Ever since MUDA and PSM have decided to work together for the upcoming State Election, we have gotten disproportionate attention from our counterparts at Pakatan Harapan and their supporters for this supposed transgression. Whilst we have responded in kind, from pointing out hypocrisy to derision, I fear another idea may take root; that MUDA and PSM are only getting together for the polls in hopes of handing Perikatan Nasional a victory. Let me be perfectly clear. Perikatan Nasional’s politics of division, rhetoric of hate and, ultimately, the seeds of doubt that they continue to plant within our multiracial, multicultural, multireligious society are all opposed by MUDA and PSM to the hilt!
Let us now explore a little on how we are approaching our involvement in fighting against this toxic culture. For PSM, the situation within Malaysia, as it is within many third-world nations, is due to primarily the inequality of the distribution of wealth created by our workers. This happens in multiple manners. Within Malaysia, capitalist firms exploit workers as much as possible by expecting many hours of labour, often exceeding contracted time, whilst paying as little as possible. Internationally, global firms seek our vendors within Malaysia that will minimize their const of production for raw materials, components and other goods.
The latter impacts on the former as these vendor companies drive down local wages to be competitive, keeping the downward spiral going. Oftentimes as well, the managerial and higher executive levels are shielded from this wage suppression, as they bag tremendous paychecks that could only be dreamt of by their subordinates. Another layer on top of this is that these paychecks become symbols of desire that “prove” the system works if only one can reach those lofty levels, leaving most workers languishing with pathetic wages unable to even complain lest they be deemed unproductive labourers.
These workers are the majority chunk of society and they are immensely frustrated at how their lives are run. They are constantly searching, either consciously or subconsciously, for a reason why they have to toil so hard yet not achieve the gains that were promised. It is in this space that many coping mechanisms, and with them, exploiters exist. Marx stated that religion is the opium of the masses, not as a form of derision against it, but as a matter of fact whereby the spiritual crutch provided by religion helps soothe the ailing heart of our workers. There are those, now, that wield such crutches to create false identities and promises to separate us for their own political gains.
This is how we see Perikatan Nasional’s influence seeping into our society. They are taking advantage of a very material issue, that of economic difficulties faced by the public, and providing a false solution, that of Malay-Muslim supremacy. The difficulties faced by the poor is usurped by just focusing on poor Malay-Muslims, their strife diagnosed as due to the loss of their rightful position in society which has been unjustly stolen by non-Malay-Muslims. This is why PN leaders like Hadi Awang keep insisting it is a fact that non-Malay-Muslims form the majority of those involved in corruption.
What is most interesting is that PN’s largest tracts of success seemingly come from the idea that they are fundamentally a replacement of UMNO, a Malay-Muslim majority political force that is somehow less corrupt. This is where supporters of PN come agonizingly close to understanding the folly of their approach. A party with the very same Malay-Muslim mentality they have trusted for so long was the one that ruthlessly stole from them. The race-religion narrative has been done before, as it is being done now, all for the same reasons, power and money. Just see the value of cases in Bersatu and UMNO!
What now, then? Where do we fit in? Let us have a look at what we have seen from the PH-BN camp. Gone are the days of feigning desperation to work together by force, the narrative now is of Unity (Perpaduan) between PH and BN. Anwar has even gone the distance by both asserting none of his ministers are corrupt (even though at least one is facing multiple graft charges) and that Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, the one PH used as a bogeyman all throughout GE14, is a progressive. This political kow-tow is done with such fervour that it can no longer be called desperate, rather it is how PH has accepted BN as part of themselves. We are told to learn to bury the hatchet, but with it we are burying decades of destruction BN has dealt to this nation.
All of this is justified by using PN as the new bogeyman. The stalling of many reforms, sudden support for ethnic policies of quota and rhetoric of Anwar saving UMNO from Mahathir and Muhyiddin from being banned is directly tied to appeasing the same voters who would vote for PN. Where are the reforms that we are so desperately searching for? Where was the idealism of 2018 and 2022? Gone with the realpolitik of our times? Sorry to say, that is simply not good enough!
The needs of the marhaen supercedes the need of Pakatan Harapan winning, especially when PH are so willing to dilute their initial progressive stances just to stay in power. If they are this malleable that they will follow along with whichever viewpoint is popular, then it must fall on us, progressives of Malaysia, to put up a progressive alternative! If we want local council elections, we must put up an alternative that unabashedly fights for it, rather than allow PN’s narrative of racialized local councils push PH away from the idea, as they have been already. If we want our forest reserves to be protected, we cannot allow the two-coalition system that has PAS which cares very little for the forests in Kelantan, as PH in Selangor, for example, may be moved to follow suit. If we want policies for the 99%, we shouldn’t depend on meetings with Elon Musk, we should platform the marhaen!
MUDA and PSM reject Perikatan Nasional’s politics of division. We urge all potential supporters of Perikatan Nasional who are frustrated with PH-BN to support us instead. Realise that the solutions given by Perikatan Nasional are false promises. There is nothing to be gained from being divided. The needs of the marhaen cut across race, religion, creed and all identifiers that supposedly divide us. Let MUDA and PSM carry your voice to we can fight for the very things you need; more spending power, affordable houses, an equitable public transportation system and, above all, dignity to live your lives with your head held high. To our detractors from PH-BN, you are playing a game that will change you unrecognizably. Cut your losses and back what your heart desires for rather than the lesser evil.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia