Harinder Veriah who died in a Hong Kong hospital within hours of celebrating the new millennium and her 33rd birthday had her roots in the legal and political worlds of Britain and Malaysia. The daughter of Karam Singh, the youngest (Socialist) MP in independent Malaysia’s first Parliament, she was married to Martin Jacques, the noted editor of Marxism Today and, more recently (1994-1996) Deputy Editor of the Independent.

Shortly after her birth, her father was imprisoned for four years for leading a march of rubber plantation workers. Her mother, Harbans Kaur, died when she was six.

Harinder’s politics, however, were of a more personal sort than her father’s or her husband’s. Propelled by her passion for Martin, whom she had met in Malaysia in 1993, she arrived in England in 1994 with the debatable currency of an external London LLB and with no money or network to enable her to break into a career in the British law.

At the start there were long months of rejection when she sensed that her age, race and gender counted against her. Not easily drawn to generalisation, she battled against her difficulties one by one. She was the kind of rebel who preferred practice to preaching and at her death, she was a rising star in the Hong Kong office of Lovell White Durrant.

Those who got to know Harry, as she mischievously insisted upon writing the short form of her name, found a woman, slim and bright as spun silver, whose chemistry blended iron determination and hatred of injustice with a love of shopping and any kind of fun.

To her friends she quickly became the one upon whom you could dump your kids in a crisis or gossip ravenously by e-mail. She could make soup, but she could also help you make life plans. The daughter of a Sikh she was, in effect, a Hindu who seldom went to temple, a holder of wisdom as well as knowledge. To her husband, she became an inspiration of new purpose and horizons; someone who transformed his ideas and even the man himself. To her son, the 16-month old Ravi, she was determined to be the best and most active mother alive.

Although she could not conceal her epileptic attacks, one of which appears to have precipitated her untimely death, she was always opaque about her own physical difficulties. The cruelty of her loss blazes as fiercely as the example of this most modern of women, who crossed cultures and the globe to make her life.

– Ian Hargreaves

Harinder Veriah LLM, born Kuala Lumpur 31.12.1966. Died Hong Kong, 2.1.2000.