Karpal Singh, the Tiger of Jelutong Sleeps Forevermore
"Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity." - Nelson Mandela, 1994.
Like thousands of Malaysians, I was deeply saddened this morning to hear of the death of Karpal Singh. I received the news at Kuching International Airport this morning on my way to attend an Easter Convention in my constituency. Many eloquent and moving tributes have been written in the few hours since the announcement of his passing and I fear that my words may be inadequate to convey the immense sorrow that I feel on the loss of this great and fearless fighter of the people, and the enormous respect with which I regard him.
I first met YB Karpal in KL while I was appearing in a criminal case in my first year of legal practice in 1987. The last time I saw him was at the PR Convention in March this year. As a lawyer I honour him for his fearlessness and dedication in upholding justice. As a politician I salute him for his consistency in speaking for the rakyat and for upholding the Federal Constitution without fear or favour. He was true to his reputation as the Tiger of Jelutong.
Despite the persecution he endured over the decades at the hands of the authorities, Karpal held true to his principles and never faltered in his fight for human rights, justice and the supremacy of the Federal Constitution. Here was a lawyer you could count on to lay down the facts and the law, and a man you could rely on to articulate the right from the wrong. His views at times may not have been pleasing even to those in his own party but he never held back from speaking his mind. His motivation was not the popularity stakes, but truth and justice. His recent conviction for sedition merely for giving a legal opinion was taken in his stride, and his last words in a recent interview with Malaysiakini were ‘We must stay and fight’.
Indefatigable and relentless leaders such as Karpal Singh are few and far between. While we mourn his passing, I also offer a prayer of thanksgiving for his extraordinary life which was generously lived in the service of his people. I wish to express the gratitude of countless lawyers, political leaders and ordinary Malaysians for the inspiration that he was and will continue to be. It is said that when a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him lies on the paths of men. We are indebted to Karpal Singh for his immeasurable contribution to the unfolding democratisation of our country, and for his dogged efforts in paving the way for those left behind to carry on. The fight will go on but it will not be the same without Karpal Singh.
Malaysia has lost a truly wonderful leader and Statesman. There will never be another Karpal Singh.
I wish to extend my deepest sympathy and that of PKR Sarawak to Mrs Karpal Singh and family members of the late Karpal Singh and also to his larger family of DAP for their loss.
17 April 2014