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Karpal Singh

Karpal Singh a/l Ram Singh (born June 28, 1940) is a Malaysian politician and a lawyer by profession. He is the current chairman of the Democratic Action Party and a member of Parliament for Bukit Gelugor, Penang. He won the seat in the 2004 general election. He is an ethnic Punjabi and a prominent lawyer in Malaysia, well known for his expertise in the field of litigation. His reputation has earned him the nickname “Tiger of Jelutong”.

Singh defended the Australian drug trafficker Kevin Barlow who was executed in Malaysia in 1986.

Suspension for “misleading Parliament”

On the 7 September 2004, Karpal Singh was given the choice of apologizing within 3 days and face 10 days of suspension or suspension from Parliament with all privileges such as allowances stripped from him, for a period of 6 months. Karpal had earlier told returning MPs that they had to raise their right hand when speaking the oath of office. Parliament determined that there was no such requirement and subsequently, that Karpal was deliberately misleading parliament. All 12 DAP members of parliament walked out in protest.

Prisoner of Conscience

Amnesty International declared Mr Singh a prisoner of conscience in 1987 when, during Operation Lalang, he was arrested under the Internal Security Act and imprisoned until January 1989 without charge or trial. Mr Singh was released by order of the court in March 1988 in response to a habeas corpus application, but was rearrested by the police only hours later and taken into custody. Karpal Singh is a leading opponent of the death penalty in Malaysia. He also acted for the gaoled Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and was accused of making seditious remarks during that trial. Malaysia’s Sessions Court charged Karpal Singh, a long-time critic of Mahathir Mohamad, with sedition after he alleged at Mr Anwar’s sodomy trial that people in high places had tried to poison his client. The, then, deputy chairman of the Democratic Action Party pleaded innocent, and was released on bail. Karpal Singh said it was the first time in any Commonwealth nation that a lawyer was prosecuted for something he said during a trial. He also said the case would test the independence of the judiciary and the status of lawyers in Malaysia.

Detention without trial

He has previously spent time in prison under the Internal Security Act.


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