Malaysian tiger Karpal Singh dies in car ‘accident’
The driving force of opposition politics in Malaysia since 1970 has died in a car accident. Karpal Singh was 74. He survived an earlier ramming collision in 2005 and was confined to a wheel chair, but continued to serve in the parliament until his death.
Karpal Singh was a fearless rebel both in politics and the legal profession, and received many death threats during his long career. One of his most controversial cases was defending Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim who was charged with sodomy in 1998. Many people considered the charge to be means of fending off a challenge to the leadership and when Karpal mentioned that he was charge with sedition. That charge was later dropped.
Karpal was an outspoken opponent of Malaysia’s death penalty, particularly the death penalty for drug trafficking. He famously defended several Australians and New Zealanders charged with drug offences. One, Kevin Barlow, was executed in 1986. The others received death sentences which were later commuted to life sentences. A New Zealander, Lorraine Cohen, was sentenced to death and later pardoned.
Karpal was an outspoken opponent of political corruption and a strong advocate for poor and oppressed people. He was suspended from parliament many times and was detained from 1987 to 1989 under the Internal Security Act but was never tried in court. In 2009 he was charged with sedition after threatening to sue the King of Malaysia, Sultan Azlan Shah. The charge was dismissed by the High Court in 2010.
Karpal Singh married Gurmit Kaur in 1970 and they had five children.
No doubt Karpal will be as controversial in death as he was in life. There may never be a final answer to the question on many lips: Was it an accident, or was it a political murder?