Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today among Karpal Singh's last words in the days before he died in a car crash in Kampar early this morning were "I will definitely return."
Lim said he spent much time with Karpal in Parliament and in recent days to discuss the Bukit Gelugor MP's sedition conviction and RM4,000 fine, which Karpal had planned to appeal this week.
Lim said the party had also reluctantly accepted Karpal’s resignation as DAP national chairperson, “and we told him that his post will remain vacant till he returns”.
He added that Karpal had refused to appeal the matter with the Registrar of Societies, which could provide him with an exemption to remain as DAP chairperson pending the appeal.
"He thanked the party and said, ‘Guan Eng, I will definitely return. Don't worry, we will definitely carry on’.
"We will miss him badly. So will the party and the people. The tears shared by ordinary Malaysians are the greatest honour for Karpal," Lim told reporters at the Ipoh General Hospital’s Forensic Department.
Cremation on Sunday
Karpal's body arrived here at 7.20am for a post-mortem, after which the body will be taken back to his family home on Jalan Utama in Penang today.
He is expected to be cremated according to Sikh rites at 11am on Sunday.
Lim said Karpal left too soon, too early and way before his time as he was only 74 when he died.
He added that Karpal had so much more to do and contribute to the nation, despite his physical state.
Karpal has been confined to a wheelchair since his first serious accident in 2005.
"We are all shaken by his death. But we are also moved by the many calls from the ordinary Malaysians who are mourning for Karpal.
"My words cannot express the grief of the people as well as their tears," Lim added.
"I didn't expect them to cry over the phone but they did. This shows that Karpal's struggle through these 40 years are remembered by the people," he said as tears appeared in his eyes.
A tragic loss for all Malaysians
Lim said Karpal's death was a big loss to the party, the country and the people as the veteran lawyer was a "towering Malaysian and a proud son" of Penang.
Lim said Karpal inspired devotion and his accident was a tragic loss for all Malaysians.
"He embodied virtues that are sometimes considered old fashioned, virtues such as honesty, democracy, justice, decency and integrity and respect for the dignity of ordinary Malaysians, which are still very relevant today," the DAP secretary-general said.
"He may be old fashioned to some, but to us it is part of our struggle," he added. "There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, but permanent principles."
Lim said DAP mourned Karpal's passing as a part of the party has gone.
He said he felt heavy as he spent so much time with Karpal, especially in Parliament, and during recent weeks after Karpal gave up his post of DAP chairperson, pending the appeal against his conviction and sentencing for sedition.
Lim thinks fondly of his time in Kamunting with Karpal, adding that a "close bond was forged" during the most difficult times.
The last time Lim met Karpal was a few days ago, in Parliament where they also discussed the veteran leader's appeal against his sedition conviction, which was due this week.
"We were saying that we have to be ready for it. I expressed concern about him but he prompted us to continue forward," Lim said.
'The best tribute is the mushrooming of more lights'
DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region, the majority of whom had never met or known Karpal, are in shock and mourning with the sudden passing of the Tiger of Jelutong.
“This is a testament of the indomitable fight and struggle Karpal has carried out for justice, the rule of law and democracy. For over four decades, he has touched the lives of Malaysians, across race, religion, region, gender or age.
“Karpal has never allowed power and position or his personal trials and tribulations - including detention under the notorious and draconian Internal Security Act under Ops Lalang in 1987 and his persecution under the Sedition Act with the threat of disqualification as MP - to undermine his commitment to the cause of justice,” he said.
With Karpal’s death, Lim said a light has gone out in Malaysia.
“The best tribute to the memory of Karpal is the mushrooming of more lights to brighten the Malaysian national landscape of justice, the rule of law and democracy.”