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.
Toxic coconut oil scare trigger public wave of fear over aflatoxins in foodstuffs
People now wary of buying certain products
By Suresh Perera
In the backdrop of a top official of Sri Lanka’s key standards body coming under heavy flak over her controversial claim that several other consumer commodities also contain toxic substances, public apprehension has shifted to many other products in the market following a wave of fear triggered over cancer-causing free radicals in foodstuffs, industry players said.
The Trade Ministry has already initiated a disciplinary inquiry into the assertion by Dr. Siddhika Senaratne, the Director-General of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), that aflatoxins are also found in certain other food items sold to the public.
Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi found on agricultural crops.
As the SLSI scientist’s remarks during a television talk show ignited an uproar following the seizure of imported stocks of contaminated coconut oil, industry officials said that customers are now wary of purchasing certain food products as the social media, rightly or wrongly, painted a frightening picture, they said.
A committee will be appointed to examine Dr. Senaratne’s statement to ascertain the validity or otherwise of her claim of the presence of aflatoxins in some food products in the marketplace, authoritative sources said.
Though the Director-General didn’t identify any of the “toxic products” she claimed were being sold to consumers, her statement unleashed a cycle of fear and uncertainty as consumers, influenced largely by social media reports and hearsay, viewed many brands with suspicion, the sources noted.
However, there has been no credible scientific evidence so far to prove that products identified on social media contain carcinogenic properties, they said.
Dr. Senaratne’s contention was that identifying products with toxic substances could lead to the collapse of some local industries. The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) has been informed to take up the issue with the relevant manufacturers for remedial action, she said.
It is no secret that many mills use copra with fungus to extract coconut oil. The perishable copra is dried outdoors but there is no proper cleaning of the fungi, which are common under tropical and sub-tropical conditions, before the oil is extracted, industry officials said.
Has it been established whether the shiny wax coating used on apples as an oxygen barrier to preserve freshness, particularly in consignments imported from China, belong to the safe food grade material?, they asked.
In the case of apples imported to Sri Lanka from the USA, the whole process of orchard to point of landing take many weeks. It is true that fruits are stored in cold rooms to preserve quality and slow the aging process by regulating oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. However, the question arises whether there are accredited processes to monitor the agro chemical and other toxic levels in imported apples and other varieties of fruits before permitting the stocks to be released to the local market, they noted.
Hoppers are a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine, but it’s common knowledge that many wayside eateries introduce plaster of paris (a quick-setting gypsum plaster consisting of a fine white powder known as calcium sulfate hemihydrate) to the batter to keep them fresh and crispy, the officials asserted.
“This is because customers insist on freshly baked hoppers and as a result, those that have gone flat cannot be sold”, they said.
Cleanliness of eateries is being monitored to some extent, but are there any quality checks for toxicity on the food served to customers?, they queried.
After the contaminated coconut oil scandal surfaced, people are reluctant to even buy traditional oil-based sweetmeats from the marketplace, they further said.
Unlike earlier years, there is a slump in sweetmeat sales, a supermarket official said. “Customers are wary about toxic coconut oil in the market”.
Ceyleon Solutions launch Sparetime App to turn spare time into income
Ceyleon Solutions, a leading mobile app solution provider, launched Sparetime (www.sparetime.lk), a special mobile app to make easy money using one’s spare time. This app helps to search for people providing domestic, official or personal services or earn an extra income by providing a wide range of services.
Services such as masonry, plumbing, computer related services, wholesale, distribution, medical & healthcare, teaching, legal, beauticians, cleaning, helping, babysitting and car wash can be either searched or provided using this app as it creates an online platform for such service providers and those who seek their services.
There are two apps compatible to android and apple phones, ‘Sparetime Provider’ for those who provide services and ‘Sparetime User’ for those who seek such services.
“This is an ideal option for those who find it difficult to make ends meet with their salaries. Using this app, they can make use of their spare time effectively to earn extra money. This creates a comprehensive service hub. For an example, a vegetable farmer can find both a whole seller and a transport service provider to transport his goods with just a click. Even students can find part time work for their financial needs”, said Chaminda De Silva, creator and owner of the Sparetime app.
“This app works as a platform for social workers to get together and mobilize people for tasks that they wish to perform. This is a very user friendly app. However, operating instructions can be obtained by calling our hotline 0706355450 or 0706355452. An instructor will come to help you if necessary”, he noted.
Regardless of being a service provider or a user, this app will be ideal. It will also pave the way to gradually reduce the unemployment rate in Sri Lanka and will subsequently contribute to the gross domestic product accelerating economic growth of Sri Lanka.
“Zahran Hashim and his group were not Muslims; they hijacked the name of Islam to commit these crimes’
Rishad Bathiudeen tells Parliament
The Muslims never called for separatism. The Muslims have been on the side of the nation for over 1,000 years in Sri Lanka as documented in the book of Dr. Lorna Devaraja titled, ‘The Muslims of Sri Lanka – One Thousand Years of Ethnic Harmony’. Even when the Muslims were threatened with eviction or death from the North, they risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones to be on the side of the State, Rishad Bathiudeen, MP, said.
Speaking in English during the fifth day of the debate on the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Attacks in Parliament on April 7, he said: “Zahran Hashim and his group were not Muslims. They hijacked the name of Islam to commit these crimes. The report in Page 94 confirms that Zahran wanted to build tensions between the Sinhalese and Muslim Communities of Sri Lanka”.
The MP’s speech contained many points and references to matters in the report and events that transpired thereafter.
Some of the points raised by the MP were:
* The State is antagonizing the Muslim community in the manner that Zahran had wanted them to act. The State should not play to the tunes of Zahran. The State should not act in a way that would jeopardize national security. The State has already commenced the process of State sponsored oppression by prohibiting the import of Muslim books and are making plans to ban Niqabs/Burkas and Madrasas.
* The PCoI has exonerated Rishad Bathiudeen from all charges in connection with the Easter attacks. Only two charges remain to be investigated. First one is in relation to the phone call placed by Bathiudeen to then Army Commander General Mahesh Senanayake, concerning Ihsan Moinudeen. Secondly, the sale of scrap metal by the Industrial Development Board to Colossus (Pvt) Ltd. Rishad Bathiudeen visited the Bribery Commission on 8th of April, 2021 to request them to investigate the allegation in the report.
* The weight placed on the phone call made by Rishad Bathiudeen to General Mahesh Senanayake, was given far higher significance in the report in comparison to the actions of Dayasiri Jayasekara who released six persons from the Hettipola Police Station who were involved in torching and destroying Muslim owned shops and Muslim places of worship. The Commission Report had recommended investigation into the phone call but had not charged Dayasiri on any matter.
* The Government cannot have a law banning the Niqab and Burka without also banning medical masks, helmets, sunglasses, etc.
* Restriction of Islamic books being brought into the country is a violation of the Constitution.
* Bathiudeen quoted Page 331 of the Report:‘Reciprocal radicalization is the cycle of radicalization which promotes each other’s radicalized ideologies’. If the Government can keep politicians like Wimal Weerawansa in check, the de-radicalization program will be half completed. He also said that inciting racism will only provoke and radicalize more Muslims.
* Killing of Fouzul Ameer Mohamed Salley in Kottramulla before his children in the aftermath of the Easter Attacks, was Genocide under Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, and all persons who were inciting racism could be charged for incitement to genocide. Subsequent charges of oppression too can have a detrimental effect on Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka must be careful as Sri Lanka is now a party to the Rome Statute and can be held accountable by the International Criminal Court.
* It was Azath Salley who indicated during a press conference concerning the criminal activities of Zahran Hashim in 2017, but he is alleged to have connections to the Easter Attacks. This is not fair. The Government is politically victimizing Muslims who are speaking up against the oppressive tactics of the Government.
* The One Country One Law Policy does not mean that Muslim Personal Laws alone should be targeted. Most people believe that Customary Laws should be removed. However, that logic would require the Government to abolish Provincial legislation too, as Provincial legislation is also territorially implemented and not countrywide. Several laws will have to be struck down. However, the right way of interpreting the One Country One Law policy would be to maintain all laws that are consistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
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