R.I.P. Karpal Singh ( 1940 – 2014 )


I find that this year is mostly filled with sad events. 2014 hasn’t been a good year for Malaysia. We were all greeted this morning yet with another heartbreaking news that Karpal Singh, the former national chairman of Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the current MP for Bukit Gelugor had died in a car accident in the early hours of 17th April 2014. He was 73. He was on his way to Penang to attend a court case later in the day when the car he was travelling in collided with a lorry near Gua Tempurung on the North South Expressway here early Thursday.

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Karpal’s assistant, Selvam is also killed in the accident. The other two passengers, the driver and one of Karpal’s son, Ramkarpal are both safe. May he rest in peace, and my deepest condolences to his family and to all his friends particularly from the Opposition. It must have been a tough life for Karpal Singh. A motor vehicle accident in 2005 left him using a wheelchair permanently and problems with his arm. But he still stays on his active political career until recently that he decided to step down as the national chairman of DAP. Now, his death is also caused by another motor vehicle accident. It’s very unfortunate for him.

Being in the opposition is never easy in Malaysia. However, he never felt afraid, never felt of giving up, and never stop from fighting for justice and democracy in the country. His political career spanned for over 40 years, when he first joined DAP in 1970, citing the party’s multiracial political platform following the race riots in 1969. He was first elected to parliament in 1978 as the representative for Jelutong, Penang and held the seat for more than 20 years. He then led the party to its strongest ever win in 2008 General Election and further improving the party’s success in the most recent General Election in 2013.

His most iconic actions would have been heavily criticizing the restriction of media coverage of the opposition, rejecting death penalty especially in relation to drug-trafficking offences, staunchly opposing to the notion of Malaysia as an Islamic state, arguing that the Constitution provides for a secular nation with Islam being the official religion and not being a fully Islamic state (considering the presence of citizens of other races in the country) and also highly against PAS (another opposition party)’s plan of implementing ‘hudud’ in one of the states . Besides that, he is also known for being a very firm person and a man who dares to challenge whichever is wrong, hence being a man to fear in the Parliament, and a strong leader of the opposition.

His death today led to many people, particularly politicians, including the Prime Minister to pay tribute to this courageous man. In both courtrooms and parliament, he was known as a controversial figure. He was suspended from parliament numerous times, charged for sedition, and had been detained under Malaysia’s internal security laws. He had went through thick and thin. His reputation as a firm lawyer and opposition politician earned him the nickname “the Tiger of Jelutong”. His death today certainly is a great loss to the nation. It may turned out to be a happy news to the government (since he is a strong member of the opposition that the government has to watch out for), but it is definitely a saddening news to most Malaysians. He made an important mark in the nation’s history. R.I.P. Karpal Singh.

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