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ADUN SPEAKS | Tiger of Jelutong's roar continues to echo

ADUN SPEAKS | It has been 10 years since the passing of the late Karpal Singh (I would refer to him as boss).

The media and the public know him famously as the “Tiger of Jelutong”. Many in the legal field know him as the defender of the defenceless, and the voice of the voiceless. Many remember him as one of the key builders of the DAP. For me, I remember him as my greatest mentor, both in law and in politics.

At the start of my legal career, I was working in Damansara MP Gobind Singh Deo’s law firm. It was through that relationship with Gobind that I got opportunities to work on cases with boss. I served as his junior counsel numerous times, and I got to witness him arguing in our courts.

You should have seen him. Every point made, every question asked, never have I seen a more eloquent lawyer, whose love of the law and justice is the defining aspect of their career.

Not to mention, he was willing to teach a new lawyer like me the tricks of the trade and instil in me the sense of what is right, and what is wrong. Never would he tire of ensuring those who came to him received guidance and a strong moral compass.

I carry on those lessons even now as I am the partner of my own law firm and as Kota Kemuning assemblyperson.

As I continued to follow him around, I was deeply inspired by his strive for justice. Boss never hesitated to stand up for the little guy, especially when the person on the docket was a victim of injustice.

Have a look at our prime minister today. During his first stint in court in 1998, boss took his case and refused payment simply because he believed that Anwar Ibrahim was a victim of injustice.

Respect for the courts

That demonstrates who boss is – a man dedicated to justice, even when he must take on Goliath.

Despite all of that, he still had the highest respect for the courts of law. Once I was assisting him on a case in the Court of Appeal. I was not wearing my robe when the judges walked in.

A memorial service for the late Karpal Singh in April 2014.

In a hurry, I tried to put them on quickly. He stopped me and told me to go outside the courtroom to do so, saying: “The court is not your changing room.”

That shows that he respected the institutions in place while advocating for change.

That spirit of standing up for the little guy can also be seen in the political arena. As an elected representative, boss would never hesitate to say what is right, regardless of what opponents would say or do.

In Parliament, the Tiger of Jelutong would fearlessly roar to let the rest of the jungle know, that we must do right by the people through repealing horrible laws and passing good ones.

Even when he was arrested during Operasi Lalang, the moment he was released, he immediately continued the fight for what is right without fear. That demonstrates his commitment to justice for the little guy.

Friendly and humble

Even though Karpal is described as a tiger, do not be fooled, he was always a friendly and humble man. I once attended a Bersih rally with him, and as he was making his way across the venue, he was mobbed by a huge crowd of supporters who wanted to take photos with him.

He would always smile and indulge in their requests. He would enjoy meeting the people that he aims to help. If you came to him, he would welcome you with open arms, ask you what the issue was, and work hard to help you.

He was truly a man of the people.

Exactly 10 years after his passing, look at the country today. The party he helped build is now in a government literally called a “unity government”. Day after day, the coalition government is working to serve all people regardless of race, or religion.

Parliament, the government, and the courts are working to ensure justice for the little guy. Can you hear it? The Tiger of Jelutong’s roar continues to echo.

It is now up to us, the new generation to carry on “Karpalism”. All the principles which he has stood for, we must make it a reality. Why? The reason is simple, Malaysia is built by Malaysians, and it is only right for us to stand by them.

Missing you boss, I hope that as you look down from heaven, you can see that you are remembered through the principles you have stood for. And that you continue to live in the Malaysia that you have devoted your life to help build.

Tribute forum

A forum will be held at 8pm tonight at the PJ Live Arts Centre to mark 10 years since Karpal’s passing. It is titled “10 Years On Honouring Karpal Singh: His Life, Career and The Fight for Justice”.

Headlining the forum are former High Court judge Hishamudin Yunus, lawyer and former attorney-general Tommy Thomas and human rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

It will be moderated by Bangi MP Syahredzan Johan.

PREAKAS SAMPUNATHAN is the Kota Kemuning assemblyperson.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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