GEORGE TOWN, April 19 — The house at Number 144A Jalan Utama has seen a ceaseless stream of visitors since morning.
They came from all walks of life, mostly in groups, sometimes alone to offer their condolences to the family of the late Karpal Singh.
And to pay homage to the man they had greatly respected in life for his dedication to serving his fellow men, fighting their battles in Parliament and in court, unwavering in his steadfast belief in the rule of law.
The small group that managed to squeeze in after lunch had travelled all the way from Malacca.
On the faces of the late Teoh Beng Hock’s family was the sombre look that signalled the grief of a loved one snatched from life all too soon.
But their faces also wore the knowledge that even death does not halt the pursuit of justice.
Teoh Lee Lan, younger sister to Beng Hock found dead under suspicious circumstances while in the custody of anti-corruption officials, related how her family had run into the indefatigable lawyer at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya just a day before his death and how he had helped lift their flagging spirit.
“He told us we have a good chance to win the case, to get the police to reopen the investigation and to nab the culprits behind my brother’s death,” she told reporters.
The Teohs have spent the last four years seeking a revision of the open verdict made at the inquest into 31-year-old Beng Hock’s death.
Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas had on January 5, 2011 delivered an open verdict that said Beng Hock’s death was not due to suicide and neither did it involve a third-party.
But on July 21 last year, a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Beng Hock’s death — chaired by now-retired Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen — ruled the young father-to-be had killed himself.
Beng Hock was the political secretary to then-Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah.
He was found dead on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009, after giving a statement at the Selangor branch of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s office, then located on the 14th floor of the same building.
Gobind Singh is the Teoh family’s lead counsel in their appeal while Karpal had assisted in the case.
“We are very grateful to Karpal and Gobind for the support they gave us and we too feel the pain of this loss,” Lee Lan said.
She said she came to the wake to tell Karpal that they were there to visit him and to thank him for all his help.
“I am sure he can hear us and he knows we are here,” she said, adding that they will stay on for the funeral tomorrow.
Coincidentally, tomorrow is also Beng Hock’s birthday. He would have been 35 had he lived.
Lee Lan said the family would normally visit his grave at the Nirvana Memorial Park in Nilai, Negri Sembilan.
This year, they postponed their annual visit to attend Karpal’s funeral.
“We wanted to be here for Karpal and his family, like how he and Gobind were there for us,” Lee Lan said.
She also expressed her utmost confidence in Gobind in handling their appeal, even without Karpal to assist.
“Gobind is a very capable lawyer, we fully trust him. We only feel sad for his loss now,” she said.
Karpal was killed in an early morning road accident on the North-South Expressway April 17, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Penang for a court hearing.
The 73-year-old is survived by his wife of over 40 years, Gurmit Kaur, his five children and 11 grandchildren.