The Malaysian People's Movement Party (Malay: Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, commonly abbreviated as Gerakan or less commonly as PGRM) is a political party in Malaysia. The party was founded on 24 March 1968, and it is part of the ruling National Front coalition.
During its formation, Gerakan was an opposition party not affiliated with the national ruling coalition, the Alliance Party, the predecessor of the National Front. Following the 1969 general election, Gerakan won most of the seats in the state legislature of Penang. However, in 1972 Gerakan joined the Alliance Party which later became the coalition called the National Front, where it remains until today.
As of 2006, about 80% of Gerakan's members are ethnic Chinese, another 15% are Indian, and the rest are Malays or other races.
The party is assisted by an affiliated think tank called SEDAR Institute (Socio-Economic Development And Research Institute). The party is a member of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats.
In 1959, the leader of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) Dr. Lim Chong Eu resigned his position as president after conflict with UMNO leader Tunku Abdul Rahman over the allocation of seats in the 1959 general election . He left MCA, and later set up the United Democratic Party (UDP) in 1962. In 1968, UDP was dissolved and its former members, together with the Labour Party and others, joined force to form a new party Gerakan. The six founders of the party were Professor Syed Hussain Alatas, Dr. Tan Chee Khoon, Dr. J.B.A. Peter, Lim Chong Eu, Professor Wang Gungwu, and V. Veerapan. Although its supporters are mainly Chinese, the party positioned itself as a Malaysian, non-communal party that has some support from the Indians and Malays. Its pro tem president was Professor Syed Hussein Alatas, and later Lim took over the presidency which lasted until 1980.
The party won the state of Penang in the 1969 general election by taking 16 out of 24 seats, winning control from the MCA. Lim Chong Eu became Penang's Chief Minister. Gerakan and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which won in Kelantan, were the only parties not then affiliated with the Alliance Party to form a state government in Malaysia. However, due to internal disputes within the party, for example over plan for closer ties with Alliance, the party was split. Many of its members, such as Syed Hussein Alatas, V. David, Veerappen, and Tan Chee Khoon, left to form Parti Keadilan Masyarakat Malaysia (PEKEMAS). The PEKEMAS party however proved to be short-lived, and Gerakan itself became reduced and largely Chinese as many non-Chinese left the party. In 1972, Gerakan joined the Alliance which became the Barisan Nasional in 1973.
In 1973, a number of former MCA members who were expelled from the party, including Lim Keng Yaik and Paul Leong Khee Seong, joined Gerakan. In 1980, Lim Chong Eu decide to retire from the post of party president, and Lim Keng Yaik won the presidency over Lim Chong Eu's preferred candidate Paul Leong. Lim Keng Yaik stayed as president of Gerakan until he decided to retire in 2007.
Gerakan had continual conflicts with MCA as it challenged MCA's position as the main Chinese party within Barisan Nasional. In the 1978 general election, disputes broke out between Gerakan and MCA as seven ex-MCA members (with support from MCA) stood against Gerakan. The party lost some seats but managed to retain its stronghold Penang despite losing its position as the biggest party in Penang. Gerakan also sought to expand its influence in others states, especially in Perak, an effort helped by continued defections from MCA. In 1979, Michael Chen stood against Lee San Choon for the MCA Presidency but lost, then later in 1981 led a group of MCA dissidents to join Gerakan. In the 1982 general election, it increased its representation in both the national level (from 4 to 5, out of 7 seats allocated) as well as state level (from 12 to 15).
Before the 1986 general election, Gerakan came into conflict with UMNO when it was suggested that a Malay should replaced Lim Chong Eu as Penang Chief Minister after his term expired. Gerakan threatened to resign from Barisan Nasional unless it was allocated more seats. It was then allocated 9 seats, it nevertheless lost 4 of these, thereby ending with the same number of seats (5). It also saw increased pressure from Democratic Action Party (DAP) which increased its representation in the Penang state assembly and overtook Gerakan as the second largest party in the state.
In the 1990 general election, it suffered a setback when Lim Chong Eu was defeated by Lim Kit Siang of DAP in his Kota constituency, after which Lim Chong Eu retired from politics. Nevertheless, Gerakan retained the post of Chief Minister of Penang with Dr. Koh Tsu Koon taking over the position. In the 1995 general election, Gerakan bounced back, winning 7 parliamentary seats and 23 state seats.
For nearly four decades, from 1969 to 2008, although not necessarily the biggest party (UMNO was the biggest party in Penang for many years from the late 1970s onward), Gerakan played a dominant role in the Penang State Legislature, and became closely associated with the fortune of Penang. In that time there had been only two chief ministers in Penang, Lim and Koh Tsu Koon, both from Gerakan. In 1996, in an attempt to win broader support, the party shifted its headquarter to Kuala Lumpur.
In the 2004 general election, Gerakan achieved its best electoral result, winning 10 parliamentary seats and 30 state seats. On 27 August 2005, its president Lim Keng Yaik was challenged by the Deputy Kerk Choo Ting in its party election. Lim retained his party President post after winning with 983 votes against 628 votes for Kerk. Koh Tsu Koon became the new Deputy President which he won unopposed after the nomination day for the party election.
In 2008, Lim Keng Yaik retired from politics after relinquishing the post of party president in 2007. Koh Tsu Koon took over as acting president in 2007, and won the post of President uncontested in the 2008 party elections.
In the 2008 General Election, the party suffered its worst electoral defeat. The party retained only two parliament seats, compared to the 10 seats it had before the election. As a result, the party lost its only cabinet post in the ensuing cabinet shuffle. In addition, Gerakan also lost power in Penang after governing the state for almost 39 years. Soon after the defeat, a number of prominent members, such as Tan Kee Kwong and Lee Kah Choon, went over to the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat to take up posts with Opposition-led state governments in Penang and Selangor.
After the dismal performance in the 12th general election, Gerakan launched a party rejuvenation campaign in conjunction with the party's 40th anniversary celebrations on 25 May 2008 in its bid to rebound in mainstream politics and to regain people’s confidence. It outlined three main thrusts, namely to voice Gerakan’s ideology, policy position and advocate Malaysian solutions for various major issues, to rebuild, rebrand and re-empower the party at all levels, and to regain people’s confidence. The party also launched a new slogan, “Forward Together with One Heart” (Satu Hati Gerak Bersama), and set out its area of concerns and strategies.
In 2013, the party failed to improve its position in the 2013 General Election, losing in fact one its two remaining parliamentary seats. Later in the year, Mah Siew Keong took over as president after beating Penang Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow for the post.
In 2016, for the first time in history, the President of Barisan Nasional did not attend the annual general meeting of Gerakan and instead briefly appeared on video for 2 minutes.National President:
Mah Siew Keong
Central Committee Member:
P076 – Teluk Intan – Mah Siew Keong
P151 – Simpang Renggam – Liang Teck Meng
Johor State Legislative Assembly
N03 – Pemanis – Lau Chin Hoon
Sabah State Legislative Assembly
N45 – Elopura – Au Kam Wah
N46 – Tanjong Papat – Tan Shu Kiah
- Ng Chiang Chin – appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong