Malaysia: Feeble reason given to reject PSM’s appeal

Courts deny Parti Sosialis Malaysia the right to register as a party

On 16 August 2006, the Malaysian Court of Appeal rejected the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) case to be registered as a legal political party which it has been fighting since 1998 (see below PSM Press Statement). The court verdict also demonstrated that, although the right of association is guaranteed in the Malaysian constitution, the state could still use its apparatus such as association registrar department, courts and other bodies to manipulate the facts of the case and rights of PSM. Undoubtedly this shows the reality of Malaysia’s very limited ‘bourgeois democracy’, something that gives the appearance of democratic rights, but really is a tool to safeguard the capitalist agenda.

The court judgment also demonstrated the fear of National Front (the ruling government) over the re-emergence of socialist ideas. The National Front has been ruling since independence in 1957 by using divide and rule in Malaysia’s multiracial and multi-religious society. It fears that a strong socialist movement could unite Malaysian workers and the oppressed on class lines and would then be the threat to the capitalists’ profit and power. Nevertheless the unprecedented neo-liberal attacks taking place alongside the incapacity of capitalism to solve either the national question or the fundamental needs of working class and the oppressed in Malaysia are preparing the way for a radicalisation of workers and youths. In such a situation legal barriers will not be a lasting obstacle to the growth in support for socialist ideas and organisation.

Press statement: 16 august 2006

Feeble reason given to reject PSM’s appeal

This morning the Court of Appeal rejected Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) appeal and upheld the High Court decision on 13 January 2003 which denied PSM’s right to be registered as a Political party.

Justice Dato Gopal Sri Ram delivered the judgment in front of a packed courtroom. He said there were two reasons given to deny PSM a registration. The first being that the party did not comply with a seven state regulation and the second being that the party is a threat to national security.

The court today dismissed the National Security argument which the court felt was a bad reason and said there were no argument to substantiate the allegation but the court held on to a more feeble reason to deny PSM the right to be registered. The Appeal court felt that when two reasons are given- one bad and one good, you just need one reason to dismiss the case.

Justice Dato Gopal Sri Ram said that the Registrar of Society (ROS) was reasonable because they allowed PSM to be registered as a State Party and the requirement of seven state members was a reasonable policy for a party aspiring to be a National party. The court also said that the ROS had meetings to explain to the party.

PSM is deeply disappointed with the judgment as the reason stated for PSM’s rejection was disgraceful and appalling. In the first place, PSM was never given a license to operate as a State level party. Secondly, PSM has on numerous occasions stated that the party has no problem in fulfilling the seven state requirement but the criteria of seven state members were never given to us in spite of numerous efforts. The ROS also failed to give an explanation and dialogue with PSM though there were many efforts being taken by PSM. These arguments were clearly put forward in an additional submission to the Courts of Appeal.

We view today’s decision a step backward to democracy and freedom of association in Malaysia. The court held on to a feeble reason to deny a political party the right to represent the people in a democratic system. The court failed to see the agenda of the State when it called PSM a threat to national Security. It was clearly a political reason not an administrative reason for not registering the party.

The decision today is not going to shake us nor is it going to stop us from forming a socialist party in Malaysia. The party would be filing an appeal to the Federal Court- the highest court in the country to exhaust its legal battle. 

We thank all our members, supporters and all the support locally and internationally. We thank our legal team who did the entire case free of charge. With so much of solidarity, support and goodwill, we can only move forward.

We are now more than determined to pursue our struggle and our destiny. The strength of a movement does not depend in the license given to it by the ruling masters but by the masses of people.

We would continue to fight the system – in the courts or in the streets till we win.

Long live socialism!

Long live psm!

S. Arutchelvan

Secretary General

On behalf of PSM Central Committee Members

Special financial appeal to all readers of

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August 2006