By Darren Ong.
Whenever Parti Sosialis Malaysia hosts an event, there is always a healthy contingent of outsiders: NGO members, friends, curious passers-by. More than once I have heard some variation of the following question asked to a panelist in our conferences: “is there a way to solve this problem outside of politics?”
What a strange question to ask in an event organized by a political party! But to me this question reveals a lot about how people in Malaysia think. We have a genuine love for a country, a desire to improve it, but only if we can avoid politics.
Many people are attracted to PSM’s ideals, on our commitment to help the poor and struggling, and yet politics has become such a dirty word in Malaysia that people are reluctant to get involved with a political party, even one whose policies they wholeheartedly agree with. Given the recent history of our country, it is not hard to see why.
Politicians in Malaysia have been greedily hoarding wealth and abusing power, and with this history naturally Malaysians are sceptical when someone claims to enter politics to improve people’s’ lives. Non -governmental organisations, religious groups, private individuals can all do a lot of good. But the role of the political party is still indispensable, because it is impossible to truly protect the poor without just laws and good governance.
To get just laws, and good governance we need people of compassion and integrity to win elections. For a person whose goal is genuinely to improve society and not to enrich oneself, political leadership is a heavy burden with a lot of responsibility and little appreciation. But if those of us who are capable of leading choose not to, then this leaves a vacuum for the greedy and corrupt to occupy those positions of power.
I wish I could say that being engaged in politics is always rewarding and fun. The truth is, it isn’t. The real work of a political party is not at all glamorous. There are a lot of meetings, a lot of tedious legwork, a lot of effort for what seems like very little benefit. This is especially true for a small party like PSM. But we do it out of love- not a fuzzy feeling of goodwill- but a commitment to sacrifice to improve the lives of the forgotten and vulnerable.
In a country where politics is so tied in with hate, we at PSM work in the hope that love will win in the end.
If this is an ideal you share, consider joining us, putting away your aversion to politics, and perhaps we can make this hope a reality.