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'A giant in the legal fraternity'
Published:  Apr 17, 2014 9:18 AM
Updated: Apr 19, 2014 10:39 AM

The following are some of the reactions to the death of senior lawyer and veteran opposition politician Karpal Singh.



Arifin Zakaria, Chief Justice of Malaysia:

On behalf of the Malaysian judiciary, we extend our deepest condolences to Karpal's family. As a senior member of the Bar, he has always exuded high standard of professionalism in his legal career and maintained an exemplary decorum and remarkable modesty in court.

Karpal has always shown high respect to the bench. His immense contribution to the development of the Malaysian law is undisputable and his never-ending quest for justice will be eternally remembered and will continue to inspire legal practitioners.

Pandikar Amin Mulia , Parliament speaker, via Bernama :

The whole Malaysian Parliament fraternity express condolences to the family of Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh, who died in a road accident this morning.

Parliament has lost a political figure who coloured the nation's political history, in line with the practice of parliamentary democracy.

Personally, I have lost “a friend and an opponent”. The last time Karpal was able to take part in the debate was on the Judges Remuneration (Amendment) 2013 Bbill, during the last seating.

I hope Karpal's family and friends will be strong and patient in the face of the adversities. May his soul rest in peace.

Christopher Leong , Malaysian Bar president:

The passing of Karpal Singh is very sad news for the Malaysian Bar and for Malaysia. He was a giant in the legal fraternity, a towering Malaysian and a great, courageous man.

Karpal recently said that even if he is gone there will be 100 Karpals to take his place. How I wish that was true as Malaysia needed Karpal and will continue to need more people like Karpal.

He was of that special and rare breed of men who commanded respect for his leadership and courage in the the values and causes he stood and fought for.

He will be very much missed by Malaysians.The Malaysian Bar conveys its deepest condolences to Karpal's family.

Anwar Ibrahim , parliamentary opposition leader:

We have lost a colleague, an indefatigable fighter for justice; the legendary Karpal Singh.

His sudden demise came as a lightning bolt to me because just last evening, I had a lengthy chat with him.


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 its sharpest minds and I have lost a true friend kind in words, noble in deed. 

Our sincere condolences to the family. Rest in peace.

Mark Trowell , Queen's Counsel, observer for LawAsia and Inter-parliamentary Union in Anwar Ibrahim's Sodomy II and Karpal's sedition trials:

Malaysia has suffered a terrible loss with the sudden death of Karpal Singh. He was truly a great Malaysian, not only because of his involvement in politics, but also as a lawyer.

He was larger than life: a man who never took a backward step whatever the cost to him personally. His life reflected the modern history of Malaysia and the events that have shaped it as a nation since Independence more than 50 years ago.

Karpal Singh was very much an integral part of that history. He was every bit the “Tiger of Jelutong”.

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat , PAS spiritual adviser and former Kelantan menteri besar:

I express my condolences to Karpal Singh's family. His demise is a big loss to Malaysia's politics as he was well known for his principles and unshaken by pressures.

Karpal was a strong proponent of the Federal Constitution and was strong on his poisition that Malaysia is a secular country. This principle is different from the PAS struggle and he respected our differences.

I remember going to his house last year, where he gave me a warm welcome and escorted me to my car even in his condition in wheelchair.

Despite our differences in opinion, the manner in which he received me represented the softness and his acceptance of PAS by DAP in Pakatan Rakyat.

He will continuously be remembered in the country's politics. If everyone respects the principles laid in the constitution like he did, Kelantan would not have been discriminated against.

Kelantan's rights are stipulated in the constitution and governed by treaties signed, but there are parties that put aside the constitution and the legal document.

I regret that individuals like Karpal could not have the time to understand hudud. I am confident that if he understood, he would not object it.

While the Hudud Enactment was passed in 1993, there were letters which I received objecting to its implementation, but none of them came from Karpal.

Param Cumaraswamy , former UN Special rapporteur and former Bar Council president:

Karpal’s sudden, tragic death is not only a great loss to his family but to the legal profession and the nation. He stood tall among the top leading lawyers in the world.

Despite his physical handicap from the previous accident, his courage and tenacity in the defence of his clients in court will long be remembered.

Outside court, in politics, he demonstrated equal fearlessness and often sacrificed his personal liberties.

He once told me that between law and politics, his first love was law. His passing away with the conviction for sedition is a fitting tribute to him, ranking him with the greats like Mahatma Gandhi. He will be very sadly missed, in and out of courts.

Let's not forget his (personal) aide, Michael (Cornelius Jayakrishnan); who died in the same accident. Michael was a loyal, devoted aide upon whom Karpal depended on.

International Commission of Jurists

The ICJ is saddened by the  sudden loss of Karpal Singh, a prominent Malaysian lawyer, human rights defender and parliamentarian who fought courageously for  equality, justice and democracy in the country. 

The ICJ sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of 
Mr. Singh. His legacy, marked by a commitment to core human 
rights principles, will not only be remembered, but will continue to 
live on in the many generations to come. 

Zaki Azmi , former chief Justice:

As a lawyer, he was a very challenging and formidable opponent when we appeared on opposite sides.

When I was a chief judge, he made political attacks against me while sitting on the bench.

Despite this, he remains in my mind a polite gentleman.

Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden , former solicitor-general II and lead prosecutor in Sodomy II trial, now a lawyer in private practice:

Karpal is a highly principled man. When he comes to court, he would stick and argue with his principles like what he did with regard to the sedition charge and the Anwar trial.

Sometimes, as counsel appearing for the Attorney-General's Chambers, we are hurt by the strong comments in court.

But there is a softer side of him, which I knew that when he makes such comments, he will leave it at that in court. We get along well afterward as we know he is arguing for his clients and making political statements. His softer side shows he is like any ordinary man.

A big loss to the legal fraternity, and my condolences to the family.


Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah , former High Court judge who wrote a complaint letter on corruption in the judiciary in mid-1990s:

I, like many Malaysians, will miss this courageous politician. Many people respect him openly and others in their hearts. He had raised issues in my favour in Parliament.

The late Karpal Singh appeared before me when I was a High Court judge and I can safely say he was always prepared and only focused on the most important matters, which won him his cases.

May he rest in peace and may others involved in the accident recover soon. Condolences from my family.

Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail , PKR president:

Condolences to the family of Karpal Singh who died in a road accident early this morning. A known fighter of justice who has placed his name in representing and defending the rakyat.

May his family be brave and steadfast in this trying times. Malaysia has lost another fighter for the people.

Abdul Hadi Awang , PAS president, via Harakah Daily :

Karpal was always steadfast and had a high degree of confidence in any matter that he fought for.

On behalf of members and leaders of PAS, we express condolences to his family. He was a father, friend, politician and a veteran lawyer who never stopped in the pursuit of justice and the rule of law.

Dr Chua Soi Lek , former MCA president:

I am deeply saddened by the death of veteran politician Karpal Singh.

My heartfelt condolences go to the family.

Karpal Singh's persistence and perseverance in his long life and political career are appreciated and respected and his demise is a profound loss to the nation.

May the soul of Karpal and his personal assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu rest in peace.  

My best wishes go to the two victims that are injured in the accident for their speedy recovery.

Hermen Shastri , Council of Churches Malaysia general secretary:

As a seasoned politician, he had served the nation through the opposition to champion issues of justice and peace for a large part of his life.

He stood by his deepest conviction, that Malaysia is a secular state and the rights of all individuals and communities are protected by the federal constitution.

For all the years of service that involved his courage, sacrifice and endurance in the cause of a better Malaysia, the churches along with all other Malaysians, are deeply grateful.

We pray the young generation of politicians will be inspired by his life's example. Our prayer. are with his wife, children and relations at this time of grief.

A Vaithilingam , former president, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST):

Malaysia has lost a great parliamentarian with the sudden death of a fearless opposition MP. Probably God has decided that the wicked hounding of fearless Karpal Singh by unscrupulous authorities must stop.

From the time he became an MP who never stopped speaking out on the injustices meted out to the affected sections of the rakyat, he was detained, threatened jail, suspended in Parliament and forever being hounded under the questionable sedition law.

His struggle for justice will continue because he has led the way to fearless struggle towards  the path of truth and fairness in justice.

My deep sympathies and heartfelt condolences to his wife and family. May the Almighty God Bless his soul.

Rosli Dahlan , lawyer and senior partner in Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill:

The country has lost an exemplary and courageous son. A giant in court and in Parliament, never once flinching in his belief in the principles of democracy, justice and the rule of law which had been costly to his person and career, and yet he stood firm.

He will take his place in history as one of the finest patriots that this country has ever produced, regardless that he was recently convicted and fined RM4,000 for sedition.

His eulogy will note that his sudden passing is divine intervention against those who seek to put him behind bars by making an appeal against inadequate sentencing.

Shame on the AG (attorney-general). The giants are passing, leaving only pygmies in their wake!

Anwar Fazal , social activist and winner of Right Livelihood Award, which is known as the alternative Nobel Prize:

Karpal Singh was an icon of courage, commitment and competence. The people of Malaysia, the state of Penang, the legal system and Parliament all will miss his great qualities.

Both the judicial and political system weaknesses were bravely and relentlessly challenged like never before by this "Tiger of Jelutong".

His legacy will not only be unforgettable but he has left us with a family he has nurtured that will continue his brave struggle for justice in this country.


We can never thank him enough. 

Denison Jayasooria , secretary-general of human rights group Proham:

The late Karpal Singh was an outstanding lawyer, parliamentarian, politician and human rights defender. This is a loss not just to his family and party, but to the nation as a whole.

He has been a voice for the oppressed and he was fearless in his defence for truth, justice, fairness and equality. His reflections and actions will continue to be remembered as a legacy for nation-building.

Our prayers for the family and for God Almighty to comfort them all.

Baljit Singh Sidhu , lawyer, author and adjunct professor:

No words can describe Karpal's achievement. He is an icon in the practise of criminal law. Almost 1,000 reported cases from him in the law journals.

In the late '70s, when I was schooling together with Jagdeep and Gobind - the school bus had a break down, Mr Karpal personally drove his car and together with the children picked me up. This is the simple and humble act of the "Tiger of Jelutong" that I remember till now.

If one is to describe what one means by dedication, hardwork, being upright and fearless, the best example is Karpal.

My last conversation with him was on April 4 at the Court of Appeal - something I will remember for life.

Amnesty International (AI) pays tribute to the Malaysian human rights lawyer and former prisoner of conscience.

He was courageous and dedicated human rights defender and his death marks the loss of an important voice in the struggle for justice and human rights in Malaysia.


AI remembers Karpal's commitment to justice and human rights in Malaysia. His legacy as a human rights defender will continue to live on in the work of other activists and lawyers whom he mentored and inspired.


AI joins national and international activists in mourning his loss and expresses its deepest condolences to his family.

Karim Lahidji , president of International Federation for Human Rights in a joint statement with Suaram:

Karpal Singh will always be remembered as a civil rights champion who stood against the abuses of political and judicial powers.

His legacy will certainly live on. When Malaysia eventually abolishes the death penalty, much of the credit will have to be given to the courageous work of Karpal Singh.

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