Socialist Party of Malaysia on upcoming elections: boycott or not?

By Mark Johnson January 31, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières — As general elections approach, Malaysian leftists are hesitating between between a boycott, and voting for the liberal-social democrat opposition coalition as the lesser of two evils. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) Central Committee member S Arutchelvan sympathises with those who propose spoliing their ballot papers in frustration with the lack of choice in Malaysia’s upcoming general election. He noted that the campaign (associated with the hashtag #Undirosak) in part reflected the belief that neither the ruling National Front (Barisan Nasional) nor the opposition Pact for the Future (Pakatan Harapan) would bring systemic change. Both coalitions are broad, and stress their moderate credentials. The opposition has actively recruited disillusioned government politicians, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed. Recently appointed as the opposition candidate for Prime Minister, charismatic “Dr. M.” has strengthened the opposition’s secular credentials and is likely to encourage some poorer Moslems to switch allegiance from the corrupt and pro-business ruling parties towards the untested opposition coalition. However, many liberal and socialist activists deeply distrust Mahathir because of his authoritarian style, unresolved corruption scandals, and his unrepentant persecution of his former ally and fellow opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, currently imprisoned after an unfair trial and conviction for sodomy. Arutchelvan recently reminded his FaceBook followers that Lenin believed that participation in elections was obligatory and a boycott should only happen if conditions were ripe for a revolution. “My personal stance is the left wing including the anarchists in this country are still weak and have yet to create a matured condition for change through the streets.” Arutchelvan pointed out that in 1969, the socialist parties, Malaysian Labour Party and People’s Party (Parti Rakyat) boycotted the general election, which was seen as the wrong move that led to the rise of more moderate social democrat parties such as DAP and Gerakan, which still capture much of the left vote. “If we want to change this system, all socialists, anarchists, the left, anti-capitalist, anti-feudalist and those who stand with the people must unite to build a new movement against mainstream politics that seek only to change the government but not the system,” he said.”So long as this new power is not built, then we are told that we have no choice but to vote for either Coke or Pepsi.” Most liberal and leftist currents in Malaysia have thrown their support behind the opposition Pact for the Future, and are worried that any spoilt ballot or boycott initiative will play into the hands of the National Front, which has been in power continually since Malaysia gained its independence. Nevertheless, Arutchelvan said the campaign to spoil votes in the general election should not be dismissed. He noted that he former chairperson of the clean elections movement Bersih, Ms Ambiga Sreenevasan has also cautioned against condemning such a move. “No one should take for granted the maturity of the people who want to spoil their votes. This may be a protest or a new idea. For now, my stance is to keep an open mind to this campaign instead of opposing it. I feel that it should be debated in a mature manner and with depth. We have to ask if it is better to have a new [opposition coalition] Pact for the Future government or [the incumbent] National Front,” he added. Arutchelvan said the onus was on Pact for the Future to convince those who were against the ruling coalition, but are unsure about supporting the opposition coalition. “But I see Pact for the Future instead criticising and attacking those who are not of the same opinion and labelling those who criticise the opposition as having taken handouts from [Prime Minister] Najib Abdul Razak,” he said. Arutchelvan said this opposition arrogance had only fuelled the desire by certain voters to want to spoil their votes. “Pact for the Future should be more humble and try to reach out to the groups that had for a long time fought the current government,” he said.

Malaysia: banks collude with speculators to force house sales

By Mark Johnson January 31, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières — Banks are using a fast-track procedure to reposess and sell houses of poorer Malaysians who fall behind with mortgage repayments. The Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) demands an investigation. Many of the victims are former urban poor, rehoused 10 years ago in slum clearance programmes. Because their new houses have increased rapidly in value, banks and speculators are keen to get their hands on this real estate, without regard to the human cost. The Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) has urged the National Bank (Bank Negara) to investigate whether there is a secret partnership between banks and property agents for the forced sale of low cost housing when working class Malaysians’ fall behind with their mortgage payments. Malaysian banks have begun requiring apartment buyers to sign agreements giving the banks the right to auction the apartment without prior notice at the bank’s discretion.[1] PSM secretary-general A Sivarajan said his party has come across cases where apartments have been quickly auctioned off to property agents. “The original buyer had failed to pay the loan for a couple of months and as has happened numerous times, the apartment was auctioned off without the original buyer’s prior knowledge,” he said. Accoring to Sivarajan, PSM investigations suggest that most of the apartment houses which have been auctioned off in this manner are those that belong to the poorest 40% of society. RIcher Malaysians get several opportunities to reschedule their payments or, in the worst case, to organise the sale of their apartment to pay their debts. in contrast, it seems that banks move quickly to sell the apartments of poorer Malaysians to property developers, with callous indifference to the misery this causes. Accoring to Sivarajan, most of the cases the PSM has identified relate to people, especially those living in the country’s biggest cities, who had been forced out of their squatter houses during state-wide operations between 2004 and 2005. “They were asked to move to low cost houses, and they bought these apartments for around RM42,000. Now, more than 10 years later, these houses have gone up in value with some costing as much as RM150,000.” By forcing a non-transparent sale of these apartments, the banks and their connected property dealers benefit from the rise in property prices, while the owners of the apartments find themselves expelled from their homes a second time. They are unlikely to get the best possible price for their homes, and will probably be unable to find affortable alternative housing in urban areas. Notes[1] A Deed of Assignment and a Power of Attorney.