Harinder Veriah LLM, of the law firm Lovell’s died suddenly and tragically on Jan 2 2000, two days after her 33rd birthday. In life and death this Indian woman from a Sikh family in Kuala Lumpur working (as a rare South Asian) in a British law office in Hongkong, and married to an Englishman, linked the worlds of Asia and the West. Eastern and western politics framed her life. Her father Karam Singh (1936-1994), a campaigning barrister, in 1959 became the youngest MP in the first parliament of independent Malaysia, sitting on the extreme left for the Socialist Party. Shortly after Harinder’s birth he was held in detention for four years under the Security Act for organizing a militant march of rubber plantation workers. (Her mother, Harbans Kaur, left to bring up three children, died when she was six). Since 1994 her life in Britain, Malaysia and latterly Hongkong, had been linked in deep mutual love with a man of equally patent leftwing background, Marxism Today’s Martin Jacques, whom she married in 1996. She was the daughter of the generation that won freedom. But she remained non-political, straddling and combining her worlds: proudly Malaysian, and multilingual, except in the ancestral Punjabi: the family spoke English.
Though she had practised law in Kuala Lumpur, it was brave to do so as an Asian woman in London on the strength of an external London LLB, even when supplemented in Britain by her first-ever year of fulltime study, for the LLM. Perhaps it was an appreciation of the sheer achievement of this largely self-made woman, as well as her quiet but confident mind, which impressed the eminent City firm of Lovells enough to take her on , first in London and, since 1998 in Hongkong. Who can tell where her professional career would have taken this dynamic young woman?
Harinder Veriah was remarkable in every respect: sharply, sometimes tartly intelligent, but with a vast capacity to make friends; a committed fulltime professional and a devoted wife and mother; and with an enormous capacity for domesticity, enjoyment and fun. She concealed the epileptic attacks, one of which struck her down, almost as the clock struck the beginning of the new millennium. For some of us she will always be alive, a small woman with cropped black hair, graceful and beautiful enough to wear the slit Vietnamese dresses that tempted her in Hanoi on the holiday with Martin, her fifteen-months-old son Ravi and friends from which she returned to celebrate her birthday and to die.
– Eric Hobsbawm
Harinder Veriah, b.Kuala Lumpur 31/12/1966 d. Hongkong 2/1/2000