Malaysia: PSM -- a decade of struggle

Port Dickson, Malaysia, June 1, 2008 -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM -- Parti Sosialis Malaysia) successfully concluded its 10th congress at a time when the ruling Barisan Nasional Party faces its biggest threat to its survival in Malaysian politics and while capitalism faces its biggest challenge -- the world food crisis. It is an exciting time and it is time for change.

The PSM's successful three-day (May 30-June 1) national congress was attended by around 150 people, including delegates from seven states, three front organisations and invited guests who have been strong supporters of PSM for the past years.

The congress was held at the National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE) centre, Port Dickson. The road leading to NUBE was decorated in red. Banners greeted the delegates. [The PSM is] the vibrant and only remaining socialist party in Malaysia... [This congress marked] 10 years of uncompromising politics -- to uphold class politics against communal politics, to advance the working-class agenda against the ruling capitalist class. Ten years of survival without legal political registration.

This year's congress marks yet another milestone in the PSM's history. The congress was extra special -- besides being the PSM's 10th year, the congress for the first time was attended by two elected representatives - socialist member of parliament Comrade Dr Jeyakumar and a socialist member of state assembly Comrade Dr Nasir Hashim. Another reason for the party to cherish [this congress] was the presence of four new branches from Tanah Rata (Cameron Highland), Seremban (Negri Sembilan), Semenyih (Selangor) and Jelapang (Perak).

The congress began with the singing of the Internationale and a new song introduced by Comrade Chon Kai, titled Lawan (Fight) -- a translation from an Italian song, Bella Ciao. Then, our deputy chairperson comrade M Saraswathy gave her opening speech. She welcomed the delegates and guests. As usual she was very energetic in her speech touching on various issues, from the food crisis to the Maoist victory in Nepal. This was followed by international solidarity messages from 18 socialist organisations in Asia and Europe.

Comrade Nasir Hashim, the chairperson of the party, officiated the congress after his opening address which praised the brave decision made by Malaysian voters in the last election to bring change. He also spoke about Pakatan Rakyat -- a coalition of opposition parties which won five states in the election -- as well as the rapid growth of socialism in Latin America, the overthrow of the monarch in Nepal and finally [blamed] capitalism for destroying the world and named it as the culprit for the current food crisis, climate change and economic crisis.

This was followed by responses from each branch, front organisation and by state delegates on Nasir's statements. Certain issues seemed to dominate the debate this year, especially the victories of Pakatan Rakyat, the PSM's failure to get registered and the inspiring developments in Nepal.

Later in the evening, the PSM's secretary general, Comrade Arutchelvan (Arul), read out his report covering [the period] from June 2007 until May 2008. His review was remarkable. He described the year as being one of the most historic, horrifying, challenging and incredible. It is not only the 50th year of independence for the nation but also a turning point for the Barisan Nasional, which was defeated in five states in the March 8, 2008, election.

Comrade Arutchelvan's speech addressed the controversial positions taken by the PSM, especially on the two big gatherings last year -- the BERSIH and HINDRAF rallies -- which raised serious conflicts... The BERSIH (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) rally, in going to the King, was seen as an endorsement of the feudal institution, while the HINDRAF rally was an ethnic-based mobilisation [of Malaysia's Indian population]. Both actions led to massive gatherings of people in the streets and made the party review its position on tactics and strategies. It led to a discussion on ``Socialism in 21st century'' to assess mobilising strategies in view of the dynamic changes in objective and subjective conditions. The party played a key role in organising several important rallies last year, such as the anti-fuel hike protest which resulted in 18 leading party members being arrested, as well as a protest to defend freedom of assembly and the May Day rally. These efforts were applauded.

The secretary general also discussed the difficult and painful experience in [parliamentary] seat negotiations with opposition parties, especially with the DAP. The PSM only asked for four seats but the arrogance and hostility shown by some opposition members was extremely hurtful. They claimed they were their traditional seats, but we can also claim the same for those seats, which once belonged to the Socialist Front! Anyway, after 44 years, Comrade Kumar won a parliamentary seat in Sg. Siput while Comrade Nasir won the Kota Damansara state seat after 40 years.

This will definitely help the party to grow but we will continue to face challenges from Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Rakyat since PSM does not a have registration and we have to use other party symbols. This is used by some of these parties to suppress the PSM and its ideology.

The PSM since the election has had a 400% increase of membership and has four new full-timers in the elected areas. We will continue to build the people's power and the workers will definitely rule the country one day!

Besides internal problems, secretary general Arutchelvan also addressed the activities of certain international socialist groups in Europe that try to create splits here if they cannot convince the party to toe their line. However, he said, ``we don't let any international group teach us how to do work in our homeland. We are willing to learn but we will not allow ourselves to be bullied.''

Comrade Arul concluded his speech with five challenges in the coming years:

* Will Pakatan Rakyat be sustained and will it able to take over at the federal government level?

* Will Badawi remain or will he be overthrown? Is there a possibility of racial riots or will the BN declare an emergency?

* What will be the impact of the food crisis on our economy and our workers?

* What will be the decision of the Federal Court on registration of the PSM, and what if registration denied?

* Will the Internal Security Act detainees be released?

The secretary general's report was followed by that of our national treasurer, Comrade Sivarajan. He took the opportunity to thank all supporters of the PSM for their contributions... Our state assembly members and MPs are also contributing part of their allowances to fund more full-timers at branch level and one more person for head office.

Food crisis

The first day ended with a paper presented by T Rajamoorthy and Choo Chon Kai on the food crisis and it's impact on the economy and people's movement. The crisis is here to stay for at least another 10 years and the cause of the crisis was outlined by both presenters e.g. drought, overwhelming industrialisation compared to food production, increase in prodiction for biofuels, climate change and crisis in the stock exchange. Thus prices of food increase many fold. There have been protests all over the world, including in Haiti, Indonesia, Cameroon, Nigeria and Bangladesh. Millions of people will be facing hunger and death. Both presenters concluded that capitalism and its policies are the cause of the current crisis -- basically capitalism is in crisis!

The solution recommended was equal distribution of food, more land for food farming, more land for small farmers/collective farming, diversity in food farming, reinstatement of the goal of food security, more organic farming as done by socialist Cuba [since] the food crisis in 1989, and ensure that various subsidies are in place to keep the prices of food and basic essentials down. Chon Kai said that two great revolutions -- the French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution -- were triggered because of food shortages. Will we get an opportunity to put an end to capitalism and the free market system?

The second day of the congress was full of debate and healthy discussion on a number of issues. It started with a presentation from Comrade Arul and Lee Ban Chen on whether the objective conditions are mature enough for Pakatan Rakyat to take power from Barisan Nasional and whether there is a need for the PSM to form a third force. Comrade Ban Chen felt that Pakatan Rakyat is not ready to take over from Barisan Nasional, which has been ruling the country for decades using manipulation and dirty tactics. Furthermore voters did not fully endorse the Pakatan Rakyat’s agenda for change. Pakatan Rakyat is a loose coalition without a strong foundation and lacks experience. Already the federal government is sabotaging financial and administrative matters. It is possible for Pakatan Rakyat to win over the people in next election if its current policies are pro-people. In terms of whether the PSM should form a third force or support the two-party system, Lee Ban Chen was of view that the PSM should first support Pakatan Rakyat to counter Barisan Nasional/UMNO [United Malays National Organisation] and only at a second stage fight for implementation of its own program.

Comrade Arutchelvan is of the opinion that now we are in a unique situation because five states are under Pakatan Rakyat rule while seven states are under Barisan Nasional. Barisan Nasional is in crisis, UMNO is facing a power struggle, [former deputy prime minister] Anwar Ibrahim is talking about taking over power and the food and fuel crises are getting worse -- so, it's time to play an active role in politics and not grumble! As Pakatan Rakyat is a phenomenon created by the people, the PSM must ally with the people to defend Pakatan Rakyat. He also shared the views of Ban Chen that the PSM does not have the power to build a third force, but has the power to empower the people to bring down Barisan Nasional. He suggested that the PSM should work with Pakatan Rakyat on a minimum program. But if Pakatan Rakyat allies with the capitalists to go against the people, then PSM would stand with the people. The conclusion of both these papers was that the PSM should support Pakatan Rakyat and work together under a minimum program but at the same time start building the PSM and spread its influence.

The afternoon session was allocated to evaluation of the PSM program and its five bureaus -- national network, ideology, party registration, propaganda and international.

The third debate session was on how socialists handle the primary contradictions between culture and economics in Malaysia's political context. Comrades Ngo Jian Yee and Dr Kumar presented the paper. This has been perhaps the most challenging issue confronting the Malaysian left for the last few decades. It was the most challenging debate. Ngo argued that the PSM should involve itself actively in the cultural struggle as it would bring the various ethnic groups together and indirectly weaken the hegemony of Barisan Nasional, which uses race and religion to divide and rule. On the other hand, Dr Kumar asked whether the mere existence of multifaceted and widespread ethnic discrimination automatically means that this becomes the primary contradiction? His viewpoint is that in this epoch of globalised capitalism, the primary contradiction is and will remain the tension between capital and the ordinary masses -- the class contradiction.

Workshop questions were given to our delegates to discuss in smaller groups to express their views on whether the PSM is on the right track by not getting too involved in ethnic- and religious-based issues, as well as on how to strengthen the [PSM] in relation to the economic and cultural struggles. Unfortunately, after much discussion, the groups were not able to make a decision and the debate was postponed and will now be decided in the PSM's internal SPD within the next year.

Twenty motions were debated out of the 35 motions tabled by the various branches and fronts. The motions were on party membership, election- and program-related issues e.g. inflation, food crisis, party newspaper, 1% membership fee. Seven motions were withdrawn, two rejected and the rest passed. Some of the motions with highest number of votes passed were:

* Our socialist MP and assembly member visit all states in Malaysia to popularise the party and it's program.

* Hire another full-timer to handle publication of the party newspaper.

* Increase the size of the party newspaper and it's frequency.

* Form a coalition and lead a campaign against inflation and the food crisis.

* Pressure the government to hold local council elections

* Organise HARTAL [strike] against the draconian Internal security Act.

* An intensive campaign to get the party registered.

The 1% contribution or a member's wage to the party was dropped after most members rejected this. This contribution is now not compulsory. During the vote, most central committee members supported the 1%. As the treasurer later said, this is democratic centralism and the party will respect the decision.

The day ended with another long discussion on how to increase party membership without jeopardising its quality. Comrade Rani and Kunasekaran presented their views. PSM membership has increased 400% from 23 in 2003 to 250 in 2008. Since the last congress, the party has loosened up its criteria to enable more people to join, and after the national election, more people seem to be interested in joining the PSM. Will the PSM's principles and ideological beliefs be diluted with more open membership? There are clearly two trends among the members -- one group who are ideologically clear and active while the the other is not. Rani's suggestion to address this situation is to have two types of membership -- voting members and ordinary members. While Sekar argued that the existing mechanism -- a probation period -- is sufficient to ensure the quality of members and that two types of membership would create more problems. The same question was put to the delegates in the workshop questions. It was yet another fierce debate which ended with members [opposing the suggestion of] two types of membership, but they asked the central committee to come up with a mechanism that only allows active members to have voting rights on the party’s positions etc.

The third and last day of the congress was less hectic. We went through the party [policies] and several amendments were suggested ... The delegates put forward 30 resolutions and some of them were:

* Register the PSM.

* The government must provide permanent land title to farmers.

* The government must enact a minimum wage law.

* Pakatan Rakyat must [implement] its election manifesto, abolish toll in its states.

* The government must stop the National Service Program

* The government must give automatic recognition to workers' unions.

* PSM is against imperialism clamping down the socialist governments of Venezuela and Bolivia, and

* The PSM is against capitalism.

The congress ended with forceful speeches from our delegates and representatives. Once again our secretary general reminded us that in two weeks' time, the federal court would decide on the PSM's [registration]. It would be the final court decision but PSM cadres will defend the party whatever the outcome. It is the abolition of classes which can stop PSM not any capitalist court of law.

Dr Kumar quoted Che, ``Let’s be realistic and do the impossible.'' When the idea to register a socialist party was mooted around 15 years ago, most people said that it was not realistic and socialism was dead. Today the PSM is alive, 60% of its membership is below 40 years of age, the party's membership has increased and more branches have been opened. We have done the impossible though being denied registration for the last 10 years. Dr Nasir summed up in his closing remarks, ``I feel safe today because we have created many more young socialists to lead the struggle forward.”

``Dunia baru kita dirikan… pasti jadi kenyataan.'' The world we are trying to create will definitely one day become a reality. A line from the Internationale, on which ended the three-day congress.

[Visit the PSM website at]

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 12:31


Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Jun 4, 08 11:24am

Giving farmers their own land is one way of addressing the escalating
global food crisis, said Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).

This was one of the issues in the 21-point resolution passed by the
yet-to-be registered political party at its 10th congress in Port
Dickson over the weekend.

PSM urged Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, which controls five
states, to provide land for farmers to cultivate food crops instead of
profit-oriented cash crops.

"One of the problems for the poor in the context of the food crisis is
the fact that the land they cultivate are temporary and developed only
for profits.

"From time to time, these poor farmers will be evicted and they will
have no avenue to cultivate subsisting agriculture and this must
change," said PSM pro-tem secretary-general S Arutchelvan when

He predicted that the food crisis will be a "decade-long crisis" and the
poor will be the most affected.

"That is why we have to introduce radical measures to ensure that food
supply can either be cultivated by the poor or that the government can
ensure that they will not suffer from supply shortages."

The resolution also contained other demands on ways to eradicate the
food crisis.

Governmental controls over the prices of goods, the passing of a Minimum
Wage Act, the revival of the Green Book programme and use of the organic
farming system of socialist-oriented Cuba as a model are the other three

Abolish toll

PSM also reminded the Pakatan government to fulfil its pre-election
promises of abolishing toll charges.

"The Pakatan government can introduce drastic measures that are sure to
be popular among the people like abolishing toll and providing free
education up to tertiary level. The BN government will have no option
but to follow if it wishes to remain relevant," said Arutchelvan.

Other points in the resolution include a demand for vernacular language
to be implemented in the teaching of science and mathematics, a stop to
the privatisation of education and healthcare services, and judicial

PSM reiterated its position in asking both the BN and Pakatan
governments to reinstate local government elections and to abolish all
detention-without-trial laws like the Internal Security Act and the
Emergency Ordinance.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 16:39



1. We demand that the Barisan Nasional (National Front) and Pakatan
Rakyat (People's Alliance) governments tackle the World Food
Crisis. Among the steps we recommend are:
* The granting of land ownership rights to farmers
* Governmental controls over the prices of goods
* The passing of a Minimum Wage Act
* The recommencement of the Green Book and usage of the
organic farming system of Socialist-oriented Cuba as a

1. The government should pass and implement a Minimum Wage Act
giving a minimum wage of RM1,500 to all workers including
migrants. This will in one fell swoop overcome the problem of
cheap labour.
2. PSM urges the Pakatan Rakyat governments take proactive measures
in its states and take the following actions to pressure the
Barisan Nasional governments:
* Implement local government elections
* Fulfil its election manifesto regarding welfare issues
such as health and education and avoid being influenced
by corporate interests
* Abolish toll

1. PSM demands that Malaysia stop the implementation of neo-liberal
projects and negotiations regarding the Free Trade Agreement
(FTA) with the United States and other countries as such
agreements will gamble away workers' rights and have negative
implications on the poor in the country.
2. Abolish all legislation that violates human rights such as the
ISA, OSA, AUKU, EO and PPPA. Release all who are detained
without trial immediately and without conditions.
3. Restore impartiality and fairness to the legal system and
judiciary. The appointment of judges must be transparent. We
demand that all parties involved in the manipulation of the
judiciary as stated in the Royal Commission Report on the VK
Lingam video tape be brought to justice.
4. We demand that PSM be registered immediately and the
constitutional right of freedom of association be respected.
Unions must also be given the right of automatic registration.
5. The government should stop using the Emergency Ordinance 1969 to
evict and violate housing rights. Comfortable housing or land
must be provided to urban pioneers, estate communities and other
segments of society with low income. The government must also
revamp the PPRT in order that its original purpose may be
fulfilled. Local governments should also take control of all low
cost flats and not give them to developers. We also urge that
the housing quota given to state assemblymen and MPs be
6. Profits from national oil reserves should be nationalised and
returned to citizens and used for public projects such as health
services and free education. Oil revenues should be announced to
the public and be used for public welfare.
7. PSM denounces all attempts by imperialist powers which endanger
the stability of pro-people governments in Venezuela and
Bolivia, and supports the fight of people across the globe
against the threat of the capitalist system.
8. The government must put an end to the National Service Programme
(NS) as it is filled with controversy and was hastily
9. The government must resume the usage of vernacular languages in
the teaching of Science and Mathematics in national type
10. The government must stop all steps to privatise health services
and prevent the construction of private hospitals. The lives of
citizens should not be commoditised.
11. The national space project should be discontinued as it is a
waste of money and another form of cheap propaganda ¡V not a
serious scientific project.
12. The right to freedom of religion must be respected. The forced
demolition of places of worship must be stopped.
13. The crisis of public security must be solved. The police must
not be biased in any conflict between the public and developers,
corporations or the government. We urge that the IPCMC be
implemented immediately to solve the problem of misuse of power
in the police force.
14. The mechanism of SOCSO pensions must be revamped in order that
employees involved in workplace accidents be fully protected.
The government should also respect the rights of the elderly.
15. The government should provide free education up till university
16. All quota systems based on race must be put to an end and
replaced with policies based on need.
17. PSM demands that the government amend all laws that oppress
migrant workers and ensure that these workers are not
discriminated against or abused. The government must ensure that
their welfare and safety be protected.
18. Immediate steps must be taken to solve the problems of global
warming, climate change, and other natural disasters in order to
save the environment and our planet.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 15:48


Malaysia: 40% fuel price rises 'declaration of war against the people' - PSM

Mass protest called for Saturday July 12, 2008 at KLCC, 3pm, Kuala Lumpur by Gabungan Membantah Kenaikan Harga Minyak (Coalition Against Fuel Price Hikes) - PROTES
Media release from Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM):
Fuel Hike - Declaration of war against the people

5 June 2008 - The announcement by the Prime Minister of increasing the price of fuel by 78 sen and increasing diesel by RM 1 added with the increase in electricity as well lifting the cap on chicken prices tantamounts to as a declaration of war against the ordinary people of Malaysia.
Last night, thousands of motorists queued for hours to buy fuel at the old price. The scene was chaotic and resembled a nation preparing for emergency. While the Prime Minister very bravely increased the price of fuel, similar commitment was not shown when workers demanded a minimum wage act to be implemented as well as a retrenchment fund to cushion workers who may face retrenchment because of the economic crisis and world food crisis.
The Government’s move to give rebates to consumers is a further insult to our intelligence. The Prime Minister said further that the money saved will be used to offset the world food crisis. This was the same logic given when the Government came out with the 30sen fuel hike. Then, we were taken for a ride and told the money will be used to improve the public transportation system.
The fuel hike is a declaration of war. Only when the people own their oil, can it be put to good use. Venezuela a country which charges only 16 sen per litre and the revenue for oil is used by the Venezuelan state to give free education and health care, besides helping poor neighboring nations. This was only possible when a revolutionary Government under the leadership of Hugo Chavez with people power took over the Petrol Company and nationalized it. Malaysia’s PETRONAS is nationalized but it is not in the control of the people, especially the working people.
PSM supports any move to mobilize people power to remedy this situation. We call upon all political parties and peoples movements to rise up to demand and reclaim what is ours. Waiting in queues is not going to bring about political change.
Secretary General PSM

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 22:35


Malaysia: Thousands protest fuel price hike, million people protest planned for July 5

KUALA LUMPUR, June 13, 2008: Thousands gathered in front of the Kampung Baru mosque after Friday prayers to protest against the recent fuel price hike. The group, led by Parti Islam (PAS) Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub, walked from the mosque at about 2pm towards the junction of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Dang Wangi in front of the Sogo shopping complex while chanting slogans and carrying banners.

They then sat in the middle of the road in front of Sogo for 20 minutes before moving on to the PAS headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut.
The protesters were told by organisers to disperse peacefully at about 3.15pm.
Salahuddin told reporters that the protest march was to give a clear message to the Government that the people are suffering from the hike in fuel prices and immediate action must be taken to reduce fuel prices. He said more protests would be held if the Government refused to heed the call. “A bigger protest comprising about one million people will be held on July 5 as a measure of the people’s displeasure with the Barisan Nasional government,” he said.

The next protest against fuel price hike is a MILLION PEOPLE RALLY on Saturday July 12, 2008 at KLCC (Twin Towers), 3pm, Kuala Lumpur. Everyone is urged to wear red clothing. Organised by Gabungan Membantah Kenaikan Harga Minyak (Coalition Against Fuel Price Hikes) - PROTES

Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman said no arrests were made. He said the rally organisers had not requested for a permit and instead they sent him a letter on Tuesday informing him the rally would take place after Friday prayers.
Kuala Lumpur police chief DCP Datuk Muhammad Sabtu Osman said close to 900 police and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel were deployed around the Kampung Baru and KLCC areas.
Police forces in the capital have reportedly since been boosted to 2000 in anticipation of further fuel price hike protests. Lately, protest organisers are being picked up by police before major events. Organisers of the July 5 mega-protest fear they may be targeted. In the lead up, there are weekly protests all our the country and speaking tours.
PM under pressure
Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has reportedly struck a deal with his deputy, Najib Razak, to step down if pressure for him to resign intensified amid public anger over rising fuel prices.
But PM Badawi says that no timeframe has been set for the power transfer to Najib and that he intends to stand for the presidency of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).
Source: Star newspaper, international news agencies, PSM

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 10:18


Malaysia: Government recognises Socialist Party after 10-year court battle

Malaysiakini: The government has given a rare green light to the creation of a new political party, with the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) winning recognition after a decade-long battle.
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said he last week gave his approval to the party, which was once deemed a threat to national security and had to fight through the courts for legal registration.
"We consider it is appropriate that it be given an opportunity," Syed Hamid told reporters, adding it must now show it can comply with registration requirements.
"When I look at the application, so long as they want to be a national party, that they are represented nationally, and comply with the law it is alright," he said.
"The only party we will not register is the communist party."
PSM's secretary-general S Arutchelvan said that recognition was long overdue and was also an indication the government was more reform-minded since a drubbing in March general elections.
He said the party's legal status was "ridiculous" as it was frequently invited to government functions, had won police permits for public events and had two lawmakers elected under another opposition party's banner.
"But until we get the licence in hand we will still be cautious, and not be over-confident, because the political situation is not stable currently," he said, referring to calls for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to quit.
"Based on the current situation, I think the government is trying to bring about some reforms because they finally acknowledge that the people are quite fed up," he said.
"But whether this is something permanent or temporary has yet to be seen."
No decision yet on joining Pakatan
PSM is aligned with the Pakatan Rakyat ("Peoples Front) opposition led by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, but Arutchelvan said it had not decided whether to formally join the alliance.
James Chin, political science professor at Malaysia's Monash University, said that Anwar's PKR was the last to register in 1999.
"Normally to register an opposition party in Malaysia is almost impossible," he said.
"The government understands that the people are asking for a more plural democratic political system," he said of the March polls which handed the opposition a third of parliamentary seats in an unprecedented result.
PSM promotes the interests of the urban and rural poor, including farmers and factory workers.
It has joined with other opposition parties to protest against rising prices of food and fuel.

Source: Malaysiakini
See also: Aliran , PSM statement