The Tiger of Jelutong is a nickname the veteran politician gained during his years as a vociferous Member of Parliament (MP) for Jelutong, a Penang seat he held on for two decades. Interestingly, the intimidating moniker stuck even after the DAP stalwart was defeated in Jelutong in 1999. Today, Karpal is the MP for Bukit Gelugor.
(The roar of the Tiger)
Karpal Singh: Tiger of Jelutong
Author: Donoghue Tim
Karpal Singh is widely regarded as the best criminal and constitutional lawyer practising in Malaysia today. Since graduating from the University of Singapore in 1969 he has been a fearless, intelligent advocate for justice and a defender of human rights in South East Asia, and has appeared in the Privy Council in London on a number of occasions before such appeals were abandoned by Malaysia.
In this book, veteran journalist Tim Donoghue, who first met Karpal Singh in 1986 while based in Hong Kong, tells the remarkable story of a tenacious and principled lawyer and politician who has emerged as the kingmaker among the various Malaysian opposition political parties.
KARPAL SINGH, GRANDFATHER
“Nothing compares to the feeling of going home to hugs from my grandchildren. No doubt, I am a much better grandfather than I was a father because I spend more time with my grandchildren,” Karpal shares during an interview with Sunday Star. “It was not by choice that I had to be away from home so much when my five children were growing up. But I had to work hard so that I could send them abroad to study.”
Sunday September 15, 2013 MYT 8:35:32 AM
The roar of the Tiger
At an age where most politicians are riding into the sunset, Karpal Singh is planning for the next general election.
IT’S way past dinner time and Karpal Singh has just finished seeing clients for the day at his legal firm in Pudu.
Wheelchair-bound since an accident eight years ago, Karpal has a bell which he rings when he’s ready to see the next person or needs assistance. His clients are everyday folk, although only the big names he represents make the news.
Despite the long hours, the maverick lawyer who turns 73 this year, is relaxed, the fiery tiger eyes that flare on ceramah stages and in court appear warm and kind. He smiles easily, has a wicked sense of humour and confesses to being a doting grandfather to his 11 grandchildren.
His biography Karpal Singh: The Tiger of Jelutong hit the bookstores two weeks before its official launch on Sept 7. By Sept 1, it was already on the number two spot of the MPH Mid Valley Megamall ‘Bestsellers’ list for non-fiction.
“I hear the book is also a best-seller in Singapore. I did not expect this much interest,” he says.
One of the most ironic turn of events during Singh’s life occurred when he was hired by the former Deputy Prime Minister (whom Singh frequently bashed in Parliament), Anwar Ibrahim, as a defense attorney for his corruption and sodomy trial in 1998 and again in 2008.
The day Karpal sneaked in petrol to Parliament to burn evidence
The best kept secret about a pornographic videotape which lawyer Karpal Singh submitted to the Dewan Rakyat in 1992 is finally out.
Worried that the videotape would not be accepted and that he could be charged with possession of pornographic material, Karpal prepared a contingency plan. He took into the House a small bottle of petrol inside a specially constructed metal container that fitted neatly into a large briefcase.
The plan was to use the flameproof container to destroy the evidence inside the parliamentary debating chamber if the Speaker, or one of his deputies chairing a session, refused to allow the videotape to be tabled.
“I had earlier conducted a dry run in my office to ensure the videotape can be destroyed quickly if it was returned to me,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
This little known story was revealed in the 325-page biography of Karpal, authored by New Zealand journalist Tim Donoghue.
Karpal, The Tiger of Jelutong, on frontlines of Malaysia’s Death Row
One of the issues that divides many nations is whether a society has the right to take the life of a person as punishment for a crime.
So it’s no surprise that The Tiger of Jelutong – otherwise known as DAP chairman Karpal Singh (pic) – has devoted a part of his new 325-page biography, due to be released next month, to a frontline account of what Death Row is like in Malaysia.
The book is actually about his own life but a large part of his 40-year career as a lawyer has been his political battles against the death penalty and his equally vigorous legal battles to tear up that dreaded ticket to Death Row for his clients.
He still has “nightmares of screaming mothers when the final goodbye takes place”, Karpal says in the book.
As an observer at the frontline, to Karpal, the oddity is that it can be the prisoners who in their last moments take on the role of counsellor and consoler to family and friends.
The lawyer said the worst part of these final visits is when the prison guards announce to the visitors that it is time to leave.
“I do not offer my clients any advice on the intensely personal subject of how they should face their inevitable deaths,” Karpal said.