Kuala Lumpur - A leading Malaysian politician who gained
fame defending opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in his sensational sodomy trials
was killed in an early morning road accident on Thursday, police said.
Karpal Singh, aged 73, was killed along with a long-time
assistant when his vehicle struck a slower-moving lorry on a highway in the
northern state of Perak, state police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah said.
Anwar wrote on his Facebook page: "We've lost a
colleague. An indefatigable fighter for justice. The legendary Karpal Singh. Our
sincere condolences to the family. RIP."
The outspoken Karpal - wheelchair-bound following a 2005
road accident - emerged as a leading lawyer in the 1970s.
He was detained in 1987 for more than a year under a tough
crackdown on opposition figures.
He later went on to defend Anwar, who was ousted as Barisan
Nasional (National Front) deputy premier in 1998 and charged with sodomy and
Anwar, who called the charges bogus and politically
motivated, spent six years in jail.
He later returned to politics, leading a disparate political
opposition to stunning electoral successes that have brought it to the cusp of
Karpal again defended Anwar against new sodomy charges
brought in 2008. Anwar was acquitted in 2012 but that was overturned by a
higher court in March, and he now faces five years in prison.
Anwar plans to appeal.
Karpal, an ethnic Indian, was convicted in February of
sedition in a ruling he denounced as "political intimidation" by the
The case stemmed from comments he made in 2009 that were
deemed to have questioned the actions of Perak's ceremonial Islamic sultan.
Multi-cultural Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, and strict
laws forbid criticism of its nine state sultans.
Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged in 2012 to abolish the
Sedition Act but authorities have continued to use the law, mainly against