If Karpal is alive, would he sanction nomination of Dr M as PM-elect?

 |Jan 10, 2018

OPINION

“THERE are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics; only permanent principles.”

This is a succinctly powerful statement by the late Karpal Singh which is remembered by his daughter Sangeet Kaur Deo and is also used by certain DAP members who seemed to have forgiven their foes and eat their own words in what is seen to be nothing but political survival.

Sangeet, who has been reminding DAP, which she is a member of the party’s alliance with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad since the latter made a special appearance at DAP’s convention two years ago, again voiced her uneasiness of having Dr Mahathir as the Prime Minister candidate should Pakatan Harapan take over Putrajaya.

Since the convention two years ago, Dr Mahathir who had then already given hints through the special appearance has now become a strong “Harapan” (hope) for the alliance after the party he formed, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Melayu (PPBM) moved in to work with DAP together with PKR and PAN (a splinter party of PAS which has since been crossed out as a result of differing views) in an alliance called Pakatan Harapan (PH), aspiring to overthrow Barisan Nasional (BN) for the soon to come 14th General Election.

Her initial fears were not unfounded and have somewhat mounted as if being the daughter of one of the founders of the Opposition party does not seem important enough to be heard.

After all, who is Sangeet? She is only an ordinary DAP member with no posts. Only her brothers Gobind Singh Deo, Jagdeep Singh Deo and Ramkarpal hold posts within the party and also are the party’s representatives in the Parliament and state assembly.

At least that was what DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had somewhat suggested when he told reporters asking him about Sangeet’s reservations of working with Dr Mahathir as “trivial” as more were in agreement with the move than the other way around.

Going against the current of conformity, Sangeet, the fourth child and only daughter of Karpal strongly made her point when she said: “One should not be condemned or reprimanded for having an opinion and expressing themselves, instead they should be applauded for having the courage to voice out their opinions despite the consequences they may face.”

Sangeet made her point loud and clear when she questioned whether PH had run out of strategies for it to be working with Dr Mahathir’s; under his administration as prime minister saw the implementation of the highly objected Internal Security Act (ISA), resulting in the arrests many of the leaders he is now embracing. And of course one of the ISA prisoners was also her own father, Karpal.

These detainees included DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng and Dr Mahathir’s newfound best buddy PKR de factor leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, whose later arrest led to the reformation movement to topple Dr Mahathir. Mahathir and Anwar are now the “best of friends”. At least they appear to be.

Sangeet described the reason given by PH leaders that working with Mahathir was only to ensure change as it “no longer holds water”.

“He will be PM all over again. Introducing the rebirth of Mahathirism.”

The lawyer also had questioned the likelihood of jailed opposition leader Anwar taking over from Mahathir, who was supposed to be only be an interim prime minister until Anwar, once pardoned, became eligible.

Sangeet had also described Mahathir’s apology over the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other wrongdoings during his tenure as PM was done half-heartedly.

After all, it is easier to forgive than it is to forget.

Amid all the mess and imminent cracks, something beautiful shines through. It is the strong bond of siblings which strongly illustrates “blood is thicker than water”.

Karpal’s successor in his Bukit Gelugor parliamentary seat, his son, Ramkarpal emerged to defend his sister in a show of strong principles. Karpal has raised his children well and must be beaming with pride if he were alive. At least for two of them as the voices of the rest still remain unheard.

On his Facebook posting, Ramkarpal had written: “It is only natural to have reservations of Dr M as PM. I too have expressed same in the past. Those who have such reservations, including Sangeet Kaur Deo, should not be condemned for their views as they have every right to express same.”

Would things have been different if Karpal were alive? Judging from his children’s strong and assertive approach, things could certainly have been.

After all, Karpal was the moral compass.