Socialist PSM shifts gears toward religion


Cindi Loo, The Ant Daily

With a rising number of new Muslim recruits urging for discourse and the religious rhetoric currently dominating mainstream politics, Malaysian socialists are finding themselves forced to address the issue of religion, despite their usual practice of putting such considerations aside in favour of more secular approach focusing on economy and social welfare.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has decided to change its policy to comment on issues relating to religion during their recently-concluded national congress following changes to the political climate and increasing number of members urging them to speak up.

“Before this, we have agreed to elaborate and deal with economic issues, but lately whenever these issues are discussed, it doesn’t get the attention it needed, but issues like hudud and Islamic affairs are cropping up, it further divides the people at large instead of uniting them,” said PSM secretary general S Arutchelvan.

He told theantdaily that the decision made at the national congress was made owing to the growing number of new members who are Muslims.


“The number of Muslim members have increased by 75% over the past year, and as they joined the party they said issues like this should not be left hanging and we should take a position,” Arutchelvan explained.

Joining in the national debate on hudud, the sec-gen said the party plans to hold a national discussion on the issue in the next few months, and are in the process of editing a book elaborating on the similarities between socialism and Islam.

However, he clarified that such a change does not affect their main campaign of championing economic issues and neither should they be expected to take the lead in voicing their stances in religious matters.

“We will comment where necessary but it doesn’t mean PSM will take a leadership role on religious issues but will make our position public,” he said, adding that the party’s basic principled stand is a belief that religion should be separated from politics.