KAMPAR, April 17 – Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh died in a car accident on the North-South Expressway this morning near Gua Tempurung, Kampar in Perak. Kampar police chief Superintendent Ng Kong Soon confirmed that Karpal died in a road accident at KM306.1 of the North-South Expressway near Gua Tempurung at 12.40 am today. Karpal, who would have turned 74 in June, was believed to be travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang to attend a court hearing scheduled for this morning. Born in Penang on June 28, 1940, Karpal graduated with a law degree from the National University of Singapore. Karpal’s political career began in 1970 when he joined the DAP. He won a seat in the Kedah State Legislative Assembly in 1974.
He was first elected to Parliament in 1978 as the representative for Jelutong, Penang, and held the seat for more than 20 years until losing it in 1999. It is during this time that Karpal earned the moniker, “Tiger of Jelutong.” He returned to parliament in the next general election, and led the DAP to its strongest ever performance in the 2008 general election. Karpal leaves behind a wife, five children and four grandchildren. Police said he died on the spot. There were three other occupants in Karpal’s Toyota Alphard, which has the iconic number plate KS9898. His long-time assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu also died, while Karpal’s son Ramkarpal and the driver were injured. The mood at the Kampar Hospital mortuary was highly emotional as family members of the late Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh arrived. His wife Gurmit Kaur was inconsolable as she wailed “Why why”, while his son, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who was holding his mother all the way to the mortuary, also broke down.
Karpal’s daughter Sangeet Kaur Deo and eldest son Jagdeep Singh Deo was also seen grieving over the loss of their father. They arrived at the hospital at about 5.15am. The bodies of Karpal and Michael will be sent to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh for post-mortem. Police said the multi-purpose vehicle was badly-damaged after losing control following a collision with a lorry. Karpal, who recently resigned as DAP national chairman, became paralysed and wheelchair-bound after a car accident in 2005. Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wrote on his Facebook page: “We’ve lost a colleague. An indefatigable fighter for justice. The legendary Karpal Singh. Our sincere condolences to the family. RIP.” Also, the reaction to this tragic news has been swift with leaders from both sides of the divide taking to Twitter to express their sorrow. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also conveyed his condolences.
“I have just landed at Ankara when I heard the news that YB Karpal Singh died in a road accident. My condolences to the family,” read Najib’s tweet. “Shocked and sad news! DAP chairman Karpal Singh passed away in accident tonight. Malaysia has lost a truly patriotic son,” wrote Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming. “Our dear Mr Karpal is no longer with us… I just can’t accept it…,” said Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching. Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim tweeted: “The country has lost a noted political figure and a competent lawyer. My condolences to the family of the late Karpal Singh.” PKR’s vice-president Tian Chua tweeted about the tragic news and he said that he was sad and speechless upon hearing the news. Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin wrote on his Twitter handle that he got a “sad” wake up call from Kepala Batas MP Reezal Merican Naina. “I immediately called @GobindSinghDeo and Jagdeep. These are truly sad calls in life. There is a void, a huge void to be filled in parliament as well as in court rooms. Farewell, Tiger of Jelutong,” Sim tweeted.