What is your name, age and profession?
I am Danial Hakeem bin Azman, I am 25 and I currently work with Jaringan Pekerja Kontrak Kerajaan, an NGO that fights with support service workers in government premises who were disenfranchised due to their employment under outsourced contractors. These workers include the cleaners, security guards & gardeners in public hospitals & schools, who are currently not even labelled as ‘frontliners’ by the ruling coalition.
What drew you to PSM? When did you join the party?
I believe PSM is the only reliable political entity in the youth’s hope for a better future. I joined PSM in February 2020 as an intern, a time where all around the globe, democracy regresses and right-wing sentiments are on the rise. But PSM retains its integrity and keeps pushing for empowerment of the workers and the vulnerable. The footprint they left in grassroots issues is massive and goes way back, though this information, honestly, can sometimes only be acquired with a bit of digging. This requires prior interest and involvement with their activities.
Eco-anxiety is crippling a lot of youth’s political passion and personally it affected me to the point of general attitude of apathy towards life itself. Reading through climate change projections is so terrifying even for someone with no prior experience in organizing politically. However, after some short yet insightful experiences from involving myself with PSM activities, naturally the value of organizing as a medium for the disenfranchised to regain their political space, presented itself. PSM is the only political party who acknowledges the ongoing ecological collapse and actively proposes solutions to the government for green reforms, and the members themselves walk the talk.
Speaking of putting words and ideas into action, I have never seen a group of people so dedicated to their cause of not only resisting, but fighting oppression. No fancy watches and gadgets, old and rusty cars, use public transport whenever possible, vigorous yet enlightening ideology classes for free, acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ+ communities and neurodiversity, thousands of B40 workers being helped in their action to reduce capitalism-induced suffering. These are people who chose empathy. Diversity and exchange of ideas are welcomed as they believe in an inclusive, non-discriminative and liberating vision of society, which must be built from the bottom-up.
Why do you think socialism has such a negative reputation among so many people around the world? What do you say to those who discourage you?
Mainstream media is monopolized by and for capitalists’ interests; which includes denying space for any alternatives and dissenting voices that harm the process of capital-hoarding. A system that prioritizes the well-being of the environment (which includes ourselves) over wealth-hoarding will face great silencing efforts from major players of the game, and previous failed experiments are unfairly characterized as an inherent fault of socialism. This vicious cycle of indoctrination of the masses also produces a consumer society that will only consume capitalist-approved media, which continuously propagates lies about socialism.
Yet in my opinion, workers are aware that they are being exploited, they know that the elites don’t care about them, they know the full fruit of their labour won’t ever be theirs and workers’ rights are on the descent. However the fear of exploring alternatives to capitalism and of realising oneself as being wrong is a hindrance. The first step towards resolving the problem is acknowledging the problem. Engaging with insightful questions that question the nature of the current system will also bring about the possibility that the current system is flawed and that a better world is possible.
Youths all across the globe are also disenchanted with the way capitalism brings together both public and private entities; supposedly acting as a check and balance, instead they are two prongs from the same oppressive mechanism. The last few months have further exposed the level of capitalism’s disinterest in caring for the people during a global pandemic, and it becomes increasingly clear that the current system will care for nothing but the growth of capital. We will not survive the ecological collapse unless a system that cares for the environment is in place.
How familiar are you with Malaysia’s left wing history? Are there particular leaders you admire?
To be honest, I am not very familiar with local left-wing history, but there is a lot of effort from PSM to keep alternative perspectives within reach for new members. This has been really helpful in my understanding of this alternative version of history. Due to my lack of familiarity with local left history, I can only say through my first year of joining them, that current PSM leaders and members are great leaders that I admire; their dedication towards the struggle is something to behold.
Is there any frustration you feel over PSM’s size and impact? Since Dr Jeyakumar and other candidates were soundly defeated in GE14, has the party been reduced to mosquito status?
The party is still working to our best capacity and to say we have been reduced to mosquito status can be somewhat accurate; as mosquitoes can be annoying and effective. The work the party is concerned with will never be over. Although we didn’t win any seats in the last election, the struggle of the people never stops. People being evicted and retrenched are on the rise; suicide cases and attempts are also increasing, yet the ruling elites did nothing. This proves further that we need an alternative more than ever. PSM has done great work in these issues, from suggestions of temporary basic income and for the government to create ‘green’ jobs, to increasing budgets for the public mental-healthcare and tons of grassroots activities. PSM is doing massive work, but it is not known to the public as we don’t have access to mainstream media and our social media following isn’t that big, but and we are improving in that regard.
Do you see any differences between BN and PH rule?
The anti-ICERD rally was attended by hundreds of thousands; political giants were endorsing it, yet PH did nothing but bow to the demands of racism & xenophobia. They are two prongs of the same fork, two puppets from the same ventriloquists, two fingers from the same hand; they are there to give us the illusion of choice and the illusion of political agency; to fool us into thinking we can change the system from within once every 5 years or so.
What can be done to broaden PSM’s appeal, particularly among young people and non-Indians?
Honestly one of the main mediums through which PSM appealed to me was through online memes,. Young people are exceptionally good at surrealist and boundary-dissolving memes. I believe memes are one of the main tools of the youth to mock the ruling elites and dominant worldviews. People are also spending more time online. I truly believe the meme-savviness of the leftist youth has great potential in bringing new ideas to other frustrated youths through the sharing of relatable memes mocking capitalism and promoting alternatives to it.
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