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PSM and Pakatan - the real issues

Let me comment on the article ‘Best for PSM to go it alone' on June 11 in Malaysiakini written by the predictable Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) apologist Terence Netto.

Every time when it seems that PKR is losing the moral argument and this time, it was the news that Pakatan has decided to reject Parti Sosialis Malaysia's (PSM) application to join Pakatan, one can expect an article from Terence to paint a different picture and to divert from the real issues at hand.

Some time back, it was Terence who wrote that PSM must merge with PKR because PSM is a party with principled people, whereby PKR Indians lack that discipline and principles.

On the question whether PSM should go it alone or not is a question that PSM will have to discuss in the coming party congress at the end of this month.

I will not preempt that decision with my views today. PSM's main objective in participating in the recent election was to work with Pakatan to end BN rule. This was the general feeling on the ground.

1. It was because of this that PSM only stood in four seats. PSM stood in 2004, 2008 and 2013 also in only four seats. Therefore a situation that PSM is asking for additional seats from anyone this time does not exist.

PSM has been working with opposition parties since the 1999 election when we stood under the DAP logo. Therefore working together with the opposition has not been a problem. In 2004 and 2008, we were assured that once we got our own party registration, then we can stand under our own logo.

2. It was because of this that in 2013, we wanted to stand under our own logo and that was the party's congress decision.

Nevertheless we agreed to stand in all seats under the Pakatan parties' logos after our discussion with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in April this year.

The negotiations with Pakatan as preferred by Pakatan was that we discuss with DAP on Jelapang and the rest with PKR. There was no situation where we were given the choice to discuss all seats as between PSM and Pakatan.

This is a false argument put forward by Terence which did not exist. Negotiations with Pakatan were done with individual parties and not collectively as preferred by Pakatan.

3. With PKR, they wanted us to stand for all the three seats under their logo. We agreed after getting an approval from our members but yet at Semenyih, we were three-cornered by PKR and Kota Damansara by PAS.

Who violated the terms? In both these seats, PKR has never stood before using their own candidates. In Semenyih, because PKR leaders could not convince PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, some of their leaders agreed that we stand under PSM.

4. PSM chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim would have definitely won in Kota Damansara if there was no three-corner fight. Once again Terence ignored this fact and states that only Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj was a viable candidate. Even Dr Jeyakumar would have lost if there was a three-corner contest in Sg Siput.

5. PSM was the first party to accept defeat and we acknowledge that we lost because the general sentiment was to ‘Ubah' and ‘Ini kalilah' and people voted for any party standing under the Pakatan banner.

We believe and we maintain that we would have still won even if we stood under our own logo as long there was a one-to-one fight. This hypothesis was never tested.

Anyway if there was a three-cornered fight, then people would choose between Pakatan and BN. Having said that, I would not say that I lost in vain as said by Terence.

In fact, if we leave aside straight fights and votes garnered by Pakatan and BN, then PSM and I (Semenyih) got the highest votes in the country for a third candidate. I guess that is an achievement for a new party.

6. As for Jelapang, PSM wanted an independent NGO panel to choose the rightful candidate and we agreed to adhere by this committee's decision. Sadly, DAP did not agree to be evaluated by an independent NGO grouping made up of individuals from Bersih, Aliran, ABU and Suaram.

Therefore that seat also resulted in a three-corner fight but again we agreed we lost because of the national ‘Ubah' sentiment.

7. The seat negotiations never happened the way Terence has said. PSM did not set any condition for our support for Pakatan. We in fact said that if Pakatan stands in the four seats we are contesting then we will still support Pakatan in all the other seats Pakatan is contesting in the country. We never at any time threatened Pakatan though many felt PSM was bullied by Pakatan.

8. On the question of joining Pakatan. PSM had always wanted to be a Pakatan-friendly party and have a working relationship with Pakatan, but not join Pakatan.

That was the stand taken since 2008 after Pakatan was formed. In 2012, there was constant pressure from Pakatan members that PSM should join them. Many Pakatan leaders also openly asked PSM to join them and if we do not join, then it is seems as if PSM is not sincere.

PSM then took this up in our party congress in 2012 where the congress agreed to adhere to general sentiment and join Pakatan with the aim of toppling BN. After we applied, it seems now that Pakatan was dragging their feet.

Now, how can we be accused of being demanding or hard up to join Pakatan?

9. Now let me come to the question whether DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh was out of the loop. The same day this article appeared in the English section, the Malay section of Malaysiakini carried a similar story on PSM being rejected by Pakatan.

In that Malay edition, it reported that Ahmad Shambrimi who is secretary of the Pakatan secretariat, said that Pakatan has yet to decide on this and he said that Saifuddin was mistaken. He also said it might be discussed in the upcoming meeting next month. To quote:

Laporan sama turut memetik kenyataan setiausaha eksekutif Pakatan, Ahmad Shabrimi Sidek, bahawa gabungan itu "masih belum membuat keputusan" berhubung permohonan PSM.

Menurutnya, Pakatan mungkin akan membincangkan tentang perkara itu dalam mesyuarat presiden bulan depan.

Ahmad Shabrimi juga berkata, Setiausaha Agung PKR, Datuk Saifuddin Nasution dalam kenyataannya Ahad lalu mungkin tersilap dan salah faham memandangkan terdapat banyak mesyuarat yang dilakukan sebelum pilihan raya).

PSM hopes Pakatan will be able to overcome their confusion and let us know what the situation is through a letter and not media statements.

10. I think in that same Malay article, the most honest opinion was from Khalid Samad who said that most likely PSM was not accepted because all the three parties want to contest all the seats.

I feel this is the true reason and every other argument such as the logo, socialism, etc, were not the actual issues.

Terence keep repeating how small and insignificant is PSM in Malaysian politics and how much we must build the party.

It amuses me that such a small, insignificant, mosquito party like PSM seems to be bothering Terence "so much" that he must write something about us and it takes such a long time for an established party to reject the PSM application.

I finally end with the statement made by Nasir that if we don't join Pakatan, it would not be the end of our world. Surprisingly, more people have decided to join PSM after the election and that is very encouraging.

We intend to work harder and we thank the many who support us and keep our struggle going.

As for Terence, one has to watch the funeral of Hugo Chavez and compare it with the funeral of Margaret Thatcher to understand who won the hearts of the masses.

But sadly, if one's head is filled with right-wing neo-colonial s**t, then perhaps there is nothing much one can do.


S ARUTCHELVAN is PSM secretary-general.