Tribute to Karpal Singh (1914-2014)

Karpal Singh - Tiger of JelutongYou were a beacon in an uncertain place,

Shining brightly where other lights had failed,

You rode through the storm, unwavering in pace,

Despite oppression, your courage prevailed.

Though detractors assailed your integrity,

And political foes plotted your downfall;

Though critics tried to fan flames of enmity,

You held to your principles and stood tall.

Leader, lawyer, mentor, friend, family man,

Robed in rigour, you served with vigour;

Always there for others, steadfast to the end,

Vested in valour, you lived with honour.

Farewell now, Karpal, we bid you wistfully;

From being once a prisoner of conscience,

Now immortalized in the annals of history;

We thank you for your life of beneficence,

You shall forever live in our memory.

~ “Tribute to Karpal Singh” by Invictus Leader

Even those who had never met Karpal Singh shed tears of sorrow when they heard about his demise on 17 April 2014. For over 40 years of his career, Karpal was the embodiment of fearlessness in his relentless pursuit of truth, justice and freedom without fear or favour. He was not only the most recognizable lawyer in Malaysia, but also a leader par excellence in law, politics and social responsibility.

But though his earthly endeavours have come to an end, Karpal Singh’s invictus* spirit lives on (*invictus: Latin for “unconquerable”). While he walked with us, nothing could stop the Tiger of Jelutong from optimizing his God-given talents to fight the corruption of justice and degradation of human rights in society. Despite being confined to a wheelchair as the result of a car accident in 2005, Karpal was more fully engaged than many able-bodied men half his age.

He persevered amid political persecution. He dared to defend the defenceless whose cases no one or not many would care to stand up for. He was a “towering giant” in the legal fraternity. To budding lawyers, he was an awe-inspiring mentor and role model. To journalists, he was an approachable professional who helped them make sense of the legalese. To Malaysians, he was an unflinching vocal advocate of right governance in his capacity as one of the top leaders in the opposition party. Most of all, to his family, he was a beloved irreplaceable husband, father and sibling.

We will deeply miss Karpal Singh’s indomitable spirit and indefatigable efforts. But despite his departure, Karpal’s legacy is triumphant over death because it has etched itself in the hearts and minds of thousands more who will dare to continue to uphold the authentic brand of leadership that he had pioneered in Malaysia.