Malaysian socialists' clenched-fist logo approved

April 29, 2009 -- Malaysiakini -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM), having recently won a decade-long battle for recognition from Malaysia's Registrar of Societies, today announced another victory: that its logo has been approved by the Election Commission (EC).

The EC had previously rejected the logo -- a white clenched fist against a red backdrop -- as it was found to have “connotations of violence” and was “morally unsuitable”.

The PSM announced that the EC had given the green light for the party to use the logo in a letter dated April 20. This means the party can use its own logo in the next general election and any future by-elections which it wants to contest.

The commission had not given any reason for their change in mind in approving the logo, said PSM officials at a press conference held in the party headquarters in Brickfields this morning.

It has taken the party 10 long years to clear every legal hurdle to be registered as a political party. It was denied registration from 1998 to 2008 as it was regarded as a ``threat'' to national security.

The party was finally approved by the Home Ministry on August 19, 2008, and registered by the Registrar of Societies in accordance with the Societies Act 1966.

spr approve psm logo 290409 nasir hashimHowever, it faced a stumbling block when the Election Commission rejected the logo when the PSM sought to register as a political party with the commission in February this year.

The PSM, led by Selangor state assemblyperson Dr Nasir Hashim (right), was founded in 1998 and is the only socialist party in Malaysia.

The party also has a member of parliament -- Dr D Jeyakumar, who knocked out Malaysian Iindian Congess supremo S Samy Vellu in federal parliamentary seat of Sungai Siput, Perak, at the last election.

The two seats were won on opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) tickets in last year’s general election.

Why reject it in the first place?

At the press conference today, PSM secretary general S Arutchelvan (left) questioned the EC’s original decision to reject the logo. He said that many socialist and leftist parties around the world have been using the ``clenched-fist'' logo as symbol for their political parties and workers’ unions for many decades.

psm logo approved by election commission 290409 02“It is as if the EC had found some new findings regarding this type of logo as a symbol of violence. I think there is no logic to it at all”, he said.

Nasir also took a swipe at the EC for allowing UMNO to use its keris logo which he deemed to be “more violent”.

“If our logo symbolises violence, then UMNO with its keris is more violent compared to ours which does not implicate any weapon at all”, he added.

Nasir went on to explain that the clenched-fist logo symbolised solidarity among the oppressed people and the colour white of the fist showed the ``struggle’s purity to fight for the truth''. “Meanwhile, the red colour shows our battle against the colonialism even if it results in bloodshed,” he said.

Aruthchelvan said that with the registration question solved with the authorities, the next move was for the party to popularise the logo among the people. He did not forsee any problems in achieving that as people have long associated the logo with the party.

“During the last election, we had put the PSM and PKR logos next to each other in the candidate’s posters. We had also released a manifesto saying that PSM would contest on a PKR ticket,” he said.

“We realised that we became (well) recognised when the EC referred to us as PSM rather than PKR (when we won the seats). It became so popular even the police had given a permit to us before we got ourselves registered,” continued Arutchelvan.

To a question on when they would be joining the Pakatan Rakyat alliance, Arutchelvan said the matter will only be considered if there was an invitation from the opposition coalition.

“But we still have to bring the matter in our party congress for it to be discussed and decided,” he said, adding that the next party congress will be held on May 29, 30 and 31 in Ipoh.