In the twilight zone of politics


PSM struggles on as a party for the marginalised as it holds fast to its socialist ideals

K Pragalath, FMT

With Malaysia moving towards a two-party system, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is finding itself stuck in a twilight zone. It is passionately anti-BN, but neither can it agree with everything that Pakatan Rakyat stands for.

Nor, for that matter, is Pakatan too enthusiastic about roping it into its fold.

When it fielded candidates in the 2008 general election, PSM was not yet a registered party although it had submitted its application to the Registrar of Societies a decade earlier. So three of the four PSM candidates contested under the PKR logo and the other as an independent candidate.

The party did rather well in that election, with Dr D Michael Jeyakumar beating MIC president S Samy Vellu for the Sungai Siput parliament seat and PSM chairman Nasir Hashim winning the Selangor state seat of Kota Damansara.

PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan lost his bid for Semenyih, also a Selangor state seat. M Sarasvathy, who contested as the independent candidate in the Perak state constituency of Jelapang, also lost. The winner was a DAP candidate who later quit her party.

All four contested in the same constituencies in last year’s election, but this time using the PSM logo. However, only Dr Jeyakumar won.

In Kota Damansara, a PAS candidate filed nomination papers despite an agreement between PSM and Pakatan not to contest against each other. Although the PAS man later pulled out of the race, the damage had been done and BN won the seat.

In Jelapang, DAP again entered the race and again won. In Semenyih, Arutchelvan lost to BN in a three-cornered fight involving PKR.

PSM accepts membership from anyone subscribing to its socialist ideology. Nevertheless, its support comes mostly from estate workers, factory hands and others trapped in urban poverty.

The party conducts regular campaigns to spread word about what it struggles for, to raise awareness about current issues and to explain why it is against BN. PSM is now on an anti-GST campaign with Pakatan.