Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has finally obtained approval from the Home Ministry to register as a political party after a 10-year battle which included a protracted law suit against the government.
S. Arutchelvan said the party’s lawyers today asked the Federal Court for an adjournment of the case where PSM is appealing against the Court of Appeal’s decision to reject its application to register as a political party.
The Federal Court has subsequently decided to put off the case pending the registration of the party.
arutchelvan psm interview 010208 concernArutchelvan told Malaysiakini that he had earlier sent a May 28 memorandum by email to Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar seeking his intervention in the case.
Syed Hamid replied the following week, also by email, saying that the ministry would now support the registration of PSM, something which the government has rejected for almost a decade.
“On June 4, I received an email from (Syed Hamid) saying ‘we will allow the registration (of the party) to proceed’,” said Arutchelvan regarding the government’s surprising about-turn on the issue.
Arutchelvan said he spoke to Deputy Registrar of Societies Marzuki Zainuddin and Syed Hamid’s aide Intan Yusniazura, who confirmed that the email from the minister was authentic [see emails below].
“On the same day, we send an email to the minister from PSM to ask how to proceed on (the matter).”
Syed Hamid told the PSM leader to wait for an official letter from the ministry.
This morning, Arutchelvan was informed to collect a letter from the ministry. The letter requested the party to submit a fresh application for registration.
“PSM agreed to re-apply as we believe this is just a formality to get PSM registered as the minister had previously committed in the email to register the party…,” said Arutchelvan.“We would request the party to be registered within a month after we submit our application. If PSM is still denied registration, then we would go back to the Federal Court to rule on the issue.”
PSM will not withdraw case, for nowAccording to Arutchelvan, senior federal counsel Mary Lim who is representing the government in the legal battle, has today suggested to PSM to drop the case following the latest development.
“Lim said the case is now academic,” he said.
However, PSM has told the Federal Court that it had no intention of withdrawing the case until it receives a ‘black-and-white approval’ of its legal status from the Home Ministry.
PSM’s lawyers, Tommy Thomas and Ragunath Kesavan, have instead requested the court for an adjournment in today’s hearing pending a formal approval from the government.
“(This is to ensure that) after we have submitted the formal letter and if we get rejected (again), then we can still go back to the court,” explained Arutchelvan.
Regarding the party’s memorandum to Syed Hamid, the PSM leader said he had urged the ministry to approve the party’s application in view of the government’s recent pledges for reforms.
“If they were ready to reform everything, then PSM should be allowed to be registered,” he said.Also present at the court hearing today was PSM chairperson Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim, who is assemblyperson for Kota Damansara (Selangor) and central committee member Dr D Jeyakumar, the member of parliament for Sungai Siput (Perak).
Long struggle for recognitionSince its application in April 1998, PSM and its supporters have been waging a long struggle for it to be registered and recognised as a political party.
Its application was rejected in September 1999 by then home minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is now prime minister.
Soon after, PSM filed a law suit - the first time a political party has gone to the courts to challenge the government’s decision in rejecting its registration.
In a judgment on Jan 13, 2003, the Kuala Lumpur High Court agreed with the government’s argument that the socialist party posed a national security threat and rejected PSM’s application for a judicial review.
Three years later, the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision but ruled that the party was not a national security threat, clearing one of the major hurdles in the lawsuit for PSM.
The appellate court nevertheless upheld another key argument - that Registrar of Society (ROS) requires the party to have representatives from at least seven states to be registered as a national party.
PSM, which failed to meet the requirements according to the ROS, has described this as “baseless”.
Unable to operate as a full-fledged political party, PSM leaders have contested in the past three general elections under the banners of two other opposition parties - DAP and PKR.
In the March 8 elections, the party won one state and one parliament seat.