Vote PSM for Semenyih - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, February 18, 2019
Malaysiakini : "Kalau menang PSM berkhidmat, kalau kalah PSM masih berkhidmat.
Ini politik PSM. Tetap berkhidmat untuk rakyat. (If we win PSM will
serve. If we lose, PSM will still serve. That is PSM's politics. It will
always serve the people.)" - Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul
Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul's story is a familiar one when it comes to why
people join Parti Sosialis Malaysia. Working for an NGO when he first
came across PSM, he was impressed by their dedication to the rakyat.
As the PSM candidate for the coming Semenyih by-election,
he is doing everything you would expect from a candidate of a political
party that has always demanded real change, but has been failing at the
He has declared his assets and agreed to a debate.
The latter is a tiresome prospect because there are no real political
debates – even in the West – where it is all about personality and not
But, hey, it would be interesting to see how a PSM
candidate differs from the other mainstream candidates. As for how much
he's worth, that's another story. Unlike mainstream political
hegemons, PSM does work the grassroots and work for the grassroots.
Here’s the thing about PSM activist/political operatives – winning or
losing is not the point of their struggle.
I hate it when
mainstream political operatives talk about their 'struggle,' because it
does not mean a struggle for the people they claim to represent, but
rather their struggle for political relevancy in the rigged game they
choose to play in.
But talk to any PSM member/supporter – be they Malay,
Chinese, Indian or Orang Asli – and political relevancy, though
desirable, is not the paramount concern. Their concerns
are the issues – local – facing the communities they operate in, and the
larger socioeconomic context of political hegemony at odds with a
sometimes apathetic, but most often voiceless strata of society.
Independence and service
People often talk about the 'tongkat'
(crutch) mentality of the Malay community. On the one hand, they mock
and are dismissive of the entitlements for the community. On the other,
they choose the pragmatic approach of furthering these programmes
because it is beneficial to the party of their choice.
Nik Aziz talks about being independent and continuing working as a masseur so he does not have to rely on outside funds. He
talks about using his allowance as an MP to fund a service centre to
help the people, as former PSM Sungai Siput lawmaker Dr D Michael
Jeyakumar did. He knows his work could provide him with an avenue to
learn more about the people he serves.
What we are talking about
here are ideas of independence and service which are far more important
in changing minds than whatever the mainstream political alternatives
are offering, in terms of promises of more entitlements, or using the
federal machinery to entice voters to vote for them.
Nik Aziz may
be inexperienced, but his inexperience is that of not knowing how to
work the system to his political advantage. He understands there is
something wrong with the system, and he wants to engage with it and
change it. This is why PSM candidates say that win or lose, they
will continue working for the people. They understand there are no quick
This is echoed in the interview I
did with PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan: “Though we have
lost elections, we have won many local struggles in estates, squatters,
and at work sites, and these victories keep us going. "Our track
record in the grassroots struggle cannot be challenged by any other
parties. Today, some good policies are there because of our long
Breaking the system
in Semenyih have a choice. They could opt for the mainstream political
parties embroiled in a conflict about political power, or they could
choose an independent party/individual, which could be the first small
step in breaking the dominion of the two-party system, which offers
little difference in terms of policy or modus operandi.
Suaram adviser Kua Sia Soong articulates the
need for a third progressive force in Malaysian politics: “Thus, at the
by-election in Semenyih, PSM can spearhead a long-overdue ‘Third
Progressive Force’ to offer a non-racial, progressive and sustainable
alternative to BN 1.0 and BN 2.0 for the future generations of
PSM has always had a low-key approach to political
campaigns. This is because they are not flushed with funds like the
other mainstream political parties. Now that Pakatan Harapan is in
power, no doubt the federal machinery would be mobilised to exert
influence over the elections. We can see the kind of political games
played instead of narrowing in on policy.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is playing the psywar game, by claiming that PAS will not support BN in this by-election. His
latest meeting with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is typical 'Malay'
politics, all smoke and mirrors, to cloud the issue and make partisans
focus on anything but the lacklustre candidate Harapan has put up. Keep
everyone guessing and nobody will concentrate on the issues.
knows if PAS will support Umno – although they have been voices of
support – but that's the whole point of the game. Muddy the waters, and
make it a spectacle. Hadi, of course, is doing his part to 'keep
'em guessing'. If the Malays are spooked by the power plays of the
political elite, they will cling to stability where they can find it.
Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is playing the victim
card with his close encounter of the third kind with rowdy Umno
supporters. The youth and sports minister said he would lodge a police
report about his near assault by Umno supporters.
To get an alternative narrative, read PSM Youth chief Khalid Ismath's take on the situation, as reported in the Malay Mail:
“Khalid, however, said all other Harapan leaders and ministers did not
take the path that Syed Saddiq took, pointing out that the Election
Commission has dictated far apart areas for the parties running in the
Semenyih state race.