#BreakTheBias and Inequality!

#BreakTheBias and Inequality!

08 March 2022 

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, “Break the Bias”, aims to bring awareness to the gender biases women face every day in all walks of life. Biases exist around us in terms of gender, colour, nationality, height, identity, physical disability, sexuality, and the list goes on. #BreaktheBias encourages us to rethink and call out gender bias when we see it happen, keeping us accountable for our thoughts and actions.

Gender bias refers to women being treated differently than men and her potential being suppressed in many aspects. Whether the bias is deliberate or subconscious, it prevents women from achieving their full potential by obstructing many chances and recognition due to them.

In 2020, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a study revealing that almost 90% of men and women show some bias against women, which creates a lot of barriers and obstacles for women. Consider the Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) which measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population. This GSNI raises concerns about the vast power gap between men and women in politics and the economy. 

Even today, in Malaysia even women Parliamentarians have to struggle extra hard to make their voices to be heard in the midst of all the sexist taunts in Parliament by their male counterparts. Can you imagine what is the fate of normal women in workplace and public domain in trying to get their voices heard or their issues highlighted?

Our society as a whole has proven to be biased, sexist, misogynistic, unequal, and insensitive. It reveals itself in our thought process, working norms, and interactions deeply rooted in traditional gender roles and norms and the underlying imbalance of power that shapes them. This creates a substantial disparity in how women and girls acquire opportunities to engage in public life compared to men and boys.

The Malaysian society perpetuates many ‘norms’ that marginalizes several factions of society, including the LGBTQI+ individuals. For women in Malaysia, especially women from the minority, marginalized and underrepresented groups, this year’s IWD theme is very meaningful as it focuses on equal representation, gender balance in the public decision-making process and the end to the bias. 

We all have our unconscious biases, which is a huge problem. It is time for us to realize it and encourage women to speak up against bias in the workplace, at home, in Parliament, and in every aspect of our lives. It’s time to be inspired and inspire others to break the bias. 

Regardless of gender, International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March is a moment for us to reflect on and celebrate the women’s struggle in Malaysia and globally. Together, we can take it further and make more progress supporting women’s rights. Equality is not only for imagination and dreams; it is a collective responsibility and Gender Equality is not a women issue but a human issue.

Happy International Women’s Day from Parti Sosialis Malaysia

Nalini Elumalai
Gender Bureau
Parti Sosialis Malaysia

PSM to compete in Kota Iskandar N49 in Johor State Elections

PSM to compete in Kota Iskandar N49 in Johor State Elections

Parti Sosialis Malaysia would like to announce that we will be competing in the Johor Elections 2022. Far from being a new contender in Johor politics, activists from PSM have been mobilising in Johor for more than 15 years and the first PSM Branch in Johor is the Nusa Jaya Branch (now known as Kota Iskandar). This branch was registered in the year 2010 and has served continuously to this day.

One of the strengths of PSM in Johor is that they have successfully organised many campaigns of marhaen issues. Including the Minimum Wage campaign, the Worker’s Insurance Scheme campaign, the campaign demanding Schools in Kota Iskandar, the Protest GST campaign, the struggle demanding Hospitals in Kangkar Pulai, Orang Asli struggle, the Affordable Housing campaign and many more activities in Johor.

In line with PSM principles to only compete in areas that we have served, PSM made the decision to compete in DUN N49 Kota Iskandar in this Johor Election 2022.

Although we are only competing for one seat, we feel that PSM bring a political narrative that is different than other parties that have announced their participation in the Johor Elections at this time. All political parties, whether those who are ruling or those who are opposing do not approach their fight from the point of view of ordinary citizens, the marhaen.

Thus, most of the policies, programs, and reform they bring are obscured by the desired of the capitalist class and corporate class. From the political funds that are accepted to the policies they bring while in power, they side with the class that has monetary power and elite political influence. This must be stopped. The people are tired with politics of the elite! PSM is ready to offer an alternative progressive politics that empowers people power!

The candidate that we are introducing is Arangkanal Rajoo also known as Ara, who is someone that works in film. He is the director of many social films that have won international awards. His socialist spirit brought him to serve with PSM for more than 2 years in DUN Kota Iskandar (NusaJaya).

Therefore, we ask for citizens in Kota Iskandar to support PSM if they truly desire progressive change and to put people first and empower them.

Ayuh! Undilah Ara SuARA Kota Iskandar #PSMBinaKuasaRakyat

Salam perjuangan

A. Sivarajan
Parti Sosialis Malaysia

Pekerja Keselamatan Menang Gaji OT 3 Tahun

Pekerja Keselamatan Menang Gaji OT 3 Tahun

8hb Feb 2022

Murali Vengu seorang pekerja keselamatan yang telah bekerja dengan sebuah bengkel kereta kemalangan dan pusat tuntutan insurans, telah menfailkan tuntutan gaji kerja lebih masa (OT), gaji cuti rehat dan juga gaji cuti hari kelepasan am terhadap majikannya pada bulan Oktober, 2021 yang lalu.

Murali seorang sahajalah yang menjaga keseluruhan stor bengkel yang menempatkan kereta-kereta kemalangan yang sedang melalui proses bayaran insurans. Majikan bengkel tidak mengambil pekerja keselamatan tambahan. Maka beliau diminta bekerja dari 7 malam sehinggalah pejabat bengkel tersebut buka pada jam 9 pagi pada hari keesokannya. Walaupun beliau sepatutnya hanya bertugas selama 12 jam, iaitu dari 7 malam sehingga 7 pagi, tetapi biasanya beliau diminta tunggu sehingga pekerja ofis masuk kerja pada jam 9 pagi. Maka beliau bekerja sehingga 14 jam setiap hari.

Murali juga tidak diperuntukkan apajua cuti rehat setiap minggu, cuti tahunan dan diminta juga kerja pada hari kelepasan am. Pada hari dimana Murali terpaksa keluar untuk urusan penting, beliau terpaksa menempatkan isterinya di pondok pengawal untuk sementara waktu sehingga beliau pulang.

Walaupun bekerja 12 jam hingga 14 jam setiap hari, tetapi beliau hanya menerima gaji asas sebanyak RM 1,300 dan elaun petrol sebanyak RM250 setiap bulan. Sehingga beliau berhenti kerja pada tahun 2018, beliau langsung tidak dibayar gaji kerja lebih masa OT.

Semasa rundingan di Jabatan Tenaga Kerja Subang Jaya pada hari ini, majikan cuba mengelirukan pegawai dengan mengatakan bahawa pelbagai bayaran telah dibuat kepada Murali. Tetapi pemeriksaan lanjut menunjukkan bahawa majikan mengabungkan bayaran elaun petrol dan caruman KWSP untuk memberikan gambaran bahawa suatu jumlah besar telah dibayar kepada Murali dan tuntutannya tidak betul.

Saya telah menerangkan bahawa, tuntutan Murali sebenarnya melibatkan pelbagai komponen seperti tuntutan gaji lebih masa (OT) hari kerja biasa, hari rehat, hari kelepasan am, gaji kerja hari rehat dan gaji kerja hari kelepasan am. Majikan pun mengaku bahawa bayaran gaji kerja lebih masa sememangnya tidak dibayar kepada Murali, maka mereka mencadangkan suatu penyelesaian dibincangkan tanpa melalui perbicaraan penuh.

Selepas rundingan beberapa kali diantara majikan dan pegawai, akhirnya majikan bersetuju membayar sebanyak RM 58,000 kepada Murali sebagai amaun penyelesaian. Jumlah tersebut adalah lebih kurang bersamaan dengan RM 1,600/sebulan gaji lebih masa untuk 3 tahun.

Seperti Murali, ada ramai lagi pekerja keselamatan yang ditipu tanpa dibayar gaji lebih masa, walaupun ianya jelas dinyatakan sebagai amaun yang perlu dibayar oleh majikan dalam Akta Kerja. Maka, lebih ramai lagi pekerja keselamatan harus memastikan bahawa hak mereka terbela dan kiraan gaji merangkumi bayaran gaji kerja lebih masa.

Rakyat pekerja hanya dapat mengajar majikan-majikan seperti ini, jika lebih ramai lagi yang menfailkan kes dan mengheret mereka ke Mahkamah Buruh. Tindakan ini amat penting, demi memastikan industry pengawal keselamatan ini menghentikan penindasan dan perampasan hasil titik peluh pekerja tanpa membayar gaji OT.

Sivarajan Arumugam
Setiausaha Agung
Parti Sosialis Malaysia

Class struggle in the face of environmental disasters

Class struggle in the face of environmental disasters

(originally published on ThinkLeft)

The major floods that happened are a call for greater class consciousness and better national policies to mitigate the devastating effects of extreme weather due to climate change. Apart from having the government meet the demands that we, the rakyat have set through Gabungan Darurat Iklim Malaysia (GDIMY), we propose a more proactive approach towards this cause. As capitalism continues to leave a trail of destruction, we need to switch on emergency mode through advocating for a change in our economy by bringing in an unconventional ideology: eco-socialism. 

On the 16th of December 2021, a tropical depression that made landfall on the eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia brought heavy rains throughout the peninsula for several days. As a result of this, Malaysia experienced one of the worst floods in history, leaving an estimated 70,000 displaced and 50 dead.

The government was slow to deliver flood response, and a lack of clear central communication made things worse. Flood victims and volunteers take to social media to call for aid and coordination of flood relief efforts, showing solidarity among the people in the face of disasters.

According to the Climate Emergency Coalition of Malaysia (Gabungan Darurat Iklim Malaysia), lacklustre flood mitigation policies, loss of biodiversity and rainfall catchment areas, poor urban planning and unchecked development are all factors that culminated in this disaster.

The low-lying Taman Sri Muda township in Shah Alam is one of the worst flooded areas, with flood water reaching up to 4 metres. For 20 years, flood mitigation measures were sufficient to avoid major flooding — until the development of new projects in the surrounding areas compounded on the existing drainage system. 

Taman Sri Muda’s system is now burdened with water from surrounding areas that triples its original water retention capacity, and tidal gates have broken pumps that are not fixed, despite having a RM 10 million allocation for upgrading works.

Why are new development projects being approved without proper urban and flood mitigation planning? And why are state governments and relevant authorities not doing enough to fix urban infrastructure?

Malaysia’s urban landscape must not be dictated by a handful of developers that prioritise short-term profit over residents’ safety and wellbeing, as overdevelopment comes at a heavy price paid by ordinary citizens in the long run.

The flood not only laid bare the devastating effects of capitalism that thrives on the relentless pursuit of profits over sustainable development, it also managed to flush out the dirty laundry of our ruling elites. 

After the flood, our people were shocked at the horrific images on social media of mass timber debris floating on the rivers of Jalan Bentong-Karak and the Sri Telemong bridge. Civil society organisations and opposition parties often raised concerns over uncontrolled logging activities to the state government, yet it seems that this issue is not taken seriously.

State governments who have sole authority over forests are often embroiled in a situation where they will award forest logging licences or convert forest lands into crop plantations to generate state revenue or use it to gain political leverage — often with the involvement of Malaysia’s royal families.

In early June 2021, the Pahang state government approved an iron ore excavation project by a royalty-linked mining company near Tasik Chini, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. 

The forest reserve has a history of pollution due to mining and logging activities since 2005. Orang Asli communities in the area have been concerned about their wells being contaminated due to their reliance on rain and swamp water for consumption and daily activities. 

Fortunately, the project had been cancelled later in the month due to public outrage. Yet, later in the same month, there were still iron ore mining proposals at a degazetted forest reserve in Kuala Mukim Tembeling, Pahang which is listed as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA).

Under capitalism, corporates and ruling elites share the same class interest of capital accumulation, even if it means risking severe loss of biodiversity and destroying the livelihoods of indigenous communities for the sake of profit.

The climate crisis is no longer a looming threat, it is happening in Malaysia as observed through extreme weather patterns and hotter temperatures. It is time we ask the people, do the state governments have it in their interests to protect the environment that secures the well-being of the people? Are the royal families who are being hailed as ‘protectors of the people’ walking their talk?

Echoing the solidarity spirit of #KitaJagaKita, we the people only have ourselves to rely on to mobilise for concrete changes in the country’s political landscape. Just like how the people mobilised and helped each other during the floods, we must continue showing solidarity across different races, religions and nationalities for a better world.

For the wealthy ruling elites, heavy rain meant lazy weathers and lie-ins; but for the everyday citizens, environmental destruction brought along devastating floods and a hazy future as they lost everything. 

The rift between the elites and the people is a class struggle on display, reflecting the central tenet of Marxism: “the history of all hitherto existing human society is the history of class struggles.”

Capitalism is a system that pursues infinite economic growth and profit in a world with finite resources. The system has been efficient in production, but it has exacerbated global wealth inequality. Land, natural resources and wealth concentrated in the hands of the ruling class at the expense of the people.

Instead of focusing on economic growth through resource extraction and mega-development projects, we should overcome the crisis of capitalism and fight for social ownership of the means of production among the people. 

Our political system must also incorporate the ideology of eco-socialism — that life can only be preserved with the preservation of nature. The world needs to move towards an egalitarian post-capitalist economic, political and social structure which can fulfill human needs through harmony of human and non-human ecology. 

Huei Ting and Audrey Chan
Bureau of Environment and Climate Crisis
Parti Sosialis Malaysia

Statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2021

Statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2021

10 December 2021

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are the heart of human rights

Today, on 10 December 2021, the world commemorates International Human Rights Day. International Human Rights Day marks the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to “Equality” and article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) joins the world in commemorating this day. We are incredibly concerned that we are celebrating International Human Rights Day in a period where socio-economic and political rights continue to deteriorate. People remain excluded from nation-building and socio-economic matters. Fundamental economic and social rights like social protection, water, health, education, food, shelter are still far from reality for the most marginalised communities.

If there is one crucial thing that the COVID 19 pandemic has taught us, it is that discrimination in policies and governance has caused the marginalised to suffer, due to rooted injustice and inequalities. The principles of equality and non-discrimination are the heart of human rights, and it must be the purpose of any government to make sure that every human is protected. We still witness how LGBT communities are constantly being excluded and discriminated against because of their gender, identity or sexuality. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how minorities, migrants, and refugees bear the brunt of exhausted healthcare systems, face increased stigma, and become hate speech and discrimination targets.

PSM remains concerned that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens have continued to suffer marginalisation and various forms of repression and aggression in the country. Human rights violations such as deaths in custody, torture, assault, unlawful arrests and harassment against media, human rights defenders and opposition party activists have increased throughout the year. The government and its affiliated law enforcement institutions have been identified as the foremost perpetrators of these violations.

PSM also regrets that the restrictions of fundamental freedoms, which were implemented supposedly to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, have further exacerbated violations and related impunity by the government. According to SUARAM, the suppression of the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association has increased in 2021. In 2021, the government aggressively applied the Sedition Act and Communication and the Multimedia Act (CMA) against government critics, ordinary citizens and human rights defenders.

On 14 October 2021, the UN General Assembly elected Malaysia to join the Human Rights Council for 2022 to 2024. The government made many promises in its pledge to win the seat. The Malaysian government must demonstrate its commitment to human rights as a prospective member of the UN Human Rights Council and strengthen human rights protections in Malaysia.

In light of this sad state of affairs, we also take this opportunity to call for tolerance and acceptance, a culture of respect for one another and appreciation of diversity and inclusion. We believe a tolerant society is a foundational basis for the full enjoyment of the rights established by the Declaration and guaranteed by the Constitution of Malaysia. The government should embrace the principles and spirit of the Declaration and fully respect, protect, and fulfill all its citizens’ human rights and end any form of discrimination and inequality.

Nalini E
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

Overcoming the Multiple Crises of Capitalism – Joint Declaration of Socialism 2021 organisers

Overcoming the Multiple Crises of Capitalism – Joint Declaration of Socialism 2021 organisers

The crises of capitalism are growing more acute and more extreme with each passing day.

The recent Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26) confirmed (yet again) that even when a liveable climate – and therefore the survival of our species – is at stake, the capitalist rulers have no meaningful answers for the needs of the people.

The capitalist elite prioritise corporate profits over a liveable climate, over health care in a global pandemic and over basic livelihoods in the midst of a global inequality crisis.

The organisers of the Socialism 2021 conference believe it is imperative that ordinary people reject the ruling class agenda and forge a movement that can resist the capitalist elite, both ideologically and practically.

Ultimately we need to replace their oppressive, profit-driven system with an alternative based on popular power and meeting human needs.

We are encouraged by the solidarity among left wing forces across the region. That solidarity is demonstrated with the organising of this conference and other projects.

We look forward to building a stronger left collaboration based on:


Socialism is the practical alternative to capitalism.

redistribute the wealth

Billionaires have grown rich during the pandemic. That wealth should be reappropriated and used for the benefit of the people.

healthcare for all

The global vaccine apartheid is a glaring example of the injustice of profits-first capitalism. Every person in every country deserves free, good quality health care.

for genuine people’s democracy, against state repression

We express our solidarity with genuine people’s democracy struggles from below in Thailand, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Sudan and throughout the world.

for gender equality

Oppression of women is one of the central pillars of capitalist society. We support not only full legal equality but genuine emancipation for women. We also support people’s right to determine their gender identity and expression.

defend workers’ rights

Everyone has the right to secure, well paid jobs and a safe working environment. Governments should guarantee full employment and workers should have full rights to organise in unions and to defend our rights at work.

for global climate justice

Global heating is the biggest challenge facing humanity and the capitalist rulers have proven incapable of meeting this challenge. National governments should take unilateral action to ensure no new fossil fuel projects are developed and existing projects are phased out. Wealthy countries should pay their climate debt to the Global South including zero carbon technology and financing.

against a new “cold war”

We are against US-led imperialist aggression directed towards China and we call for demilitarisation of the Southeast Asian Sea (South China Sea).

end the criminal sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba

End imperialist intervention in Latin America.

solidarity with self determination struggles

We extend our solidarity to oppressed people everywhere including in Papua, Palestine, Kashmir and Rojava.

justice for farmers and peasants

A comprehensive program to enhance food security, in order to ensure the access to healthy food for the people and to protect the livelihood of small local farmers, in all countries. We salute the victory of Indian farmers in defeating Modi’s attacks.

The capitalist elites cannot solve the problems of the people. The alternative is socialism based on grassroots organising and popular democracy. We pledge our solidarity to advance the struggles to achieve this goal.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Kesatuan Perjuangan Rakyat (KPR), Indonesia
Partai Rakyat Pekerja (PRP), Indonesia
Socialist Workers Thailand
Socialist Alliance, Australia
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), Philippines

This joint declaration is also available in Malay, Indonesian, Thai and Chinese.

Let the Morning Star Flag fly: Solidarity with the West Papua’s struggle for self-determination

Let the Morning Star Flag fly: Solidarity with the West Papua’s struggle for self-determination

Let the Morning Star Flag fly: Solidarity with the West Papua’s struggle for self-determination

1st December 2021

60 years ago, on 1st December 1961, the West Papuan national flag, the Morning Star, was raised for the first time on West Papua’s soil. The flag represents Papuans’ dreams for a Free West Papua.

Ever since the flag was first raised 60 years ago, the people of West Papua have continuously been denied their fundamental right to self-determination. Numerous West Papuans have committed themselves to the unfinished battle for self-determination by a variety of actions, including the hoisting of the Morning Star flag. Since Indonesia’s takeover of West Papua, the Indonesian government has deemed hoisting the Morning Star flag as illegal, and anyone who does so, is at risk of imprisonment and punishment by the authorities. Despite constant harassment, the people of West Papua maintain the annual practise of raising the Morning Star flag on 1st December.

Not long after the Morning Star flag was first raised in 1961, the Papuans’ dream of a Free West Papua was crushed by the 1962 New York Agreement. The agreement to hand over power of West Papua to Indonesia from the Dutch colonial government was part of the US Cold War plan to distance Indonesia from the Soviet Union’s influence. It is crucial to note that the agreement was signed by the Netherlands and Indonesia under the supervision of the United States and no representatives from the indigenous Papuan community were involved. In 1969, the “Act of Free Choice” became the “Act of No Choice”, with 1025 “representatives” being handpicked by the military to vote in a “referendum” held under the gunpoint of the Suharto dictatorship, formally annexing West Papua to Indonesia. The annexation and colonisation of West Papua was the result of imperialist meddling to safeguard international capital’s interests in the resource-rich region.

Since Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua, an estimated 500,000 Papuans have been slaughtered in their quest for self-rule by the oppressive Indonesian military. The people of West Papua have undergone decades of violent subjugation and a fear-based society. The Indonesian military and police have systematically suppressed Papuans by inciting racial sentiments. West Papua has a long history of torture, extrajudicial murders, and forced relocation. In 2019, a wave of huge demonstrations erupted in West Papua in reaction to police and racist right-wing mob assaults on Papuan students. It was, however, greeted with another wave of brutal repression from the authorities.

Since the 1960s, the Indonesian government has acted as a protector of foreign capital’s interests in West Papua. Freeport-McMoRan, a giant US mining firm, signed an agreement with the Indonesian government in 1967 to mine gold and copper in West Papua. The extractive industries in the resource-rich region, which are supported by the repressive Indonesian military and imperialist powers, are not benefiting indigenous communities in West Papua, and have left a lasting scar on them as a result of continuous land theft and systematic ethnic cleansing.

Numerous Papuans and Indonesians who backed West Papua’s fight for self-determination have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, detentions, and prosecutions under Indonesia’s oppressive laws throughout the years. According to the Papuans Behind Bars, 2021 report, 418 individuals were arrested during a one-year period from October 2020 to September 2021, with as many as 106 persons still detained, the majority of whom have been charged with treason by Indonesian authorities.

Despite living under oppressive circumstances, the Papuan people gathered 1.8 million signatures for a petition calling for an independent referendum, which they presented to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization in 2017 and to the United Nations Human Rights Office in 2019. Nonetheless, the Indonesian government is mostly rejecting the Papuan people’s demand for a legitimate referendum separate from the 1969 “Act of No Choice”.

On this historic 60th anniversary of the raising of the Morning Star flag, we would like to reiterate our support to the struggle for self-determination of the people of West Papua.

We urge the Indonesian government to:

1. Recognize and respect the right to self-determination of the people of West Papua, including holding a referendum to decide on the future of West Papua;
2. Stop repression against the people of West Papua who are voicing out their demands for self-determination, including those who raise the Morning Star flag;
3. Free all political prisoners from West Papua and those who supported the Papuan cause for self-determination;
4. Protect the right to freedom of information, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of thought for the Papuan people;
5. Improve the lives of the people of West Papua by enhancing social protection;
6. End racism against the people of West Papua.

We also reject all forms of imperialists meddling in the process to achieve self-determination for the people of West Papua.

We call upon the people around the world to strengthen our solidarity with the struggle of Papuan people for self-determination.

Released by,

Choo Chon Kai
Central Committee Member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)
Coordinator of PSM International Bureau

Amanda Shweeta Louis
Coordinator of PSM International Bureau’s West Papua Working Group

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