PETALING JAYA: Socialism 2018, the annual forum conducted by Parti Sosialis Malaysia, will be held from Dec 7-9 at the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, and this year's speakers really are from all over the world.
Marxist speakers from Germany, Brazil, Australia and India will alternate with local socialists such as the PSM trio of former Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, S. Arutchelvan and secretary-general A. Sivarajan.
Also speaking will be Rozana Isa (Sisters in Islam), Adrian Pereira (Northe South Initiatives), Nisha Ayub (Justice for Sisters) and Dr Khairil Izamin (International Islamic University Malaysia).
This year's is the 14th forum since it was first held in 2005 and is based on the theme of People's Need not Corporate Greed.
"There has been a revival to initiate international groupings against global capitalism. PSM is part of that initiative to mobilise Asia Pacific and Asean leftist parties and organisations," said Sivarajan.
Among the topics are America under Trump, the New World Order?, #MeToo: Challenging Sexism and the System, Immigration a Global Crisis, Precariat the New Working Class?, Challenges to the International Left: Victories and Setbacks, 200 years of Karl Marx and The role of the Left in Malaysia Baru.
Foreign guests include Sue Bolton of Australia's Socialist Alliance, Cem Sey of Die Linke in Germany, Kavitha Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association and Marco Fernandes of Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement. Speakers from Nepal and Mexico, which have elected left-wing governments, will also be present.
PSM is in contact with a wide range of left-wing activists who can offer their perspectives on struggles around the world. However, it is not affiliated with a specific grouping.
"That has been our stance since we first had the Socialism Conference in 2005. Our position is to dialogue and learn from all international tendencies but not to sign up for any international groups formally," said Sivarajan.
He added that Malaysia's left has to be formulated according to local realities and cannot be a 'copy paste' of analysis from another part of the world.
"Sometimes the splits and sectarianism from the 20th century communist /left parties do not help us, but only disintegrates the forces that need to fight capitalism."
Far from being an exercise in rhetoric and theory, Sivarajan feels that such dialogues as one might experience in the forums can offer solutions to the economic and social challenges facing new Malaysia.
"We have already started engaging with Pakatan Harapan Ministers on various issues, to ensure that they too do not fall into the neoliberal agenda. Currently, our main issues are Health Insurance and overall initiatives to rebuild the Public Health Sector. We are also pushing the issue for truly affordable housing for the poor."
Sivarajan himself will be speaking about today's increasingly displaced working class which works on short-term contracts with no social security benefits, unstable incomes, no fixed offices and no union representation.
The opening session for Socialism 2018 will be held on Dec 7 at 8pm and will feature musical performances by Wolf, Ayam Hitam, Shh Diam and Tingtongketz.
There is a registration fee of RM35 (inclusive of lunch and complimentary T-shirt). For further info, contact 012-3902544 or 016-4407422.
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