Kuala Lumpur: Karpal Singh, an opposition Malaysian politician for more than four decades and lawyer who acted in some of the country’s highest-profile cases, was killed in a road accident today. He was 73.
Mr Singh died at the scene of the crash after the car he was traveling in collided with a lorry at about 1 am local time in the country’s northern state of Perak, the Star newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. His son, Gobind Singh Deo, confirmed his death in a Twitter posting. An assistant also died in the accident, the paper said.
Mr Singh joined the Democratic Action Party in 1970 and was first elected to parliament in 1978. As a n MP, he was held for 15 months between 1987 and 1989 under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, which allowed detention without trial. As a lawyer, he defended another political detainee, Anwar Ibrahim, against sodomy charges.
“We have lost a colleague; an indefatigable fighter for justice,” Malaysian opposition leader Mr Anwar said in a Twitter posting.
He was Mr Anwar’s counsel when a Malaysian appeal court in March overturned a 2012 acquittal and sentenced Anwar to five years in jail for sodomy. Mr Singh was fined 4000 ringgit ($1,236) last month for sedition, and said on March 29 he would step aside as chairman of the Democratic Action Party pending his appeal against the sedition conviction and sentence.
He also represented a Mongolian interpreter’s family who sued the government in 2007 over claims she was murdered by Malaysian police. Then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pledged there would be no cover-up in the case which captured attention because the analyst who was accused of abetting the murder had worked for then deputy prime minister Najib Razak.
Mr Najib, now prime minister, expressed his condolences to Mr Singh’s family on Twitter and Facebook.
“In politics he was an implacable leader; in law, a committed advocate,” he said.
A motor vehicle accident in 2005 left Mr Singh using a wheelchair and with neuromotor problems in his right arm, according to his profile on the Democratic Action Party’s website.
Mr Singh was on the way to attend a court case in Penang when the crash happened, the Star reported. One of his sons and the vehicle’s driver were also injured in the accident, according to the report.
One of the clients Mr Singh defended was Australian Kevin Barlow, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for drug trafficking. The case was dramatised in a television mini-series starring Hugo Weaving.