Malaysia: Socialists to form Left Coalition 'to bring back class politics'

PSM secretary general S. Arutchelvan.

By Chen Shaua Fui, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

February 13, 2014 -- -- The Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia, PSM), together with some other groups and individuals, is forming a body called Left Coalition to bring class politics to Malaysia..

PSM secretary general S. Arutchelvan said it is looking at forming the coalition with Parti Rakyat Malaysia, Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia and other activists and individuals.

"We are trying to bring back class politics. We feel the younger generations are actually more receptive to more radical and progressive ideologies... The 1969 (May 13) racial riot and the Cold War have not corrupted their minds. They don’t have this fear of communism because they live in a different era. And when the government said communism is evil, there were a lot of counter arguments in the social media. We think it’s the time for the left to grow”, he told

An astute observer of Malaysian politics, Arutchelvan felt that after 1969 and the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP), Malaysian politics had moved from class politics based on left or right ideologies to racial and religious politics.

“In the early years, it was a very ideological war between the left and the right forces. And then, the left forces were fully suppressed after 1963 and Ops Lalang. [As a] replacement, we have two right-wing coalitions”, Arutchelvan said.

He claimed Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat differed in the good governance practices implemented by the latter to solve the issue of corruption. However, both coalitions did not see the problem in capitalism system.

“In the long run, the growth-orientated system of capitalism will have an impact on the environment. For example for Malaysia, we cannot hope to improve our environment when we have a car-selling government”, he added.

Need for a third force

In the context of the forced Kajang by-election, as well as the deadlock in the political arena after the 13th general election, calls to build a much-needed third force were put forward by civil society and individuals who were unhappy with both the BN and Pakatan.

The PSM, which focused on class struggle and economic issues, was seen as the alternative by some people.

In the history of Malaya/Malaysia, there were two socialist fronts formed respectively in Singapore and Malaya. The Singapore Socialist Front was formed by leaders who split from the People’s Action Party (PAP), but it was weakened by the Operation Coldstore that resulted in the arrest of key party leaders in 1963.

In Malaya, the Malayan People Socialist Front comprised the Labor Party of Malaya, Parti Rakyat Malaysia and Partai Perhimpunan Kebangsaan, formed in 1959 to take the Alliance head on. However, it was also dismantled with the demise of the Labor Party of Malaya.

Coalition to focus on five areas

Arutchelvan noted that the Left Coalition would be a crucial development for the Malaysian political landscape at this point of time.

Under the coalition, five sub-committees will be formed to focus on different areas, namely Ideological School and Education, Mass Action and Mass Movement, Draft Left Policy, Union Related and Social Media and Publication.

“It will be based on class struggle. It is an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-feudal movement. It will be against the patriarchal system and oppression against women. It will talk about green environmental movement and oppose privatisation of public services.

“And there are other questions we are working on, like the state and federal relationship, Sabah and Sarawak, deepening the participatory democracy and local government”, Arutchelvan added.

Those who were keen on forming the coalition had their first meeting on September 8, 2013, and a second meeting on January 12 this year.

“At this point of time, this is not an electoral coalition, it is just a left coalition based on ideology", he said, adding the coalition will finalise its manifesto by April.

For now, the PSM has maintained its position to work with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat following the resolution of the 15th PSM congress of June 13 last year, to have a dialogue with Pakatan on the basis of mutual respect and fighting BN.

PSM had requested to join Pakatan Rakyat last year, but the coalition had replied that they had not made a decision on the matter.