PETALING JAYA: Malaysian socialists need to ask themselves why the anti-Icerd (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) campaign was able to mobilise tens of thousands for a racist message, when the left wing struggles to have such an impact.
At the same time, in analysing its mistakes, a defeatist mentality should be avoided, said Imran Rashid of Imagine Malaysia.
He was one of the speakers on the topic of "The Role of the Left in Malaysia Baru" at the Socialism 2018 forum on Sunday (Dec 9).
The session featured veteran S. Arutchelvan of Parti Sosialis Malaysia and was moderated by activist Masjaliza Hamzah.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia suffered poor results in GE14 with all its candidates, including two-term Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, losing their deposits.
Imran asked if the left wing was using the right tactics in disseminating information.
He cited his own background in Islamic groups which have massive recruitment strategies, saying that they do not “rely on the spirit of volunteerism like leftists".
“Let us not be defeatist. It’s easy to blame people and say we are doing our part but the people are not accepting the message.
“But the reality is that we must self-examine our methods.”
Arul defended PSM’s move to stand in so many seats and put grassroots leaders such as farmers and lorry drivers alongside party intellectuals in the GE14.
He said that the party spent too much time on the defensive, explaining why they were contesting, and not enough time getting socialist ideas across.
Saying that Pakatan Harapan was unlikely to drift from a liberal economic agenda, and that there was a dangerous rise of an Islamic opposition, he said the vacuum of parties protecting the interests of the working class and the poor still existed.
He also cited PSM’s class analysis as being much valid than the racial politics practised by the mainstream.
Arul said that “while the darkness of Barisan Nasional’s rule is finally over, there is a chance for light to shine.
“As long as there was not enough 'Baru' in New Malaysia, voters would be disillusioned and look for other alternatives.”
He said that the bridges between PSM and Pakatan had been burned by the lack of cooperation during GE14.
The two-day forum, the 14th annual forum since it was first held in 2005, featured seven sessions.
Conducted at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, this year’s conference was based on the theme of "People's Need not Corporate Greed".
Among the other topics covered were "America under Trump, the New World Order?", "#MeToo: Challenging Sexism and the System, Immigration a Global Crisis, Precariat the New Working Class?", and "Challenges to the International Left: Victories and Setbacks and 200 years of Karl Marx".
Foreign guests who spoke at Socialism 2018 included 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 recently elected left-wing governments, were also present.
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