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LSSP played a key role in shaping evolution of politics in SL in a progressive direction

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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.,

General Secretary,

Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

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MCC inconsistent with Constitution

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AG agrees with Prof. Gunaruwan report

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, has informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact, Project Implementation Agreement, as well as Articles of Association of MCA (Millennium Challenge Act), Sri Lanka, are violative of cerain provisions of the Constitution.

The AG has said so in a 20-page report sent to Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the President.

The President’s Office on Sept. 3, 2020, sought the AG’s opinion on the MCC Compact and related matters in the wake of the Cabinet-appointed Prof. Gunaruwan Committee strongly advising against going ahead with the US initiative. The US sought Sri Lanka’s consent for the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA), Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and MCC. The previous government finalised ACSA in early August 2017.

Dr. Jayasundera made available the Gunaruwan report to the AG.

The outgoing US administration in Dec 2020 announced Sri Lanka had been left out of the MCC project.

AG’s Coordinating Officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne confirmed the MCC et al were inconsistent with the Constitution and other laws.

The Island,

 however, learns that the AG’s Department on two previous occasions, in letters dated Oct 10, 2018 and June 10, 2019, addressed to Jonathan G. Nash, Chief Operating Officer, MCC, and Director General, External Resources Department, respectively, asserted that the Compact and the Programme Implementation Agreement (PIA) were in line with the Sri Lankan law.

The first letter was sent during Jayantha Jayasuriya’s tenure as the AG and the second under incumbent AG without his approval, sources said. Dappula de Livera succeeded Jayasuriya in April 2019 about a week after the April 21 Easter Sunday carnage. Jayasuriya is the incumbent Chief Justice.

Prof. Gunaruwan’s Committee soon after the last presidential election in Nov 2019 failed to obtain the AG’s Department opinion in spite of making representations through the Prime Minister’s Office.

In the run-up to 2019 parliamentary election, then Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the Attorney General had approved the US project though the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) called it a sell-out.

The following is the text of the letter dated Oct 10, 2018 captioned ‘Legal Status of Proposed MCC Compact signed by Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, Senior Additional Solicitor General, addressed to Jonathan G. Nash, Chief Operating Officer, MCC:

“I refer to your communication dated 27th September, 2018 in respect of the above captioned matter. In this regard, I am made to understand that the delegation from the Government of Sri Lanka was able to have fruitful discussion with the Millennium Challenge Corporation Team in resolving some of the outstanding issues.

“Having gleaned through the proposed Millennium Challenge Compact, the draft Program Implementation Agreement (PIA) as well as the Points of Discussion (without prejudice) between the negotiating parties which has been made available to me, I wish to at the very outset opine that no existing laws of Sri Lanka inhibit the Compact and the PIA being implemented in Sri Lanka. If I may elucidate further, the covenants of the Compact and the PIA do not infringe any existing domestic law or any previous undertakings given by the Government of Sri Lanka. It is acknowledged that the Compact imposes legal obligations on both parties to the Agreement

“Further, consequent to the negotiations and discussions had between parties, it is proposed that the Government of Sri Lanka would seek the passage of a law in Parliament to establish the MCA- Sri Lanka as a non-profit Company limited by guarantee under the Companies Act No.07 of 2007 to implement the provisions of the Compact. It is envisaged that the proposed enactment would encompass the Compact and the PIA as Annexures, which would form an integral part of this enactment.

“Thus, I am of the view that the passage of the said enactment by Parliament would result in the Compact and the PIA, having the parity of status of a domestic law in Sri Lanka.

“In the Context of the above, it is requisite that Section 7.1 of Article 7 of the Compact referring to the provisions on Entry Into Force, would be revised with the deletion of the sentence pertaining to the Compact prevailing over the domestic laws of Sri Lanka.

“However, in order to assuage any concerns with regard to the implementation of the Compact, by an unlikely event of a legislation in the future which may impinge or infringe the said compact, upon notification by the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media (the relevant Ministry) of this fact, a legal opinion would be tendered that the proposed legislation if proceeded with would violate the covenants of the Compact. This would enable the relevant Ministry to forward its observations to the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament, that the Attorney-General has opined that the proposed Bill if enacted would violate the Compact.

“In the circumstances, I believe that the aforementioned matters would confirm the legal status of the Compact and its entry into force.”

“Copies were sent to Ms. Caroline Nguyen, Managing Director- Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America Millennium Challenge Corporation and J. Charitha Ratwatte, Head of Policy Development and Chief of Party MCC- Sri Lanka Project.”

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Environmentalist accuses Govt. of resorting to trickery to hand over 800,000 acres to pvt. companies

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ is a psychological operation to counter people’s resistance to a move to hand over chena and grasslands to large companies, environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara said yesterday.

Chamikara claimed that the government had earmarked 800,000 acres of land to be given to corporations, and those lands would mainly consist of forests and areas used for chena cultivations and to feed cattle by small scale farmers.

“The Gama Samaga Pilisandara is an attempt to misguide the people by giving them false promises. The government tells people they could cultivate lands belonging to the Forest Conservation Department and instructs officials not to punish people who send cattle into forests. People walk away feeling good but a few months later they will find that these same lands handed over to big companies.”

They had conducted a survey on the lands that had been given to corporations by the government during 2020 Most of those lands in fact were those used by cattle herders and chena cultivators, he said.

For example 70,000 acres in Demaliya and Wandama were being given to a company engaged in sugarcane cultivation, and almost all those lands were those used by small scale farmers and cattle herders, Chamikara said. Among the lands that were given were those earmarked for those displaced by the Uma Oya project. The previous administrations tried to provide irrigation water to those lands through the Handapanagala scheme.

Chamikara said: “Another 62,000 acres have been earmarked in Moneragala, Ampara and Badulla districts for sugarcane cultivation. 80% of these lands are chena cultivations. In Rambaken Oya 5,426 acres have been earmarked for 15 companies to carry out various agro projects and most of these lands are now used by small scale cattle herders. Recently, the Department of Agriculture wrote to the Forest Conservation Department requesting that 80,000 acres in Moneragala, Anuradhapura and Badulla districts be released. These lands are to be used for corn cultivation. The Forest Conservation Department then asked the Department of Agriculture to identify the lands and we know that these lands for the most part are those used by small scale cattle herders and chena cultivators.”

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Contempt of Court case against GMOA President re-fixed for hearing on March 03 and 10

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By Chitra Weerarathne

The Court of Appeal yesterday re-fixed for hearing on March 3 and March 10, the Contempt of Court application against the President of the Government Medical Officers’ Association Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya.

Counsel Ravindranath Dabare said that his client Dr. Padeniya was under self-quarantine and was unable to attend Court.

Dr. Padeniya was summoned for Contempt of Court under Article 105/3 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka for allegedly having criticised a Superior Court ruling in respect of the admission of students to the Sri Lanka Institute of Technology and Medicine, Malabe, at a public rally on April 7, 2016, disrespecting a Supreme Court order pertaining to the enrolment of a student in the Private Medical College, which will ultimately lead to an MBBS degree.

The Court of Appeal bench comprised Justice Arjuna Obeysekera (President) and Dr. Mayadunne Corea.

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