Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gobind defined by his famous father

My MP: Puchong
Full name: Gobind Singh Deo

Party: DAP
Age: 35
Marital status: Married to Sangeeta Sidhu
Children: Jadyn (three years) and identical twins Keeshaan Karpal and Kayden Karpal (six months)
Constituency: Puchong, Selangor
Education: LLB (hons) University of Warwick, Britain
Profession: Lawyer

LIKE it or not, people define Gobind Singh Deo as the son of DAP national chairman and prominent lawyer Karpal Singh. But the 35-year-old, despite wanting to be his own man, takes it in his stride.

“I don’t see it as a pressure, but of course it has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s a very useful way of introducing myself but the expectations (from others) are much higher. I have to do a lot more in order to get recognised. It’s good in a way as it reminds me constantly that I have not just my own reputation to keep, but also my father’s and my family’s,” said the Puchong MP. Gobind made his debut in the 12th general election and defeated Gerakan’s Lau Yeng Peng by 12,593 votes.

“I will never forget the experience,” he said, recounting the intense campaigning period when he was hugged and even kissed by supporters. He received tremendous help from a number of aged DAP members who had all the information at their fingertips but the fondest memory of all was perhaps the ones involving his father.

“He came to Puchong twice to support my campaign, and he was unwell during one of these trips from Penang. “I could see that he was very tired and words cannot describe how I felt. You can see how great a man he is when he does things like this. Very seldom he thinks about himself, and everybody, especially his family, comes first for him,” said Gobind.

On the night, or rather in the early hours of March 9, when he was announced the winner, Gobind called his father to deliver the good news.

“He is very proud that he has a son in Parliament with him now. As for me, I don’t think I can ask for anything more. It’s magical.“In years to come, I will tell my grandchildren how their grandfather and great-grandfather used to fight side-by-side and were in Parliament together,” said Gobind with a smile.

He added: “Having my father around is very reassuring to me. He doesn’t interfere in what you do, but when you turn to him, he is not without advice.”

Gobind is now wearing one more hat after winning in the elections, along with his profession and several existing political positions, but he is confident that he can juggle the various responsibilities.

“My father has been doing this all his life. I can learn from him,” he said. “Being an MP is not just about introducing yourself as a representative, it’s about building the relationship with the people. Elections come and go, nothing is certain in the future but the relationship you build with the people in your constituency will remain forever.”

How much time to do you spend on the computer?

An average of two hours a day, to read the blogs of Lim Kit Siang, Jeff Ooi, Ronnie Liu and Tony Pua, and online newspapers such as The Star Online and Malaysiakini. People are exchanging ideas online these days and political dialogue is ongoing in cyberspace. It’s important to keep in touch with that.

Do you blog?

I am in the process of setting up one. I want to have a multilingual blog in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. It will contain information about what I do in the Puchong constituency. It will also be a platform for intelligent exchange of ideas. I am open to criticism and I want people to tell me our shortcomings.
Do you dance? I don’t dance but for Punjabis, you have to move a little bit when you attend weddings (laughs). I got a few moves.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I have a great passion for contemporary music. In fact, I have a very large CD collection and a complete music system at home. However, I find that I am moving towards classical and old Hindi songs now as they relax me more. I was a DJ when I was in university. I can spend the whole day just listening to different types of music, and try to get the tunes to merge and mix to create a different type of sound. It’s very interesting.

What do you read?

Law books. Also political biographies by Nelson Mandela and Lee Kuan Yew.

Are you into English Premier League?

I am a Liverpool supporter. And I know I will lose half of my supporters in Puchong if I say that (laughs). But I also enjoy watching Arsenal and Manchester United play. My favourite player was Arsenal’s Thierry Henry – he played at his own pace and still produced results.

Name your favourite brew.

Punjabi tea. I have to have my tea every day and I insist that my wife makes tea for me every morning, even if I have to leave at 4am. She makes very good tea.

What is your usual drink?

I enjoy my whisky. Normally I make it a point to meet up with friends frequently because I don’t want to lose touch with them. I have very funny friends who really know how to make me laugh. It’s a way to de-stress.

What languages can you speak?

English, Malay, a few words of Punjabi and a little bit of Hokkien. I was born and schooled in Penang, where everybody speaks Hokkien.

What’s your favourite food?

Whatever my wife cooks (laughs). I really like simple Punjabi food. (Wife Sangeeta interjected: “He is a real good cook.”) I love cooking and I spend a lot of time cooking. I cook all sorts of dishes, Chinese, Indian, Italian.

Do you have a dog/cat?

I love fish and dogs. We have three Golden Retrievers, one Labrador Retriever, one German Shepherd and one Doberman. We keep three with us and my mother-in-law keeps another three. All of them have different and unique characters. The dog can sense it when you are feeling upset and depressed. It’s very strange but they know. It’s amazing. During the election period, I came back home about 2am or 3am and the dog would be waiting for me. The moment I came back she was so happy. I looked forward to it and would even wake her up if she was sleeping.

Name an idol (dead or alive) whom you look up to and why.

That would be the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. I idolised him. He was a great warrior who fought fearlessly for his people. He was prepared to sacrifice everything to achieve what he believed in. I always derive a lot of strength from him when I look at his image. (Gobind has a picture of the Guru as his laptop’s wallpaper.) My father is probably the only other person I know who has similar qualities to the Guru.

You have a weakness for ...

Children. I get very upset when I see a child in a difficult position. Every year, we celebrate our eldest son’s birthday with the orphans. I hope this country will set up stronger organisations to take care of the homeless children and the disabled. (The Star : Apr 15, 2008)

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