The Malaysian People's Party (abbreviation: PRM; Malay: Parti Rakyat Malaysia) is a political party in Malaysia. Founded on 11 November 1955 as Partai Ra'ayat, it is one of the older political parties in Malaysia and traces its pedigree to the anti-colonial movements from the pre World War II period like the Kesatuan Melayu Muda.[1]

Malaysian People's Party
Malay nameParti Rakyat Malaysia
ڤرتي رعيت مليسيا
Chinese name馬來西亞人民黨
马来西亚人民党
Mǎláixīyǎ rénmín dǎng
Tamil nameமலேசிய மக்கள் கட்சி
Malēciya makkaḷ kaṭci
AbbreviationPRM
PresidentAhmad Juflis
Secretary-GeneralRN Rajah
Deputy PresidentMohd Ezam Mohd Nor
Vice PresidentTan Chow Kang
S. Manikavasagam
Sarah Afiqah Zainol Ariff
Information ChiefTan Kang Yap
FounderAhmad Boestamam
Founded11 November 1955
Preceded by
  • 1955 – Partai Ra'ayat (People's Party; PR)
  • 1965 – Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian People's Socialist Party; PSRM)
  • 1989 – Parti Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian People's Party; PRM, MPP)
HeadquartersNo 8 Jalan Indah 3, Taman Selayang Indah,68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
NewspaperSuara Rakyat
IdeologyProgressivism
Democratic socialism
Left-wing nationalism
Political positionLeft-wing
National affiliationMalayan Peoples' Socialist Front (1957–1966)
Barisan Alternatif (1998–2004)
Colours  Red
AnthemDemi Rakyat
Dewan Negara:
0 / 70
Dewan Rakyat:
0 / 222
Dewan Undangan Negeri:
0 / 606
Party flag
Website
partirakyatmalaysia.blogspot.com

It was part of the Malayan Peoples' Socialist Front coalition with the Labour Party of Malaya and was a force in the late 1950s and 1960s although the coalition was eventually decimated by politically-motivated detentions.[2] In 1965, the party renamed itself Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia in keeping with its scientific socialist ideology, but this was reversed in 1989.[3]

Eventually, the party merged with Parti Keadilan Nasional to form Parti Keadilan Rakyat in 2003, but was revived by a minority of its former membership in 2005. It contested in the states of Penang, Kedah and Selangor in the 2018 elections after a period of political inactivity but failed to win a single seat. It is unrepresented in the Dewan Rakyat and state legislative assemblies of Malaysia.

History

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Origins

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The founder of PRM, Ahmad Boestamam, was an activist of the leftist Kesatuan Melayu Muda (Young Malays Union; KMM). During the Japanese occupation of Malaya, he had briefly served as with the Japanese sponsored militia known as the Pembela Tanah Ayer (Defender of the Homeland) and later helped to organise co-operative communes run by the KMM.[4][5][6]

With the capitulation of the Japanese in 1945, movements that collaborated with the Japanese like KMM likewise collapsed and the leftist Malay activists regrouped to organise various political movements, such as the Malay Nationalist Party (Malay: Partai Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya; PKMM) led by Burhanuddin al-Helmy, the Angkatan Pemuda Insaf (Awakened Youth Organisation; API) led by Ahmad Boestamam and the Angkatan Wanita Sedar (Cohort of Awakened Women; AWAS) led by Shamsiah Fakeh. Boestamam was part of the PKMM and API delegation that participated in the Pan-Malayan Malay Congress in 1946 and was instrumental in keeping the Malay leftist movements out of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) that resulted out of the congress.[7]

Growing opposition to the Malayan Union confederation led the British colonial authorities to consider an alternative constitutional framework for the country. A proposal known as the "Constitutional Proposals for Malaya"[8] was developed in co-operation with UMNO and representatives of the Malay rulers. This proposal was opposed by a large segment of the non-Malay population of the country who saw it as discriminatory as well as a sizeable portion of the nationalists who saw it as delaying the self-determination and independence of Malaya.

A combination of anti-British sentiments and economic hardships saw the coalescing of the various political movements representing the Malay and non-Malay populations and eventually led to the formation of a broad coalition with the Malay movements represented in Pusat Tenaga Ra'ayat (People's United Front; PUTERA), itself a coalition of movements like PKMM, API, AWAS and others, and the non-Malay movements represented in the All-Malaya Council of Joint Action (AMCJA), another coalition of movements such as the Malayan Indian Congress, Malayan Democratic Union, and others.[9]

The PUTERA-AMCJA tabled an alternative proposal known as the People's Constitutional Proposal[10] and attempted to lobby for a Royal Commission to be formed to review the original proposals. The PUTERA-AMCJA also launched a successful nationwide hartal was organised on 20 October 1947, the same date where the constitutional proposals were due to be deliberated by the House of Commons in London.[11]

Despite these efforts, PUTERA-AMCJA failed to overturn the decision to adopt the Constitutional Proposals which led to the formation of the Federation of Malaya on 31 January 1948. API was banned on 20 March 1948, gaining the distinction of being the first political movement in Malaya to be banned by the authorities[12] and Boestamam was arrested on 1 July 1948.[4] A declaration of emergency was extended nationwide on 12 July 1948 in what became the Malayan Emergency and resulted in the arrests and incarceration of many leftist and nationalist activists. Many who managed to escaped the dragnet joined the armed rebellion coordinated by the Communist Party of Malaya.

Foundation

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Upon his release from incarceration in 1955, Boestamam regrouped his supporters to form Partai Ra'ayat Malaya (People's Party). The new party was inaugurated on 11 November 1955 embracing a philosophy of nationalistic social democracy focussing on the poor known as Marhaenism, a phrase coined by Sukarno. It formed a coalition with the Labour Party of Malaya (LPM) led by another PKMM veteran, Ishak Haji Muhammad, which became known as the Malayan Peoples' Socialist Front (Malay: Barisan Sosialis Rakyat Malaya) or the Socialist Front in 1957.[13]

Branches of PRM was formed in the neighbouring British protectorate of Brunei and the colony of Singapore in what eventually became the Brunei People's Party and Partai Rakyat Singapore (Singapore People's Party – not to be mistaken with the current Singapore People's Party). Both these branches eventually disappeared from active politics by the mid 1960s with the PRB banned in 1962 as a result of the Brunei revolt and the PRS never gaining enough support in Singapore for electoral success, with its president Said Zahari being arrested under Operation Coldstore before the 1963 Singaporean general election.

Early successes

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The party contested as part of the Socialist Front in both the 1959 Malayan state and federal elections and the coalition managed to capture a total of 16 state and eight federal seats.

The coalition had most support in Penang and Selangor, and garnered a total of 12.91% of the popular vote in the federal election, becoming the third-largest party in parliament after the UMNO-led Alliance Party and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which was also led by a former member of KMM and PKMM, Burhanuddin al-Helmy.

While a majority of the coalition's elected representatives were from the Labour Party, Boestamam was elected Setapak MP and Karam Singh Veriah was elected MP for Damansara, giving PRM its only two elected MPs.[14]

The SF further consolidated its gains in municipal elections including the City Council of Georgetown, Penang where it won 14 of the 15 seats in the Council during the 1961 Local Elections.[13] The SF was further strengthened when the former Minister of Agriculture, Aziz Ishak, brought his National Convention Party (NCP) into the coalition.[15]

Tunku Abdul Rahman's announcement for the expansion of Malaya into a larger federation known as Malaysia in 1961 galvanised the co-operation between the various Opposition parties in the Parliament. The SF found itself working on the same side as Parti Negara, the People's Progressive Party, the United Democratic Party, and the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party, in opposing the proposal due to the perception that it was being formulated by the Alliance without the consent of the people of the territories.

Persecution

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However, with the onset of the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation in 1962, opposition to the new federation came to be seen as being pro-Indonesia and anti-national. Boestamam, Ishak Muhammad, Aziz Ishak, and hundreds of others were subsequently arrested under the Internal Security Act. These factors cost the SF significant losses in the 1964 general election where PRM and the NCP failed to gain any seats at all and the LPM lost a significant number of seats, ending with just two.[15]

With most of the senior leadership and a considerable number of members arrested, the coalition suffered organisationally. Furthermore, disagreements between PRM and LPM over the country's official language led to the coalition's demise in 1966.[13]

Radicalisation

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The party underwent a radical change in 1965 when a group of young intellectuals led by Kassim Ahmad and Syed Husin Ali took over from Boestamam, who left the party to form Parti Marhaen Malaysia in 1968.

PRM itself was renamed Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian People's Socialist Party; PSRM) and it officially adopted scientific socialism as its ideology.

While an understanding was reached in 1969 between PSRM and LPM, it did not result in any cooperation between the two parties.

Its final victories as an electoral force were in the 1969 elections when PSRM won two state seats in Pahang through Dzulkifli Ismail (Ulu Kuantan) and S. Sivasubramaniam (Tanah Puteh) and one in Penang through Abdul Rahman Yunus (Balik Pulau).[16]

However, the 1969 racial riots and the subsequent suspension of parliament meant they did not take their seats. The formation of the Barisan Nasional coalition together with the post-riot political climate meant that the party remained on the sidelines.

Other leaders were also arrested under the ISA like Syed Husin Ali in 1974[17] and Kassim himself in 1976.[18] This cost the party significant organisational cohesiveness that continued to plague it right into the next decade. Leaders like Kampo Radjo, Syed Husin and Abdul Razak Ahmad helped keep the party intact over the next decade.

Consolidation

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In the party's congress in 1989, PSRM decided to revert to its previous name but retain the term "Malaysia". A new leadership was also elected and Syed Husin was named party president while academic Sanusi Osman was elected secretary-general. The reversion to the name Parti Rakyat Malaysia and dropping of the socialist tag was not without controversy and a group led by Mohd Nasir Hashim left the party. This group eventually formed the core that founded the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

The reorganised PRM contested the 1990 general elections as part of the Gagasan Rakyat coalition with the Democratic Action Party, Parti Melayu Semangat 46, All Malaysian Indian Progressive Front and Parti Bersatu Sabah. Although PRM failed to win any seats, it marked the beginning of the reversal of the party's fortunes.

The Gagasan Rakyat coalition did not survive the 1995 elections after the withdrawal of PBS and the dissolution of Semangat 46. Nonetheless, this was soon followed by the Reformasi movement that saw the creation of a new coalition known as Barisan Alternatif (Alternative Front) that grouped PRM, DAP, PMIP (now known as PAS) and the newly formed Parti Keadilan Nasional (National Justice Party; KeADILan).

Prominent figures in PRM during this time included Syed Husin Ali, Abdul Razak Ahmad, Sanusi Osman, Hassan Abdul Karim, Rustam Sani, Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud and Chong Ton Sin.

PRM also gained an influx of younger members from the interest and political consciousness generated by the Reformasi movement during this period which rejuvenated the youth wing of the party. BA contested the 1999 general elections with PRM contesting three parliamentary seats in three state seats. The BA won 40.23% of the popular vote but PRM failed again to win any seats, although it did only lose one seat by a narrow margin of 8.4%.

Merger and revival

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Following the 1999 general elections, KeADILan began to explore the possibility of a merger between the two parties.

At the PRM annual congress in 2002 the concept of the merger was approved with nearly 80 percent of delegates voting in support.

The two parties officially merged on 3 August 2003 becoming Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party; PKR). PRM had to contest the 2004 general elections under Keadilan's symbol as the merger had yet to be approved by the authorities.

However, the 2004 elections almost routed the BA, with the coalition losing 22 seats out of the 42 it previously held. The poor performance of the new party led some former PRM members to question the merger.

In April 2005, the dissidents convened a National Congress in Johor Bahru, taking advantage of the fact that the party had yet to be de-registered by the authorities, and elected a new executive committee led by former PRM youth leader Hassan Abdul Karim. Other PRM stalwarts who took part in resurrecting the party included academic Rohana Ariffin and former political detainee Koh Swee Yong. However, Hassan would later make a switch back to PKR in 2009 after his proposal to join the Pakatan Rakyat coalition was rejected by the party congress.

Former PRM leaders who eventually gained or sustained a degree of prominence while in PKR included Syed Husin Ali, who served two terms in the Dewan Negara,[19] and Hassan Abdul Karim who was elected Pasir Gudang MP in 2018 and elected to a second term in 2022.

Another notable figure who made the move from PRM to PKR was Sivarasa Rasiah who was a three-term MP from 2008 to 2022 and served as deputy minister for rural development from 2018 to 2020.

Others who were in both parties were unionist Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud who was MTUC president from 2005 to 2010 [20] and later served in the Dewan Negara from 2012 to 2015, and lawyer Latheefa Koya who was appointed as Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief in 2019.[21]

Recent activity

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PRM contested in the general elections of 2008, 2018 and 2022, without winning any federal or state legislative seats. PRM did not join the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (2008–2015) or its successor Pakatan Harapan (2015–present).

After Hassan returned to PKR, the position of PRM president was taken up by Dr Rohana Ariffin from 2010 to 2015. She eventually stepped down to be replaced by Ariffin Salimon.

In the lead-up to the 2018 general election, the party was joined by former DAP assemblywoman for Teratai, Jenice Lee Ying Ha, and former Kapar MP, S. Manikavasagam who had previously represented PKR. Both contested in the election but failed to win their seats.

Ahead of the 2022 general election, the party announced that it would be contesting in 28 parliamentary seats, including all 14 seats in the state of Kelantan.[citation needed] The party ultimately nominated 16 candidates, all of whom lost their deposits. In the aftermath of the election, the PRM central committee unanimously voted to appoint former Umno and PKR politician Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor as deputy president of the party.[22]

Former party president Rohana Ariffin called this "tragic" news and asserted: "the party has shifted to the right-wing and we are seeing the demise of a left-wing party."[23]

Ezam, a former Dewan Negara member, confirmed the party would run alone in 2023 Malaysian state elections, while stating that the party opposed both socialism and capitalism, in particular crony capitalism. It claimed both the ruling unity government and Perikatan Nasional committed corruption and theft and accused both uniracial and multiracial parties of playing divisive politics on racial and religious grounds.[24]

Factional dispute

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Following the death of Ariffin Salimon in December 2023, the party entered a period of instability with one faction headed by Ahmad Jufliz Faizal and Koh Swee Yong while another faction was headed by Rohana and Ezam. On 2 March 2024, the latter faction held a controversial extraordinary general meeting (EGM) which was proposed and decided by the party central committee on 28 January 2024, electing Rohana as the new party president and reelecting Mohd Ezam as the party deputy president. Former Member of the Kedah State Executive Council (EXCO) Tan Chow Kang, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Kapar S. Manikavasagam and youth leader Sarah Afiqah Zainol Ariff were elected new party vice presidents. RN Raj was appointed secretary general to replace his long-serving predecessor Koh.

However, Rohana clarified that the Registrar of Socities (RoS) has yet to declare which faction was legitimate.[25][26]

In related news, Koh and Manickavasagam were involved in a legal tangle when Koh accused the latter of sending an insulting message with intent to incite anger and breach the peace on January 4, 2024.

He pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court to the charge on February 13, but on March 22, the Shah Alam High Court set aside the conviction.

Justice Aslam Zainuddin also granted Manickavasagam a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) from a charge under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955.[27]

In the May 11, 2024 Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election, PRM fielded Ariffin’s daughter in-law Hafizah Zainuddin. She was reportedly close to the Jufliz-Koh faction, but was badly defeated in the by-election, losing her deposit as DAP’s Pang Sock Tao won comfortably. During the campaign, Hafizah denied being paid to split the Malay vote.[28]

Leadership

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General election results

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Election Total seats won Seats contested Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Election leader
1959
2 / 104
52[citation needed] 10  2 seats; Opposition coalition
(Socialist Front)
Ahmad Boestamam
1964
0 / 104
70[citation needed] 10.00% 0.000  2 seats; No representation in Parliament (Socialist Front) Ahmad Boestamam
1969
0 / 159
90[citation needed] 25,785 1.08%  ; No representation in Parliament Kassim Ahmad
1974
0 / 144
10[citation needed] 84,206 3.98%  ; No representation in Parliament Kassim Ahmad
1978
0 / 154
75[citation needed]  ; No representation in Parliament Kassim Ahmad
1982
0 / 154
70[citation needed]  ; No representation in Parliament Kassim Ahmad
1986
0 / 177
75[citation needed] 10  ; No representation in Parliament Kampo Radjo
1990
0 / 180
55[citation needed] 22  ; No representation in Parliament (Gagasan Rakyat) Syed Husin Ali
1995
0 / 192
35 000 00  ; No representation in Parliament (Gagasan Rakyat) Syed Husin Ali
1999
0 / 193
9 [citation needed] 68,990 1.04%  ; No representation in Parliament (Barisan Alternatif) Syed Husin Ali
2004
0 / 219
15[citation needed] 0000 0000  ; No representation in Parliament Syed Husin Ali
2008
0 / 222
10[citation needed] 19,126 0.24%  ; No representation in Parliament Hassan Abdul Karim
2018
0 / 222
10 2,372 0.02%  ; No representation in Parliament Ariffin Salimon
2022
0 / 222
19 5,865 0.04%  ; No representation in Parliament Mohd Hashim bin Saaludin

State election results

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State election State Legislative Assembly
Perlis Kedah Kelantan Terengganu Penang Perak Pahang Selangor Negeri Sembilan Malacca Johor Total won / Total contested
2/3 majority
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
2 / 3
1959
0 / 12
0 / 24
0 / 30
0 / 24
0 / 24
0 / 40
0 / 24
2 / 28
0 / 24
0 / 20
0 / 32
2 / 76
1964
0 / 12
0 / 24
0 / 24
0 / 24
0 / 40
0 / 24
1 / 28
0 / 24
0 / 20
0 / 32
1 / 74
1969
0 / 12
0 / 24
1 / 24
2 / 24
0 / 24
0 / 20
0 / 32
3 / 38
1974
0 / 12
0 / 26
0 / 36
0 / 28
0 / 27
0 / 32
0 / 33
0 / 24
0 / 20
0 / 32
0 / 106
1978
0 / 26
0 / 28
0 / 27
0 / 32
0 / 33
0 / 24
1982
0 / 28
0 / 27
0 / 32
0 / 32
0 / 14
1986
0 / 32
0 / 33
0 / 36
0 / 8
1990
0 / 33
0 / 36
0 / 3
1995
0 / 40
0 / 2
1999
0 / 40
0 / 3
2004
0 / 56
0 / 1
2008
0 / 56
0 / 2
2018
0 / 36
0 / 40
0 / 56
0 / 33

Ideology

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PRM is currently centre-left in orientation and stresses the promotion of progressive values, of economic, political and human progress, democracy and basic human rights, unity of the people, ethical and cultural values, and the protection of the environment.

See also

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References

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  1. ^ "Syed Husin remembers #1: Merdeka-era leaders lost to the nation". Malaysiakini.com. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Syed Husin remembers #2: Konfrontasi and the early days of Malaysia". Malaysiakini.com. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Syed Husin remembers #3 – Overcoming 1974 arrests and Ops Lalang". Malaysiakini.com. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  4. ^ a b Boestamam, Ahmad; William R. Roff (1979). Carving the Path to the Summit. Athens: Ohio University Press. p. 149. ISBN 0-8214-0409-1.
  5. ^ Noor, Farish (21 September 2006). "The Broken Dream of Malaya-Raya: Ibrahim Yaakob and the Rise of the Malay Left. (Part 2 of 3)". Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  6. ^ "Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)". Library of Congress, Washington.
  7. ^ Fan, Yew Teng (3 November 2007). "Some Umno myths young Malaysians should know about". Malaysia Today. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  8. ^ http://s13.divshare.com/launch.php?f=3413387&s=1fe [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Arkib Negara: List of associations invited to form the Pan-Malayan Council of Joint Action – Tan Cheng Lock Papers Collection
  10. ^ http://s13.divshare.com/launch.php?f=3412520&s=914 [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Ongkili, James P. (1985). Nation-building in Malaysia, 1946–1974. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. p. 275. ISBN 0-19-582574-8.
  12. ^ Harper, Timothy Norman (1999). The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 417. ISBN 0-521-00465-9.
  13. ^ a b c Penang Story: Facing Up to Storm Clouds : The Labour Party of Malaya, Penang Division, 1963 – 1969 Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Vengadesan, Martin (23 September 2021). "Syed Husin remembers #1: Merdeka-era leaders lost to the nation". Malaysiakini.com. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  15. ^ a b Weiss, Meredith Leigh (2005). Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. p. 324. ISBN 0-8047-5295-8.
  16. ^ http://lib.perdana.org.my/PLF/Digital_Content/NA/Newspaper/rare%20folder/0001_lynn/TheStar%5B7Feb1982%5BBarisanGoingForAHat-Trick.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  17. ^ S. Hussin Ali (1996). Two Faces (Detention Without Trial). Kuala Lumpur: INSAN. p. 169. ISBN 983-9602-04-7.
  18. ^ Kassim Ahmad (1983). Universiti kedua: Kisah tahanan dibawah ISA. Kuala Lumpur: Media Intelek. p. 157. ISBN 967-953-000-0.
  19. ^ "Syed Husin sworn in as senator". The Star. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  20. ^ "MTUC gets back on track". The Star. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  21. ^ "MACC chief steps down, Latheefa Koya takes over". Malaysiakini.com. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  22. ^ "After PKR and Umno, Ezam now number two in PRM". Malaysiakini. 14 December 2022.
  23. ^ Vengadesan, Martin (14 December 2022). "'Demise of a left-wing party': Ex-PRM president upset over Ezam's appointment". Malaysiakini.
  24. ^ "Mohamad Ezam Nor". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  25. ^ https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/698027
  26. ^ "Rohana returns as PRM president after controversial EGM". Free Malaysia Today. 3 March 2024. Retrieved 10 March 2024.
  27. ^ https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2024/03/22/ex-kapar-mps-conviction-for-breach-of-peace-set-aside/
  28. ^ Zainudin, Faiz (5 May 2024). "PRM denies being sponsored to split Malay vote in KKB". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 18 May 2024.
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