In 2018, an ordinary citizen discovered that she was disallowed from opening a bank account with Bank Negara. Malini Balras, aged 49, approached PSM Kajang the following year to get this resolved. She raised this particular issue to Bank Negara, but no significant feedback was received at the time. The poor woman was unable to find proper employment for more than 2 years, as employers required her to have a bank account. Unsurprisingly, she was also unable to benefit from any government welfare scheme for the exact same reason, due to the fact that she did not have access to a functional bank account.
For quite some time, Malini was in the dark as to why she was blacklisted. The only thing she knew was that in the same year she was denied by Bank Negara, she faced a similar occurrence when she ran into trouble with her Alliance Bank account. She approached the bank about it in January that year and was informed by the bank — 4 months later — that someone else was using her account for transactions. We were sent on a wild roller coaster trip, as comrade S. Arutchelvan from PSM Kajang eventually handled her case — tirelessly communicating with Alliance Bank and Bank Negara. Thanks to his efforts, Malini was finally able to open a bank account early this year.
Time after time again, PSM has proved that its diligent members have always been persistent in their approaches until a case is solved. There are countless other victories that the party would like to acknowledge and celebrate. For instance, the time when 41 ex-Bukit Tunggu estate workers successfully received compensation after a lengthy 26 years of fighting. Likewise, the Permata Dengkil housing issue. After years of struggle and delay in the federal government to rebuild their houses due to the pandemic, the work is finally resuming and is expected to complete within a year or so.
Additionally, Semenyih estate workers finally received their land grant this year. PSM did not give up easily, until the party was offered alternate housing by PNSB (Permodalan Negeri Selangor Berhad) after they were approached by around 7 families, several years ago. There were a number of people that we assisted, namely the Dunedin estate workers who started their journey fighting for house ownership since 1995, and the low-income families in Sri Raya — an abandoned housing project in Cheras 30 years ago. These are undoubtedly victories for the people who were persistent and resilient.
It is also worth mentioning that since the COVID-19 pandemic started, everyone has been noticeably struggling — though some more than others. It was brought to PSM’s attention that an unfortunate family was manipulated by the bank, and their low-cost house was being auctioned for simply missing a payment during a moratorium period. Thankfully, we won that case and everyone involved was able to return to their home. Achieving that was not a walk in the park, but we proved that making such changes is not impossible.
Lastly, in one of our biggest wins, we won a case against the US Embassy. A worker, Mr. Subra, was a security guard who faced unlawful termination 14 years ago by his employer — the US Embassy. Mr. Subra fought the giant with the help of Comrade Arutchelvan and their lawyer, Ragunath Kesavan. The Appeals Court eventually referred the case back to the Industrial Court.
On 20th August 2022 at Kajang, we celebrated the aforementioned victories of these people with the attendance of around a hundred people. ‘Jamuan Teh Tabung Perjuangan’, a high tea co-organised by PSM’s Kajang and Semenyih branch for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, managed to collect about RM 50,000 for the event.
Both branches under the leadership of comrade S. Arutchelven — Deputy Chairman of PSM — runs service centres to assist the people. The branch in Semenyih has one full-time staff, while the other is manned completely by volunteers. The issues that are handled mostly cover land, housing and labour disputes. We also receive family, temple and welfare cases. Alongside that, our team is working on strengthening JPKK, the Network of Government Contract Workers, by getting more members and implementing activities, such as forming lorry drivers’ associations and campaigns to improve conditions of the low-cost flats and other ad hoc issues.
We express our eternal gratitude to all our friends, comrades and supporters for always believing in us and supporting our grassroots work, which includes our fight against capitalist greed. Within our party, we have principled leadership and highly committed members who believe in uplifting the people and building their power. PSM will definitely continue to play its role at the local and national level to bring change together with everyone.