the title “Tiger of Jelutong” befitted him.

Former United Nations special rapporteur and former Bar Council president Datuk Param Cumaraswamy said Karpal’s tragic death was not only a great loss to his family but to the legal profession and the nation.

“He stood tall among the top leading lawyers in the world,” said Param who appeared in the legal team to defend Anwar in the recent sodomy case.

Param said despite his physical handicap from the previous accident, Karpal’s courage and tenacity in the defence of his clients in court would long be remembered.

In politics, Karpal demonstrated equal fearlessness and often sacrificed his personal liberties.

“He once told me between law and politics, his first love was law. His passing away with the conviction for sedition is a fitting tribute to him, ranking him with Mahatma Gandhi,” Param said.

Param added that Karpal’s personal aide, Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu, who died in the same accident should not be forgotten.

“Michael was a loyal, devoted aide whom Karpal depended much on,” he said. – April 17, 2014.

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