Monday, April 21, 2014

Karpal gone but fight will go on

The curtain has come down on the life of one of the fiercest politician and fighter for justice, YB Karpal Singh. His sudden death in a tragic road accident came as a shock to all Malaysians. In just a spit moment the nation has lost an illustrious son. He was given a grand send-off by the people of all races who came out in the thousands to pay their last respects and follow him to his final resting place. Karpal showed his greatness by winning a place in the hearts of the masses by courageously standing up for their rights in the courts, in parliament and outside.

It was encouraging to see leaders of the past and present from both sides of the political aisle paying their last respects to the man, who became an icon of the fight against injustice and lawlessness. They put aside their differences and paid tribute to the man who was their ardent critic before. However it was disappointing that besides sending their condolences, the present top leaders did little to show their respect and appreciation for a man who had contributed so much in his own ways to the nation as admitted even by his archrival former PM Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohammad.

It was disgusting they made no efforts to even reprimand some fanatics who uttered insanity on Karpal on his death. The PM was quick to send his condolence message from abroad but  when back in the country chose to participate in an anti-corruption run in the morning when massive crowds were gathering in Penang for the funeral. The English and Malay dailies did not even see it fit to report the funeral in its front pages. It was extremely disappointing that the federal government chose to ignore the death of a man who had been a dominant national figure, active opposition leader and prominent lawyer for over forty years. It speaks volumes for the democracy we claims to uphold and the caring culture we are claiming to promote.

The mammoth crowds at the funeral of Karpal were reassuring being a sign that the people value the ideals of justice which the late leader was identified with. At a time of so much corruption and abuse of power, it was encouraging that the people at large are yearning for justice, accountability and respect for law and order by rallying around a dead leader who stood for those ideals.

In the nearly fifty years of his turbulent legal and political career, Karpal fought for three major things that were close to his heart and which are also dear to all Malaysians today. These are the rule of law, the need to remain a secular state and the need to respect the rights of all citizens.

His firm believe in the superiority of the Federal Constitution, which he defended with great fervor and vigor, often brought him into direct confrontation with those in power. In a country that is fast deteriorating into lawlessness he was a conscience in the hearts of the leaders and enforcers of the law. His strong stand against as secular state was a pain for many who saw him as an obstacle to the establishment of an Islamic state. His constant and persistent call for justice and fairness for all citizens regardless of race and creed was a blow for the increasing use of racial and religious provocations and the marginalization of the minorities in the country.

Over three decades of misguided policies, the country is beginning to reap the many disasters that are starting to unfold, the disappearance of flight MH 370, being the most obvious and which has brought great loss in our credibility and honor. The deterioration in the quality of our education, biasness of the judiciary and enforcement agencies and the loss of professionalism of almost all the various institutions due to their subjugation by a long-ruling regime are all leading to a rapid decline in our reputable standing in the international community.

In a recent interview he was asked why he stays in Malaysia in the face of so much adversity, Karpal’s answer was simple. “They want to make it as difficult as they can for us here so we’ll go away. But we will not go - that would be giving them what they want, and that would be wrong. We have to stay and fight.” 

Karpal Singh stayed and fought till the end. He may be gone but his legacy of “Never give up” must continue among the younger generations.

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