Strengthening Protections for Gig Economy Workers

Covid-19 has revealed the fragility of our economic model, which increasingly steals away the rights of part-time workers, while exploiting the energies of these workers to the maximum. This was achieved through a system of “employment” which is moving from formal to informal work. A part of this work format has been named as the “gig” economy. 

The gig economy is a trend in the free market system that gives the freedom to organisations or workers to enter a contract of service, rather than a fixed term contract. It treats workers as free contractors who make specific agreements with employers, to allow employers to utilise their services without salarying those workers full time. Although this may appear to give flexibility to workers, in reality it only steals away whatever reasonable social protections that exist for them. An example of Gig Economy work is the delivery service position known as P-Hailing (Parcel Hailing). 

P-Hailing workers, though they play a key role in ensuring that the food delivery and service sectors continue operating throughout the duration of the pandemic, have had their rights highly neglected. Their classification as “free contractors” and not workers marginalises these labourers, and profits the digital platform companies which employ them. 

There are still many gig workers who don’t have their labour rights safeguarded in the event of any emergencies. Rather, they have to take personal steps to protect their rights. 

Gig economy workers aren’t covered by company insurance, and they also don’t have financial safety nets like the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) or the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO). In addition, costs like motorcycle maintenance, food delivery bags, and even corporate company shirts have to be borne by the workers themselves. 

While the earnings of these workers may seem generous on the surface, these numbers are often misleading. As an example, one popular food delivery company is Foodpanda. Foodpanda’s latest work schedule, released in 2019 without any negotiation with riders, ties workers to 14 hour workdays without appropriate wages. The addition of new workers doesn’t lighten the burden of work on these riders: but rather causes the wage rates for their services to be lowered even further. Some workers have complained that their weekly earnings have dropped by as much as RM300 since this latest work schedule was released. 

Foodpanda’s riders have also complained that they are under threat of suspension and being banned from making order deliveries if they’ve cancelled too many orders. 

In the past, Foodpanda has also issued warning letters threatening a Penang Island rider with dismissal for having taken part in a strike. This is a clear violation of the worker’s rights to engage in strike action or to participate in union activities. 

For P-Hailing workers of Grabfood, meanwhile, they can find themselves suspended even if the order was cancelled due to a system-side error, like the customer being outside their area of service. This happens even though Grabfood’s customer service centre was informed beforehand. These workers expected that they would be allowed to cancel the orders in question without any punishments, but instead found themselves still suspended from making deliveries, causing their income to be reduced. The exploitation of workers is obfuscated by the use of algorithms, showing that these P-Hailing workers don’t have the guaranteed incomes enjoyed by formal sector workers.

Many of their rights have been denied, but the law fails to side with them. Because of the classification of P-Hailing workers as free contractors, their status becomes ambiguous and they are excluded from various rights that would be clearly guaranteed if they were formal workers.

The government’s responsibility is to ensure that the nation’s resources are best allocated to generate benefits that can be channelled to all its citizens, not to gouge surplus from the suffering of its people for the profit of big companies. The legal framework must be updated to ensure that these workers enjoy the same rights as any other workers in Malaysia. 

As such, PSM has undertaken the National Action Plan “Permintaan Rakyat Mudah Je”, which was launched on the 9th of September 2021, recommending that all aforesaid P-Hailing workers must be given SOCSO and EPF coverage. 

The government has to table laws to ensure that these gig economy companies are mandated to make SOCSO and EPF contributions on behalf of their workers. PSM urges that these E-Hailing workers be given a basic minimum wage in addition to their commission payments. Companies must be held responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of existing labour laws. 

The Ministry of Human Resources must also rationalise and amend the existing labour laws to keep up with the latest changes and trends in the realm of work, that is the shift from formal work under fixed employers towards workers providing free service under the Gig Economy. Employers and the providers of these service platforms cannot be exempt from preparing the necessary accommodations and fulfilling their responsibilities towards the workers providing these services. They are still workers that must be protected by the labour laws of the nation. 

Labour laws must be amended to give adequate protection to these gig economy workers. Wrongful dismissals should not be allowed and they must be given the right to form unions and picket to voice any injustices which may be happening. 

These workers must also be given the right to collective bargaining. This ensures that the mass give-and-take mechanism can function, which enables workers to enjoy equal rights without discrimination, either legal or on account of their work relations, to conduct effective collective negotiations with employers. 

A Sivarajan
Secretary General, Socialist Party of Malaysia

Oppression on Government Premises? The Impacts of Outsourcing on Government Workers.

Oppression on Government Premises? The Impacts of Outsourcing on Government Workers.

Such is the irony of the situation for those employed on school premises, hospital buildings and other government offices. The government has failed to protect the employees working under their very roofs.

Who are these workers? They are the cleaners in government buildings as well as the security guards in public schools, government hospitals, ministries, government departments and agencies. There are an estimated 230,000 such workers.

Prior to the mid-1990s, all cleaners, gardeners and security guards on government premises were civil servants who were guaranteed job security. However, when the 4th Prime Minister — Tun Dr. Mahathir — introduced the privatization policy in 1996, the existing system switched to a contract system that effectively dismantled their secure employment. 

This contract system was initially established to create a group of Malay contractors, and was intended to help encourage the participation of Malay entrepreneurs in the business sector. Hence, all staff who were initially employed directly by the government had then transitioned to being employed by contractor companies, where they continued their work as usual on the same premises. 

Contractor companies were awarded contracts by the government’s procurement unit for a fixed period — usually around three years. Once this period was over, the contractor would resubmit their tender bid. If it was a different company that eventually succeeded in securing the tender, the existing workers would end up being absorbed as employees of the new contractor. 

This means that, even an employee who has worked as a school building cleaner for a period of 20 years, would be treated as a new employee every 3 years, with their salary and other benefits remaining at the level of a new staff. It also means that they will only be paid minimum wage, despite having years of experience. No increases in salary, because they will be considered a new employee to every contractor! Their entitlement to annual leave and sick leave will also remain the same. 

Apart from this, security guards also face issues with delays in the payments of wages, unexplained deduction from wages, irregularities in calculating overtime pay, insufficient EPF, SOCSO, Employment Insurance System (EIS) contributions and so on.

Contract workers employed as cleaners in government hospitals also suffer bad working conditions, despite being in the front line of Covid-19 frontliners. At a time when the world is fighting against Covid-19, our government still refuses to acknowledge these contractors as frontliners.

Doctors and nurses at hospitals are recognised as frontliners and have been granted an allowance of RM600 under the pandemic stimulus package in 2020. Budget 2021 also included allocations for a special allowance for this group. However, contract workers on the premises of government hospitals, like cleaners and security guards, have not been granted this same recognition. The government is discriminating against this group of workers. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof had once also said in Parliament that hospitals cleaners would not be given the payment or ‘one-off’ assistance of RM300 (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/553331). 

Do they not realise that, both before and after doctors or nurses treat a patient, it is the contract workers who have to clean the area? How is it that they are not acknowledged as frontliners even though they face the same risks as doctors and nurses? 

This is the kind of oppression workers face as a result of the contract system. In order for just a handful of Malays to be made into entrepreneurs, the majority of Malay workers are oppressed and deprived of their rights.

The contract system currently practised clearly contradicts the Employees Act 1955. Section 11 of the Employees Act states that a job can only be offered as a ‘fixed term contract’, if it is seasonal work, specific and not always required. This refers to construction work or maintenance work, that will be over once the construction or maintenance is completed.

However, cleaning work on government premises as well as security work in buildings will be required for as long as that building is still functioning. So why is it then, that these workers are hired permanently as contact workers and then let-go-of when they are no longer needed? 

This contract system only exists to protect political cronies in order to maintain the political and financial stability of the ruling government. It allows a middleman, i.e. a contractor company, who has no actual links to the work and the workplace, to control and lead the workers. These middlemen or contractors violate employment laws and often prey on employees by failing to contribute to Socso, EPF and so on. 

Although many complaints have been lodged against these oppressive contractors, they seem to be unaffected and are still able to successfully secure government contracts. Even when blacklisted, they are easily able to use other contractor companies, under the names of their family members, to continue doing business and bidding for government tenders. 

The contract system that was first introduced was supposed to help reduce government expenditure by outsourcing such services, as this would mean that the government would not have to pay workers or undertake efforts to protect their welfare. 

Nevertheless, in the last 25 years, the reality is that this system has burdened the government with even more costs, as the Department of Manpower (JTK) and the Department of Industrial Relations (JPP) has had to handle lots of complaints regarding the poor treatment of workers by private contractors.

Therefore, this system of employing workers on a contract basis due to the outsourcing of services on government premises must be stopped. PSM urges the government to continue absorbing these workers as permanent government employees with the same benefits other civil servants are entitled to. This indirect suppression of workers’ rights by the government is ironic and shameful. For the sake of workers’ rights, it must be stopped immediately.

This article is part of an ongoing series in PSM’s alternative action plan, Pelan Pemulihan Nasional. The basic document can be found here. (https://partisosialis.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Dokumen-Asas-Pemulihan-Nasional.pdf)

A. Sivarajan

Secretary General, Parti Sosialis Malaysia

Strengthening Social Protections

Strengthening Social Protections

Strengthening Social Protections

Guaranteed Basic Income Scheme: RM1000 monthly for families who have lost their sources of income due to the Covid-19 MCO.

Since March of 2020, PSM has urged the government to introduce a Guaranteed Basic Income scheme for those who have lost their source of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

PSM’s action plan document titled “Kemelesetan Ekonomi Pasca Covid 19 : Cadangan Memulihkan Negara Demi Rakyat” (Economic Hardship Due to Covid-19: Suggestions for Restoring the Country for the Sake of the Citizens) suggests that every family that has lost their source of income should be paid as much as RM1000 to ensure they aren’t at risk of falling into poverty. This document was submitted to the Prime Minister in July of 2020. 

Unfortunately, however, the government has stuck with a “one-off” model of aid. The Bantuan Khas Covid (BKC) (Covid Special Assistance) Scheme that was introduced is a “one-off” payment whereby individuals living in extreme poverty will be paid RM1300 per household, RM500 per elder citizen, and RM500 for single individuals on an instalment basis. B40 citizens on the other hand will receive a payment of RM800 per household, or RM200 for elderly citizens and single individuals. BKC Aid will also be extended to M40 individuals. Those who have a combined household income of above RM5000 are counted as part of the M40. As much as RM3.1 billion has been allocated for these payments. 

PSM suggests that compared to such “one-off” payments that are broadly distributed from people living in extreme poverty to M40 individuals, it would be more beneficial if the government focused their aid on households that have truly lost their source of income as a result of Covid-19. Aid granted through a Guaranteed Basic Income scheme—that’s modelled after the concept of Universal Basic Income—can help such households handle basic household costs like food. 

In one field research conducted by the Department of Statistics in Malaysia in March 2020, they determined that it is self-employed individuals who have most clearly been affected by a loss of work. As many as 46.6% of self-employed respondents said that they have lost their incomes, as compared to 23.8% of employees, 1.8% of private-sector workers, 0.4% of those working for MNCs, and 0.4% of those working for GLCs. 

This same study reported that as many as 71.4% of respondents who were self-employed only had less than a month’s income worth of savings, compared to 49.2% of employees, 58% of private-sector workers, 31.2% of MNC employees, and 28.9% of GLC workers. As such, immediate monthly aid at this critical time when they’ve lost work is incredibly important.

PSM suggests that this aid  be given to those who have lost work and have no other sources of aid. As such, those who receive other sources of aid will be excluded, such as those who: 

  1. Are receiving SOCSO payments and who can benefit from the Employment Insurance Scheme or other such programs;
  2. Receive fixed pensions (whether from government retirees or other sources) which are greater than RM1000 per month;
  3. Are government staff;
  4. Still have alternative sources of work (after losing their primary jobs);
  5. Still have a source of income that is taxable;
  6. Still work in the public, private/business sector, or other related fields;

This suggestion is specifically for anyone who has lost their source of income; like formal sector workers, small-scale self-employed individuals, and micro-entrepreneurs that have lost their source of work at this time.

Right now, the aid provided by the government like the Wage Subsidy or Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) aid only helps formal sector workers.

Meanwhile, there are around 3 million informal workers and 2 million self-employed individuals who have absolutely no support system when they’ve lost their primary source of income due to the business shutdown in the time of the pandemic.

The estimated necessary cost if this scheme was extended to 700,000 families (10%) at a rate of as much as RM1000, means that we would need RM8.4 billion a year.

The concept for this Guaranteed Basic Income aid scheme comes from the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI). This isn’t for the purposes of making citizens lazy with a monthly cash payment of RM1000 into their personal accounts. Rather, it’s a social safety net that ensures that households who have suddenly lost their sources of income don’t have to go hungry. A more detailed explanation about the concept of UBI can be found in the following article:

https://thinkleft.net/2020/05/18/implement-a-modified-ubi-urgently/ (ThinkLeft)

Under the current poverty line of RM2208 per month of household income, roughly 8.3% of households are classified as being in absolute poverty. The threat of Covid and the economic recession directly affects these most vulnerable citizens in the most devastating way. As such, imagine what happens when they’ve lost their primary source of income. Immediate aid of RM10000 towards these households, at the very least, can enable these families to prepare food and other basic necessities until the primary breadwinners for these households can find new work or sources of income.

As such, in the action plan document “Pemulihan Nasional Haluan Baru Untuk Malaysia – Permintaan Rakyat Mudah Je”, PSM has included a resolution that our citizens need the aid of this Guaranteed Basic Income scheme immediately, and not the “one-off” style aid that has clearly failed to heal the socio-economic conditions of affected households effectively.

A. Sivarajan, Secretary General of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)

12th Malaysia Plan – Where is the ‘game changer’?

PARTI SOSIALIS MALAYSIA – STATEMENT – 29TH SEPT 2021

The 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) announced by the ‘interim’ Prime Minister Ismail Sabri last 27th September, 2021 is being heavily debated by both Parliamentarians and civil society organizations throughout this week. Reading through the executive summary and the some sections of the 500 over pages of the 12MP, you will be swamped by many words such as “Game Changers” and “Resetting the Economy”.

But I am still looking for the “game changing” policy that would make a revolutionary impact to the Malaysian economy in the document. While the aspirations of resetting the economy is welcomed, but the document fails to spell out in detail how the 12MP is different in comparison to the 11th Malaysia Plan and the plans before it. I would have expected that the lessons of  Covid 19 would have ‘shook up’ the policy makers to take a closer look at reality and translate them into truly progressive programs that could have taken Malaysia into a different developmental path. But the 12MP falls short of providing real solutions.

PSM asserted in our alternative New Deal for Malaysia action plan called “Haluan Baru Untuk Malaysia Permintaan Rakyat Mudah Je” that was launched last 9th September, 2021 the key lessons that we learnt during the pandemic. Amongst those are;

  1. The Pandemic and its induced economic crisis, hits the B40 the hardest. Despite the undistinguishable attack of the virus amongst the rich and poor, but a household’s income and job security often determines if they can remain resilient throughout the pandemic. 
  1. Jobs that were taught to be a secure could just vanish overnight and many were left to fend for themselves, struggling desperately to put food on the table. Without a comprehensive social security system, many fell through the cracks.
  1. We were always told to believe that the private sector is the key driver for economic progress that provides jobs for the rakyat. But when economic downturn strikes, private sector faltered and downsized their workforce and froze new job openings. Many projects were put on hold, an employment soared to 4.8% as at June, 2021(DOSM). The impact is larger as many have been forced from formal employment into underemployment and informal work. 
  1. Although policy makers always pushed for more privatization of healthcare, health tourism and incentives for private medical care, but it has been blatantly proven that was the public healthcare system that provided care to the rakyat under the pandemic. Private healthcare was reluctant and moved extremely slow to relieve the load off government hospitals to take in Covid patients.
  1. Sectors of our working people often forgotten and marginalized by many were actually the ones holding up the nation in times of crises. Those that provided essential services such as farmers, cleaners, garbage collectors, lorry drivers, delivery riders played a critical role to keep the supply and services going.  We realized that it was not the fund managers, the speculators, the stock marketers and the bourgeois elite that stood out in these trying times.

These hard lessons need to be understood and, acted upon, so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. These experiences have taught us that we cannot return to business as usual and need to seriously to revamp our economic and development model in order to make ourselves more resilient to future crises. Unfortunately these valuable lessons seem to have fallen on deaf ears in Putrajaya, as they ‘missed the boat’ to truly reset our trajectory post pandemic. Why do I say so?

  1. The 12MP is said to anchor on three themes, namely – resetting the economy, strengthening security, well-being and inclusivity and advancing sustainability.  Its puzzles as to why 12MP places emphasize on security enhancement and lumps up the proposals together with issues that matter the most for the rakyat at the moment which is healthcare, housing and poverty eradication. Shouldn’t these rakyat centric issues be addressed in a stand-alone theme? 
  1. The supposedly high impact sectors that are supposed to rejuvenate the economy are listed as Electronics & Electrical (E&E), Aerospace, Global Services, Creative Industries, Tourism, Halal Industry, smart farming and biomass. Besides E&E, of which Malaysia is a key player, do we really have the capacity and comparative advantage to excel in those fields?

Even though we excelled in electronics, as a result of MNC’s investing in Malaysia since the 1970’s, but are we expecting similar global players in aerospace, smart farming etc., to invest in Malaysia and transfer knowledge to us? After 64 years of independence, why do we place so much reliance on FDI to push our economy ahead? Furthermore with trade agreements like the CPTPP, it makes it harder to compel MNC’s to transfer technology to locals. (MITI is in process of ratifying the CPTPPA)

After the global pandemic, MNC’s and global corporations are reviewing their investment portfolios in view of the global economic downturn. In the race to the bottom to attract FDI, we will be forced to make concession by keeping our corporate taxes low and maintain cheap wage policies. 

PSM proposed in our New Deal for Malaysia action plan that the government must look inwards to spur the economy by initiating projects that will benefit the rakyat directly. There is a great need to embark on projects like building more public housing. PSM proposed that each Parliament constituency need to be allocated such projects based on their constituent’s demography and demand. The government should also embark on green projects such as reforestation, cleaning of rivers and conservation activities to revive our local heritage. These might not be sophisticated initiatives but they are key to bring immediate benefits to the rakyat and our climate.    We need to increase our medical research capacity in medicine and pharmacology. Such policies will not only spur the economy but will also provide jobs that are very much needed now in the situation where private sector slowed down on employment opportunities. 

The society in need of government assistance requires large number of social welfare workers to provide direct assistance to them. Can we not employ our youth to service each constituency? Reaching out to them, so that the old and disabled are not forced to make their way to government counters to have their benefits processed.

  1. Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) are envisioned to make a leap from being local to global market players. This is another supposedly “game change’ that is completely divorced from the realities on the ground. The pandemic has dreadfully caused the MSME to either closedown or retreat many-many step backwards since the outbreak. Does the government have data to reflect how many of these enterprises that have shutdown permanently? In a situation when they have taken a bad hit even locally how can one project themselves to be a global player anytime soon? Shouldn’t the government plan have a step by step plan to rebuild the MSME’s, holding their hands to uplift them instead of building castles in the sky!

The crisis has only served to concentrate capital in the hands of a few, as the large corporations survived and benefitted when smaller competitors closed down or were bought over. Without dissecting and understanding the true state of our businesses, the assistance and government induction programs under 12MP will not reach the target group. 

To make matters worse, the decision that freight forwarding companies will be required to have a 51% Bumiputra ownership completely disrupt the business environment. Such race based policies that continue to haunt us, makes a joke out of the “Keluarga Malaysia” rhetoric proclaimed by PM Ismail Sabri. Is this a reflection on more race based policies to come from Putrajaya? To forcefully eat into non Bumiputra equity to enrich Bumiputra elite?  

  1. As a part of the policy enablers that seek to develop future talent, 12MP aspires to increase our wage to GDP ratio from 37.2 % to 40%. But it explains that this can be achieved by only up skilling our workforce and increasing skilled manpower into high paying sectors. It fails to address the fact that irrespective of high skill jobs in high impact industries, wages are predominantly determined by labour supply and demand. That is why we witnessed reports of graduates being paid as low as RM1000 per month, when unemployment increased. Alternatively, government most significant intervention will be to strategically increase the minimum wage to truly reflect a living wage. 

PSM is proposing that the minimum wage be raised to RM 1,800 per month from the current RM1, 200 per month. Even that is lower that the recently reviewed poverty line of RM 2200. With the increase in minimum wage it will gradually push upwards all other wage categories accordingly as we have seen when the minimum wage was introduced in 2012.

  1. 12MP projects to increase our Per Capita National Gross Income from RM42, 503 (2020) to RM57, 882 by the year 2025. But time again, many have pointed out that it is not the issue of productivity and wealth creation but rather its distribution. Department of Statistics and KRI calculations show that B20 Households only share 5.9% of the national household income while the Top 10% (T10) possess 30.7% of it. Thus even if we achieve the targeted per capita NGI of RM57, 882 in the year 2025, but what good it does if the disparity between the rich and the poor remains the same. While the immediate reaction to the argument would be that we need to increase productivity but how do we justify the disparity of more than 20 times in remuneration between the lowest rung of workers and the enterprises CEO? The government must be bold enough to introduce maximum wages in enterprises. But it can only have the moral authority to convince the private sector if it does the same with its own Minister’s salaries and GLC s top administrator’s pay packages. 
  1. Amongst the policy initiatives suggested in 12MP, was to generate income to fund poverty eradication. It suggests introducing tax models like zakat or wakaf. PSM has advocated for a wealth tax and inheritance tax for a long time. Unfortunately, Putrajaya is unwilling to impose such taxes that will truly be ‘game changers’. Many renowned economists concurred with the idea that the wealthy should contribute more to revive the country out of the Covid19 induced economic crisis.  Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, head of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network said that “We will need to tax high-net worth, especially after the current disaster,”

Wealth tax is a tax levied on the value of held assets where tax will be applicable to a variety of asset types including cash, bank deposits, shares, fixed assets, personal cars, assessed value of real property, pension plans, money funds, owner-occupied housing, and trusts. We propose this tax only on those that have a declared wealth of RM1 billion and above. It would be a progressive tax starting from 2% up top 10%. 

It is calculated proportionately according to the tax bracket that they fall. For example a billionaire with an estimated net wealth worth of RM 4.34 billion, will pay only 2% for the first 2 billion and 4 % for the balance 2.34billion.

Thus if the government taxes the 50 wealthiest Malaysians progressively it will generate approximately RM 20 billion per year from the billionaires. Rest assured that, that no billionaire will be pushed to poverty if the tax system is introduced. With the global economic downturn due to the pandemic, the wealthy have limited avenues to invest in productive capital. Thus it payback time, as they and their business empires have enjoyed various governments business friendly incentives and tax holidays all these years.   

  1. The way that 12MP addresses affordable housing problem is rather disappointing. While in the last few years, many researchers and civil society organizations have highlighted the severity of the problem and how to solve it, but 12MP offers no new ‘game changers’ here again. 

To start with, the report agrees that the house affordable index has remained unaffordable with the median multiple affordability indexes has only decreased from 5.0 to 4.1 in 2019, which is still highly unaffordable to many Malaysians. But 12MP offers no new solutions and reiterates its previous plans to facilitate financing and reduce building cost. PSM has many times pointed out that the elephant in the room is the house price and speculative activities in the housing market. Price of homes for the poor can only be addressed if the government delinks public housing from market forces. The responsibility to provide houses for the poor relies on the government and not on any public-private partnerships. Public-private policy shifts made since the 1980’s had only exasperated the problem leading private house developers to dictate terms and prices of houses. While the affordability bracket for most B40 and M40 Malaysian is below RM 200, 000, but developers continue to price their property well above RM300, 000. Thus forcing the government to intervene and provide into the middle market for houses priced at RM200, 000. This has led the government to neglect its core responsibility of build low cost houses for the B40 and B20.

PSM propose that the government sets up a non-profit trust fund to build houses for the poor. It must be located near public transport hubs, so that working people can get to the cities without incurring much cost on transport. It just shocks me to see the 12MP actually proposing in page 4-24 that “Di samping itu, tanah milik syarikat utility awam yang sesuai akan dikenalpasti untuk membina rumah mampu milik, terutama dikawasan Bandar dan pinggir Bandar. Setakat ini, tiga loji rawatan kumbahan telah dikenalpasti untuk pembangunan tersebut”

Is this Ismail Sabri’s plan to marginalize the poor by ghettoizing them into houses near sewerage tanks! This is despicable! 

  1. I would have expected that public healthcare to be given prominence in the 12MP, since we witnessed the flaws and insufficiencies during the pandemic. But like I said earlier, healthcare is lumped together with security that seeks greater enforcement against migrants. Besides the reiterating on the existing PeKa B40 scheme, again there is no ‘game changer’ here to overcome the shortcomings of medical staff and facilities during that we are facing now to fight the pandemic. Even on the issue of contract doctors which saw doctors up in arms, the 12MP is silent in offering concrete solutions. It just states that there will be a plan formulated to address manpower and facility requirement. 

It further talks about enhancing post graduate curriculum to increase the number of specialist doctors. However no targets are put forward in 12MP to prevent the brain drain from public to private hospitals. Where else, PSM in our New Deal plan proposed the following measures on reinforcing our public healthcare system; 

  • Setting up of a specific Public Health Service Commission to ensure effective management of staff in government Hospitals that will closely look into their grouses and benefits.
  • Introduce a 3 month sabbatical study leave for doctors every 4 years in service so that they can specialize and upgrade their skills. 
  • A moratorium on new private hospitals, to stop the brain drain of specialist from government Hospitals to Private Hospitals. 
  • Increase 6 billion to the health budget every year for 5 years from now. The health budget in 2021 stands at 32 billion. This significant increase in allocation shows that we are serious to overcome the insufficiencies experienced fighting the pandemic and to build our capacity in preparation for another catastrophe in the future. 
  • Need to increase more Hospitals in the capital city of each state to accommodate the increase in population due to urbanization. 
  • Incorporate the 7000 over general practitioners to treat patients with chronic illness. GP’s can play a vital  role as they are usually closely located to the patients and can offer close regular care to avoid patients dropping into a critical stage. Government can pay these GP’s capitation fee to look after a certain number of patients in their vicinity. These measures would greatly reduce the burden on government Hospitals. 
  • 90% of all surgical appliances such as screws and plates should be sponsored by the government. Over the years, this list of items that are subsidized for the rakyat has shrinked. Healthcare should be available to everyone and not determined by how deep ones pocket is. 
  • Levy collected from migrant workers should be used to pay for their medical cost. Now, many migrants fail to get appropriate care when their employers abscond thus leaving hospitals to burden the cost. 

This proposal of PSM New Deal can be read further here: https://partisosialis.org/a-new-deal-for-malaysia-socialists-launch-progressive-recovery-plan/

The analysis on the other areas elaborated in the 12MP will be taken up in following articles. In conclusion, the question remains that where is the ‘game changer’ that will supposedly change the development path of Malaysia post Covid19. The pandemic offered an opportunity for policy makers to build Malaysia from ground zero, correcting past development and policy mis-steps, but unfortunately 12MP looks more of a continuation of past developmental trajectory. 

Race and neoliberal based policies still predominate the plan. Malaysia’s recovery and progress requires a serious paradigm shift decoupling itself from race and neoliberal policies that have clearly failed to save guard the rakyat interest in times of crisis.

Thus the 12 MP, looking at the sections talked about above has failed to offer a real progressive way forward for rakyat whom are still struggling to crawl out of the adverse effects of the pandemic. 

Sivarajan A. 

Secretary General PSM 

29/9/2021

A New Deal for Malaysia – Socialists Launch Progressive Recovery Plan

A New Deal for Malaysia – Socialists Launch Progressive Recovery Plan

PRESS STATEMENT – 10 SEPT, 2021 – PARTI SOSIALIS MALAYSIA

A New Deal for Malaysia – Socialists Launch Progressive Recovery Plan

In the last 18 months, we have been fighting Covid 19 and the pandemic induced economic crisis that followed due to business shutdowns and movement control restrictions. As of November 2020, around 100,000 people have lost their jobs and many more in the informal sector would have lost their income. 

The pandemic has exposed the failures of Capitalism the world over and Malaysia has not been spared. Although business shutdowns and movement control orders were imposed across the board to all sectors of the population, but the impact on society varies along class lines. The poor were the most badly hit.  Many lost their jobs as SME’s struggled to survive and self- employed micro business had to shut down their hard built businesses when costs outran their revenue. They were forced to look for alternate source of income overnight.

Besides losing their source of livelihood, urban poor staying in 650sq feet PPR public housing found it impossible to carry out social distancing and worst still isolation if their family members were required to be quarantined. 

Malaysia’s has a long standing conviction to the neoliberal path by detracting from government’s responsibility of providing for the basic essential services for the rakyat and promoting privatization of public services. After three decades of aggressive privatization, we are left with a weakened public healthcare system, monetized education, dismantled safeguards for workers, an increase in precarious work, unaffordable housing and a widening disparity between the rich and poor. 

The pandemic shattered the already weak social security system, throwing poor households and even the M40 into sudden poverty. Some of the hard lessons the pandemic has thought us are; 

  1. The Pandemic and its induced economic crisis, hits the B40 the hardest. Despite the undistinguishable attack of the virus amongst the rich and poor, but a household’s income and job security often determines if they can remain resilient throughout the pandemic. 
  2. Jobs that were taught to be secure could just vanish overnight and many were left to fend for themselves, struggling desperately to put food on the table. Without a comprehensive social security system, many fell through the cracks.
  3. We were always told to believe that the private sector is the key driver for economic progress that provides jobs for the rakyat. But when economic downturn strikes, private sector faltered and downsized their workforce and froze new job openings. Many projects were put on hold, and unemployment soared to 4.8% as at June, 2021(DOSM). The impact is larger as many have been forced from formal employment into underemployment and informal work. 
  4. Although policy makers always pushed for more privatization of healthcare, health tourism and incentives for private medical care, but it has been blatantly proven that was the public healthcare system that provided care to the rakyat under the pandemic. Private healthcare was reluctant and moved extremely slow to relieve the load off government hospitals to take in Covid patients.
  5. Sectors of our working people often forgotten and marginalized by many were actually the ones holding up the nation in times of crises. Those that provided essential services such as farmers, cleaners, garbage collectors, lorry drivers, delivery riders played a critical role to keep the supply and services going.  We realized that it was not the fund managers, the speculators, the stock marketers and the bourgeois elite that stood out in these trying times.

These hard lessons need to be understood and, acted upon, so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. These experiences have taught us that it cannot return to business as usual and we need to seriously to revamp our economic and development model in order to make ourselves more resilient to future crises.

But the political and corporate elite whom were least affected economically and socially by the pandemic, will not be jolted to offer a progressive alternative for Malaysia. The neoliberal, corporate driven economic model of the Barisan Nasional over the last 60 over years was sadly continued by Pakatan Harapan in its 22 month stint at Putrajaya. It was merely a change of guards with minimal attempt for structural change.

PSM believes that the task of ensuring basic needs are met for the rakyat is the responsibility of government. The government cannot stop at extending easy credit to the banks and giving cash incentives to businesses to preserve and/or create jobs. But we believe that given the marked loss in aggregate demand, these stimuli will not solve the problem as elaborated above. 

Trickle down approach fails to solve core structural problems in our policies.  Has the political elite realized that they must step in and supply basic needs and services when the market fails to do so?

In this time of crisis, the people without income will be marginalized if we rely on market based approaches. The market fails when human need is not backed up by purchasing power. There is a real risk that a significant number of Malaysian families will not be able to provide basic needs – food, shelter and health care for themselves! And that is not acceptable!

As a paradigm shift towards a progressive people centered action plan, PSM puts forward a new deal for Malaysia. The new way forward attempts to take Malaysia on a path to dismantle the adverse effects of neoliberalism by enhancing our social security and rebuilding our basic support pillars for the rakyat’s well-being. Our new deal proposals are aptly themed “Permintaan Rakyat Mudah Je” translated to mean “People’s Needs Are Straightforward”

The action plan “Pemulihan Nasional Haluan Baru Untuk Malaysia – Permintaan Rakyat Mudah Je” propounds 5 PILLARS as follows; 

  1. Empowering Social Security 
  2. Job Guarantee Scheme 
  3. Housing a human right 
  4. Reinforcing Public Healthcare 
  5. Immediate Action to tackle Climate Crisis. 

The ideas being put forward by each pillar are briefly stated as follows; 

Empowering Social Security for working people

  1. Introduce a Modified Universal Basic Income 
  2. End outsourcing of government services and absorb contract workers as permanent government staff.
  3. Amend Labour and Social Security Acts to provide protection for ‘gig’ workers and precarious employment. 
  4. Reform PERKESO’s Employment Insurance Scheme
  5. Monthly pensions for those above 65 years old

Job Guarantee Scheme

  1. Green jobs.
  2. Increase job opportunities in farming and food production. 
  3. Construction and equipping healthcare facilities. 
  4. Jobs in conservation activities, re forestation and restoration of heritage sites.
  5. Increase Research opportunities in medical and pharmacological activities.
  6. Increase social welfare workers to provide direct assistance to the needy.
  7. Ground officers to monitor implementation of government programs. 
  8. Childcare work 
  9. Socialization of housework 
  10. Reduce working hours
  11. Compel Government Linked Companies to fund and initiate such job guarantee schemes 
  12. Introduce a law against anti- discrimination in employment.

Housing a human right

  1. Build more PPR units for the B20
  2. Decouple public housing from the market
  3. Stop forced evictions of urban pioneers. Offer land to occupiers not third parties. 
  4. Establish a Non- profit trust fund to build houses for the B40. 
  5. Maintenance of low cost housing apartments to be taken over by local councils.

Strengthen Public Healthcare System

  1. Rope in General Practitioners to assist treating patients with chronic diseases to relieve the burden of Government Hospitals.
  2. Use levy collected from migrant workers to pay for their healthcare cost.
  3. Government should bear the cost of implants and surgical accessories at Hospitals. 
  4. Ministry of Health budget needs to be increased.
  5. Quality and affordable healthcare is social wage for the rakyat.

Immediate Action to tackle Climate Crisis

  1. Towards 100% renewable energy.
  2. Address pollution from Petroleum Industries.
  3. Increase public transport infrastructure and ridership.
  4. Moratorium on logging and mining in primary reserve forest.

The proposals outlined in the document “Pemulihan Nasional Haluan Baru Untuk Malaysia Permintaan Rakyat Mudah je” requires political will driven by clear class perspective and an anti -neoliberal stance to push for concrete changes. Malaysia’s recovery and progress requires a serious paradigm shift decoupling itself from neoliberal policies that have clearly failed to saveguard the rakyat’s interest in times of crisis.

PSM will expand on each of this proposal through various outreach programs planned from now, after the launch of the campaign yesterday 9th Sept, 2021 by PSM National Chairperson Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj.

Sivarajan A
PSM Secretary General

Read the full document (Malay), or watch the launch program.

 

Lessons Learnt: Need To Build A Progressive Alternative

Lessons Learnt: Need To Build A Progressive Alternative

By Sivarajan A, Secretary General, Parti Sosialis Malaysia

The only positive outcome for the rakyat whom have been mere spectators to the unfolding political drama these couple of weeks are the hard lessons we can learn from it.

We are in this mess because of two reasons; one because we trusted lock stock and barrel our politicians ; two the bourgeoisie democratic system is flawed and need to be fixed.

Let’s not forget, Pakatan whom we trusted to save Malaysia from the kleptocrats fell from a coup within and not from any attacks of its political enemies from the outside. So what happened? Why did we have turn-coat politicians amongst Pakatan’s fold? Was Anwar fooled or did he know of the fox amongst the sheep?

For the ¬rakyat we are not privy of these political games played by politicians, because we were so overwhelmed by the wave to topple BN in 2018.

But recently we were also taken aback, when some Pakatan leaders recently ‘welcomed back’ the same defectors whom they were condemning as pengkhianat for the past year. In a rush to meet enough numbers for Anwar. These turn coats suddenly became our savior. Similar maneuvers were also made by Mahiaddins camp to consolidate support from the kleptocrats.

The rakyat has gotten sick of these never ending games by the political elite. This has led to the recent narrative amongst many that politicians cannot be trusted. Either we choose to shun politicians or not, but no solution will come if we isolate ourselves from politics. If we are disappointed with the elite politics then we should aggressively build alternate solutions in preparation for GE15, so that we don’t make the same mistakes again.

Firstly while the parliamentary democracy system that we have today has many deficiencies but, at the moment, it’s the only way into legislature so that real changes can be made. But in order to get the right people in to make those changes we need to make informed choices by really asking key questions like;

  1. What are the candidates or the party they belong to political ideology? It’s about time that we dump race based parties, as over and over again they have proven to only enrich the elite amongst their race by fear mongering that the ‘others’ are out to take away your rights. Race rhetoric keeps them in power!
  2. What is their class perspective, are they speaking from a T20 position looking down or can they relate to working peoples issues? Was their election campaign funded by big businesses, which they will have returned a favor by approving projects for later?
  3. Will they be principled and brave enough to take on big businesses when they pollute the environment and destroy communities?
  4. Besides handing out ‘bakul makanan’ during difficult times, will they also put forward concrete policies to overcome poverty?
  5. Will they challenge neoliberalism that seeks to privatize healthcare, education by degrading the quality of public service to enrich private investors?
  6. Will they protect the right of people with different sexual orientation or seek to mock and victimize them?
    The list goes on…

These are not difficult questions, but they are questions that will define the candidate when as an MP or ADUN, how they will solve your everyday problems.
It all boils down to the political ideology and agenda that the aspiring politician and his party have to offer.

The presence of these progressives might not be enough to form the government, but at least they could be an independent block offering fresh perspective in Parliament. We need a form a progressive 3rd block in Parliament that can echo a clear voice against neoliberalism, racism and the power of capital.

The 2nd lesson that we have learnt is that the system shapes politicians into corrupt and self-serving individuals. How is this so? Firstly, the remunerations and perks of an MP, immediately rockets you into an “orang kayangan”. A goodhearted MP without sound ideological grounding on the issues mentioned above will soon find a place in the corrupt system.

Furthermore the system has in place a very strong structure that serves political patronage. BN, PN and PH have used it for their own political leverage. Maybe PH didn’t explore it as sophisticated as BN did during its 60 year plus tenure.

While concerned citizens and civil society organizations are enthusiastically making a wish list on how this ‘new’ pandemic cabinet should be, but the political elites are making a list of their own. Unfortunately it’s not the same list.

For Ismail Sabri the 9th Prime Minister that will take oath and come to power soon, he is already charting a path for his continued stay in power. This means consolidating political power by any means necessary. And we have a polished system in place that enables this. The various government agencies, GLC’s, departments etc. all wait for political appointees to head them. On top of that you can always create a new position when all the chairs get filled up.

Until when we break this cancerous system, the corrupt political financing mechanism where government contracts are given out to party members so that there will be kickbacks to party funds will continue to feast.

It feeds further all the way to buy support for political camps as we have seen since the infamous Sheraton move.

Thus, while we need to pressure the Ismail Sabri’s ‘interim’ government to deliver and take us out of the pandemic, but we also need to build a progressive political force with socialist, youths, workers, grass root movements, climate activist, gender activist, human rights activist and many more to break the hegemony of the two party bourgeoisie parliamentary system. We need to end the situation of having to choose the lesser of two evils in the absence of a truly people centered progressive alternative.

Sivarajan
Parti Sosialis Malaysia Secretary General
20th Aug, 2021.

URGENT NEED TO END POLITICKING

PRESS STATEMENT – PARTI SOSIALIS MALAYSIA- 7TH AUGUST 2021


I wish to clarify my tweet that was questioned by friends and critics on why did I say PH should make a deal with PN  to stop politicking and focus on pandemic relieve measures for the rakyat. I am afraid the brief tweet failed to capture fully what I wanted to express in relation to Tony Pua’s comment.


In essence my thoughts are that we face the most serious health crisis of its existence and thousands more are at risk of losing their lives to the Covid 19 virus, the political elite of the country remain engrossed in political scheming.


It is my believe that no Government has a convincing majority to ensure stability and the only way forward is for an interim unity Government as our statement on the 4th August. My tweet in no way is an endorsement for Mahiaddin that he continue to stay in power but merely a suggestion that PH should talk to PN to form an interim unity government until we can return to election for a fresh mandate from the rakyat.


As clearly stated in our PSM earlier statement, we want the vote of Confidence in Parliament to be done now not September. If Mahiaddin fails to secure support, new PM needs to take over to form a interim unity government. We also suggested for a date be fixed for election possibly year from now.


The rakyat should observe closely how the political elite conduct themselves in this crucial period. Are they able to put aside their political games and focus on the well-being of the people? We are in solidarity with the many who put the peoples interest first and we are committed in building a political movement that is grassroots based and can put forward leaders who truly represent the interests of the ordinary citizens.


Dr Jeyakumar (Dr Kumar)
Parti Sosialis Malaysia Chairperson.

PRESS STATEMENT IN RESPONSE PM TAN SRI MUHYIDDINS PUBLIC ADDRESS TODAY

PRESS STATEMENT IN RESPONSE PM TAN SRI MUHYIDDINS PUBLIC ADDRESS TODAY

PARTI SOSIALIS MALAYSIA – 4TH AUGUST, 2021 – PRESS STATEMENT IN RESPONSE PM TAN SRI MUHYIDDIN’S PUBLIC ADDRESS TODAY

4TH AUGUST, 2021

The most enlightening thing about the Prime Minister’s address was that he is willing to test his majority in Parliament when it sits in September, 2021. This would finally put to rest who has the majority once and for all in the open and not is secrecy.

In the next one month PSM feels that the PM will use all his power to buy support, destabilize UMNO through Registrar of Societies (ROS), since it is under the PN government‘s ‘control’. It would also enable pro-PN UMNO camp Hishamuddin and Ismail Sabri team to consolidate their power within UMNO. Whatever done, the rakyat is only interested that Covid 19 cases drop and people are able to resume their livelihood. This perhaps would the biggest challenge the current Government faces.

Most Malaysians are actually fed-up with the current political crisis. They want the Pandemic to be controlled and they feel that Mahiaddin’s failure was in handling the Pandemic rather than his questionable ability to get majority support in Parliament. Covid would ultimately decide the faith of this Government as it has done in to many other Governments in the world.

In these times of uncertainty PSM calls for all Public Institutions and Civil service like the PDRM, MACC and DG of KKM to remain professional and avoid being used by the political elite for them to remain in power and assist the Government by suppressing freedom of expression and protest. Democracy and freedom are always compromised when the ruling party is in crisis.

S. Arutchelvan
Deputy Chairperson
Parti Sosialis Malaysia

Siri 30 – Memperingati Perjuangan Pembebasan Aktivis PSM EO6 (2011) – Ulangtahun ke-10

Siri 30 – Memperingati Perjuangan Pembebasan Aktivis PSM EO6 (2011) – Ulangtahun ke-10

Siri 30 – Memperingati Perjuangan Pembebasan Aktivis PSM EO6 (2011)– Ulangtahun ke 10.

#HariIniDalamSejarah

29 Julai 2011

Dr Kumar memulakan mogok laparnya pagi ini. Persatuan Doktor , Malaysian Medical Association mengeluarkan sebuah kenyataan media menyatakan kerisauan mereka terhadap kesihatan Dr Kumar yang memulakan mogok lapar. MMA juga mengingatkan pihak berkuasa bahawa mereka dilarang mengagalkan aksi mogok lapar ini dengan memberikan makanan secara paksa.

 “ In this regard, the MMA calls upon the authorities to respect international human rights law and not to resort to force-feeding as a means of ending Dr Jeyakumar’s protest. The World Medical Association (WMA) – the body that establishes ethical guidance for doctors around the world – states that force-feeding by any means is considered as unethical and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”

“ In accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Malta, the MMA urges the authorities to appoint one of our MMA members as the physician involved in the management of Dr Jeyakumar during his fast, so that we can be assured of his health and welfare and can communicate this with his family and friends on a regular basis, and can intervene medically if and when appropriate, while respecting Dr Jeyakumar’s autonomy and right to carry out this form of non-violent protest”

Pada hari juga suatu memorandum diserahkan kepada Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu United Nations , menyeru agar badan antarabangsa itu turut mendesak penmbebasan PSM EO6. Walaupun dihalang oleh polis , tetapi akhirnya kami berjaya menghantar memorandum tersebut.

Pada jam lebih kurang 1pm, Setiausaha Agung PSM, Arul mendapat maklumat dari Pejabat Menteri Hishamuddin Hussein Onn yang PSM EO6 akan dibebaskan. Demi merekodkan maklumat ini, dan untuk mengunakannya jika mereka tidak ikuti janji tersebut, maka beliau menghantar suatu email pada jam 1.35pm.

“ Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) mengalu-alukan pengumuman Menteri Dalam Negeri dan Ketua Polis Negara atas pembebasan enam orang pemimpin PSM tanpa syarat dan kemungkinan mereka akan dihadapkan ke mahkamah kelak. Ini merupakan apa yang diminta oleh kami dari dulu iaitu – mereka dibebaskan atau didakwa di mahkamah.

Kami berterimakasih kepada semua pihak yang telah membantu dalam membolehkan 6 tahanan ini dibebaskan dan kami bergembira mereka dapat kembali ke keluarga masing-masing.

PSM memberi syor bahawa PSM akan meneruskan perjuangan politik berdasarkan lunas-lunas Perlembagaan Negara kita

Sekian terima Kasih 

Yang Benar,

S.Arutchelvan

Setiausaha Agung”

29 Julai, 2011 – 1.35pm.

Pada jam lebih kurang 3.42pm – pemimpin DAP mengeluarkan kenyataan mendesak Kerajaan memberitahu siapakah yang mencipta tohmahan palsu terhadap PSM EO6 itu. Lim Kit Siang dalam kenyataannya berkata

“Malaysians are entitled to ask who are the officers or politicians who had been so ‘creative’ as to concoct the heinous charge under Section 122 of the Penal Code against the PSM activists in the first instance,”

I will ask in the next Parliament session who are the officers who concocted such charges and who are their police superiors who gave the approval, and whether the advice of the attorney-general or his officers had been sought”

Pada jam lebih kurang 4pm lebih, kami diminta untuk hadir ke Balai Polis Jinjang untuk menerima komrad2 PSM EO6 yang akan dibebaskan. Pada masa itu, kami masih ragu-ragu jika makluman itu benar, ataupun mereka akan dibebaskan dan ditahan semula sepertimana yang berlaku pada 2 Julai , 2011 di Kepala Batas Pulau Pinang. Maka kami tidak mengumumkan lagi berita tersebut kepada media ataupun komrad-komrad PSM yang lain.

Pada jam lebih kurang 5.30pm, akhirnya kami berjumpa dengan PSM EO6 dibalai Jinjang dan membawa mereka keluar. Suatu himpunan segera dianjurkan di Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall KLSCAH pada malam itu juga memgumumkan kejayaan kuasa rakyat yang dapat membebaskan PSM EO6. 

 



Siri #HariIniDalamSejarah ini akan menjejaki usaha PSM dalam Perjuangan Membebaskan Tahanan PSM EO6 sehingga hari mereka dibebaskan pada 29 Julai, 2011. Ini merupakan hantaran terakhir dalam siri ini.

#PartiSosialis

ℹ️ Untuk maklumat terkini, sertai saluran Telegram PSM di ? t.me/partisosialis