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PRU14: why PSM is going it alone?

As the next general election runs into fever pitch, there is much concern about boycotting of the election and independent candidates. 

All sides are trying their level best to convince the voting public why they make a better choice in improving people’s lives. 

Caught in the quagmire is Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM). I have noticed with much concern, accusations thrown at them on a daily basis. 

I understand that many are unhappy with PSM, who is seen as the “spoiler” in a do-or-die battle between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH). 

Many are under the impression that PSM’s exclusion from PH stems from their refusal to be a part of PH. As a result, PSM is accused of being not just the spoiler but also arrogant. This is, to put it simply, inaccurate, unfair and untrue. 

In order to put things in perspective, let us go back to 1998, when PSM was formed. Their registration as a party was rejected under the then Mahathir administration. Their application was finally approved in 2008 during Abdullah Badawi’s administration. 

During their 10-year wait, PSM candidates contested under the banner of DAP and PKR in three general elections, in 1999, 2004 and 2008. 

In 2010, about three years before the 2013 elections, PSM wrote to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, seeking an appointment to discuss national issues, election and a possible cooperation with the then Pakatan Rakyat (PR). This was met with silence. 

In March 2011, PSM wrote to Lim Guan Eng, seeking appointment to discuss the same issues. It went unanswered, and a second letter was sent in June, which was similarly ignored. 

In December 2011, PSM made another attempt to initiate negotiations with PR by writing to the secretary-generals of the three parties, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PKR), Mustafa Ali (PAS) and Lim Guan Eng (DAP), and again, there was no response. 

Meanwhile, some informal discussions took place between some PSM and PR leaders in regard to the Perak state seat of Jelapang, but no decisions were made to PSM’s letters to the PR top leadership. 

Fast forward September 2012, an email was sent to Anwar, its contents pretty much the same as the first letter dated August 2010, requesting a meeting to discuss national issues, GE13 and a possible cooperation. 

This time, Anwar responded by saying that Mohamed Azmin Ali was instructed to talk to PSM, but only in regard to Selangor seats. 

In a meeting between a few PSM and PKR leaders, Azmin was agreeable to PSM’s participation in GE13 but insisted on PSM using PKR’s logo. Tian Chua said PSM should not join PR at that moment (close to GE13) as it would “create complications”. So, that’s that as far as the meeting was concerned. 

In January 2013, PSM wrote to Anwar seeking clarification on Tian Chua’s statement but this was met with no reply. 

Some 26 months after the first letter to Anwar, PR finally called for a proper meeting on January 29, 2013. Here are some of the things that took place in the meeting: 

• A PAS representative said they were OK with PSM joining PR as well as to use their own logo for the coming GE13. 

• A DAP representative said they were also OK with PSM joining PR and using their own logo for GE13 but they must not stand in Jelapang, Perak. 

• A PKR representative said the issue of PSM joining PR and the usage of their logo in GE13 had to be brought up to the PR Presidential Council for discussion and decision. 

However, nothing else was heard after this meeting. Even after PSM sent a follow-up letter dated March 22, 2013, there was absolute silence. 

In April 2013, just a month before GE13, PSM finally met with Anwar. Apart from saying he could only speak for PKR and not other component parties, Anwar insisted PSM use the PKR logo. According to him, it was for GE13 only. After much deliberation, PSM agreed. 

In August 2013, five months after GE13, PSM received the first response from PR, which wanted to know whether PSM supported PR’s common position – the Buku Jingga. PSM replied in the affirmative. No further communication. 

Formation of PH 

Pakatan Harapan was formed on September 22, 2015. PSM was not included. 

When civil movement leaders Ambiga Sreenevasan and Maria Chin asked why PSM was excluded, PH said it was because PSM did not support or subscribe to Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. 

Now that was a surprise and total shock because PSM had never made such a declaration nor shown any tendency towards not supporting the special position of the Malays as stipulated in Article 153 in any of their activities. 

To date, PH has offered no explanation as to why they arrived at such an assumption. Not even a claim of misquote as would normally take place in a situation like this. 

Despite some PH leaders apologising privately to PSM, no official retraction of that statement was ever made up till today, let alone to initiate any discussion to include PSM in PR. 

Towards GE14 

Expecting GE14 to be called any time, PSM openly called out to PH to initiate talks on seat allocations from around the first quarter of 2017. This was met with complete silence till October 2017 when Azmin announced through the media that PH was ready to talk. But no meetings were called. 

After a few months, two other PH leaders, Sivarasa Rasiah and Saifuddin also announced that the door was now open for discussion, but again, no meetings were called. Only a media announcement. 

In the meantime and due to the silence from PR, PSM made their own plans to contest in various state and parliamentary seats, and even launched its election campaign in October 2017. 

In which way has PSM been arrogant or not accommodating? 

Just how much longer and how many more letters should PSM write to PR? I believe many fair-minded citizens would have come to a reasonable conclusion by now. 

To those who have been much critical of PSM, do you claim to fight for justice by not participating in the process towards justice? Should the concept of justice be applicable selectively? 

Do you claim to fight for freedom by perpetuating a culture of bullying? Do you claim to push or restore democracy by suppressing those you can, just because you can? 

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