How Karpal Singh’s ISA arrest drove son Gobind into politics

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Communications and Multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo says the best advice he received from his father was to persevere and that goals and aspirations were not going to be achieved overnight. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — In an interview, the son of late politician Karpal Singh recalled how the arrest of his father under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1987 drove him to become a lawyer which then paved the way for his journey towards becoming a federal lawmaker.

Communications and Multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo, in an interview with R.AGE, related his experience at 14-years-old when his father was arrested under the controversial Ops Lalang in 1987.

“I remember I was at tuition class, about 6pm in the evening, Anson Road (Penang) maths tuition.

“There were whispers that something had happened and everybody was looking but no one was saying anything, then I remember it was about three weeks later that we were told we could see him,” he said in the interview, referring to his late father.

Ops Lalang was a security crackdown against mainly Opposition politicians and activists, under the pretense that it was to prevent racial tension from escalating in the country.

Karpal was among those detained under the now repealed ISA, and was under custody for 457 days in total.

Karpal passed away in a car accident in April 2014 at the age of 74.

Gobind, during the interview broadcasted today, explained how the first time he met his father following the arrest was among a horde of police officers in a room with family members of other detainees.

“Then suddenly he was brought into the room and he was half his size, he was in a terrible state and we were shocked; after 30 days, 40 days, 60 days, mentally you breakdown.

“So this is where I thought there is a need for me to read law, study what the provisions are, to make sure that I can represent and defend people in situations like this.

“It gave me a sense of security, a sense of purpose, sense of being able to help people in similar or are similarly circumstanced,” he said in the video.

Gobind said he was then driven to pursue law and eventually become an MP where he could make an actual change and remove draconian laws like the ISA.

“The reason for that is simply because I saw what happened to him, and I saw what a law like the ISA could do, how draconian and oppressive it was, and I wanted to make sure that that doesn't happen to anyone else,” he said.

The Pakatan Harapan legal bureau chief, when asked, said among the best advice he received from his father was to persevere and that goals and aspirations were not going to be achieved overnight.

“Not everything that you think is going to happen is going to happen your way, and not everything that you want is going to happen.

“But you must in all circumstances be able to pick yourself up and focus on what it is you want and carry on,” he said was advice given to him from his father.

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