AS the tributes poured in for Karpal Singh I detached myself from the out-pouring of grief to become an observer, not a mourner hoping that this will enable me to be more objective when I pen my thoughts.
I also took my time as I did not want to be influenced by the emotions of the moment so I could present an unadulterated perspective of this man’s life and work.
However, I will tell you right now that I am going to fail miserably.
This is because I too as many Malaysians do, feel that we have lost our moral compass. Karpal after all was the only politician who called a spade a spade, unafraid of what it may do to his political career.
Who is going to roar his disapproval when we go down the wrong path? Who is going to rap our knuckles when we step out of line?
He was our conscience. Yes he was a politician but for Karpal politics was merely a tool for the cause.
He does not belong to the DAP. He belongs to all of us who subscribe to his ideals of justice and fairness.
"If you have no principles, you have nothing," the Tiger growled when I last interviewed him at his practice in Jalan Pudu Ulu in August.
"You have to make a stand and stick by it even if it makes you unpopular," he said, in between sips of tea from a cup held by Michael Cornelius – Karpal’s loyal aide who died in the same accident that robbed us of his Boss.
While many politicians had to eat their words, Karpal always put his money where his mouth is, always sticking by his principles even if it meant going after his senior DAP colleagues when they crossed the line.
Asked about his public reprimand of his senior party colleagues and if it was prudent politics to do so, he said what was important was to assure the people that the party sticks to its principles.
Hence when the DAP endorsed party hoppers from Barisan Nasional when the party had made a stand against such practices, he took his comrades to task.
"It is a betrayal of the electorate," said Karpal who had championed a law to penalise party-hopping.
"This is not the way we want to win elections."
Much has been written about his prowess as a lawyer, his crusade against the death penalty, his battles in Parliament, the hostility between him and his arch “nemesis” Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who at the end also conceded that Karpal had contributed to the nation.
However those privileged enough to know him outside the courtroom or the Dewan Rakyat will attest that he reserves his roar only for those who deserve it.
Otherwise, Karpal was a gentle soul who was kind to the Press and ever obliging to his numerous “fans” who would walk up to him for a handshake or selfie.
He generally spoke softly yet convincingly about his concerns for the country we are leaving behind for the next generation.
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