Malaysian socialists win seat for first time in four decades

Below is a March 9 statement by the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM). For more information, visit .

After four decades, two members of the PSM finally won seats in the general elections held on March 8.

PSM national chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim won the Kota Damansara state seat in Selangor, beating United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) candidate Zein Isma Ismail by 1075 majority. Hashim secured 11,846 votes compared to Zein 10,771.

Meanwhile PSM central committee member Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj created a major upset by winning a seat in the national parliament. He beat the Malaysian Indian Congress's (MIC) candidate Datuk S. Samy Vellu — who is a senior minister and the leader the MIC, which is the third largest component of the governing National Front (BN) coalition.

Jeyakumar obtained 16,458 votes compared to 14,637 votes obtained by Samy Vellu, making this the first time a socialist has won a seat in the parliament for over four decades.

The last time a socialist candidate won a parliamentary seat was in 1964, when the Socialist Front won two seats. The last time the socialist won a state assembly seat was in 1969, when the Malaysian People's Socialist Party (PSRM) won four state seats.

Now almost four decades later, PSM finally won two seats — one in parliament and one in a state assembly. PSM contested four seats using the logo of the People's Justice Party (PKR).

This is because the PSM was prevented from using its own logo, as the state has prevented the PSM from registering as a political party.

It used a separate seven point manifesto, while endorsing the manifesto of the opposition front created by the PKR and the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS). All party and campaign documents carried the party's logo as well as its flag, which was used along with the PKR's flag.

PSM secretary general S. Arutchelvan lost narrowly to BN candidate Johan Abdul Aziz in the Semenyih state seat. PSM candidate Arul in Semenyih garnered 10,448 votes against Johan 11,588, losing by less than 5%.

Meanwhile PSM deputy chairperson M. Saraswathy lost in the Jelapang state seat by a large margin. Her defeat was due to the failed negotiation with Democratic Action Party, which resulted in a three-way fight. Saraswathy had to use an independent logo, which was confirmed only on nomination day.

The PSM central committee will meet in two weeks' time to decide on the party's line, especially in states where opposition forces have won.

Meanwhile a code of ethics will also be drawn up on the requirements of the elected representatives and their role in parliament and state assemblies.

The general sentiment and the expectation after the victory is that the PSM's reps will have to champion to rights of the workers and the poor. The party will also try to establish people's councils in the areas it has won, in order to try and ensure total participation from the people and ensure the people continue to play a critical role in ensuring their rights and building the working class movement.