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June 29, 2017

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Penang chief minister says DAP's brilliant Karpal Singh never feared defeat

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng relates how the news of Karpal Singh's death dealt a blow to him.

As I sit here at my home in Penang at 4 a.m. in the morning of April 17, waiting for my driver to come and pick me up to go to Ipoh Hospital, I felt numbed by the shocking news relayed to my wife Betty through my sister Hui Ying an hour earlier.

I had gone to bed early as I was unwell and was still groggy when the import of her words sunk in.

Democratic Action Party (opposition, DAP) national chairman Karpal, who meant so much to us, was gone.

A man filled with such vitality, brilliance and energy was no more. A leader who gave forth so much strength, vision and guidance had left.

A true friend in our darkest days whether in the depths of prison cells or the abyss of electoral defeat had departed. A loving father and an even more loving husband had suddenly passed away on the early hours of this terrible rainy 17th April 2014.

As the messages and tweets on the handphone flashed back and forth scattering my thoughts everywhere, I could not find the words to describe my acute sense of loss.

DAP leaders are shaken because it was so sudden and unexpected. Karpal left before his time when he still had so much to contribute.

I will miss hearing the cheer in Karpal's voice, the optimism that comes from doing the right thing and the fighting spirit no matter how highly impossible the odds. But I can still hear Karpal's voice — undaunted and forthright with a deep sense of humanity.

Karpal was one of those rare voices who spoke his mind, respected by friend and foe alike and completely fearless.

Even Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin had personally told Mrs Karpal when he paid his last respects that 'politics aside, Karpal was a great man and very bold.'

Indeed Karpal was not afraid to offend anyone no matter how high and mighty, how wealthy or powerful if he felt he was right. And he forgave easily those who could not live up to his exacting standards but he never forgot.

He was a lawyer's lawyer upholding the basic tenet that everyone had a right to a fair trial and counsel.

That was why he was more than willing to defend former foes who were victims of injustice. Truly there are no permanent friends nor enemies in politics, only permanent principles.

He reminded me from the time we shared our dormitory in the detention camps in Kamunting in 1988-89 when we were both detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) or in his visits to my dinghy Kajang Prison in 1998-99 when I was serving time under the Sedition Act of the importance of distinguishing the true believers from the unreliable ones.

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