Karpal Singh: The Final Journey

Posted by M ws On Sunday, April 20, 2014 0 comments
Today, Malaysians paid their final respects to the late Malaysian icon Karpal Singh at the Dewan Sri Pinang in a state-honoured ceremony before his cortege left for Bukit Gantung where he was cremated.

Thousands, including family, friends, politicians from various parties and the public whose lives have been touched by Karpal in one way or another have thronged his house in Jalan Utama, Penang since his shocking death in the wee hours of the morning of April 17.

Karpal, who would have turned 74 in June, died in a tragic car crash along with his beloved helper J Michael Cornelius, 39, near Gopeng exit along the North-South Highhway.

The Bukit Gelugor MP who had an illustrious career in law and politics for 40 years, leaves behind his beloved wife Gurmit Kaur, five children, and ten grandchildren.

Malaysiakini gave a live report of the funeral proceedings from Penang.


2.55pm: As the ceremony comes to a close, the crowd eventually disperses.

2.35pm: Karpal's body enters the furnace. Despite pleas from the family, the crowd refuses to leave.

2.33pm: Tempers flare as the crowd of people refuse to make room for Karpal's family as they prepare to move the coffin into the furnace.

Karpal's youngest son Man Karpal was seen grabbing a mobile phone belonging to a woman and smashed it against a wall in frustration.

2.30pm: People who managed to get into the crematorium compound are performing the final rites.

Jagdeep Singh sternly requests photographers to stop taking photos because Karpal's wife wants privacy at this final moment.

Many refuse to leave the facility, although some people have left to in anticipation of a traffic jam.

1.35pm: Lawyer Sukhindarpal Singh, who is waiting for Karpal's cortege to pass along Jalan Farquhar says, "Today is the people's funeral. People from all walks of life have come to pay their respects.

"They are not paid (to come) or organised into buses," he quips.

He says he has known Karpal since they were both kids, adding, "He was really down to earth. A people's man."

1.30pm: Traffic jams are reported in the vicinity of the route, which has grown into a 2km long procession.

From Malaysiakini's observations, there have been almost no traffic police on duty to control the traffic flow since this morning.

Instead, the Penang state government's volunteer squad is helping to manage the heavy traffic along the route.

Meanwhile on another matter, DAP says it will be organising memorial services at the state level all week beginning with Penang on Tuesday, up till May 2 in Negri Sembilan.

The national level memorial event will be in KL on April 24 and details will be announced soon, it says in a statement.

1.23pm: The procession passes by the DAP headquarters and is now on its way to the crematorium. Traffic is heavy along the route.

12.47pm: The cortege stops at St Xavier's Institution, Karpal's alma mater. The band plays the school anthem.

12.30pm: The procession reaches the second historic stop at the State Assembly Hall. Crowds along the route hold banners and DAP flags, and keep chanting, "Karpal Singh".

12.23pm: Outside, Karpal's constituents and voters from Island Glades under the Bukit Gelugor seat express disappointment they could not enter the Dewan earlier.

Meanwhile one woman comments, "We need to vote again. We heard his daughter might be standing for elections. It is okay, she looks smart."

As the van carrying his cortege passes by, Karpal's son Gobind reaches out to shake hands with the public, saying, "Thank you, thank you," as the people continue to chant his name.

12pm: As the cortege makes its  way around the four significant stops, crowds line the roads with some clapping and chanting "Karpal Singh! Karpal Singh!".

There is a massive traffic jam.

Famous blogger Anil Netto estimates the overall crowd at 20,000.

At present it is going around the Penang High Court and the superbikes convoy leads in front.

11.50am: Karpal's cortege leaves the dewan accompanied by the St Xavier's Institution band playing 'When The Saints Come Marching In'.

11.47am: The crowd in the street start clapping and chanting "Karpal Singh" when his cortege is carried out from the hall

11.30am: The Sikh community gathers around Karpal's coffin to say their final prayers. His grandchildren all dressed in white gather around.

Karpal's remains will leave soon for Batu Gantung for cremation, but not before he journeys around significant spots of his life: the Penang State Legislative assembly, St Xavier's Institution, his legal office in Jalan Green Hall and the Penang High Court on Jalan Faarquhar.

His family prepares to leave, and they close the glass top of his coffin.

The guests also start to exit.

11.30am: This morning the notorious Raja Bomoh of the MH370 coconut stunt fame weighs in on Karpal's accident saying it was the result of having disturbed the spirits of Gua Tempurung in the immediate vicinity of the accident zone.

Last night opposition members spotted the shaman at his antics again at the area.

"Passed by Km 302 and saw Raja Bomoh doing his stunt at late Karpal's accident scene.

"I was too shocked to do anything," tweeted Gelang Patah MP's political secretary Dyana Sofya Daud.

PKR legal affairs bureau chief Latheefa Koya also tweeted last night, "On our way back, we passed the accident scene, and saw Raja Bomoh doing a jampi with a bunch of leaves! Seriously, what is going on?"

11.30am: Law See Lam (right), 75, says he has been with DAP for 49 years and is sad at the loss of Karpal.

Hailing from Sepang, Selangor, he says being wheelchair-bound has not stopped her coming to pay his last respects to an old friend.

"I feel sad. I have been long friends with him.

"From the beginning of DAP, I have been a member," he tells Malaysiakini.

11.27am: The Penang governor leaves the hall but public is no longer allowed to enter.

The ceremony will proceed with the state government and representives from political parties and organisations paying last respects.

Earlier the crowd is asked to make way for the governor to leave.

When they refuse to budge from the front of the entrance, state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh pleads with the public, "Please, please move aside. I know how you feel, but please, we need you to move aside."

The hall has been open to the public for about two hours, and an estimated 7,200 members of the public are estimated to have entered to bid farewell.

11.11am: Everyone stands to allow the governor to pay his last respects. The various organisations then pay their respects one by one.

Each bows three times before the coffin in respect.

11.13am: The governor and the whole Penang state exco pay last respect to Karpal Singh and take a group photo.

10.30am: A minor commotion happens when DAP members start distributing Karpal posters and not everyone succeeds in getting one. A young man shouts,"Why have everyone gotten it except me?"

10:51am: 100 cyclists from seven Penang cycling clubs will ride from Dewan Sri Pinang to the crematorium in Batu Gantung.

G Club Penang president Lim Seh Guan says it is their way of paying tribute to Karpal.

"We feel sad for the loss of Penang's favourite son. We are here to share the family's grief.

"They are not alone. We are with you (the family)," he says.

10.56am: Penang Governor Abdul Rahman Abbas arrives with his wife. They pay their last respects. The session for the public will pause for awhile.

Guan Eng then presents his eulogy.

"The rakyat has lost a fearless 'tiger' with an indomitable spirit who stood up for the poor, weak, defenceless and dispossessed.

"But it is his fighting spirit that stands out. You can detain Karpal physically but you can never detain his spirit," reads Guan Eng's eulogy.

He ends it with Thomas Jefferson who said that "when the government fears the people, there is liberty; when the people fear the government, there is tyranny".

"Throughout his life, Karpal showed us how not to fear the government," says the CM.

10.50am: Though Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is supposed to start his eulogy at 10.15am, it has been postponed as the crowd is being allowed in to finish paying their final respects.

However, due to the sheer size of the crowd, officers are quickly ushering the public, who try to steal a few seconds to look at Karpal's face.

10.15am: The crowd swells to approximately 10,000 and many are still waiting to go in.

PSM secretary general S Arutchevan has managed to enter with his entourage of 20 members. Aliran president Francis Loh and former president P Ramakrishnan are also inside the Dewan, waiting to pay their respects.

Guan Eng's political secretary and Air Itam assemblyperson Wong Hoi Wai says Penang Governor Abdul Rahman Abbas is on his way.

"The crowd will be allowed in until he arrives," Wong says when asked if the time for the public to pay their respects would be extended.

10am: One hour more to go before the coffin departs, and the crowd waiting to get in grows impatient. Rayer, who was sent to address the problem, says the crowd has been split in two rows, on the left and right of the building.

"It is under control now," he says.

Some members of the public are complaining that DAP members are crowding the place and not allowing the public to come in.

Others who have given up coming inside are taking photos of the crowd lining up to pay respect to Karpal.

Some have been queueing since 7am but not been given opportunity to enter to pay their respects.

The crowd is shouting and clamouring to be allowed entry, but the officers say the crowd is too large to accommodate.

9.45am: Anti-lynas activist Wong Tack arrives and is seated where the MPs and assemblymen sit.

A woman has fainted outside and is being attended to by an ambulance. Another was brought into the Dewan as she was going to fall. She is seated near a cooler and is attended to by several DAP members.

People are saying that the crowd, in the thousands now, are more than when a state funeral was held for former CM Lim Chong Eu, in 2010.

9:35am: Many in the crowd outside are feeling dissatisfied and there is some pushing and shoving.

A man with his wife from Malacca tells Malaysiakini he has been waiting for an hour to get into the hall.

Several officers and DAP members are seen trying to calm the crowd and pleading with them to be patient.

9.20am Anwar Ibrahim arrives. He hugs Guan Eng and shakes hands with Karpal's sons Jagdeep Singh Deo and Gobind Singh Deo who are standing in front of the coffin.

9.15am: Penang High Court judge Mohd Zaki Mohd Yassin is seen with lawyer Ranjit Singh Dillion. They sit at the front row.

NGOs and organisations are told to register at the counter outside so they can pay respects collectively. State agency officers begin to pay their respects.

9am: PKR de facto leader and parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is on his way to pay his last respects. He should be arriving soon.

Several members of the courthouse and lawyers are seen among the crowd.

As the public look solemnly over the glass top of Karpal's coffin, some have tears in their eyes. A senior with her walking stick almost breaks down in tears as she is escorted out.

An elderly man stops by and cries "Karpal Singh" twice and gives him a scout's honour.

The public starts shaking hands with Karpal's family as pass his cortege, but are reminded not to so as not to hold up the many, many more waiting outside.

9:07am: As hundreds flood the outside of Dewan Sri Pinang to pay their last respects the situation turns a little chaotic, with some pushing to get in and shouting, "Open the door" while others shout back, "Don't push!"

Seri Delima assemblyperspon RSN Rayer is despatched to control the situation.

8.45am: The public, starting with DAP members start to pay their final respects.

As they walk around Karpal's coffin, they are seen putting their hands together in prayer, while some offer flowers.

Outside the Dewan, the crowd jostle with one another to come closer to the entrance. MPs and assemblypersons from Pakatan and Karpal's family members have taken their seats on both sides of the cortege.

8.15am: Karpal's cortege arrives. The emcee announces for people crowding the pathway to the Dewan to make way.

The St Xavier's Institute band has begun playing the song 'When the Saints Come Marching In' as his cortege is being carried in.

8am: The crowd has grown to about 1,000.

DAP members including Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his father Kit Siang are already inside the Dewan, waiting for Karpal's cortege to arrive at about 8.15am.

The public will be allowed in by 8.30am. People have queued to await the arrival of the casket.

Among the crowd is lawyer M Visvanathan who arrived in Penang at about 5am to pay his last respects.

He says the government should declare this a national day of mourning because such is the impact of Karpal Singh's legacy.

"The younger generation needs to fill the giant footsteps left behind by Karpal. We are all merely wearing small shoes unlike him.

"He walked the talk and lived by his principles, he was deep rooted in fair and right (against) wrong. That made him stand out among the rest.

7.50am: The vehicle which carries Karpal's cortege departs from the house followed by hundreds of cars, motorbikes and cyclists.

7.30am: Dewan Sri Pinang is already teeming with people, waiting for his cortege to arrive at 9am. The cortege is to leave Karpal's home at 8.15am after final prayers there.

A big white truck with the banner 'Sdr Karpal Singh Dalam Kenangan 1940 - 2014' is seen parked on the side of the Penang Civil and Magistrate Court, on the right of Dewan Sri Pinang.

Facebook photos AT THIS LINK.

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