Young socialists dangle support for parties who adopt their ‘manifesto’

Gabungan Kiri committee members Maryam Lee (left) and Zikir Rahman hold up a booklet containing the group's manifesto after an interview with Malay Mail in Petaling Jaya. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa
Gabungan Kiri committee members Maryam Lee (left) and Zikir Rahman hold up a booklet containing the group's manifesto after an interview with Malay Mail in Petaling Jaya. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — A new left-wing pressure group comprising young activists and liberal-minded supporters said it would support whichever political coalition that embraces its so-called “Manifesto 99%” in the general elections.

Speaking for the socialist group named Gabungan Kiri, committee member Maryam Lee told Malay Mail the manifesto encompassed “almost” all aspects of Malaysian community and was the voice of the youth.

“There needs to be a real alternative in Malaysian politics as the country needs a force that emphasises politics based on economic problems and not on anything else.

“Therefore, I would say that we will support any political coalition, whether it is Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan just about anyone who supports this manifesto,” she said in an interview.

Without setting a deadline, Maryam said the group will approach both coalitions to pitch the manifesto, but conceded that its contents may be disagreeable to race-based parties.

According to Zikri Rahman, another committee member, the manifesto was important to restore political discourse to be more people-centric, such as by prioritising matters of equality, economic growth, education, public housing, and social inclusion.

“In the last elections, people wanted about one million public housing [units], but until today, the issue of affordable housing for the middle class people has not been addressed to the extent it needs,” he said.

Manifesto 99% is based on six ideas: the distribution of wealth, free tertiary education, a reasonable minimum wage, quality housing, sovereign wealth fund, and the shift to a greener and higher technology economy.

Gabungan Kiri’s manifesto also contains express calls for social justice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and native customary land rights for the Orang Asli.

Gabungan Kiri committee member Maryam Lee said the manifesto was not meant to coax or persuade displeased voters to join the #UndiRosak campaign, stressing that the initiative by the group was solely to express the needs of voters.
Gabungan Kiri committee member Maryam Lee said the manifesto was not meant to coax or persuade displeased voters to join the #UndiRosak campaign, stressing that the initiative by the group was solely to express the needs of voters.

How will Manifesto 99% appeal to disenchanted voters?

Maryam said the manifesto was not meant to coax or persuade displeased voters to join the #UndiRosak campaign, stressing that the initiative by the group was solely to express the needs of voters.

The #UndiRosak movement has formed in pockets on social media, with supporters expressing their intention to spoil their ballots in the 14th general elections in protest.

“These six ideas of ours are basically what the people want to see happening as we have brainstormed and spoken to several people from all walks of life before finalising this manifesto about two weeks ago,” she said, when distancing her group from the other movement.

Gabungan Kiri has published news about Manifesto 99% on its Facebook page to generate support.

As of end of January, its page has just over 800 followers.

Zikri conceded that response was “tame”, claiming that some youths refrained from sharing their thoughts or speaking up on the internet for fear of being labelled as “condescending”.

“Some are, in fact, already stereotyping this manifesto because I am endorsing it,” Maryam said.

Still, Maryam said there were some sharing stories about Manifesto 99% on their social media accounts.

Zikri said supporters were those who have come to conclude that the current political system must change.

In the coming months, Maryam said the group aims to hold a one-off talk about Manifesto 99%, but nothing has been finalised yet.

Gabungan Kiri consists of 30 core members and is made up of 13 non-governmental groups, as well as political party Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).

The groups are Angkatan Pembebasan Bangsa Malaysia (APBM), Barisan Pekerja, Buku Jalanan Shah Alam, Collective Intelligence (CI), Freedom, Gerakan Pembebasan Wanita (GPW), Imagined Malaysia, Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Projek Dialog, Socialist Alternative (CWI), Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM), and Kuliah Buku (KUBU).

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