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.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia Secretary General
20th Aug, 2021.