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PSM: Guns placed against our head

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PSMPETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) prefers to remain aligned with Pakatan Rakyat even though PKR is eyeing three of the four seats that PSM wants to contest in the May 5 general election.

PSM’s incumbent Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael D Jeyakumar admitted that PSM’s position was now akin to being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“We are in a position where the guns are placed against our head. We have been a loyal ally to Pakatan because we do not want to undermine the people’s wishes to go against Barisan Nasional.

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“However, we would prefer to knock heads with our allies and not bite the bitter pill by pulling out of the race. We don’t want party factions,” said Jeyakumar when contacted for comments over the latest developments on seat negotiations involving PKR and PSM.

He echoed the sentiments of his party members who wanted the party to field its members in the 13th general election instead of contesting under the Pakatan component parties.

He also admitted that three-cornered fights would give an advantage to BN.

Last night, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim announced his Serdang division chief Hamidi Hasan as a candidate for Semenyih state seat.

Semenyih was contested by PSM’s secretary-general S Arutchelvan in the 12th general election. Arutchelvan confirmed that he would be contesting in Semenyih again.

In 2008, Arutchelvan lost Semenyih to Umno’s Johan Aziz by 1,140 votes. Johan polled 11,588 votes to Arutchelvan’s 10,448 votes.

PKR is also eyeing the Kota Damansara state seat won by PSM chairman Nasir Hashim in 2008. Anwar has yet to announce his candidate for this seat but negotiations with PSM are scheduled tonight.

In the 12th general election, Nasir polled 11,846 votes to beat Umno’s Zein Isma Ismail by a majority of 1,075 votes. Zein obtained 10,771 votes.

Making things worse for PSM, PKR is also eyeing the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat. Talks on the ground indicate that PKR would be fielding a candidate there too.

In 2008, Jeyakumar beat former MIC president S Samy Vellu with a majority of 1,821 votes. He polled 16,458 votes to Samy’s 14,637 votes.

The fourth seat in contention is the Jelapang state seat. PSM had fielded M Sarasvathy in 2008 against DAP’s Hee Yit Foong and MCA’s Loh Koi Pin.

DAP is now adamant to field its candidate there even though Hee had declared herself as an independent a year after a Pakatan government was formed in Perak.

Hee polled 12,219 votes against Loh’s 5,512 and Sarasvathy’s 1,275 votes in the Chinese-majority seat located in Batu Gajah.

Emergency meeting tonight

Arutchelvan, meanwhile, said that PSM would be holding an emergency meeting tonight to discuss its next course of action, which could include a review of the party’s relationship with Pakatan.

The main bone of contention with PSM’s candidacy seems to be the use of the party’s logo, which Pakatan leaders are worried could confuse voters.

Arutchelvan said that PSM had agreed to compromise over the logo issue, including agreeing to use the PKR logo in Semenyih but had sought for time to consider for a similar move in Kota Damansara.

He said the agreement was made during a meeting with Anwar on April 13.

“On April 14 night, we were shocked to learn that Anwar has already announced the Semenyih candidate.

“This decision was made in spite of PSM agreeing to stand under PKR logo in Semenyih. The Kota Damansara seat was not announced pending negotiation with PSM. We also hear that PKR has also prepared a parachute candidate to stand in Sungai Siput,” Arutchelvan said in a statement.

He added that during the meeting with Anwar, the PKR leader had also informed them that DAP would be contesting in Sungai Siput if Jeyakumar used the PSM logo.

“Previously, Jeyakumar was informed that he could stand under the PSM logo in Sungai Siput…we were also told that even if PSM stands in all three seats under the Pakatan logo, DAP will not allow PSM to stand in Jelapang.

“We requested that an NGO committee decide on the Jelapang seat and we will adhere to that,” he said.

He said the emergency meeting tonight will decide on PSM’s position to contest in the four seats using its own logo, and to discuss the three-cornered fights that would arise as a result of Pakatan joining in the contest, and to review the relationship with Pakatan.

Arutchelvan also said that the party would be making a decision to allow non-PSM members to contest using the PSM logo.

“To date, there have been 10 requests from non-PSM members to contest under our banner – two from Sabah, one from Perak, three from Negeri Sembilan and four from Selangor,” he said.

He also said that environmental groups have also asked the party to contest in Cameron Highlands.

In 2008, PSM had to contest under the PKR banner as it was not registered by the government. The party was only officially recognised by the Registrar of Society last year.

Since then, PSM had applied to join Pakatan as a coalition partner, a decision which is still forthcoming.

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