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Why PSM is casting a wider net in this general election

Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj - Photograph: The Malaysian Insight

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Mustafa K Anuar spoke to Sungei Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj on PSM’s plans in this general election.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) plans to contest in more constituencies in the forthcoming general election in order “to retain a space on the electoral map”.

PSM central committee member Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj said the party was forced to stake a claim because Pakatan Harapan (PH) had so far refused to come to the negotiation table.

Besides, these are places “where we have done work”, added Dr Jeyakumar.

PSM plans to put up its candidates in the parliamentary seats of Sungai Siput, Batu Gajah, Cameron Highlands, Subang and Ulu Langat, while the state seats are Kota Lama (Kelantan), Jelai (Pahang), Semenyih, Kota Damansara and Port Klang (Selangor), and Buntong, Jelapang, Menglembu, Tronoh and Malim Nawar (Perak).

“If PH had included us in their seat negotiations, we could have compromised and reduced the numbers (of seats),” said the respiratory physician.

However, he added, “the road to negotiation is still open, and we have made this known to PH.”

The 2018 general election is very important, said Jeyakumar, who is also Sungai Siput MP, because “there is a real danger that the PH is going to stumble and Barisan Nasional (BN) will come back with a two-thirds majority and a largely non-Malay opposition.

“That would be quite a disaster for the country.”

The 63-year-old doctor said, “The PSM had a difficult task of preserving its toe-hold in the electoral process without upsetting and alienating the PH supporters who are longing for change.

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“PH have excluded the PSM from the electoral platform. Wherever we stand there will be a three-corner fight with BN and PH.

“But we believe that we have a unique contribution to make to the political process in Malaysia.

“For one, we are about the only party that thinks imperialism is still an issue in the 21st century. So, we can’t just fold up and return to being a civil society.”

When asked about his chances of retaining his parliamentary seat of Sungai Siput given the possibility of a three-corner fight, Dr Jeyakumar said, “Extremely grim. My margin of victory was thin – 2700.”

He added that the majority could be easily negated if it is a multi-cornered fight.

“Unless, and I am not sure of this, a significant number of the Sungai Siput voters recognise that I represent a totally new genre in politics and really support it. That would mean that ordinary voters are much smarter than most political leaders think,” he added.

The party is concerned about socio-economic challenges that society is confronted with, particularly inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic economic gaps.

To address these challenges, Jeyakumar said, “We need to recognise the role that the global economic system plays in generating these socio-economic gaps. We then need to renegotiate the engagement of Third World countries in the global economy. We need a new generation of trade agreements.

“We have to stop the commercialisation of basic necessities. That just drives up costs. Basic needs must be provided at affordable prices even if the government needs to subsidise them.

“We need to lobby the idea of a ‘social wage’ because our workers sacrifice to work at wages that are far below the value of their labour. So, it’s a ‘social contract’ not ‘alms to beggars’.

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“We would like to build a people’s movement so that the soft skills required to make people the ‘protagonists’ in society can be built up,” added Jeyakumar, whose vision of a better Malaysia is, among others, better distribution of wealth and inter-ethnic harmony.

Source: themalaysianinsight.com

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