Happy 21st Anniversary, PSM
By Hafidz Baharom
The Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) recently celebrated their 21st anniversary after their formation on May 1, 1998. That said, the only party in Malaysia continues to be a sole voice in the country to promote the left wing ideology as their central thrust.
However, they have yet to receive their dues in terms of support, mostly because of the stigma against left wing parties on the collective Malaysian psyche. Their trouncing in the 2018 General Elections is further proof that they might not have their support base yet.
So are they still in the wilderness? No.
Are they well recognised? Yes.
But has that recognition translated into support? No.
The shortest way to describe PSM is that they are in a constant “limbo” of being and non-recognition for the past 10 years. Those that know of them, know a lot about them and their membership, and those who don’t know them haven’t a clue of what they are and what they stand for.
And of course, the one thing that has constantly destroyed PSM in terms of support from the general public, is the economy. While PSM is brilliant in standing up for the little guy and the underdog, they really need to speak the capitalist lingo in order to sell their socialist message.
This has led to the subsequent belief Malaysian socialists have always been seen as champions of the people, but only for the Bottom 40 – and Malaysia considers itself a middle income population nationwide.
While PSM does have a larger plan to help the middle income and youth by raising issues such as the gig economy, sexual orientation rights, and even their anti nuclear power stance (which I still keep telling them to drop), they have remained persistently on message but lost in the echo chamber of politics.
This is where PSM needs to upgrade its communication network – reaching out to grassroots is fine and dandy, but selling the message to the general public is still not within their abilities, particularly when it comes to all their workpapers and general ideas.
Secondly, is the language barrier – contrary to popular belief, Malaysia remains a country segregated by race, religion and language.And thus, PSM needs to improve its central communications committee (if they don’t have one, they should establish one) in order to cater to this need.
Thirdly, would be to get their policy papers noticed – the biggest problem with PSM has always been trying to get their message out. A brief look at their websites tells us that they need to get their act together by publishing full research papers regarding what they are proposing for general consumption, and getting it out to the general public in infographic content.
Fourthly, it is perhaps wise to have constant periodical content – a timeline of either daily, weekly, or even monthly updates via social media platforms, would help lure in better membership feedback and reactions in the long and short term.
And finally, PSM needs to groom their rockstars – all political parties have a cadre of central leaders who act as key opinion leaders to speak to the general public. It isn’t limited to one person, or two persons, but a collection of individuals who can speak for the party to the media in general.
Having all these in place, it would assist in PSM gaining more highlights in the press, and also pushing for them to gain better access to media coverage as well as more interactivity with members and non-members alike.
PSM is a good party for the future of Malaysia as a whole – to have that third voice when both sides are lacking in keeping to their word and even lacking proper policies. However, lacking a loud voice in the general political sphere in Malaysia, will continue to hamper their growth.
This is where PSM needs to focus their resources the most – communication to the media, communication to the masses, and an increased allotment of resources to train and captivate new leadership to be able to speak for the party to the general public.
With those in place, it will be time to go on a nationwide tour to sell their socialist message to the greater Malaysian public.