Sceptical of united opposition front in GE15, PSM says willing to join forces under one condition

·4-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) has indicated its willingness to join forces with other opposition parties in the 15th general elections (GE15), as long as its candidates remain as members even if they win.

In a recent interview with Malay Mail, its secretary-general Sivarajan Arumugam pointed to three possible scenarios for the parties come the election which must be held by September 2023.

"We are still open to an electoral pact and if the Opposition says that everyone comes under one logo, and if they have given us reasonable amount of seats then we will agree to it,” said Sivarajan.

He said in the second scenario if all parties will be given a chance to use their own logos, PSM should also be given the right to do so.

The third alternative would be a disunited opposition front, he said.

Despite all this, Sivarajan said he remains sceptical about the possibility of a united opposition front in GE15, citing a much different political landscape after the so-called "Sheraton Move" which saw Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia jumping ship from Pakatan Harapan to form Perikatan Nasional.

He added what happened in the Johor state election might be repeated in the general election due to the lack of time and interest among the opposition parties to form a united front.

"Even though Anwar talked about the ‘big tent' idea some time ago, I think it has fallen through because no one is really talking about it.

"Even within PKR, Rafizi who is now the deputy president is not into it, he is mainly on his way to building up the party by itself, so we think the big tent will not happen before GE15,” he said.

He also suggested that some constituencies might see a five or six-cornered fight if this trend continues.

According to him, voters will be given a variety of parties to select in GE15, ranging from the far-right pro-Malay coalition Gerakan Tanah Air, government coalitions Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN), Pakatan Harapan (PH), other left-field parties such as Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) and PSM itself, and even independent candidates.

"We think that nothing great is going to happen in GE15, there’s not gonna be a wave of what we saw in 2018, where the wave of opposition against BN is very strong with PH and even the whole society.

"Now I don’t think it’s going to happen, everyone is talking by themselves. It’s going to be very complicated,” he said.

Speaking of the condition to join an electoral pact for GE15, Sivarajan said PSM's candidates must remain in the same party after winning seats in the election, and carry out their duties as PSM members in state assemblies and parliamentary meetings.

"So for example like what happened in 2008, Dr Michael Jeyakumar used the PKR logo and got elected, and when Kumar went to parliament the first thing we did was we went to Dewan Speaker and told him we are Parti Sosialis Malaysia, and we need everything in the Hansard and our labelling to come out as PSM.

"But of course, we agreed that we are part of the opposition bloc, we sit in the opposition, and we will support the opposition in the voting process. So that’s always the position we had held up to today,” said Sivarajan.

During the interview, Sivarajan also said that PSM had identified over 20 constituencies that they are targeting, on both state and national levels, in their special congress earlier this year.

He said that all 20 seats will be reviewed again to see which are ready and the number of seats they will be contesting will be decided when the election is called.

"We have our own KPI (key performance index), so among the 20 seats, these 5 have done more work, so we look at their potential, how's the margin to win or lose.

"We think this five are good, ok go, five go first in GE15, the rest keep working until GE16, GE17, and so on," he added.

PSM had previously contested and won the Sungai Siput seat in the 2008 and 2013 general elections under PKR's ticket.

The party then decided to contest on their own in the 2018 general election but had lost their Sungai Siput seat to another PKR candidate.

Malaysia is not due for an election until September 2023 but Umno has been pressuring Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri for an early election to capitalise on the momentum they have gained from Melaka and Johor state elections.