KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 – Senior lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah paid tribute to the late Karpal Singh, describing him as one of the most ethical criminal lawyers he used to appear with while acting as deputy public prosecutor or counsel for the opposing clients. “As a pure criminal lawyer, he was most ethical and I had always enjoyed us giving each other a ‘good fight’ in our respective roles in litigation,” said Muhammad Shafee, who appeared at the Court of Appeal on a contempt proceeding involving Penang Adventist Hospital on Wednesday, the last day that Karpal was in court. He said throughout the years, Karpal’s health had failed gradually but despite his many ailments, his spirit was still strong and that spirit had made him go on with his cases. “Karpal in his personal life was a quiet person. As such, many interesting stories that he kept to himself may not be known by many. I hope that someone can chronicle this someday,” said Muhammad Shafee, who first met Karpal at the Penang public library when the latter was dating Gurmit Kaur, whom he later married.
He said as a politician, Karpal was a different man altogether; he fought for his political causes often with fairness but politics being such, on occasions he got quite agitated, which was almost second nature to most politicians. On Karpal’s last day in court, Shafee said he observed from from a distance that Karpal was deep in thought, almost disturbed. “I approached him, asking if he was alright and if he was not well, we could ask for a deferment of the case. “He said he was alright and could go on. He wanted to get on with the case as soon as possible, as though he needed to be back home,” recalled Muhammad Shafee. Both Karpal and Muhammad Shafee exchanged some harsh words during recent proceedings of the prosecution’s appeal of the sodomy case of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Court of Appeal.