My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh

The Malaysian Insider
April 24, 2014

A week after the tragic crash that took the lives of veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Micheal Cornelius, his son Ramkarpal recounts the final hours with his father that fateful day. This is his story, as told to V. Anbalagan.

“My parents (Karpal and Gurmit) had gone to Pantai Hospital about 8pm on Wednesday (April 16) to visit my brother Gobind (Singh Deo) who was admitted.

They left about 8pm from my father’s office in Jalan Pudu Lama together with Micheal Cornelius and driver V. Selvam. The four returned home (in Bukit Ledang, Damansara) about 10pm and had dinner.

Pa, Michael, Selvam, our maid (Selfiana Rengga) and I were to leave that night for Penang. Pa and I were to appear in court the following day to represent a client charged with murder.

The weekend stay in Penang was also for Pa to meet his Bukit Gelugor constituents and prepare the petition of appeal for Anwar’s (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) sodomy case.

Before we left, Pa told Michael to take him to his garden. We moved into this house six months ago and Pa was in love with his garden.

Going around the garden is not unusual for my dad and he does that occasionally. We then left about 11.30pm.

Pa was seated in the front beside the driver (they were in a Toyota Alphard). Michael sat directly behind dad. I was seated beside Michael. The maid sat alone at the back of the vehicle.

We exited through the Jalan Duta toll around midnight and for the next 20 minutes or so, I spoke to Pa about some cases, including a matter he had attended in the Court of Appeal earlier in the day and political issues gripping the nation.

As usual, he was cracking some witty jokes.

Slowly our conversation faded. I was still wide awake and tried to talk to Pa but he merely grunted his replies.

Michael was fast asleep, and so was the maid.

I tried to close my eyes but could not despite having worked out on the treadmill earlier in the evening.

I informed Selvam that I would take over at the wheel if he wanted to sleep but the driver replied he was fine.

Since I had no one to talk to, I looked outside at the passing vehicles.

Suddenly, Pa woke up and asked Michael to adjust his seating position and place a pillow behind his neck. Michael did that.

Moments later, both were fast asleep again.

Suddenly, I heard a loud crash and was jolted in my seat realised we were in an accident. The left side of our vehicle was ripped off.

I screamed and Selvam swerved the vehicle to the right before it came to a stop.

I then realised there was no sound or movement from Pa and Michael. I reached across the front seat and held on to Pa from behind, who was strapped in his seat, lying motionless. Many things ran through my mind in those few moments.

Michael was lying outside on the road. The maid was screaming.

Soon motorists stopped to help us but I did not get out of the vehicle as I was still holding onto Pa, hoping against hope that he had just passed out.

It was traumatic. I was holding on to Pa, Michael was lying outside and the maid was hysterical.

The Fire Department and police were at the scene within minutes and rescued the maid who was trapped by cutting through the vehicle roof. She is still in Ipoh Hospital but is fine.

Selvam and I had only minor injuries.

The ambulance then arrived and only after they had taken the maid away, did I realise that my father and Michael had died at the scene. (Ambulances do not take away bodies.)

The only consolation was that both probably did not feel the impact of the crash because they were asleep. I think they were killed instantly.P

Passing motorists as well as the cops and firemen were very understanding and compassionate during those brief but difficult moments. They held me as I stood there sobbing.

Before the police took Pa’s and Michael’s bodies away, I called my younger brother Mankarpal and broke the news to him. I went to the hospital in the police vehicle.

Ramkarpal is third among Karpal’s five children. The 38-year-old bachelor worked in his father’s law firm, Karpal and Co, in Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.

He told The Malaysian Insider that he is still trying to get over events of that day.

“It’s not easy. I am having a mental block. It is difficult to work but I will have to pull myself together and carry on his work,” he said.

The accident occurred at KM301.6 of the North-South Expressway near Kampar, Perak, early Thursday morning. – April 24, 2014

  1. #1 by Justice Ipsofacto on Thursday, 24 April 2014 - 8:35 am

    Dear Ramkarpal,

    Your dad will live on in our memories.

    And in the history of this beautiful country.

    For he has left behind a legacy of greatness of which there are no equal.

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Thursday, 24 April 2014 - 9:39 am

    Thank you, Ramkarpal, for sharing your story with us
    Our deepest condolences to your family
    But we know you and your siblings n their children will b STRONG 4 d TIGER of Jelutong n his PRINCIPLES n VISIONS
    Take care

  3. #3 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 24 April 2014 - 9:42 am

    i wonder why karpal’s driver was not charged?
    i know you people do not want him charged, but he might have commit violation for this accident

    • #4 by pulama on Thursday, 24 April 2014 - 5:47 pm

      Maybe neither driver is at fault. But the killer stretch of highway.

      According to “Major accidents recorded at deadly stretch”, published in the Star on 21 April 2014:
      ///The killer Gua Tempurung stretch of the North-South Expressway near Gopeng has recorded several fatal accidents in the past. From the year 2011 until March this year, 43 fatal accidents have been reported, with many other sustaining serious injuries. .///

      Who should be charged for poor road conditions?

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