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Malaysia: Socialist assemblyperson for system overhaul; praises example of Venezuelan revolution

Dr Nasir HashimFrom ASAP, August 1, 2008 -- Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim, Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) president and state assemblyperson for Kota Damansara in Selangor, expressed his hopes to the Uncensored talk show host Francis Paul Siah on Malaysiakini.tv last week.

"There's so much work to be done'', he exclaims, reiterating his common theme of ``working for the people'' in the 30-minute show. First on his to-do list: "Damage control" and assuaging the economic plight of the poor.

However, while he's ``glad to meet with the ordinary people", Nasir also wants the people to know that he expects them to "jointly work on solutions" with him. "I don't want dependency on me or politics for every want", he said. "Maybe 50% with me, 50% somewhere else."

The March 8, 2008, polls were not Nasir's first opportunity to act on his passion for the wellbeing of the people. As the PSM leader, he has been working for the people since the party's conception in 1998. Although PSM has yet to be officially registered, its members pride themselves on their work with plantation workers, urban poor, industrial workers and peasants.

Illegal operation

"So you guys had been operating illegally all these years under the PSM banner", asked the Malaysiakini.tv host. "It is illegal, but we are doing this for the people", Nasir conceded in self-justification. "We are doing it because people should be able to fight for their rights ... we didn't wait to be registered, we just worked."

Indeed, the PSM ideology on what the future of Malaysia should be might have also been considered illegal by the government in past years.

"We want to change the system", Nasir stressed. "We need to have a [different] philosophy."

But there has been good news for the PSM in recent months. On June 17, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the ministry would now support the registration of PSM. He advised the party to re-apply for registration. Recalling why they weren't recognised as a party, Nasir said the government considered the PSM a threat to national security. He also pointed to the lack of follow-up by the government on what stipulations must be met before they could be recognised.

"Seven people from seven states. Did that mean working? Living? Visiting?" he questioned. Also on June 17, the party's lawyers asked the Federal Court for an adjournment of the case where the PSM is appealing against the Court of Appeal's decision to reject its application to register as a political party.

Readers may wonder how the PSM is any different form the other opposition parties in the country now. The Uncensored host wondered aloud if the PSM was simply an ``opposition within the opposition''. "We are in between", Nasir said. "If something is right, we will support it", once again referencing the over-arching importance of the common person. Most tellingly, however, Nasir highlighted the fact that he and his party don't want simple adjustments to the government and economy. "We want to overhaul, not just fine-tune, the current system," he said.

Nasir's idea of a new system includes the centrality of the working person in a successful political and economic system. "Workers are the backbone of the national economy," he said resolutely. "Why don't they have rights and (why aren't) their rights are respected?"

'The poor are assets'

According to Nasir, there are many "potentially revolutionary ideas", but the cycle of exploitation, poverty, destruction of safety, mental stress and self-destruction allow for the realisation of only a few, if any, of these ideas.

He believes that when people are exploited, they expect the government to step in. "When the government fails to come to the rescue, unions spring up". "We need to look at the cause, not the symptoms." Nasir speaks as if the steps towards revolution and complete "overhaul" of the system are easy.

Asked if Malaysians were ready for the undertaking of such a socialist agenda, he responded by pointing out the pros rather than the cons. "We might be going out on a limb a bit, but socialism is not a no-no with Islam ... the concept is there."

"Our work is about the people's struggle for rights," he said. "We want them to be able to affect change."
"PSM is quite a 'mosquito', but we can reach people's hearts."

"I'd like to see people of all races working together as one," Nasir said. "The poor are assets ... we need to get rid of [our] elitist tendency."

"The real power comes from the people," he wrapped up. "We are the ones who can change the government ... not the leaders."

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PSM president speaks on the example of the Venezuelan revolution

Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) president and Selangor state national assemblyperson for Kota Damansara Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim talks about the global example of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution.

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Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP), formerly ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor), is a network of solidarity activists campaigning for democratic rights, self-determination and other justice struggles in the Asia Pacific region.

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