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Thursday, July 20, 2017

PSM is right about Mahathir



“Dalam politik untuk pembebasan rakyat, tiadanya penyelamat hebat kecuali rakyat sendiri. Harapan untuk perubahan terletak dalam tangan rakyat sendiri.”
- PSM
PSM is the whipping boy for urban political elites who claim they want change, but all they want is a change in the seat of power in Putrajaya. What happens if the current grand Umno poohbah vacates his seat? You can bet your bottom ringgit that the forces who oppose the current Umno president within and outside Umno will become embroiled in a fractious war that would eventually see the coronation of a new Umno strongman.
What happens if Pakatan Harapan is unable to maintain the status quo or worse, loses badly in the next general election? What would this mean for the forces of change in this country? Would the oppositional intelligentsia and their online apparatchiks blame the “dumb rural folk” for their losses or worse, scapegoat whatever proxy is convenient to shift the blame to?
Harapan has a track record of not choosing its allies intelligently and banking on political personalities to hold disparate oppositional forces together. Remember when PAS (led by Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat) was supposed to be part of the coalition which would lead Malaysia to a new dawn.   
The fact that the opposition needs former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is an indictment against the opposition and while people support this alliance for various reasons, none of them should fool themselves into thinking they are changing the system in any meaningful way. These people (and I am including myself) are merely working a corrupt bigoted system.
Do not for one minute think we are saving Malaysia. At best, we are merely forestalling our eventual descent into Islamic extremism and even this is not a sure thing (seeing as how the Muslims in Harapan have to bend over backwards whenever it comes to any real voting Muslim’s issues). More importantly, do not mock or belittle a party like PSM for speaking truth to populist power when they remind opposition supporting Malaysians of the history that we are aligning with in the hopes of regime change in this country.
It makes good press when someone like PSM’s S Arutchelvan reminds opposition-leaning supporters of the sins of the former prime minister. Maybe some people are bothered by the fact that the majority of Malaysians voted for Mahathir, Umno and all those laws that we now supposedly disdain. Maybe people are upset that when we voted for him and BN, we used to mock the opposition and claim we were voting for the lesser of two evils and now we have to make that same choice again.
Political observer James Chin, (in my opinion, one of the best minds when it comes to objectively discussing the Malaysian experience) makes the same point in his latest piece - Why Mahathir is at the centre of Malaysia’s opposition power play - “In summary, if the defenders of the Malay establishment are forced to hand over power to someone from outside the Umno, should it lose the upcoming election, there is no better person than Mahathir. For them, Mahathir simply represents an alternative Ketuanan Melayu leadership rather than real political reforms.”
For the record, I am part of the problem. I made two points when I wrote that Pakatan Harapan should commit to course of action it has chosen to undertake -
“1) Let me be very clear. This is not what I want from the opposition. Clearly, I am in the minority. However, since the opposition has chosen to take this path, what they should do is to commit to it and not supply ammunition to Umno. You do not lead a ‘war’ by consensus. You need a firm leader to inspire and lead the troops.
“2) Or failing that, a strategist who knows how the Umno game is played and can outplay his former comrades and split the Malay vote and redefine the political landscape much as how political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim did when he was ejected from the Umno paradise.”
Our little urban cocoons
On how PSM was attempting to save Malaysia from a ‘kakistocracy’, I wrote - “Whenever I read of how anonymous apparatchiks who accuse the PSM of being ‘greedy’, I realise why ‘the knaves will always benefit at the cost of fools’. Is it any wonder in attempting to explain why Umno always has the advantage, I drew upon the work of PSM’s Jeyakumar Devaraj (and the Penang state government-aligned Dr Wong Chin Huat) in the attempt to offer a strategy in dealing with the hegemon.”
Therefore, when a committed activist/politician like Arutchelvan and PSM reminds us of the folly of our ways, we should have some humility and not simply slander him or PSM as stooges for the Umno regime. We should not dismiss them because our politics are mainstream and we are comfortable in our little urban cocoons far removed from the real war for the hearts and minds of the demographic that supports Umno.
However, there is far more useful information on Arutchelvan’s and PSM’s Facebook pages. Information about the grassroots-level activism that PSM carries out and that the Umno state realises is the real threat to their hegemony if ever the time came when disenfranchised forces from the rural enclaves morph into a potent alternative coalition.
Do opposition supporters even know the names of the folks arrested in the Gatco malfeasances?  In case anyone is interested, here is the list of names.
Let me give you an example. When someone like Kelantan PSM chief Khairul Nizam Abd Ghani gets assaulted in the course of his work (which seems to be the only way PSM gets any press in the alternative media), some oppositional folks do not see it as a big deal. However if you go to his Facebook page, he answers the burning question coming ironically from oppositional folks as to why a party like PSM wants to be a part of the democratic process in Malaysia.
In this Khairul Nizam’s piece, I will highlight three salient points -
1)  Kenapa Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) bertanding pilihanraya?
(Ideologi) Dalam satu2 kawasan, walau tidak majoriti, tetapi terdapat sejumlah besar pengundi yang bosan memilih antara Cola dan Pepsi. Maka, selalunya mereka tidak mengundi (menempuh perjalanan, susun jadual, keluar duit, etc untuk mengundi Pepsi atau Cola). PSM bertanding sebagai alternatif kepada mereka, supaya mereka juga terlibat dalam demokrasi negara. Kelompok ini tahu kemenangan tidak dijanjikan. Tapi mahu prinsip mereka diterjemahkan melalui undi.
2) Kami mahu menewaskan BN. PSM janganlah ganggu kami.
PRU yang lepas2, PSM telah bersetuju menggunakan tiket PR untuk jatuhkan BN, tetapi diganggu juga. Maka ayat jangan kacau kami untuk jatuhkan BN adalah penipuan politik. Sama seperti Sarawak yang Harapan bertanding sama sendiri. Kelompok pengikut biasa memang tidak sedar akan Coke dengan Pepsi ini. Tetapi sejumlah kelompok intelek politik sedar akan ini. PSM menawarkan alternatif kepada mereka. Tidak kacau segment undi parti mana2. Tidak menjanjikan kemenangan untuk segment ini. Tetapi prisip mereka diterjemah melalui undi. Mereka turut boleh menyertai pesta demokrasi negara, berbanding boikot, abaikan dan sebagainya.
3) Apa yang PSM Kelantan janjikan?
PSM Kelantan tidak menjanjikan syurga, bulan atau bintang. Jumlah kerusi pun terlalu sedikit. PSM Kelantan menawarkan:
i. Menang atau kalah, akan tetap buat kerja. Seperti yang kamu kenali sebelum ini.
Perhaps that is the real point of all of this. PSM will carry on doing what is best for the disenfranchised of this country no matter who wins the throne in Putrajaya. Imagine what they could achieve if they had mainstream support.
As far as I am concerned, those who mock and libel PSM or former DAP leader Kua Kia Soong are the real traitors to the cause they claim allegiance to, these are the same ignorant hacks who claim that we are living under an "apartheid" system but who have no problem working with a race-based party who claim that the ruling hegemon has failed to look after the rights of the majority.
If you want to make a deal with the devil, don’t vilify those on the side of angels.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Mkini

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