|Police are busy after a long years rest|
Eventful buoyed by Pakatan MPs' support
|Rachel Chan Suet Kay | May 1, 08 6:25pm|
|May 1 is an important day for all workers. This year, the Malaysian working class is pressing harder for an official recognition for a minimum wage.|
In fact, workers have been asking for the minimum wage nod for years. This year, they are making a louder demand for it.
With the advent of Pakatan Rakyat, the question in mind while counting down the seconds to the march today was whether this could finally become reality. It was not an easy start, however, for the participants of the march from Dataran Merdeka to SMJK Confucian in KL, as armed police had barricaded the roads, disallowing participants and journalists from entering the premises.
After some negotiation between leaders of the yet-to-be-registere d Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), led by secretary general S Arutchelvan, and the police, the participants of the march, which included students groups, workers groups, women's groups, were finally allowed to pass walking in twos.
'We are not going to march, but only to walk from Dataran Merdeka all the way to SMJK Confucian,' said one of the PSM marshals on duty, Steven Doraisamy.
Joining the crowd today was a mix of foreign media, including reporters from , , and a number of corporate-dressed observers.
'Why are there so many police personnel around?' queried one of the observers, a tourist from , who emphasises that his country is very left-oriented.
Forced to work longer hours
Arutchelvan reiterates that capitalism has brought many problems to the world today. 'Currently the major problems faced by the people (including marginalised groups such as the Orang Asli, women, workers, and farmers) are that of high inflation, food crisis, as well as . Therefore socialism is still a very viable alternative. '
'Because of the high inflation, people are forced to work longer hours to sustain their livelihoods, and this in turn causes them to lose their social life and social security.'
Asked whether can look to Bolivia and as role models, he said: 'They are interesting models, as their system gives power to the people to design their lives.'
Of Scandinavian countries adopting the Social Democratic system, he said: 'There are setbacks even in , because the capitalists are not happy when you give them a welfare state.'
Among the demands made today were to create a legislation that recognises the minimum wage of RM900, to abolish the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), and to do away with the ISA and to free all ISA detainees.
Student activist Ng Yong Jin, 23, told Malaysiakini on site that the voting age should also be reduced to 18, as an 18-year-old is considered an adult and already has opinions of his or her own.'
One major gripe factory workers have is the supposed reduction of working hours to eight hours per day but this has now been set back to 12 hours a day.
'We are regressing,' said one of the committee members of the Jawatankuasa Satu Mei, who performed a stage skit about the origins of the in . The performance traced the almost bloody origins of the Workers' Day movement in America and portrayed the managerial class as dancing capitalists who did not give a cent's worth to the plight of labourers.
After the light-hearted skit, came the moment many were waiting for, when representatives from the Jawatankuasa' coalition of women's, Orang Asal's, students' and workers' groups came forth to make their demands known to Pakatan Rakyat MPs present.
A people's success
Among the elected Pakatan representatives present were Dr. Lo' Lo' Ghazali of PAS, Zuraida Kamaruddin and Elizabeth Wong of PKR, Charles Santiago of DAP and Dr. Syed Nasir of PSM.
'It is truly a people's success to be able to make it to this celebration today, especially the fact that you managed to bypass the police,' said Lo' Lo' Ghazali in response to the demands made by the people.
'In fact, you should go all out to celebrate even more,' echoed Zuraida Kamaruddin.
Charles Santiago, meanwhile, said that ��workers have become highly insecure due to the backtracking from eight hours a day as standardised by the in 1919 to twelve hours a day for some as of present.' This is particularly true in the case of factory workers in
Dr. Syed Nasir, ending the ceremony, mentioned that: 'Every year without fail, something or some people will test our celebrations, but we have succeeded (because this is the 14th time we have done it), and we will continue to do it successfully. '
'The MPs serve the people and not otherwise. The neo-liberal system is corrupted and we must change it,' he added
Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."