Kuala Lumpur

Riding the crest of a powerful Bersih (“clean”) democracy movement in the streets, Malaysia’s Pakatan Rakyat (People's Pact) opposition alliance won 53% of the popular vote in the 2013 general election. Gerrymandered electorates, however, ensured they took only 40% of the seats.

Yet as a new general election approaches, likely early next year, the incumbent Barisan Nasional (National Front, BN) government looks set to easily hold on the power.

The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) Socialism 2016 conference, held over November 25-27, featured solidarity with Maria Chin, chairperson of the Bersih anti-government movement who was being held in solitary confinement under the anti-democratic Security Operations Special Measures Act.

A special candle light vigil was held before the solidarity night which opened the conference. Chin was released on November 28 after 10 days in detention.

The Bersih 5.0 demonstration for clean elections and against corruption in Malaysia made a huge splash on November 19 despite threats of serious repression. The night before the demonstration, at least 10 prominent figures (including key organisers of the rally) were arrested.

The Bersih 5.0 demonstration for clean elections in Malaysia made a huge splash despite threats of serious repression. The night before the demonstration at least ten prominent figures (including key organisers of the rally) were arrested.

The leadup to the Bersih 5.0 was also characterised by threats of violence from the pro-government Red Shirts. Although nominally independent, the government was clearly turning a blind eye to these threats. Some figures associated with the Najib regime were also promising to march with the Red Shirts.

This is the second part of an article on an exposure tour of Malaysia hosted by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), in which five Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members participated over January 15 to 26.

Part 1 was published in #1082 and can be found here. Part 3 will published in the next issue.

* * *

From January 15 to 26, five Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members participated in an exposure tour of Malaysia, hosted by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

Day 1: Arriving in Kuala Lumpur and Bersih rallies

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur late on Friday evening and stayed in dormitories that served as a training facility for the Catholic Church.

That night, PSM members told us about the Bersih rallies, which have been among the largest demonstrations to have taken place in Malaysia.

Subscribe to Kuala Lumpur