Why as opposition supporter you should vote PSM - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Malaysiakini : “You politicians have stayed professionals only because the voters have remained amateurs.” — Mary Matthews (Katharine Hepburn) in ‘State of the Union’ (1948)
(Writer's note: I am not, and have never been, a
member of PSM. I do know a few political operatives from PSM as I do
members of other opposition political parties and the establishment.) COMMENT | First off, a shout-out to RK Anand for his impressive interview
with PSM’s S Arutchelvan. He really gets into the desiderata of PSM in
this political landscape and his piece is the antidote to all the faux
(as opposed to fake) news out there. Furthermore, thanks to P Gunasegaram, who I hope does not mind this homage to his lucid article on why Umno has to be benched.
This piece on ‘10 reasons why you should vote PSM’ also applies to BN
supporters – yes, they are out there - who think that BN under PM Najib
Razak is not worth voting for and a reminder to the #undirosak crowd,
to which I already made this pitch. If you are lucky enough to have a PSM candidate in your area and
already know that you are going to vote opposition, then consider PSM
your opposition candidate. Why?
Well, because you know that your vote is not going to go to Umno/BN
but if you really want to save Malaysia, use this opportunity to create
the foundation for an opposition which directly opposes the mainstream
politics that has brought us to this point. This election could be your first small step in truly saving Malaysia.
1. Voting PSM into the opposition is a reminder to the opposition that their job is not to become the next BN.
This, of course, is the fear of many rational-thinking opposition supporters. Say, you are sick of dynastic power groups. Say you are sick of
political hegemons squashing dissent in their organisations. Say you are
sick of the way how mainstream politics is about race. Say you are sick
that mainstream policy-making is about seeing what your political
opponent does and then doing the opposite, without deeper
Say you want politicians who would remind the opposition should they
come into power – or do not – that the Umno/BN way of doing things, is
not the best idea if you want to really save Malaysia. If you believe in all these things, vote PSM.
2. You reject the idea that religion always has to be the major issue in mainstream Malay politics.
Are you sick and tired of the way how mainstream politicians use
Islam? Do you worry that the only avenue young people have to voice
their dissent is through mainstream political parties who understand the
use of religion as a narcotising tool to silence dissent? When you have one side claiming they want to turn this country into
an Islamic state and the other side at times contemplating Malaysia as
an Islamic state through the constitution, you know you are in trouble. If you want young Muslims to have an avenue where religion is not
part of the “struggle” or indeed a political party that does not use
Islam to garner votes, vote PSM.
3. You are sick and tired of the opposition telling you to be pragmatic and that ultimately, they will work things out.
PSM does not have apocalyptic political fantasies. But for PSM, the
political process is the Malaysian struggle. Struggle implies long work
ahead. It is not contradictory when PSM operatives want to remain
activists doing the hard work on the ground and not getting into
“politics”. They understand what politicians do and they want to remain
effective proponents for the causes they claim they want to represent.
This is exactly why people should vote for them. They want to do the hard work instead of thinking of politics as a profession.
4. You understand a two-party system only means something if
there are ideological and foundational issues that separate the parties.
Read the public comments
of academic James Chin - “In summary, if the defenders of the Malay
establishment are forced to hand over power to someone from outside the
Umno should it lose the upcoming election, there is no better person
than Mahathir. For them, Mahathir simply represents an alternative
Ketuanan Melayu leadership rather than real political reforms.”
5. You want candidates who actually care about their base
instead of candidates who are linked by mutual hatred towards the Umno
Here is what I said earlier
- “Catchy political bromides are the currency and while a party like
PSM goes about attempting to build consensus far away from the
preoccupations of urban polities who mock in racial and religious terms
the rural folk, mainstream opposition politics is dominated by issues
far removed from the realities that would ultimately determine this
6. You want your representative to actually have a system –
manifesto - to aspire to, instead playing the racial game with an eye
(always) towards the dominant community. Read the public comments of social activist Kua Kia Soong here, here and here.
7. You want candidates who would actually advocate on behalf
of marginalised peoples so you could live your privileged lifestyle
without worrying (too much) about them. I wish I was joking about this.
8. PSM will endure even if they do not get any seats in this
election and would continue serving the people they choose to represent
even if those people do not have the power to get them into office.
Say you do not vote for PSM. They will continue doing the work that
they believe will save Malaysia. They will continue the work, even when
they understand that the mainstream political process and those who
support it have no use for them.
They will endure, which is more than I can say for the opportunists
and charlatans of the mainstream political elite who say things they
know opposition supporters want to hear but will not give a damn about
fulfilling their obligations because they know partisan politics trumps
9. You want politicians who speak truth to power and not only just want to convert power for themselves.
Mainstream politics is about safe seats. Mainstream politics is about
thinking that a seat is yours by virtue of commanding a voter base –
which could turn on you at any moment. Mainstream politics is about
accruing power within the political parties you are a part of. Forming
schisms and cliques. Power jockeying and kissing up to power in your
little pond. This does not leave much time to do anything else but service your
political careers. Are all mainstream political operatives like this?
Maybe not. I can guarantee you that none of the PSM candidates is like
10. Because the opposition needs PSM.
I wrote this about the DAP, but the reality is that the opposition
needs PSM. For far too long, the opposition has relied on personalities
or wonky strategies to garner the votes of marginalised, disenfranchised, and yes, rural communities. What is needed is sustained
grassroots-level activism and a change in direction from the Umno/BN
template, which has been adopted by the opposition. Read here
– “If maintaining the status quo is the best we can hope for, then
stacking the political deck for future political gambles would be
advisable. Encouraging PSM to work the grassroots and providing the
machinery that would enable them to galvanise the disenfranchised from
all communities would be a better option than sticking to old formulas.” And read PSM sole parliamentarian Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj's appeal. You could contribute to the PSM cause here.
Writing this article was difficult. There are candidates that PSM are
going up against whom I know and I really wish they could have worked
something out with Harapan. However, I believe that PSM is onto
something, and although ideologically I have very little in common with
PSM, they are indeed needed for the greater good of this country.