A matter of principle

No one could stop Karpal Singh from speaking up on what he believed in. He did not care if he was taking on the prime minister or even a sultan. He had taken on all of them.

SOME time in the middle of last year, I received a phone call from Karpal Singh. He offered to appear as a witness in support of me and this newspaper against a suit filed by a senior DAP official.

The veteran politician and lawyer, who saw my career grow from a rookie reporter to the group chief editor, told me not to worry.

The call was most surprising as it was unsolicited, and I had no intention of even fighting the case in court.

It’s an occupational hazard for the chief editor of any media group – he gets to be named as a defendant in many legal suits even though he has no direct hand in the offending story, which would have been written by a reporter and edited by the news editor or other editors.

While the chief editor is expected to take responsibility, it is near impossible for him to be aware of the hundreds, if not thousands, of news stories that appear daily in the newspapers and online portals. In most media groups, the other platforms include radio and television channels.

Karpal felt that the suit was unnecessary and unjustified. But I also didn’t want to be caught in the crossfire involving party rivalry either. If the case had gone to an open court, it would have been most unusual to have two party leaders slugging it out on opposite sides.

Common sense finally prevailed. The suit was withdrawn and the case closed after discussions between the lawyers. But that’s Karpal for you.

He had consistently spoken up against PAS and its objective of setting up an Islamic state and introducing hudud laws.

Not many of his party comrades were prepared to do that, especially before the 2013 general election, as they saw the possibility of Pakatan Rakyat forming the federal government. No one was prepared to put a dampener on Pakatan’s march to Putrajaya.

Both DAP and PKR would not want to make PAS look bad, which was already the line taken by the Barisan Nasional, especially the Chinese-based parties within the coalition.

But no one was going to stop Karpal from speaking up on what he believed in. It was a matter of principle, while others were more interested in political expediency.

by Wong Chun Wai.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/On-The-Beat/Profile/Articles/2014/04/20/A-matter-of-principle/

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