Karpal Singh would have supported the unity government, says his son

Karpal Singh would have supported the unity government, says his son
Ramkarpal Singh said that his late father would have supported the formation of the unity government as the former Bukit Gelugor MP had always prioritised the nation as well as his party (Pic credit: Screenshot from the live streamed forum on Penang DAP Facebook)

GEORGE TOWN: The late DAP stalwart Karpal Singh would have supported the formation of the unity government between DAP and its once longtime political foe, Umno, says his son Ramkarpal Singh.

Speaking at a special tribute forum held in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the late Bukit Gelugor MP’s death in April 2014, Ramkarpal said that many would have pondered about his father’s position on the partnerships between DAP and Umno, and also between Pakatan Harapan and Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the 2018 general elections should he is still alive.

The alliance formed between PH and Mahathir-led Bersatu led to the downfall of the Barisan Nasional government for the first time in the nation’s history. The political partnership abruptly ended in February 2020, following Mahathir’s resignation as the 7th prime minister and the Sheraton Move engineered by Bersatu, which led to the collapse of the 22-month-old PH government.

“It is very difficult to answer that question (on these partnerships) because circumstances have changed. The country today is very different from what it was in the early 2000s (and) in the 90s during his time.

“But one thing I am very certain of is that he has always placed the nation first, and (also) his party. If you were to look in that context, perhaps he would have approved of the unity government today.

“I think he would (approve),” said the Bukit Gelugor MP in the tribute forum held by Penang DAP at the Marriot Hotel here today.

Karpal, fondly remembered for being an outspoken lawyer and opposition politician, died on April 17, 2014, in a car accident in Perak that also took the life of his personal assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu. Ramkarpal, as well as Karpal’s driver and his family’s Indonesian domestic helper, survived the accident.

Ramkarpal also said that whether his father would have approved the PH-Mahathir partnership would have been “a different question altogether”, and it would not be because his father did not want DAP to form a government, but because of the “well-documented” reservations Karpal had about the former prime minister.

Karpal was one of the nearly 120 people who were detained without trial in Kamunting prison following the notorious Operasi Lalang 1987 crackdown initiated by then Mahathir’s administration. He was imprisoned for two years until January 1989.

“Perhaps those reservations would have been justified as we say…we all know what happened in the Sheraton Move,” added Ramkarpal.

The late Karpal Singh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Implement reforms that were dear to Karpal’s heart

In his speech, Ramkarpal also called upon the unity government to keep implementing legal and institutional reforms that were dear to his father’s heart.

The Bukit Gelugor MP, who served as deputy law and institutional reform minister under the unity government, also expressed his happiness in having worked on the abolishment of the mandatory death penalty - which was advocated by Karpal throughout his legal career.

The mandatory death penalty was abolished following the passing of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 on April 3 last year. Under the Act, courts now have the discretion to impose the death penalty or imprisonment for not less than 30 years but not exceeding 40 years, and if not sentenced to death, shall also be punished with whipping of not less than 12 strokes.

“I think he would have been proud that we (have) actually managed to abolish the mandatory death penalty.

“I hope that we will see the abolishment of the Sedition Act (1948) as well in the near future. That (too) was also something very close to his heart," added the DAP MP.

Karpal was charged under the Act in 2010 for questioning the late Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah’s action to remove Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the state menteri besar in 2009.

The High Court had initially acquitted and discharged Karpal without ordering him to enter his defence in 2010 but on appeal by the prosecution, the Court of Appeal, in 2012, ordered him to enter his defence. In 2014, the High Court convicted and fined him RM4,000. In 2016, the Court of Appeal, by a 2-1 majority decision, upheld his conviction but reduced the fine to RM1,800.

The Federal Court posthumously acquitted the former DAP chairman in March 2019 as the apex court ruled that there was a serious misdirection of law by the High Court and Court of Appeal as both courts failed to evaluate Karpal’s defence.

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