On August 16, the Malaysian Court of Appeal rejected the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) case to be legally registered as a national political party — which it has been fighting since 1998.
In his 34-page judgement, appeals court judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram, upheld the decision by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in 1998 and 1999 to reject the PSM's application for registration on the grounds that the PSM's leading committee did not comprise members from at least seven of Malaysia's 13 states. Most of them had addresses in Selangor.
Gopal declared that the ROS's policy did not contradict Malaysia's federal constitution guaranteeing citizens the right to form associations, because the constitution also empowered the parliament the right to impose restrictions on that right.
"Since Malaysia has 13 states, the ROS probably had in mind that a political party seeking registration at the national level must seek representation 50% plus one state in the federation. There is nothing unreasonable about this", he declared.
"The ROS granted PSM registration in the state of Selangor", he said. "As advised by counsel on both sides, this does not prevent PSM from contesting in national elections, neither is PSM prevented from seeking registration at the national level if it is able to meet the ROS's requirement."
Outside the courtroom, PSM chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim vowed to fight on. With him were some 80 PSM members and supporters.
"We will appeal, we are not disheartened. We feel sad but this is not the end. We know we will face all these problems but we will never stop fighting or be affected by this, we will go on to do what is right", he told journalists.
The PSM has vowed to take its case to be registered as a national party to the Federal Court, Malaysia's highest court.
Though the appeals court ruled against the PSM, Gopal rejected the home affairs minister's claim that the PSM should be denied registration because the party is a "national security threat".
Gopal said there was "not a scintilla of evidence" to show that issues of national security were involved in the PSM's case. "All we have is the mere ipse dixit [unsupported assertion] of the minister based on information given by the police to him, nothing else. On the authorities this is insufficient, the appellant's complaint is therefore justified", he said.