[This joint statement is initiated by the Southeast Asian Left, and endorsed by organisations from within and outside Southeast Asia region.]
After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, working people around the world have been suffering and victimized by the global capitalist system that failed to protect people’s lives and livelihood. The pandemic has unleashed the severe economic recession around the world, with an increasing number of people losing their jobs or suffering from reduced income. The crisis is deepening social inequalities and injustices.
The deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus has caused the COVID-19 pandemic that infected over 150 million people and took over 3 million lives around the world, but the savage capitalist virus that feeds on the exploitation of labour and natural resources has deepened the impact of the global health crisis and ruined the lives of millions.
At the same time, governments in many countries, including those in Southeast Asia, have been using the pretext of containing the spread of the virus to increase their authoritarian control and to dismantle democratic spaces to increase their grip on power. However, we are also witnessing ordinary people who refuse to submit to the undemocratic practices and authoritarian rules rise up to courageously fight against such tyranny. The pro-democracy movement in Thailand since 2020 and the recent anti-coup struggle in Myanmar are important examples of people fighting back against repressive regimes.
With the lives, livelihood and wellbeing of the people continuing to be subjected to the threat of the crisis-ridden capitalist economy, now is the time for us to reorganize the working class and progressive forces to build an alternative that is able to emancipate the people from the savageness and misery of capitalism.
May Day reminds us of the unfinished and ongoing struggle of the working class for a better world, a world where all the people live in a free, equal, just, democratic, healthy, safe and sustainable environment. Such an endeavour cannot be accomplished without the continuous solidarity, organization and mobilization of the working people from below to demand genuine social change.
We, the undersigned organizations, call for the following:
1. An end to military dictatorship and military-dominated rule in Southeast Asia. We condemn the military coup in Myanmar and express our solidarity with the struggle of the Burmese people for democracy. We also support the struggle for democracy in Thailand. Release all political prisoners and stop repression of dissidents. Protect the democratic space for working people to organize and to voice out their demands for the improvements of their lives.
2. A free universal healthcare service that is accessible to all, including migrants and refugees. End the vaccine apartheid by dismantling the monopoly of big pharmaceutical companies on drug patents, in order to guarantee universal access to vaccine and essential medicines for all countries.
3. Job security with income security. End outsourcing and casualization practices for permanent jobs. Governments should invest revenue from the implementation of comprehensive progressive taxation in the productive sectors and essential services, including building and maintenance of social infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and food production, generation of renewable energy, provision for social housing, care services to reduce women’s multiple burden in the home, including for the elderly, disabled people and children, etc. The governments of ASEAN countries must establish a regional mechanism to ensure decent wages for the working people in the region in order to put an end to cheap labour policies and suppression of wages. The governments of ASEAN countries must work together to rebuild an economy that works for the people, not the profits of corporations.
4. A guaranteed basic income and social protection for all, to ensure that all the people, including the poorest families and those who have lost their income due to the pandemic, to reorganize their lives in a dignified and sustainable manner.
5. A comprehensive program to enhance food security, in order to ensure the access to healthy food for the people and to protect the livelihood of small local farmers, in all countries.
6. A cancellation of odious debts imposed on governments of the Global South, in order to enable more funds to be allocated for the implementation of social programs for the people in times of crises.
7. An end to the unilateral criminal sanctions imposed by the imperialist powers (especially the United States) on countries which are not in line with their interests, including Cuba, Venezuela and Iran.
8. Take urgent action to address the climate and environmental crisis by pursuing a just transition out of fossil fuels and towards 100% renewable energy, putting in place a program of ecological restoration of land, forests, water and the oceans, programs for building community resilience to empower people to deal with the impact and recover rapidly, and a program of reindustrialization based on ecologically sustainable production under the democratic control of the people.
9. Uphold the rights of women by enforcing legislation that criminalizes violence against women and strengthens their reproductive rights, including women’s right to choose abortion.
Let us unite in the spirit of working-class internationalism, to challenge the existing capitalist order and to rebuild our world with a socialist vision.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Malaysia
Partai Rakyat Pekerja (PRP), Indonesia
Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM), Philippines
Socialist Workers Thailand (SWT)
Kesatuan Perjuangan Rakyat (KPR), Indonesia
Konfederasi Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia (KPRI), Indonesia
Konfederasi Serikat Nasional / Confederation of National Union, Indonesia
Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS), Indonesia
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Philippines
Campaign Committee for People’s Constitution (CCPC), Thailand
Thammasat University Marxism Studies (TUMS), Thailand
Socialist Alliance, Australia
Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF), France
New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), France
Borderless Movement, Hong Kong
Radical Socialist, India
Haqooq Khalq Movement, Pakistan
Progressive Labour Federation, Pakistan
Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions, Sri Lanka