The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) celebrates its 85th anniversary. Established on December 18, 1935, the LSSP has played a key role in shaping the evolution of politics in Sri Lanka in a progressive direction.
The LSSP developed into a strong socialist movement, providing it with a Marxist leadership, and organized the workers into powerful trade unions. The result is the establishment of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka with full democratic rights for all the people, particularly the workers.
At the time of the formation of the LSSP, the local capitalist class was represented by the Ceylon National Congress (CNC, the forerunner of the UNP) and the workers by the Labour Party, which soon died out. Among the founder members of the LSSP were N. M. Perera, Colvin R. De Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Robert and Philip Goonewardene, and later S. A. Wickramasinghe. Success was achieved in establishing trade unions by overcoming resistance from A. E. Gunasinghe.
Efforts in the general political field began with the launching of the Suriyamal Movement in 1933 which led to an anti-imperialist and anti-war movement. The demand was “Peace” and “Freedom”. Led by the future LSSP leaders, the Suriyamal Movement helped to fight the Malaria epidemic of 1934/35 in which 125,000 died throughout the country when the British rulers were inactive.
The LSSP developed youth leagues to convey anti-imperialist propaganda to demand complete Independence and to oppose the demand for Dominion Status under the British, made by the CNC Government. The Government was forced to give up its demand. The success of the Youth League and Suriyamal Movement led to the formation of the LSSP. The main demands were complete independence, nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the abolition of inequalities arising from differences of race, cast, religion or sex.
The election of N. M. Perera and Philip Goonewardene to the State Council in the 1936 General Election as the opposition to the government made them the voice of the oppressed people. The weekly “Samasamajaya” (from 1936) and the “Samadharmam” (from 1938) took the party message to the people. Unlike the hall meetings in English by the CNC, the LSSP started open air meetings in Sinhala and Tamil. They had to develop new words to teach people to understand politics. In fact, the term “Samasamajaya” (equal society) was necessary for people to understand what “Socialist” or “Communist” meant.
In the period 1935-1939, LSSP agitation both within and outside the State Council resulted in free meals for school children in 1936, reform of the headmen system in 1937 and the abolition of the irrigation rates in 1938. Motions in the State Council to allow the use of Sinhala and Tamil in the Courts and in Police Stations were passed, but not implemented. The LSSP motion to stop more Indian labour being brought to Sri Lanka was defeated.
When a tea planter Bracegirdle joined the LSSP, he was to be deported by the Government, but the LSSP successfully hid him. He was later arrested but the matter was taken up in Court and he was freed. With the beginning of World War II in 1939, the LSSP continued its struggle for independence and people’s rights, and it was banned by the British and its leaders were jailed. Then they escaped from jail and joined the Congress Socialist Party in the fight for Indian independence. They were jailed once again and only released in 1945 at the end of the war.
In the 1945-1950 period, despite Government harassment, the LSSP led successful strikes and was able to contest the General Election of 1947. In addition to terror tactics by the British rulers and Government sponsored attacks on LSSP meetings and leaders, falsehoods were spread. For example, the LSSP would destroy religion. But the LSSP and its allies won 15 seats, coming second to the UNP which won 42 seats and formed a Government.
With the split in the UNP in 1951, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike formed the SLFP. From 1956 onwards, the SLFP formed Governments with the LSSP and CP, defeating the UNP. Thereafter, several progressive Governments of the Centre (SLFP) and the Left (LSSP and CP) were able to make substantial progressive changes for the benefit of the people. Following the split in the SLFP and the formation of the SLPP led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the LSSP and the CP have continued the progressive alliance forming the present Government, with other political parties from the Centre and the Left.
This has enabled the living and working conditions of the ordinary people – workers, farmers and middle class – to be improved. Attempts by the UNP to serve the USA and the local capitalist class have been defeated. For example, signing of the MCC & Sofa agreements. Within the SLPP-led coalition Government, the LSSP is making every effort to serve the people by, for example, reduce prices by strengthening the Cooperative Movement and eliminating exploitation by middlemen. The LSSP is also fighting against racial, religious, cast and sex based prejudice.
Every effort is being made to strengthen national unity and build a Sri Lankan nation where every citizen has equal rights and privileges. In international affairs, the LSSP stands for a true non-aligned policy, maintaining good relations with all countries, but opposing attempts of imperialism to exploit people.
I wish to thank all the political leaders, political parties and the people who have supported the LSSP during these 85 years of political activity. The Socialist Alliance (LSSP,CP,DLF,SLMP & DVJP) have been actively cooperating in all spheres of political activities. The bonds with MEP have been strengthened. The links with the JNP & the PHU are increasing. Despite their splits, there is good cooperation with the SLFP and the SLPP, which have been further strengthened by working together in the present Government.
It is our hope that the major problems facing Sri Lanka and its people will be properly identified and settled favorably in the near future. I extend warmest greetings to all the people of Sri Lanka, and the working class of the world.
– Prof. Tissa Vitarana, M.P.,
Lanka Sama Samaja Party.
About 232 out of 500 escapees from K’kadu Drug Rehab Centre arrested
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Two hundred and thirty two inmates out of the 500, who escaped from the Kandakadu Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, yesterday morning, following a clash with soldiers guarding the facility, had been arrested, Maj. Gen. Darshana Hettiarachchi, Commissioner General – Rehabilitation, said.
Hettiarachchi denied allegations from certain quarters that they had allowed inmates to escape to divert public attention away from the burning economic issues, and crippling fuel shortages.
He said an impartial inquiry would be conducted into the death of an inmate.
Hettiarachchi said that they were confident that other escapees too would be arrested soon.
Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said a 36-year-old inmate had died under mysterious circumstances on Tuesday. The deceased was a resident of Mutwal. The death of the inmate had been reported to the Welikanda police, he said.
The Police Spokesman added that a team of policemen from Welikanda had visited the Rehabilitation Centre. However, a large number of inmates had surrounded the body and did not allow anyone near it and that had led to a clash between inmates and the military personnel at the centre.
At around 8 am yesterday, a large group of inmates had broken the two main gates and escaped, he added.
The Police Spokesman said that the police and Army had brought the situation under control, after several hours.
They have also launched a joint operation to arrest the inmates, who are still at large.
There are around 1,000 drug addicts being rehabilitated at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center at any given time.
Women parliamentarians’ Caucus calls for greater accountability and transparency
International Day of Parliamentarism
Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle says accountability and transparency in a parliamentary system have become vital issues as the country makrs the International Day of Parliamentarism today (30).
In a statement issued to the media by the Caucus, Dr Fernandopulle said: International Day of Parliamentarism, which recognises the role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. This Day was first established by the UN General Assembly through a resolution adopted in 2018 which also marked the 129th anniversary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU, which was first established on the same day in the year 1889, is a global organization that works to promote ‘democratic governance, human representation, democratic values, and the civil aspirations of a society’.
This Day further solidifies the unique and enduring system of parliamentary democracy as the standard for political representation. Last year, in 2021, the Day focused on “Youth Empowerment” in Parliament whereas the theme for the International Day of Parliamentarism 2022 is “Public Engagement”. Conspicuously, the word ‘parliament’ originates from the French word ‘parler,’ which means ‘to talk.’ Thus, public discourse and engagement lay the very foundation of the parliamentary system of governance.
At a juncture where public engagement in the democratic process is at an all-time high, the theme for International Day of Parliamentarism aptly suits the current democratic and economic discourse taking place in society.
The Parliament is a cornerstone of any democracy as it must fulfill its fundamental role of providing a voice to the voiceless. The main responsibilities of a Parliament include the formulation, enactment and overseeing of the implementation of laws and policies that are sustainable and crucial for the progression and stability of the country. The Parliament also has a duty to hold the Executive or Government of the country accountable. Accordingly, representing the interests of the public, it must also fulfill the role of acting as a “check” to “balance” the power that the executive holds.
The Parliament must also perform “checks” and “balances” on Government expenditure as it has the responsibility of approving budgets for Government expenditure. Thus, during this economic crisis, the Parliament of Sri Lanka has a crucial role to play and effectively realize such roles and responsibilities. To do so meaningfully, public engagement is a necessity.
Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said: “I believe we should make this Day an occasion to remember the importance of accountability and transparency in a parliamentary system. The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus recognizes that it has a role to play in initiating a conversation towards realizing a process by which the Parliament can conduct self-evaluation utilising the feedback received by the public discourse. This would be vital in order to gauge the progress the Parliament has made and identify challenges and devise strategies and mechanisms to overcome such challenges to be more representative of the voices of people.”
MP Thalatha Atukorale said: “In the face of crisis, if our parliamentary system fails to realize its purpose, then we must re-evaluate the practices of our Parliament. Therefore, I believe that this Day should be used as an opportunity to formulate an effective strategy to improve transparency and accountability of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.”
MP Diana Gamage said: “On this Day, I pledge to be a voice to the people of Sri Lanka, particularly the more vulnerable, and play my role in initiating mechanisms and formulating laws that reflect the current needs of the people of Sri Lanka whom we are representing in Parliament”.
Parliament is the bedrock of a functioning democracy. In Sri Lanka, let us realise this goal for all Sri Lankans, leaving no stone unturned to ensure quality of political representation, which means gender equality and social inclusion too.
MP Manjula Dissanayake said: “To be effective and successful, the Parliamentary system must encourage public engagement and must also be based on principles of equality and inclusivity in order to better comprehend and prioritise the needs of the public”.
Vice-Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, MP Rohini Kumari Wijeratne said: “The parliamentary system is founded upon the sovereignty of people. Therefore, the success of the parliamentary system depends on public engagement in the democratic process and how well the parliamentary system responds to such public engagement.”
MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya said: “We as Parliamentarians must not be oblivious to the fact that the public has lost confidence in the Sri Lankan Parliament and by extension, the Parliamentarians. A strong contention can be and is being made that the Parliament of Sri Lanka falls short of effectively realizing one of its main purposes: to formulate and implement policies and laws that benefits ALL people, particularly the more vulnerable. To meet that end, we must harness public discourse and engagement.”
Proposals to revive agriculture sector unveiled
By Ifham Nizam
The Department of Agriculture has handed over proposals with an action plan for the revival of the agriculture sector to the Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife and Wildlife Conservation, Mahinda Amaraweera.
Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Rohana Pushpakumara, Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Ajantha de Silva, and its Directors, representing respective divisions, were also present.
The focus of the proposals is on the importation of chemical fertilisers and organic farming, increasing rice production in the country, promoting the cultivation of indigenous crops for export, taking measures to meet the national vegetable and fruit demand, prioritizing agricultural research and development, and other agricultural Inputs.
The proposals also deal with a number of other issues such as the misuse of pesticides and fertilisers.
The proposals consist of 11 short-term plans to uplift agriculture.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Amaraweera, requested that the proposals, aimed at increasing the income of the farming community, be implemented without delay and that everyone be committed to make the Yala season, and the forthcoming Maha season, a success. “We must make the current Yala and the next Maha season a success. The country’s economy depends on the stability of the agriculture sector.
The Director General of the Department of Agriculture handed over the relevant proposal to the Minister.
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