Old friends: Karpal with Zaman Khan during the 1981 incident.
KUALA LUMPUR: One of the country’s former top cops was asked to kick the late Karpal Singh out of the Penang State Assembly after he was suspended in 1981. He ended up walking arm-in-arm with Karpal out of the building past a large number of policemen in riot gear. The policemen saluted the lawyer.
Tan Sri Zaman Khan, the then state police chief, remembers that day with fondness.
Karpal was suspended from attending the state assembly in December 1981 but decided to gatecrash it anyway.
“The Speaker, Datuk Hj Hassan Md Noh, sent me a letter asking me to evict Karpal from the assembly. I went with two Punjabi officers.
“When we got there, the assemblymen were throwing paper airplanes at Karpal. And they were booing him,” recalled Zaman.
The lawyer’s face lit up when he saw the officers. “Ah! The police chief is here!” exclaimed Karpal amidst a pile of folded paper.
Gentle persuasion did not work with Karpal – who ironically ushered Zaman’s officers out of the chamber – refusing to budge.
“Get out! Get out!” Zaman ordered. Karpal finally relented and walked out as his colleagues booed him.
Outside, there was a table between the two men. Zaman said he placed the briefcase on it but the tablecloth slipped off and so did the bag.
“Zaman, you threw my bag ... pick up my bag,” Karpal ordered. It was a daring command to ask of a top police officer, Karpal admitted later in his autobiography but was shocked when Zaman actually heeded him and picked up his bag.
“I didn’t want any more quarrelling. It was quite an experience. Karpal never went down without a fight for what he believed in. Some liked him, some didn’t. But everyone respected him,” said Zaman, who described the late politician as a nice person outside the courtroom.
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