Malaysia: Socialists at forefront of changing politics

Malaysia: Socialists at forefront of changing politics
By Max Lane

On July 29, six leaders of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) were released from prison, 34 days after their arrest on June 25. Their release was a result of the tremendous sustained and energetic campaign that received broad support, especially in Malaysia. Thirty members of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) were arrested on charges of “waging war against the king” on June 25, as they were handing out leaflets calling for the resignation of the Malaysian government. Twenty-four were released soon after, but six remained in detention. They were also accused of attempting to revive communism in Malaysia, an accusation based on the fact that in the bus they were using, police found t-shirts with pictures of Ching Peng, the former chairperson of the now defunct Communist Party of Malaysia (MCP), which led a guerrilla war against British colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s.

After being released on day seven of their arrest on the above charges, they were rearrested on the spot under an Emergency Ordinance. The formal justification for this was changed twice – the last version claimed that they were a threat to public order and accused of being the organisers of a demonstration for electoral reform. They were kept in solitary confinement, subjected to long interrogations, denied serious access to lawyers and family and physically abused, including hours-long standing interrogations. Two detainees were taken to clinics due to heart conditions.

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