Friday, April 18, 2014



KAMPAR, Malaysia - Bukit Gelugor Member Of Parlimen and veteran DAP leader Karpal Singh died in an accident near Gua Tempurung here early Thursday. 
The prominent lawyer and his assistant, C. Michael, died on the scene. His son Ramkarpal and the car's driver, C. Selvam, were injured in the 1am incident. 
Their bodies have been brought to Kampar Hospital. 
The Toyota Alphard in which Karpal and the three were in had collided with a lorry. Karpal was on his way to Penang to attend a court case.
It was a highly emotional scene at the Kampar Hospital mortuary.
  • His wife Gurmit Kaur was inconsolable, as she wailed, "why, why." Karpal's son, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who was holding his mother all the way to the mortuary, also broke down. They arrived at the hospital at about 5.15am.
  • It was a highly emotional scene at the Kampar Hospital mortuary as family members of the late Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh arrived.
Karpal's daughter Sangeet Kaur Deo was also sobbing away. His eldest son Jagdeep Singh Deo was also at the mortuary.

The bodies of Karpal and his assistant, C. Michael, who also died in the accident, would be taken to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh for post mortem.

Attacks on Karpal unacceptable, say ministers

April 18, 2014
DAP leaders paying their last respect to late Karpal Singh at his house in Jalan Utama, Penang, today. A Barisan Nasional MP has posted pictures of the veteran politician's blood-smeared face online. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 13, 2014.DAP leaders paying their last respect to late Karpal Singh at his house in Jalan Utama, Penang, today. A Barisan Nasional MP has posted pictures of the veteran politician's blood-smeared face online. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 13, 2014.Two ministers have spoken out against the attacks on Karpal Singh and dissemination of gory pictures of the accident involving the late DAP chairman and Bukit Gelugor MP.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said he was disappointed with a Barisan Nasional MP and a former Perkasa vice-president who both made insensitive statements about Karpal’s death.
“I cannot accept statements such as these. It is very sad to see someone utter that sort of thing,” Kurup told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today.

“You want to have political mileage, do not exploit the sad situation, and do not use religion.
“If you going to say something to make things even worse, better not say anything,” he reportedly said.
Former Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin had, within hours of Karpal's death yesterday, tweeted that Allah had killed off Karpal who had rejected the implementation of hudud in the country.
BN's Langkawi MP Datuk Nawawi Ahmad had insulted Karpal by posting a picture of the veteran politician's blood-smeared face as he lay in his Toyota Alphard following the accident yesterday morning.
Along with the Facebook picture was a newspaper cutting on Karpal’s opposition to the implementation of hudud in the country.
Nawawi had also posted a comment which read: "Siapa nak sambut cabaran karpal singh? Sila bagi nama he he." (Who wants to challenge Karpal Singh? Please submit your name.)
He was referring to the newspaper article which quoted Karpal as saying: "Mahu wujudkan negara Islam langkah mayat kami dulu – Karpal Singh." (Those who want to create an Islamic state can only do so over my dead body – Karpal Singh.)
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek also said social media practitioners should cease spreading Nawawi’s pictures as they were extreme and uncivilised acts.
Expressing sadness and disappointment over the development of this undesirable culture, he said these acts were unethical.
"I was saddened when I saw pictures of corpses disseminated on social media. It is unethical and uncivilised to display these for viewing," he told reporters after visiting Paloh assemblyman Datuk Norzula Mat Diah of Kelantan who is under treatment at Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, Bernama reports.
Ahmad Shabery said the people should understand the feelings of the families of the dead because accidents could happen to anyone, even themselves.
"I see that social media practitioners have gone overboard. They should adhere to (journalistic) ethics so that such good habits will help to nurture a good culture in society," he was quoted saying by Bernama.
Ahmad Shabery said legislation would check extreme acts, but laws also had limitations.
"We seem to be too hungry for freedom, but we do not know how to appreciate that freedom.
“We abuse the freedom that we have and, in doing so, we show that we are uncivilised. This is not condoned in Islam and other religions," he said. – April 18, 2014.

Karpal Singh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

10 things about: Karpal Singh, The Tiger of Jelutong

By Zurairi ARApril 18, 2014UPDATED: April 18, 2014 02:13 pm

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's lawyer Karpal Singh arrives at the court for the Sodomy II trial on March 6, 2014. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat IsaDatuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's lawyer Karpal Singh arrives at the court for the Sodomy II trial on March 6, 2014. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat IsaKUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — For many  who had the pleasure of meeting him, the late Karpal Singh was an approachable statesman and lawyer who had time for everyone who sought his counsel.

The man, who had been dubbed "a friend to the oppressed and marginalised", was killed in a road accident in the early hours of Thursday. A previous road accident had already left him in a wheelchair.
Karpal was the MP for Jelutong  for 21 years. At his death, he was the MP for Bukit Gelugor, having held the seat since 2004.
The DAP veteran left behind five children, four grandchildren, and his wife of over 40 years, Gurmit Kaur.
Here are ten choice quotes from his 44 years in the legal and political arena:
Opposition to Islamic state
  • An Islamic state over my dead body”

Karpal was quoted as saying in a political rally in Sungai Pinang in 1990, leading his detractors to brand him as “anti-Islam”.
  • He had since apologised for the remark, and explained in an interview last month with DAP’s online news Roketkini the party’s stand on hudud and Islamic laws:

    “The DAP’s stand against hudud is clear … The Federal Constitution provides for a secular state. So you cannot have in a secular state an Islamic law in the form of hudud. In a secular state, we cannot have laws other than secular laws.
The crime and constitutional lawyer
  • “It could well be that someone out there wants to get rid of him… even to the extent of murder… I suspect people in high places are responsible for this situation,” Karpal alleged while defending Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against charges of sodomy in 1998.

    This accusation led to him being charged under the Sedition Act in 2000, the first against a lawyer in court.
  • Karpal filed a lawsuit against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for assault in 1986, but in the same 2014 Roketkini interview, he made clear his opinion on the monarchy:

    It is important for every citizen in the country to know, that no one, no one is above the law ... In the case of the king and the other rulers, the Special Court is the only court which I think is quite unfair because it is one-tiered … Even the rulers have the right to the rule of law.
The tricky political tiger
  • In 1982, Karpal’s rival Datuk Seri Samy Vellu from MIC had dubbed himself as the “Hindu lion” and referred to Karpal as “the tiger of the court”.

    Karpal’s moniker as the “Tiger of Jelutong” was derived from the confrontation, when he responded: “(Samy) could be the lion, and I could be the tiger, because there are no lions in Malaysia!
  • In a 2010 interview with English daily The Star, Karpal said that his youngest son was supposed to be named after him. But that was before he was arrested during Operasi Lalang in 1987:

    “There was a lot of gossiping at the Sikh temple. People were saying you cannot have two tigers because one will eat the other. When I came out, I found out that his name had been changed to Man Karpal!”
  • But Mr Speaker, what is more interesting is this tape,” said Karpal before dumping the pornographic videotape of former Deputy Speaker D.P. Vijandran to the latter's unsuspecting replacement Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat in 1992.

    Karpal risked being charged with possession of pornography, and had made an elaborate arrangement involving a flameproof briefcase and a small bottle of petrol to burn the videotape in Parliament if his plan to introduce the evidence failed
The audacious move has been described in his biography by Tim Donoghue as the“biggest bluffs of his political career”.
Personal life
  • “I am religious, but I’m not one to go to the temple every week. I believe that the principles by which you live is a measure of your faith,” said Karpal in a 2010 interview.

    Karpal did not keep his hair long nor wear a turban as required by the Sikh faith.
  • “There are always people who are insensitive, we just have to take it … There is nothing you can do about it. We cannot be discouraged, as that’s exactly what our enemies would want,” Karpal said in another interview with The Star in 2006, after he was mocked by Barisan Nasional MPs in Parliament.

    Karpal had  just started using the wheelchair after a car accident in 2005 subsequently paralysed him from waist down.

In the Gallery

  • Curious onlookers peep through the fencing of Karpal Singh’s house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Mahalingam puts flowers on a plaque at Karpal Singh’s house after hearing the news in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A supporter hangs a wreath on the fence of Karpal Singh’s house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • The DAP flag is seen flying at half mast at its Penang headquarters as a mark of respect for the late Karpal Singh on April 17, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Jagdeep Singh Deo (left) and Gobind Singh Deo (right) carry the casket of their father into their house in Penang after arriving from Ipoh on April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Karpal Singh’s body arrives at his home in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Karpal Singh’s wife Gurmit Kaur is helped by family members as she arrives home together with his body in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pays his last respects to Karpal Singh at his home in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PAS vice president Mohd Sabu together with Penang PAS leaders arrive at Karpal Singh's house to pay their last respects April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Family members consoling each other at Karpal Singh’s house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A flower garland adorns a plaque at Karpal Singh’s house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Family and friends attending the wake at Karpal Singh’s house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A family friend attending the wake at Karpal Singh’s house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A helper arranging the flowers sent by friends and supporters to Karpal Singh’s house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A member of the public taking a picture of the plaque with Karpal Singh’s name on it at his house in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A large crowd gathers outside Karpal Singh's house on the morning of April 17, 2014 after hearing the news of Karpal Singh’s death. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Gobind Singh Deo talks to a friend who came to pay his last respects to his father in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E.Ooi

  • Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar writes a message of condolence at Karpal’s wake at his home in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Gobind Singh Deo shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at Karpal's family home in Penang April 17, 2014. — Picture by K.E.Ooi

  • DAP’s Lim Kit Siang paying his last respects to Karpal Singh on the second day of his wake at his home in Penang April 18, 2014. ― Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A man is seen crying after paying his last respects to Karpal Singh in Penang April 18, 2014. ― Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Karpal Singh’s wife, Gurmit Kaur, is seen hugging their grandchildren next to his casket at their home in Penang April 18, 2014. ― Picture by K.E. Ooi

The legacy of Karpal Singh
Karpal died just weeks after he was convicted of sedition over his remarks on the Perak Sultan’s role in the 2009 state constitutional crisis. Faced with the possibility of losing his seat, Karpal had remained cool.

“The fight goes on. You knock out one Karpal Singh, a hundred Karpal Singhs will rise,” he said last month.

Kit Siang drapes comrade’s casket with DAP flag

April 18, 2014
An undated photograph of the 'brothers-in-arm' Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 18, 2014.An undated photograph of the 'brothers-in-arm' Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 18, 2014.It was a sombre, moving scene at the home of Karpal Singh this afternoon as veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang draped the party flag over the casket of  his “brother-in-arms” in honour of the former chairman’s 44-year crusade for the opposition party.
Kit Siang, who brought along an old record book of the party, said that Karpal joined DAP during the "darkest hours" of the nation and the party on December 28, 1970.
It was more than a year after the May 13, 1969 racial riots and Kit Siang had just been released after a 17-month detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) following the riots.

"There were very few who came out to the forefront to lead the party at the time, but Karpal came. He had no hesitation to come forward to carry that banner," he said of the man he called his 'brother-in-arms".
Kit Siang said the 1970s was also a time when DAP faced many legal cases, with its leaders charged with breaching laws like the ISA, Official Secrets Act and the Police Act.
Karpal was one of the leading lawyers defending the DAP leaders on the various charges.
"When I was charged with the OSA in 1978, Karpal defended me," he said, referring to the time he got into trouble for exposing the scandal involving the Malaysian Royal Navy’s purchase of RM9 million SPICA-M weapons from Sweden.
"Karpal remains an inspiration to Malaysians in the struggle for justice, democracy and upholding the rule of law. Malaysians must now carry the torch he has passed on.”
Among a steady stream of mourners who visited the house to pay their respects to Karpal was former Bar Council chairman Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, who said the nation and legal profession had lost a patriot.
He described Karpal as a real gentleman who was highly principled, and a person who never turned anyone away if they sought his help to defend their rights.
"I spoke to him about politics and the law and between the two, his first love was the law. Politics was secondary to him... so much was his love for the law," he said today.
Karpal, Param said, had the respect of the judiciary, earning no complaints but high standing before the courts.
"Karpal was so entrenched in the finer qualities of the Bar and in the 1980s, senior judges highly commended his conduct in the courts.
"He stood for the highest qualities. Judges were also respectful of him. We’ve really lost someone who is very hard to replace, a leading light in the legal and political arenas.
"However, I see his four children in court. I think they will carry on the torch he has left behind," he said, referring to Karpal’s sons – Jagdeep Singh Deo, Gobind Singh Deo, and Ramkarpal Singh, and daughter Sangeet Kaur, who are also lawyers.
Karpal, 73, was killed in a car accident about 1am yesterday on the North-South Expressway near Kampar, Perak when his Toyota Alphard multi-purpose vehicle collided with a lorry.
His long-time aide Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu also died in the crash while Ramkarpal and the driver escaped with minor injuries.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will present the Penang flag to the family tomorrow.
On Sunday, the funeral procession will stop at important landmarks of Karpal’s life and illustrious legal career.
Penang DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow, who is overseeing the funeral arrangements, said the casket was scheduled to leave Karpal's home in Jalan Utama at 8.15am on Sunday for the public ceremony at Dewan Sri Pinang at 9am.
"The public can pay their respects until 10am. Then, the ceremony will be opened to state dignitaries like the governor, political parties, and non-governmental organisations before ending by 11am with a religious ceremony for Karpal's family.
"The casket will then stop at the Lebuh Light-Jalan Greenhall junction in front of the Penang High Court. Karpal's firm is on Jalan Greenhall," he said.
The casket will also stop at the state legislative assembly building, where Karpal began his early political career. He won the Bukit Gelugor state seat in the 1978 general election when the seat was under the Jelutong parliamentary constituency, which he also won.
Then, the procession will proceed to St Xavier's Institution, which was his alma mater, to which he had made many contributions in recent years, Chow said.
"The school band will accompany the procession as we leave for the Batu Gantung crematorium for the final ritual," he said.
Karpal's eldest son Jagdeep, who is a state executive council member, thanked the state government for according his father state honours.
"It would have made him very proud to be regarded a son of Penang and for his sacrifices to be recognised. He had never asked for such acknowledgements.
"Our family will also not forget the kind wishes from the thousands of people who have offered their sympathies. Please continue to remember us in your prayers and we hope to see all of you on Sunday," he said. – April 18, 2014.

Malaysia has 17th most dangerous roads in the world, according to Michigan university research

Malaysia has 17th most dangerous roads in the world, according to Michigan university research

Two lessons from the Tiger’s untimely demise

April 19, 2014
Road safety awareness and enforcement must be rectified and the nation needs to rid of the ugly side of Islam.
Karpal SinghBy James Ang
If there is one thing that I’ve learnt during my years as a medical student, it is this, “Nothing is certain in the world of medicine except two things: the fact that you were born into this world and the fact that you will one day die.” But a natural death is not as painful as an unnatural death, especially one in which its circumstances could have been largely avoidable.
The sudden passing of the revered Karpal Singh is undoubtedly an irreplaceable loss to our beloved nation. The moniker ‘Tiger of Jelutong’ befits him in every sense, owing to his struggles for justice and fairness that know neither fear nor favour amidst darkness in our country. His passing marks a day in our nation’s history when a light of reason and integrity has been cruelly flicked off.
Nevertheless, the slain Tiger’s unfortunate passing brings to attention two important lessons that everyone, including the powers-that-be, should take note of:
Lesson 1: The state of our nation’s road safety
Insofar as available information is made known in the media at the time of me writing this, the true nature of what exactly happened that fateful morning to the MP of Bukit Gelugor’s ill-fated Toyota Alphard remains shrouded in mystery.
Could it have been the lorry driver’s fault, since traces of cannabis were found in his urine sample?
Then again, cannabis can still be detectable in the urine for up to a week or more after exposure, depending on several factors. There were also several seemingly unverified reports going around on the web that the lorry driver did not indicate his signal when changing lanes.
Could Karpal’s driver equally be at fault? It has been learnt that Karpal’s vehicle has been issued 29 traffic summonses, many of which were for speeding and 15 of which remained outstanding. This may also raise suspicions that Karpal’s driver might have been guilty that morning of what has killed so many Malaysians on the road over the years – speeding.
Whatever it is, the truth behind that fateful incident remains unknown at the time of me writing this, and all we can do is to speculate. More importantly, it brings to mind the level of awareness and enforcement in our country when it comes to road safety.
Speeding, changing lanes or making turns without proper signaling, ignoring traffic lights and poor maintenance of vehicles are among the many causes of our country’s high death rates on the roads.
These are nothing new, Malaysian drivers are undoubtedly one of the worst when it comes to courtesy on the roads and regard for traffic laws.
In my frequent travels on the North-South Expressway itself, I have seen countless vehicles of all types flouting a dozen traffic rules as if they were non-existent. And guess what, even vehicles with Singaporean registration numbers, of which I assume their drivers ought to be more disciplined due to the island-nation’s strict traffic enforcement, seem to have no regard at all for our traffic rules right after they cross the Causeway, which goes to show how little respect they have for our traffic rules due to a lack of proper enforcement.
Even pedestrians are at a high risk of getting knocked down on Malaysian roads. The lack of properly designed zebra-crossings and functional traffic lights simply make crossing Malaysian roads life-threatening in itself.
I recall several times when I was almost knocked down when crossing roads just because there were unscrupulous drivers and motorists who sped off when the traffic light was red.
Mind you, when I was in countries such as Singapore, Japan and Australia, I could cross the zebra-crossings safely without even looking left or right the moment the pedestrian light turned green, but doing so in Malaysia would simply be suicidal.
Once again, the circumstances surrounding the late Karpal Singh’s demise can only be speculated at the present moment. Nevertheless, let us bear in mind that if his unfortunate passing was indeed a direct or indirect result of our state of road safety awareness and enforcement, it may very well be you or me who will be next, unless something urgent is done to rectify this.
Lesson 2: The state of Malay/Islamic fanaticism in our nation
To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” In the context of our country, I’d like to say, “I like your Prophet, I do not like your Muslims. Your Muslims are so unlike your Prophet.”
I simply don’t understand how the likes of Zulkifli Nordin and Nawawi Ahmad can be called politicians or leaders following their insensitive antics in the wake of Karpal’s demise.
On top of that, we are then told that Muslims are not encouraged to use the phrase ‘rest in peace’ because of its seemingly Christian connotations and its implied meaning that non-Muslims would receive God’s blessings after death. And what a time for such a fatwa to be issued i.e. hours after the unfortunate passing of a prominent non-Muslim Malaysian!
I don’t deny the fact that various verses in the Quran reflect similar meanings to what Surah Al-Baqarah 2:39 states: “And those who disbelieve and deny Our signs – those will be companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.”
And as a Christian myself, I don’t deny the fact that it has been written clearly in Revelation 21:8 of the Bible, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” But even as a Christian myself, I don’t go about telling others that their loved ones are burning in hell just because they don’t profess a faith similar to me. And I’m sure many moderate Muslims out there would be sensitive enough to think the same way as me too.
As the days pass, it seems to me that Malaysia has an increasing number of Muslims who remind me of the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ time, as described in the four gospels of the Bible. And it is these Muslims who seem to be tarnishing the good virtues of Islam that Muslims are called to reflect to others.
It is narrated in the hadith of Prophet Muhammad in Sahih al-Bukhari Book 23, Hadith 71, “Narrated Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila: Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sa’d were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, “A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, “Is it not a living being (soul)?”
If there was a Muslim leader in Malaysia who truly embodied the Prophet’s virtues, it is Tok Guru Nik Aziz who, despite differences in stance regarding the hudud issue, held Karpal in high regard as a true defender of the Constitution.
Karpal may have been the figure most critical of hudud implementation, but the humble Tok Guru never once made that a point of enmity between him and the prominent Tiger, instead offering his deepest condolences and expressing regret that the latter was not able to receive proper explanation regarding hudud. I believe the Prophet would also have nonetheless done the same.
Karpal’s untimely passing just seemed to have brought out the ugly side of Islam in Malaysia, which will undoubtedly serve to fuel enmity between Islam and other religions in Malaysia as well. I personally believe that every Malaysian should start reading each other’s holy books in order to promote better understanding between the different religions. I, for one, know that my faith in Christianity is strong, and as such I have nothing to fear even if I quote from the holy books of other religions.
The nation has lost an irreplaceable asset in an unfortunate road accident. I offer my deepest condolences to the family of the late Karpal Singh, Tiger of Jelutong and Lion (Singh) of Malaysia.
Thank you for being a fearless Defender of the Constitution, and may your legacy live on in our hearts and in our struggles for a better Malaysia!

Karpal Singh

“He gave his honours to the world again,
His blessed part to heaven, and…henceforth, will now sleep in peace.”
At almost 3 this morning I awoke to the shocking news of the death of one of the nation’s most illustrious heroes – YB Karpal Singh. It came like a lightning bolt to me because just last evening, I had had a lengthy chat with him.
After getting hold of myself, I then twittered a short condolence expressing deep sorrow and devastation over the loss of “our indefatigable fighter for justice”. Once again, Azizah and family offer our deepest condolences to Gurmit Kaur, Gobind, Ram and the rest of the family. May you all remain strong in this great hour of tribulation.
Indeed, words cannot express enough my profound sadness of the passing away of my brother-in-arms for freedom and democracy, an inspiring symbol for the struggle against oppression and injustice and a man of unimpeachable moral integrity.
The nation has lost one of her most dedicated servants. The people have lost  a selfless , courageous and noble defender of their fundamental liberties. The legal fraternity has lost one of it’s sharpest minds and I have lost a true friend, kind in words, noble in deed.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.”
And so it was with our hero Karpal Singh for there is none more valiant in life than this great mortal whose body may have perished but his spirit shall live on with us.
Anwar Ibrahim
17th April, 2014

A tribute to Karpal Singh & his trusty sidekick Michael S.V. Cornelius

Don Quixote & his trusty sidekick Sancho Panza

The nation was stunned and aggrieved when news broke of Karpal Singh's fatal car accident in the wee hours of 17 April 2014. In the Toyota Alphard with Karpal was his personal assistant, Michael Selvam Vellu Cornelius (39) who has long served the Tiger of Jelutong, helping him in and out of his wheelchair and selflessly attending to his needs.

Both Michael and Karpal were instantaneously killed by the impact, while Karpal's 38-year-old son Ramkarpal and the driver were slightly hurt. Also in the car was their Indonesian maid who sustained severe injuries and has been hospitalized.

Thinking about the way Karpal's loyal assistant Michael followed his illustrious master through the portal of death beyond the call of duty, I was reminded of Don Quixote and his faithful companion Sancho Panza. 

Miguel Cervantes published his classic Don Quixote novels in the early 17th century as a vehicle to explore his own apprehensions as the Western world transited from the Age of Chivalry to a new Age of Exploration, Invention and Adventurism. In a famous scene, Don Quixote attacks a windmill with his knightly lance, mistaking it for a monster. This spawned the phrase "tilting at windmills" which can either mean doing battle with illusory enemies - or crusading against monolithic institutions, seemingly impossible to modify, upgrade or dismantle.

Karpal Singh was a true lion among men but he was affectionately known as 
the Tiger of Jelutong - a constituency in Penang he represented in Parliament for 21 years 

Karpal Singh courageously stood up to the rising tide of religious and racial fanaticism to the very end. His last words in Parliament were: "Stop playing around with the Constitution!"

He was prepared to throw the book at all miscreants, even if their royal status provided a measure of immunity. In a nation caught between the feudal and digital age, Karpal was among the outstanding few who had the nerve to face the dire consequences of his public criticism of royal misdemeanors. 

Political columnist Karim Raslan wrote of Karpal: "He was the kind of man who called a spade a spade and then proceeded to hit an adversary over the head with the same spade."

Fierce but approachable: Karpal Singh by T.V. Smith
His outspokenness and adherence to principles caused ripples of unease among friends and foes alike. Much as he desired to see authentic change in the government, he wasn't  prepared to bend the rules to attain his political objectives. He voiced his personal opinions, even at the risk of stepping on friendly toes. 

While his political colleagues and allies chose to gloss over ideological differences for the sake of a united front, Karpal always made it clear that the Federal Constitution protected freedom of belief - and that the notion of an Islamic state under Syariah law was antagonistic and anathema to the concept of a secular democracy as enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution.

Here was an indefatigable defender of justice - loved and admired by the honorable, feared by the hypocritical, and loathed by the mediocre. Whence comes such another? Bless you and thank you, great soul!

[VIDEO] CNN Talk Asia: Karpal Singh

Monday, April 14, 2014

DEMOCRACY: Elect your own dictator! (repost)

DEMOCRACY: Elect your own dictator! (repost)

Democracy and the power of the mind
By Stanley Koh

Why do Malaysians continue to support a government that has been abusing its power for so long that its credibility has become thinner than toilet paper?

Are Malaysians really too naive, gullible or blind to see that it is their failed collective political will that is the stumbling block to any real national progress?

One may of course argue that there is no such thing as a perfect government, that Utopias exist only the minds of idealists and romantics, or that the human mind, as played out in the real-world political arena, is far from being plain, perfect or even honest.

Cynics say we deserve the government we elect. But Barisan Nasional apologists tell us to look into what they vaguely refer to as “the statistics,” as if to say that these would show BN’s legitimacy as the ruling coalition in Malaysia.

Still, does it make sense that in 2008 only 4.08 million of 7.94 million voters chose BN to rule over a population of some 27 million? Is it fair for a minority to determine the future of the majority or the nation’s destiny?

The sad truth about the Malaysian majority is that its collective mindset is so passive—some would say deformed—that it does not seem interested in bringing about the revolutionary changes our nation needs for its betterment.

General elections reveal another shortcoming of the collective Malaysian mindset: it lacks focus on national issues. Most of us are foolish, naïve, apathetic and gullible, distracted by side issues thrown at us by power players.

Nevertheless, our national consciousness continues to be shaped by recent political trends and the increasingly strident voices of public interest organizations against the BN regime’s excessive control over civil society and its undemocratic tactics in undermining the opposition coalition.

Is the BN a good and credible government?

Most ignore the regime’s propensity to depend on draconian measures against political opponents: the Internal Security Act, the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publication Act, the ban on rallies and a host of other instruments of power abuse.

[Read the rest here.]

[First posted 5 May 2010]


Saturday, April 5, 2014

MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE (revisited yet again)

MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE (revisited yet again)

Dr "Octopus" Mahathir Mohammad, Prime Minister of Malaysia (1981-2003)

WHAT TDM (THAT DESTRUCTIVE MAMAK) DID TO MALAYSIA: Some historical background to Tun Salleh Abas's book The Removal of Tun Salleh Abas

By K. Das, co-author of May Day For Justice

MAHATHIR was continually upset with the Judiciary because the verdicts in a number of cases went against the Government. According to then Deputy PM, Datuk Musa Hitam, one of his favorite slogans was "Hang the Lawyers! Hang the Judges!"

From 1987, he intensified his verbal attacks against the Judiciary in the news media, making damaging statements which clearly demonstrated that he did not understand the role of the Judiciary as being independent from the Executive and Legislative arms of Government. That the Judiciary exists as a check-and-balance against the excesses of the Executive appeared to have been a concept he never fully grasped. Instead, he accused judges of the sort of political interference that would result in confusion and loss of public confidence in the Government. Hence, to curtail the powers of the Judiciary and subsume it beneath the Executive became one of his cherished dreams.

In April 1987, after an UMNO leadership contest in which Mahathir very nearly lost to Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, there were allegations that several delegates who had voted were drawn from branches not properly registered under the Societies Act 1966. An appeal was filed by eleven UMNO delegates to have the elections declared null and void. This was a very serious matter for Mahathir because if the appeal succeeded, fresh elections would have to be held and he might lose. The matter finally came before Justice Harun Hashim of the KL High Court who ruled that under the existing law, he had no choice but to declare not just the elections invalid, but the whole of UMNO an unlawful society as well. The country and, more particularly, UMNO, went into a state of shock.

In most modern democracies, a political catastrophe of this magnitude would have resulted in the immediate resignation of the party's President and Prime Minister. But Mahathir did not resign. He informed the country that the Government would continue running the country. Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang and Tunku Abdul Rahman called for a vote in Parliament to establish Mahathir's legitimacy but those calls were ignored. Mahathir then set in motion the machinery to form a new surrogate party called UMNO Baru. His opponents, however, wanted the old party revived. The eleven UMNO delegates then launched an appeal in the Supreme Court to have the 1987 elections alone declared illegal and the party not an unlawful society.

Mahathir fully understood the danger to him of this pending appeal. He had to act quickly. In October 1987, he launched the notorious Operation Lalang in which at least 106 people were arrested and detained without trial under the ISA, including three very articulate critics, Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, political scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and leading lawyer Karpal Singh. The official reason for the arrests was that a highly dangerous security situation had arisen but this has been strongly disputed as nothing more than a shameless fabrication. The broad sweep included even environmentalists and Consumer Association spokesmen. Four of the most outspoken newspapers - The Star, The Sunday Star, Watan and Sin Chew Jit Poh - had their publishing licences suspended. When, after five months, the papers were free to publish again, they were no longer the same.

Mahathir's next move was to push through Parliament far-reaching amendments to the Constitution so that the Executive gained in power enormously at the expense of the Judiciary. There was general indignation at this rude behavior which shocked a good many people. The indecent haste and the fact that the amendments were made at a time when the Government's main critics were in detention - including the Opposition Leader and six vocal MPs - and outspoken newspapers were demoralized, added further to the appalling injustice of the situation. Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's beloved first Prime Minister, put it succinctly: "It was legal, but was it just?"

Others noted angrily that the Constitution had been raped once again. In a speech, the outgoing President of the Bar Council, Param Cumaraswamy (right), said:
"The Prime Minister's vile and contemptuous allegations, and the accusations leveled at the Judiciary and our judges left many shocked beyond belief. His speech which was full of venom, hate and spite with no substance whatsoever, illustrated his complete and total ignorance of the role of the Judiciary and the judicial process itself. He has indeed defiled and defaced the Constitution. It is surprising that those 142 MPs who voted in favor, after taking the oath that they would preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, had no compunction about destroying one of its basic structures."
One visiting parliamentarian was astonished at the lack of public debate. In his own country, he said, such amendments would have taken years.

Next, after having curbed the independence of the Judiciary, Mahathir set about destroying its integrity. This was the removal of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President in 1988, a move which Tunku Abdul Rahman described as "the most shocking story in modern legal and judicial history."

TUN SALLEH ABAS (left) was a man of humble origins - his father was a sailor and small village trader - who rose to become Lord President, the highest judge in the land and head of the Judiciary while remaining a deeply religious man.

By March 1988, Mahathir's scandalous and violent public attacks on the Judiciary had so provoked the judges that Tun Salleh was obliged to call a conference. Twenty judges met in the Supreme Court one week after the debilitating and shameful Constitutional amendments were made. By unanimous agreement, a letter was drafted to the King (also the Sultan of Johore) and copied to all Sultans, expressing disquiet over various comments made by the Prime Minister. The letter was delivered on 25 March and Tun Salleh left soon after for medical treatment in the United States followed by a pilgrimage to Mecca . He had a most important duty to perform upon his return: He fixed the hearing of the crucial UMNO Eleven appeal for June and, because of its overwhelming significance, decided that a full quorum of nine Supreme Court judges should hear this. Three days later, Tun Salleh was suspended from his official capacity by the King on recommendation of the Prime Minister. In the same hour that he received the suspension letter, the Acting Lord President, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid took the UMNO Eleven case out of the calendar so that the link between the two was difficult to deny.

Tun Salleh's suspension came after he refused to bow to Mahathir's pressure to either resign or retire, even though financial inducements were offered, including mention of a lucrative job in the International Development Bank in Jeddah. The initial reason given for the suspension was that the King had taken great displeasure over the letter Tun Salleh had written on behalf of all judges. According to official records prepared by the Attorney General, the King had requested Tun Salleh's removal in an audience with the Prime Minister on the "Wednesday morning of 1st May, 1988" after the weekly Cabinet Meeting.

There are serious doubts as to whether this audience actually took place. The first of May, 1988, fell on a Sunday, not Wednesday as the Attorney-General recorded. Even if the day of week were corrected, there can be no Cabinet meeting on a Sunday. That the King expressed great displeasure only on 1st May, when he had in fact received the letter on 25 March cast further doubt over this assertion. It is difficult to believe that the King wanted Tun Salleh removed purely because he had protested about the public insults directed against the entire Judiciary by the head of the Executive. In any event, royal displeasure would not be a constitutionally valid ground for dismissal. Indeed, Mahathir advised the King as much in a letter written four days after this probably fictitious audience; however, the Prime Minister went further in the same letter to say that he would investigate Tun Salleh for any evidence of misbehavior. In any event, the King did not clear up the mystery and, in an audience with Tun Salleh, actually asked the latter to step down without giving reasons although the Conference of Rulers had already asked for his reinstatement. Amazingly, Tun Salleh was suspended and a Tribunal set up to determine his fate before any formal charges were laid.

The Constitution does not provide for the removal of a Lord President. While the Tribunal need not be an inappropriate means, its composition was to say the least, disgraceful. It was composed of six acting and retired judges, although the Constitution required an odd number to prevent deadlock. Of these - four from Malaysia, one from Sri Lanka and one from Singapore - only the Sri Lankan enjoyed a rank comparable to Tun Salleh's. This was contrary to the very reasonable dictum that one should be tried by one's peers rather than one's juniors. The fact that two retired Lord Presidents of Malaysia were available but not invited was glaring. There were grave conflicts of interest with three of the Malaysian judges that should have disqualified them from sitting: Tan Sri Abdul Hamid who was next in line to succeed as Lord President and who had also participated in the conference of 20 judges which resulted in the letter to the King; Tan Sri Zahir who, being also the Speaker of the Lower House, was beholden to Mahathir, the principal complainant in the matter at hand; and Tan Sri Abdul Aziz who, although a former judge, was then a practising lawyer and, more incredibly, had two suits pending against him at that time. But Tun Salleh's objections were ignored and when the Bar Council issued a statement calling for the Tribunal to be re-constituted, both the New Straits Times and The Star refused to publish it. Further, it was decided that the Tribunal would sit in closed sessions although Tun Salleh had requested a public hearing.

The charges, when finally published, were manifestly absurd. Running over 12 sheets of paper, it was clear that quantity had been substituted where quality was lacking, and some of them actually related to Tun Salleh's behavior after suspension. Many of them related to his speeches and press interviews, whereby sinister meanings were imputed to various innocuous comments that he had made. To cite an instance, in a speech at the University of Malaya, he had said: 'The role of the courts is very important to bring about public order. If there is no public order there will be chaos in this country and if there is chaos, no one can feel safe.' On this basis, Tun Salleh was charged with making statements criticizing the Government which displayed prejudice and bias against the latter. Another statement of his, 'In a democratic system, the courts play a prominent role as agent of stability but they can perform this function only if judges are trusted,' resulted in the charge that he had ridiculed the Government by imputing that it did not trust the judges. These charges were doubly ludicrous in the light of Mahathir's many poisonous attacks against the Judiciary.

It is not surprising that Tun Salleh, after reading this catalogue of fantasy crimes, refused to appear before what was so evidently a kangaroo court. The Tribunal, after refusing representations made by Raja Aziz, Tun Salleh's leading counsel, that it had no constitutional validity to sit, chose instead to proceed so hastily that it wound up deliberations, including the examination of witnesses with just four hours work. As it prepared to issue its Report, Tun Salleh's lawyers sought an urgent stay of proceedings in the High Court. This would normally be granted immediately at the least possibility that an injustice may be about to be done but, here, events turned into utter farce.

Instead of immediately reaching a decision as expected, the presiding judge, Datuk Ajaib Singh, after the court had been in languorous session the whole day that Friday, adjourned hearings for 9.30 am the next day. On Saturday however, the judge emerged in court only at 11.50 am and, even then, postponed hearings again for the Monday! In desperation, Tun Salleh's lawyers, knowing that the Tribunal could easily release its Report before then, sought the assistance of Supreme Court judge, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman, in his Chambers. The latter agreed to hear them in open court in half an hour's time and called a quorum of all remaining Supreme Court, one of whom, Tan Sri Hashim Yeop, refused to sit. The soap opera reached an apogee of ridiculousness when Tan Sri Abdul Hamid, head of the Tribunal and Acting Lord President, gave orders for the doors of Supreme Court to be locked and for the seal of the Supreme Court to be secreted away!

Undeterred, the five Supreme Court judges ordered the policeman on duty to open the door forthwith. After less than half an hour, the Court ordered the Tribunal not to submit any recommendation, report or advice to the King. Tun Salleh's lawyers were typing the Order to serve personally to the Tribunal at Parliament House when news arrived that the gates of Parliament House had been locked! At this point, Justice Wan Suleiman rose to the occasion and, calling the office of the Inspector General of Police, told a senior officer that any impediment to serving the Order would constitute contempt of court. The gates of Parliament swung open and, at 4pm, Raja Aziz and his team served the Order to the Tribunal members who were found to be still hard at work on a word-processor that Saturday afternoon. All six members accepted service without complaint.

It would appear that justice had at last prevailed but, four days later; all five Supreme Court judges were suspended. Almost every rule that was broken to suspend Tun Salleh was broken again to suspend them. The prohibition order they had made were revoked within days. A second Tribunal eventually reinstated three of the judge: Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoff Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah but Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Edward Seah were removed from office.

The UMNO Eleven case was quickly dismissed. The removal of Tun Salleh also saw the resignation of Deputy PM Datuk Musa Hitam who, according to popular wisdom, could no longer stomach Mahathir's ways.

NOTE: These ignominious events took place 26 years ago, when many of the present generation may have been too young to understand the ruinous long-term consequences of Mahathir's brazen attacks on Judicial independence and integrity. I've blogged this excerpt from May Day For Justice to refresh memories and to provide some insight to the younger generation. Now they can see for themselves what a manipulative creature we had as Prime Minister between 1981 and 2003.

Some say Mahathir did a lot of good for Malaysia by putting the nation on the world map with his ambitious industrialization program called Wawasan 2020. In truth what Mahathir actually did was destroy the country singlehandedly with his shallow and ill-conceived Cyclopean vision.

The Malays sold their souls to the Mamak for a meagre handout or two with which to buy cheesy chandeliers for their plastic palaces. Now many have awakened! Only the selfish or brainless remain supportive of Mahathir. The cruel, deceitful and destructive "UMNO Baru" culture Mahathir spawned has to go before Malaysia is totally doomed to pathological self-delusion. Unfortunately, although Mahathir rants and raves against his hand-picked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the present-day leadership of UMNO Baru continues to uphold Mahathir's legacy of lies and unprincipled power play.

[Original illustration by Antares © 1999. First posted 17 June 2008]