Don’t squander the Karpal Singh legacy

Jagdeep Singh Deo and his siblings - Gobind Singh Deo, Ramkarpal Singh and Sangeet Kaur - have been adequately rewarded or recognised. Now, time to deliver.

Clockwise from left: Gobind, Ramkarpal, Jagdeep and Sangeet
By Hb Singh | OPINION |

When the indomitable Karpal Singh was arrested under ISA in 1987, his eldest kid Jagdeep Singh Deo had just turned 16 a few months earlier.

A week ago – 27 Oct 2018 – Jagdeep represented the Penang state government at the soft launch of a Sikh crematorium. The date also marked the 31st anniversary of the infamous Operasi Lalang, the mop up operations where authorities swooped 106 politicians and other civil and NGO leaders. The firebrand politician and lawyer Karpal was among them.

Karpal may not bear the outward symbols of the Sikhs. No kesh (unshorn hair), no dastar (turban). But he truly embodied the spirit of the Sikh Gurus. He fought for justice, he stood with, and for, the downtrodden and weak, and he never wavered when push comes to shove in the battle for truth.

“A true Sikh would never do that. He would stand firm,” the late Karpal once told me when discussing the incident of a DAP politician, who happened to be a fellow Sikh, crossing over to the other side of the political divide in the state of Perak.

SEE ALSO: Karpal Singh’s arrest 31 years ago in Operasi Lalang

That very much defines Karpal: a man of principal. A man who does not mince his words. A man who stood by what he believed was right and just. And he paid dearly for his principles. The nation salutes the sacrifices of Karpal and the thousands who stood along with them. They provided the foundation that allowed Malaysia to see a momentous change in the May 2018 general election.

But the way the game has played out itself, it’s stranger than fiction. Too much to share. Suffice to say that Jagdeep and his siblings – Gobind Singh Deo, Ramkarpal Singh and Sangeet Kaur – have been adequately rewarded. They are reaping the benefits. Not that they did not suffer, as well. They did. And to be sure, it’s not as though they didn’t do their part. They had put in the hours and energy.

Ramkarpal succeeded his dad as the MP for Bukit Gelugor after his death in a motor-vehicle accident on 17 April 2014. Gobind Singh Deo, too, was reelected as an MP in the 2018 general election and joined the Federal Cabinet as Minister of Communications and Multimedia in the new government. This makes him the first Sikh to be appointed as a minister, the first Sikh to join the Cabinet. Karpal’s only daughter, Sangeet Kaur, runs a law firm and is also a leader in DAP Selangor.

From left: Gobind, Sangeet Kaur, Ramkarpal, Mankarpal, mother and Jagdeep. Seated: Karpal Singh

At this juncture, Gobind, Jagdeep and Ramkarpal are doing good. It is great to see a Sikh minister and Sikh MPs making headlines, for good reasons, of course. They seem to be working hard for the nation as a whole. And they don’t seem to shy away from extending a helping hand to the Sikh community, when it is reasonable to do so. That’s good as well.

From now, they need to ensure that they don’t squander the legacy of their dad. All eyes are on them, as they are trained on the others from the new ruling coalition, to walk the talk and to deliver on their promises.

[On Oct 27, Asia Samachar reported on Jagdeep’s event in Penang. The next day, it carried the story on Karpal Singh and Ops Lalang. Check out the Asia Samachar website for the stories.]

Hb Singh is a Kuala Lumpur-based journalist with some experience in dealing with Sikh organisations, both from within and outside. 

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.


Penang state government will continue to support the Sikh community, says Jagdeep (Asia Samachar, 27 Oct 2018)

Gobind makes history as first Sikh minister in Malaysian Cabinet (Asia Samachar, 18 May 2018)


ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |


  1. And what is the point of this article may I ask?Everyone knows of the late YB Karpal Singhs contribution to this country and our society so what is the author talking about?Squander what?I have a feeling the author is trying to say something but doesn’t want to go all out and say it.You are aware that they are members of a political party and they have to toe the party line.So I ask again,what is the point of this article and what are you trying to say?
    Lets not put YB Gobind Singh and his siblings in the late Yb Karpal Singhs shoes.Lets judge them by their own merits.I doubt anyone is able to squander the late YB Karpal Singhs legacy in any way.The man did his job,did it well and passed leaving behind an unblemished legacy.I pray that the Deo siblings go further than their late father and serve the community and country in ways their late father could never do as he never had a chance to serve in the Government.Bets of luck to them.

  2. Given the limitation of space, a well written summary of the late Mr Karpal Singh and his family’s contribution to good governance in Malaysia particularly in his home state of Penang. Tq. Kuldip Singh s/o Durbara, PJ.