Detained during Operasi Lalang, Karpal Singh suffered the most due to his health problems, recalls ex-cell mate, Br Anthony Rogers. Susan Loone reports.
He was incarcerated for nearly two years in the Kamunting Detention Centre with 105 others swept up in the 1987 dragnet under the rule of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamed.
Rogers, who came by to pay his last respects to Karpal last night, said the veteran lawyer had a terrible back pain, which turned worse after detention under the draconian law.
“We looked after him and massaged him, we became a caring community within the detention walls,” Rogers, who is La Salle Institution director, said.
“Karpal was very special to us, he was a very gentle person,” Rogers, who was in detention with Karpal for 10 months, told Malaysiakini.
Rogers said Karpal was the kind of man who waited longingly for his wife, Gurmit Kaur, to visit him at the Centre.
“He waited for her wonderful chapatis and chicken curry, which he would share with us,” he added.
Those were the little joys the inmates shared but the “biggest joke”, according to Rogers, was they also felt fear.
“It was fear, not for ISA but for detention for an indefinite period of time, or detention without trial,” he said.
“We feared because we met detainees there who had stayed for 15 or 17 years,” he added.
But the detention and solitary confinement brought the inmates together as they shared similar stories of “pain and sorrow”.
“We shared stories of our pains among ourselves and with our family and friends,” he said.
“Our friendship grew out of pain. We may be teachers, activists, religious people, or politicians but the common thing among us is that we seek (the) truth,” he added.
“This common truth bind us together.”
As the detainees waited for the good news or release date, Rogers said the inmates had learnt to live within the prison walls.
“The authorities thought by putting us there we would be miserable but we proved them otherwise. We found a different kind of joy,” he said.
Source: Malaysiakini.com, 19 April 2014