YB Karpal Singh. Currently Member of Parliament for Glugor, Penang Island. Chairman of the DAP @ Democratic Action Party of Malaysia.
A name synonymous with being the very bastion of the kind of advocate and solicitor who is immortalized in our Malaysian Courts of Justice as a man whom they call ‘The Lion of the Courts‘.
He is also preserved in time immemorial as one of Malaysia’s prominent figures in cartoon by Lat, our national cartoonist extraordinaire.
YB Karpal Singh is also infamous for his ‘cross my dead body before setting up an Islamic State in Malaysia’ statement.
He made the statement way back in 1990 when he was on stage with his DAP party stalwarts at the Batu Lanchang Wet Market.
I was there too, among the hundreds of Penangites attending the General Elections Rally at that time. I was stunned for a moment by his unexpected anti Islam statement and being a simple citizen, didn’t quite know what to say or do because, hello…this is a politician speaking, an important Opposition member and the man was a lawyer to boot…he still is…:P!
I was 41 at that time. Still green behind the ears as far as political awareness was concerned back then but I was a very, very committed Muslim (still am) and his words skewered my feelings deep inside when the reality of what he had just said sank in!
Amidst a sea of the DAP’s ethnic Chinese Malaysian supporters milling around, I felt so alien, what with my white ketayap and goatee so distinctly standing out amidst all those Chinese faces!
I made my way out from the jam-packed crowd cursing the man deep in my heart and also myself for not being in a position to rebut him there and then!
I had the misfortune to run into him again when he came around in his campaign rounds at the Chowrasta Wet Market in Georgetown and when he put out his hand in greeting, angry ol’ me just looked at him in disgust and (sadly) I gave in to my bloody ego and ignored the fella and walked off! ( I wouldn’t do that today-having grown older and maybe a bit more accepting of differences in opinions, etc).
He must have felt offended but then again, him being a wily ol’ lawyer must be pretty used to being treated like that through his career.
Nevertheless, here I am saying to Karpal Singh: “Sorry brother. Shouldn’t have done that. It was impolite of me as a person. Ma’af karo bada bayya!”
Anyway, time flew, and things came to a head when our local hero -Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked unceremoniously from being the Deputy Prime Minister in Sept 1998 and as a staunch DSAI supporter, I religiously followed any gatherings or events held in protest against DSAI’s incarceration.
Came into being an event organised by the Opposition coalition known as ‘Forum Keadilan’. It was held at the Dewan Sri Pinang; Penang and I was among the thousands of people gathered in that hall that night.
Datin Seri Wan Azizah and her daughter Nurul Izzah was among the panel seated on stage together with the DAP leaders including Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang, Chow Kon Yeow and others. I recall seeing the poet and lawyer Cecil Rajendra and also Rustam Sani, a writer being with them.
As expected, the crowd was really quite huge and the atmosphere was really very charged up. There was also two microphones set up at the aisles in the hall and I figured that there would be a Q & A session after the initial speeches by those on stage and made up my mind to get Karpal Singh to answer for his ‘anti -Islamic State’ stance that he had made and held up all those 9 long years since.
The funny thing was that not a single Malay Sultan, Prime Minister, Cabinet Minister, Politician or who the hell ever, had faced up to the ‘Lion of the Malaysian Courts’ about his Anti-Islamic State statement all those long 9 years? Imagine, the audacity of this Jelutong kampong fellow doing what I did? 😛
I had never ever confronted anyone like this, in my entire life, what more in a highly charged political forum and against a man most of us would have shied away from getting into odds against him.
My deep-rooted disgust of him finally came to a stage where I told myself ‘ To hell with it! Better tell him to his face right now or forever hold my peace!’
The tensions in myself grew to a stage that anything might have happened. My ego however was telling me to go for it. So, this kampong guy with a goatee and a skullcap, wearing a T shirt that had DSAI’s face emblazoned right upfront ( got the T shirt when I went to ask Anwar face to face about his guilt at his Cherok Tok Kun’s house the day he came back from KL) and wearing a black sweater braved myself up to stand right before one of the microphones awaiting the opening of the Q & A session!
The forum was being videotaped and there were many cameras all over the Dewan.
When the Master of Ceremony, I believe it was Chow Kon Yeow, the current MP for Tanjong, opened up the session for the Q & A , I was right there waiting to ask my 9-year-old deeply emotional and pent-up question to Karpal Singh! 😛
I started by first acknowledging and welcoming Datin Seri Wan Azizah and Anwar’s daughter, the beautiful Nurul Izzah to Penang and then (with an extra fast beating heart and feeling very, very self-conscious) addressed my question to the man I had been hating in my heart all that while about his statement!
I just let loose and spilled my heart out and told him that I felt very hurt about his statement and asked him what was it that made him say that?
I told him that if he ever wanted to ‘learn’ about Islam, that he is most welcome to visit us at the Islamic Centre at Masjid Kapitan Keling, where I was the IPCI (Malaysia) Founding Secretary!
I invited him to come learn about Islam and that there is Justice in Islam for everyone!
The crowd erupted into cheers and many shouted at him ‘Tarik Balik ! Tarik Balik!’ meaning ‘Withdraw! (his statement) many times and the atmosphere was described articulately by Anil Netto from the Aliran magazine later on.
Many others came forward with their questions and there were lots of PAS members present too.
After the questions, the time to answer came and the veteran DAP politician took to the mic on stage!
What I remember clearly about his opening answers was these:
‘Tadi saudara saya ada bertanya tentang statement yang saya lakukan pada tahun 1990! Saya mengaku ada buat itu statement. Tapi kami di dalam DAP bukan Anti Islam. Perlembagaan kita ada peruntukan kebebasan semua agama…etc
Jika saya ada menyinggung perasaan umat Islam, saya minta ma’af! ‘ ( If I had hurt the feelings of the Muslims, I apologize!)
and he rambled on…
The crowd broke into cheers and the tense atmosphere changed into a climate of joy and everyone was smiling and clapping their hands, etc.
I felt vindicated and later went on to meet Karpal face to face and we shook hands. Karpal further promised free legal services to the Memali victims, and everyone left the forum feeling euphoric after that dramatic turn of events.
I adjourned to Tamil Street with my friends and Azman (the Masjid Kapitan Keling’s caretaker Aziz’s son was the one who uttered ‘Tarik Balik!‘ so loudly first after my question to Karpal) was there to celebrate with me for session of Nescafe Tarik at Tamil Street (after midnight).
Those who recognised me came up to thank me for asking that volatile question which saw the DAP ‘Lion’ apologize for the first time after 9 long, miserable years (for me personally) but finally got my apology from Karpal Singh!
HARAKAH front paged the apology, but the mainstream newspapers didn’t give it prominence and I recall that only The Star had a small report published in its inner pages! I didn’t care!
For me, all that mattered was that I had succeeded in my pursuit of Karpal and felt vindicated.
I was not looking for media exposure or anything. I had that deep rooted anger boiling inside of me for all those years and I had to do what I did.
Karpal Singh went on to lose his seat in the Jelutong Parliamentary Elections in the next GE and after a period, only regained his MP post at a different constituency.
I went to purchase a Videotape of the Forum Keadilan from Chow Kon Yeow’s office at Transfer Road and had it in my possession in my Kedah Road apartment where I left it and all my other belongings when I divorced and migrated to KL back in 2001 to start my life all over.
Today, I read The Sun and saw the report about dear ol’ Karpal back to his favourite stance in lambasting Islam and whether Malaysia is actually an Islamic nation?
This prompted me to officially post about my moment in history before Karpal at the Forum Keadilan back in 1999!
My question to Karpal Singh, MP is simply this. ‘Remember apologising, YB?’
We all know that Mahathir did a fast one when he declared this country as so.
- How can Malaysia be an Islamic country in the real sense when we do not have the Laws of the Syariah as the supreme laws of this nation?
- How can Malaysia be an Islamic country when we do not judge according to the Hudud laws of Allah?
- How can Malaysia be an Islamic country when we have South East Asia’s largest beer brewery operating fully well in Petaling Jaya?
- How can Malaysia be an Islamic country when we have one of Asia’s largest casino’s operating in full swing atop Genting Highlands?
- I can keep going on , YB but the time for Friday prayers is looming near and yours truly needs to prepare for it, so I will follow up on all this ‘How can’ thingy after this to placate you. 🙂
Rest easy brother Karpal Singh. From the way this nation is going, it will be a very long, long time before your fears will be realised .
As long as PAS never takes over the government, you can sleep in peace.
Time for you to take it easy brother Karpal.
Enjoy the remaining moments of your life’s time frame knowing that you have done all you can to try and stop the incoming Tsunami of Almighty God’s promise to us mankind that Islam will reign supreme in the Last Ages!
Aisey, looking at all the Signs foretelling the impending Doomsday, looks like it is finally here bro.
What to do?
Just go with the flow or be ready to be swept away by Ad Deen ul Haq! 🙂
Have a nice day YB!
All my best regards.
Your fellow Malaysian,
Zainol Abideen a.k.a. Mahaguru58
(From Jelutong, Penang)