Born in Penang on 28 June 1940, Karpal Singh s/o Ram Singh is a Malaysian politician and a lawyer by profession.
Karpal read law at the University of Singapore and was called to the Bar in 1969. He is one of Malaysia’s most prominent lawyers, having taken up numerous high-profile cases, such as the Barlow & Chambers drug charge in 1986 and the sodomy trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in 1998.
In 1977, Karpal successfully sought a pardon from the King for a 14-year-old Chinese boy who had been sentenced to death for possession of a firearm under the Internal Security Act. He is a strong advocate against the death penalty.
Karpal’s political career began in 1970 when he joined the DAP. He won a seat in the Kedah State Legislative Assembly in 1974. He was first elected to Parliament in 1978 as the MP for Jelutong (Penang) and held the seat until 1999. He returned to Parliament in the 2004 general election when he won the Bukit Gelugor seat. He retained the seat in the 2008 & 2013 general election and is currently National Chairman of the DAP.
In both court and Parliament, Karpal is known as a controversial and strongly principled figure. He has been suspended from Parliament numerous times, charged for sedition, and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for 15 months between 1987 and 1989. His reputation has earned him the nickname ‘The Tiger of Jelutong’.
A motor vehicle accident in 2005 left Karpal using a wheelchair and with neuromotor problems in his right arm. Despite this, he has soldiered on relentlessly in both his legal and political careers.
His book ‘Karpal Singh: Tiger Of Jelutong’, written by veteran New Zealand journalist Tim Donoghue was published in September 2013.