Malaysia: Court hangs fire on Socialist Party (PSM) appeal

Socialists and activists demand party’s registration

Members of the Committee for a Workers’ International world-wide have been involved in sending messages of protest and solidarity in connection with the appeal of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia against refusal of legal recognition. Below we carry extracts from a report written on 12 April and carried on the PSM web-site at:

Court hangs fire on Socialist Party (PSM) appeal

The Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s case against the Home Affairs Minister has ended up as a cliff hanger. While on Monday (10 April) the PSM was given the impression that the judges were with them, today, Wednesday, the hearing ended without a decision. The judges want to go into the facts of the case again. It could now go either way. Will the judiciary vote for freedom of association, constitutional rights and natural justice or will it vote for technical and administrative obstructions?

The courtroom today was once again packed with PSM supporters and members. Many had to wait outside, including some of the lawyers. The dock chair was brought out and used by journalists. The Judge also at one point ordered the door to be locked saying he was distracted by the noise outside the courtroom.

The PSM case versus the Home Affairs Minister started at 10.30 am before three Appeal Court judges. Senior Federal Counsel, Datuk Mary Lim, touched on the two issues raised on Monday. She said the Home Affairs Minister had information from the police about the PSM being a security threat. But this was shot down by Justice Gopal Sri Ram who said the minister must give reasons. On this issue, the judges felt that there are no grounds to reject the PSM’s registration as nothing was revealed.

The court deliberated at length on the second issue of having to have representatives from seven states for a national political party. The Federal Counsel said that, in spite of directives to the party by the Registrar, the party had shown sheer refusal to fulfil the conditions. But this was roundly refuted by the PSM’s counsel, Tommy Thomas, who said it was not a requirement of law. He told the court that these are ‘post’ conditions. Upon registration, the PSM had fulfilled all the required conditions. These ones are additional. They are restrictive and go against the constitution and natural justice. The court then reserved judgement.

Outside the courtroom, PSM national Chairperson, Dr. Nasir Hashim and Secretary General, S.Arutchelvan addressed the anxious crowd. The PSM Secretary said, “We have to wait and see if the Appeals Court have the guts or not to go against the executive”. Dr. Nasir said this is a process we have to go through, but the party and the movement is getting stronger. We will move on. He ended his speech with two slogans: “Long live the Workers” and “Long Live Socialism”

Outside the Appeal Court

The court today has clearly knocked out one of the two arguments by the State and has dismissed the use of the national security argument against the PSM. The court is left with the issue of the seven states representatives. The court has further said that just one reason would be enough to knock out the PSM’s case. The people of Malaysia and other interested parties in the world will have to wait and see if the issue of the seven states representatives – which is not in any written law and regulations – can be used to restrict the freedom of association as enshrined in the constitution. Gopal Sri Ram is known for his boldness and his wit…will he direct PSM to be registered? The PSM registration saga continues.

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April 2006