26 September, 2020

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Neoliberal Globalization Vs A ‘Sovereign Project’

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

What are the real choices facing Sri Lanka and much of the world? What is the main problem and what are the feasible solutions?

What we are witnessing in Sri Lanka today is a political crisis which is the concentrated expression of a larger and deeper crisis. This is the crisis of a certain model. This model is in crisis, nationally, locally, in Sri Lanka. It is also in crisis globally. 

The model that is in crisis in neoliberal globalization. Neoliberal globalization is not globalization as such. As any reader of the Communist Manifesto knows, capitalism has always been global and globalizing. Perhaps the most outstanding Marxist political economist of recent decades, who died recently, Samir Amin, drew a distinction between ‘colonial globalization’, the ‘negotiated globalization’ of the postcolonial years of the strong Nonaligned Movement, and the current ‘liberal or neoliberal globalization’ which is unilaterally imposed by the world capitalist centers. 

The neoliberal model could be summed up as one of free market fundamentalism and denationalization, in which borders and national sovereignty are effaced, thereby dismantling all forms of national controls, restrictions, regulations, resistances and impediments to imperialist control. In Sri Lanka, its representative par excellence has been Ranil Wickremesinghe in his two terms as Prime Minister (twinned in his second term by Mangala Samaraweera).

This model was installed and could be installed only after the fall of global socialism. If one were to take Sri Lanka, it would be hugely irresponsible to see a linear continuity from JR Jayewardene’s Open Economy, through Premadasa, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chandrika and Ranil. It is no mere coincidence that 60 percent of the economy under JR Jayewardene remained in State hands—the giant Mahaweli project was emblematic– as he himself stated and Dr. Chanaka Amaratunga, a true economic liberal, often complained.  

Evidence of the sharp contradistinction between the JRJ and Ranil-Mangala models comes in a 2017 interview given by Pradip Jayewardene, who was very close to his grandfather. Making a damning indictment that “the core values of the UNP are eroding”, he emphasized that: “My grandfather was of the view that State control had to be maintained in the liberalization process of the economy, to guarantee a social safety net…There is no argument that private sector should run business, but State control and regulation of key areas is vital…” (Ceylon Today)

Now that doesn’t sound like neoliberal globalization, does it?

As with economics so also with politics and vice versa. It is no coincidence that in July 1983, President Jayewardene declared the First Secretary Political of the US Embassy, Kevin Scott, persona non grata and put him on board a flight back to the USA in 24 hours, after he had made a critical remark at a cocktail party!  Nor was it coincidental that President Jayewardene and Fidel Castro were friends, and Fidel walked with him through the streets of Havana. JR Jayewardene was not only the first President of the Lanka-Soviet Friendship association, it was he who moved in the Ceylon National Congress that the Communist Party should be given membership—which it was from 1944-1947. This was one of the reasons that DS Senanayake pulled the plug on the CNC and formed the UNP. JR’s choice of Finance Minister to open up the economy in 1977, was a former independent radical, who was perhaps the only Sri Lankan ever to have met Che Guevara, in Cuba in the 1960s—Ronnie de Mel. It was carefully calibrated opening, quite unlike neoliberal ‘shock therapy’ practiced by Ranil and Mangala.

As for Premadasa, his programs of housing, Janasaviya, free school uniforms and free midday meals (this last was inaugurated by him when JRJ was still President), as well as the strict conditionalities about labor conditions and meals embedded in the 200 Garment Factories Program, had nothing whatsoever to do with neoliberalism and were its exact opposite. His publicly named developmental role model was Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammed. Premadasa’s election winning manifesto of 1988 was penned in Hong Kong together with Susil Suriswardena (a radical thinker), after he had an extended visit to Deng Hsiao Peng’s China, a country he had visited under Mao and written a book let about (he visited the USSR on the same trip) in 1957.  

Again, it is no coincidence that as President and UNP leader, Mr. Premadasa invited as chief guests at the convention of the United National Party, a high-level delegation from the communist Party of China.

As for Mahinda Rajapaksa, his focus on public infrastructure, his retention of the commanding heights and strategic assets of the country in state hands, his continuation of social welfare programs, and his selective retrieval/restoration of state ownership, is a very far cry from neoliberalism indeed! 

By sharp contrast, Ranil Wickremesinghe made the UNP join the IDU, the International Democratic Union which is the cartel of the global Right, of which he was elected a Vice-President. The IDU was founded by Reagan and Thatcher, and its co-chairs are the US Republicans and the UK Conservatives. No wonder then that in him we have the quintessential perspective and spirit of neoliberal globalization. Mercifully, Sri Lanka has produced only PM and party leader who ever spoke like this:

“…A specialist brought down from the US Treasury, said Wickremesinghe, introduced the Government to this system. “We had to go ahead with macroeconomic liberalization to get integrated into the global economy,” he said. Agreements with IMF and other documents were furnished by the Premier to the Commission to show the economic policy of the Government” – ‘Ranil resolute before Bond Commission,’ Daily FT, 21 November 2017

My point is very clear. For Sri Lanka and even for the UNP, there is a viable model which remains within the Open Economy and globalization, but is not the neoliberal model, the project of neoliberal globalization, of Ranil-Mangala. The Open Economy and the Neoliberal model are not coterminous. The question is what kind of Open Economy? To say otherwise is to leave Sri Lankans with no choice other than Ranil’s neoliberal model or some failed or untested model which is completely outside globalization and the Open Economy. This is a false choice which ignores the conspicuous developmental successes and contributions of JR, Premadasa and Mahinda.  

This true globally as well. The problem is not globalization but what kind of globalization, what model? There has to be a viable, visible choice which is not necessarily an alternative to globalization as such, but to the neoliberal model of globalization. In the West there is such a choice, namely that which is presented by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labor Party. It is an untested answer as yet. But in Eurasia and the global South there is no time for untested answers. Here, where the majority of humanity dwells, we already have an alternative globalization, not an alternative to globalization—but the former is what we need, and it has proven a success. 

You don’t have to take my word for it. Take Samir Amin’s. This is how Frontline magazine described Samir Amir, an intellectual heavyweight who makes Guardian columnists and writers such as George Monbiot, look lightweights by comparison: “SAMIR AMIN is one of the world’s greatest radical thinkers alive today. At least for the last five decades, he has been a great source of inspiration for those who dream of an alternative and better world. A Marxist thinker of profound originality and theoretical innovation…”

And this is how Samir Amin identified the alternative: a “sovereign project”: “The strategy of starting transformations by action at national levels can be summed up in the following sentence: one must refuse to adjust unilaterally to the requirements for extension of the established globalization, replace it by prioritizing getting to work on ‘sovereign projects’ and force the global system to adjust to the requirements for the unfolding of these national projects.”

Samir Amin then identifies and names a successful sovereign project—China: “…China is the only country truly engaged on the path of a sovereign project, and is the only one for which this is the case. This is a coherent project: it articulates the planned establishment of a self-centered (although simultaneously and aggressively open toward exporting) modern and complete industrial system to a mode of agricultural development based on the modernization of small farms not owned by the farmers—thus guaranteeing access to the land for everyone.” 

This is what Samir Amin has to say about China’s comparative success, in one of his last interviews, this year:

Comparing China and India is very significant in that respect. In China, the growth of income has been a reality for almost all the population even if that growth has been much higher for some than it has been for the others (the majority). Therefore, in China, growing inequality has been accompanied by reduction of poverty. This is not the case for India, Brazil and almost all other countries of the South. In these countries, growth (and in some cases significant high growth) has benefited only a minority (from 1 per cent in some cases such as Equatorial Guinea to 20 per cent in cases such as India). But this growth has not benefited the majorities, who have even been pauperized.”

This is why China is an alternative economic model; THE alternative model at this time. It works—for the many, as well as the country as a whole! The neoliberal model, or if I may go further, the Western or IMF-driven model does not; it is in crisis and decay.

This is also why I readily and proudly admit that I am an advocate of the view that Sri Lanka should adopt and adapt the Chinese economic model to the extent that our size will permit us and while remaining within our electoral democratic system. This does not mean adopting or adapting the Chinese political model– except in retaining a strong unitary state (with local autonomy) and a Presidential system, especially at a time when the Westminster model is showing its cracks and dysfunctionality over Brexit on our TV screens every day.

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Latest comments

  • 15
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    Dayan, from political expert to economic expert! Donkey

    • 1
      9

      Your comment has done great justice to the pen name you have adopted.
      Well done!

      • 1
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        Lt. Gen. Mano Mudhole:
        Are you the Batman of the Major General parading under YET ANOTHER pseudonym. Unfortunately, if doesn’t work with the stupidity comes shining through (again)

    • 13
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      Dear Dr. D.J ,PhD (Harvard), etc,
      What is worse than a prostitute? An educated prostitute. Especially one who prostitutes a whole country in order do keep ill-gotten perks. Not to worry, the day will come soon when such people will be stripped naked yet again.

    • 4
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      Ada Dayan,
      China’s economic model made Mahinda the richest in Srilanka and made Banda in Bandarawela the poorest in Srilanka. The problem is not China or USA. The problem is Mahinda & Sirisena. Go and study basics. Can you tell us what is the deal between you & Mahinda? Is it 500 Million dollars?

  • 6
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    Dayan is in solitary confinement in Siberia, literally and figuratively, and as a result his thinking is getting woozier by the day. Ghosts of the former inmates of Gulags must be haunting him at nights as he lies in his cold (?) bed. This “Neoliberal Globalization Vs Sovereignty” thing is just a smokescreen. The real issue is, do you want to have a democratic pluralist Sri Lanka or an authoritarian state based on Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalism. That is the question. Everything else is just ‘theoretical’ spin to bamboozle the people and muddy the waters in order to facilitate the comeback of the tyrant Mahinda and his Mafia clan.

  • 13
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    load of crap to conclude with the last paragraph ..to promote Chinese model and Mahinda Rajapakse as a life long president in a communist Sri Lanka ….no thanks you DJ

  • 6
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    Dr DJ “The Westminster model is showing its cracks and functionality over Brexit on our TV screens every day..”

    what a load of bullshit you are talking….

    on the contrary The Westminster model is making the parliament accountable including the Prime Minister to deliver on the referendum….to vote on the deal agreed …

    …but your wielded message is that the Westminster model in Sri Lanka is stopping Mahinda Rajapakse becoming an illegal Prime Minister …it is indeed working well…so get rid of it so you r mate Rajapakse van become PM through the back door?

    you are a damn disgrace ….you will sell your dad to lick Rajapakse arse

  • 5
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    Dayan Jayathilake: All these Neo-liberalism followed bt neo-colonialization or vice versa are all Crap. Sri lankan doe snot have anty true visionary leaders who wants to build Sri lanka.Since JRJ time including R Pemadasa have all meddled with the election, parliamentarians and the parliament part of the so-called Constituion. It is simply CRAP. They have to scream about it because 71 are losing pensions, Which Maithripala Sirisena might give eventhough their service time is THREE AND HALF YEARS. tHERE HAD BEEN MANY days that the parliament did not convene because thery did not have the required no of voters inside. Anyway, right now every parliamentarian is there for they themselves. If you analyse everything they do, they are etc., etc., are for themselves. It is not the fault of Western embassies. How come Cuba managed to over come it. There are other countreis. How come Iran is fcing them. It is out politicians. Mahinda Rajapakse followed the Same neoliberalism and he used the Forex reserves to reach to UK and to USA. Now, MangalaRanil, CBK and Maithripala did the same. Mangala is the civil society aka Open society aka, civi allience aka MCC affiliated with CIA and the church and supervised by the SENATORs. Mangala is doing their agenda. Ranil is supporting he just wants to Federalize the country and become the president. MAithripala was becoming a Protestant, but he did a DO or DIE manoever, because it is politics. Otherwise, Sri lanka needs some full 100% restructuring. Many Educzated are talking out it while some say all those Fasts that involve monks are all political and for greed. Most educated are also there irrespective of what the country is going through.

  • 12
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    Dear Dr.DJ,
    Looks you are fast running out of arguments. This is pathetic. .” Evidence of the sharp contradistinction between the JRJ and Ranil-Mangala models comes in a 2017 interview given by Pradip Jayewardene, who was very close to his grandfather. Making a damning indictment that “the core values of the UNP are eroding”, he emphasized that: “My grandfather was of the view that State control had to be maintained in the liberalization process of the economy, to guarantee a social safety net…There is no argument that private sector should run business, but State control and regulation of key areas is vital…” (Ceylon Today)”
    Old JRJ had one son and three grand sons. Pradeep is only one of them. JRJ in mapping economics policy was closer to Ranils father Esmond and his nephew Upali Wijewardene than this particular grandson Pradeep. I don’t think JRJ gave a damn about neo liberalism because there was no such label at the time.

    • 4
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      That is right. And it was JRJ who said, “let the robber barons come in.”

      DJ simply clutches at straws to support his masters.

      And being the Putinist donkey that he is, DJ always ignores the white van terror and murders that the Rajapaksa regime inflicted on the people. “Sovereign Project” is simply a cover for Rajapaksa terror, which protected his sycophants but murdered and terrorized critics. and others.

    • 0
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      Sarath:
      JRJ was the biggest disaster to befall Sri Lanka. His son set up a paramilitary organization to bolster this father’s hegemony. Unfortunately, no one in Sri Lanka seems to know the roots of the “Paras’ in the North African repression by imperial France. One of the blackest chapters in colonial history.
      Dayan Jayatilleke’s scale of values can be judged by the fact that he considered one of the high points of his social life as being offered brandy (or was it rum?) by Lakshman Kadirgamar in the latter’s garden. That is intellectual substance for you!
      This man is the ultimate self-seeking charlatan and should be quoting Philip Gunawardene when he proudly proclaimed that he’d not only ally with the devil but even the devil’s grandmother to achieve his ends. He should perhaps get some private tuition from Philip . Gunawardene’s son who is one of his colleagues now.
      WHAT a bunch of nonentities parading as constitutional pundits among other things!
      Are we all blind that we treat these one-eyed men as kings?

    • 0
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      sarath de alwis

      “I don’t think JRJ gave a damn about neo liberalism because there was no such label at the time.”

      True.
      Do you think we should make arrangements to send this man to boot camps, reeducation camps, “new life” camps, internment camps, ………….perhaps Gulag.

  • 7
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    Get lost you plagiariser and fake political scientist. Go to hell.

  • 6
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    wow
    now he praises the great capitalist JR
    the real reason he writes is to get publicity here as he is now faraway in moscow
    the moscow winter must be getting to him the poor sod

  • 5
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    how can ranils econ policies be worse than premadasas when paskaralingam is his chief advisor

  • 3
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    Any model economic model should not destroy the culture of that country. What is the significane of wealth when the children are druggies, thuggies who stab the classnate and kill, when girls are teenage mothers, when youn children are female and male prostitutes. For parents, what is the inmportanceof wealth, once thier children are ruined. So, in brief, cut all these terminology crap, what ever the economic model should not destroy the country culturally. Even in the history bigger kingdoms tried to destroy smaller colonies. Sri lsnks escaped because of the HEroic and patriotic leaders. Since 1977 or since JRJ, Sri Lanka did not have visionary leaders except those who wanted to make their extended family the richest and most venerated.

  • 1
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    First: 1). China cannot be copied by Lankawe because there are no Ayatollahs in that model. There is no lunatic Sinhala Buddhist extremism. 2). China is massive market within it. Anything one attempt to make can be sold locally. Europeans managed Ceylon, from day one, a tea Exporter, spice exporter and labor importer. These are in the opposite of China Model. Mess up of Ceylon into Lankawe has forced a massive labor export as refugees, higher class Brain Drain and Middle East slave labor. China is exporting labor only on government Corporations’ contracts, not as slave labor. China is connected with others by land. But Lankawe is Small Island to try an isolated solution. Ceylon can copy Singapore.
    Second: 1).Copycatting is only disastrous solution like Cuba copying USSR. 2). Copying China Model is not possible for Lankawe. Communism failed everywhere because of non-labor cooperation with governments. China’s hybrid communism is working for it because its labor culture is completely different from South Asian or Middle East or Europe. Because these three have their own culture they cannot imitate China. Hybrid Communism cannot manage labor as efficiently as Free Market. So, in China it is the culture doing the role of the free market organization of labor.

  • 1
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    So no isolated, home grown solution is possible for Lankawe. Readers must understand one thing. IMF doesn’t enforce a loan. It does give high interest profit making loans like Chinese loans. IMF’s loans are most useful only if you want to be in Import/Export business. We saw without any international experience, how the Modayas killed Air Lanka. So it is always beneficial to work with IMF and World Bank, especially when the development is going to have foreign input, beyond the technical expertise needed.

    The medicine prescribed by IMF is good, but the patient was never willing to take the medicine. One of my friends has high blood sugar. He wants always eat sweets in all parties. Wife always says if he wants to eat, he has to take medicine at home. He will very voluntarily promise that but always eat the sweet never takes the medicine. What good the medicine can do to that kind of patients? It they take the medicine without eating sweet, sure it is guaranteed to work. Thero never read Dr. W A Wijewardena’s essays.

  • 3
    0

    “This model is in crisis, nationally, locally, in Sri Lanka.”

    Buddha’s model is in crisis in Sri Lanka and Burma.

  • 0
    0

    If the Politicians are fighting for supremacy who will defends sovereignty, the right of the people to express themselves freely.

  • 4
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    From FOCO theory to sovereignty. This sycophant should be sent to sierra Mastra

  • 2
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    “Samir Amin is a convinced adherent of multipolarity: “Yes, I do want to see the construction of a multipolar world, and that obviously means the defeat of Washington’s hegemonic project for military control of the planet.”

    This quote from Samir Amin, quoted from elsewhere, shows that he is a dreamer. America may be imperialistic but the rest of the world is disunited and conquered. Maybe that is better – a Sri Lanka that was once united against a common foe was subjugated and defeated. There is no way out, especially since our IQ is lower than many other countries.

    Passive resistance is the term. Or maybe to make it too costly for them to interfere.

  • 3
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    Lanka is on fire. Dayan Jayatilleka is playing the fiddle.
    Starts with the song “I read Communist Manifesto….”. The missing line “Did not understand…..”.
    The Manifesto is a gem but did not allow for some comrades to be more equal.
    .
    Dayan has a new song “I am the Lankan Samir Amin…….”.
    Egyptian Samir Amin could not dent the bigotry of the Brotherhood. Samir Amin never crawled up to the ilk of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
    .
    Dayan ends with the Fat-Lady song “RW-team bad….MR-team good”

  • 0
    1

    DJ.
    Very correct what you say. But the only reason China was able to implement the soverignity cum global capitalism policy so splendidly was because it was conditioned for over 1\2 a century by egalitarian communism.

    Now Sri Lanka on the other hand had pompous toffs like the Jayawardenas touting capitalism, and then condendingly trying to install socialized schemes…..safety net indeed! That was the money of the hard-working masses they were gamboling with! Ok….Premedasa was a bit better.

    Ranil was a true idiot trying to do the neoliberal project with India…….India! with the ingrained caste-system model! Even the egalatarian Europeans couldn’t handle it and voted for Brexit.

    In the end, all we needed was the Sirimavos model for about 20 years before gradually easing into egalitarian capitalism. Not too late to try again.

    • 0
      0

      Besides DJ,

      Did the UNP ever bring any real jobs to Sri Lanka? No, for all the touting of capitalism, money in the end came mostly from the Middle East menial labour camps……Something so very wrong with the UNP capitalistic model. Can you imagine what will happen to the struggling masses with the impending India merge? If the 1% elite are sucking up most of the country money, Indian elite will certainly suck 200% of it.

      Rakapaksa’s capitalism is for a greater move with China. He sees a more honorable way for the struggling Masses to get their share of what they sacrificed for centuries.

      Of course, the West has to be appeased. Sirisena-Rajapaksa duo will certainly be able to negotiate an arrangement. Once the traditional agriculture and industry base of the country is resurrected, there will be little need for excess capitalism to balance out payments

  • 0
    0

    According to Lankanewsweb Dr.D.J. is recruiting Russian Social Media experts to assist the Rajapakse to spread fake news the Social media as they allegedly did for Trump and Brexit.

    Namal is assisting with local logistics

    • 0
      0

      Yes!

      These are the shameless naked crooks sold Colombo Pong Cing to China when their computers were hacked by Chinese army hackers.

      Even after learning that lesson from China, now they are bringing Russian experts to hack the info of the Lankawe Citizens (Political leaders of UNP, JVP, and TNA are in real danger). In US and UK, Russians did serious damage to the government’s, structure. But the political individuals less affected as their private info are already on the outside. That is not the case in Lankawe. Nobody knows mush much these guys pay taxes, very simple thing to start with & their illegal bank accounts are anther. When Russians are done with their work, these all would be hacked for use of New King’s & Old King’s benefits.You know the current case against Ravindra is about extortion on wealthy Tamil Families and murdering their young ones. Now how much worth each enemy citizen is wroth and where they are hooked all are going to revealed. Once their trained Sinhala Buddhists start their jobs, every one of their village dwelling poor innocent enemies will be stripped to skin without any local or international standards.

      If LNW is 50% accurate, then this is serious damage to the country for decades to come.

      Lankawe has become the worst land to live.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan and his Neolibera Gibberish once again! I am shocked he has ventured to go down analyzing his NeoLiberalism prophecy once again whilst ignoring the basic common sense tenets of a civilized democratic society which is democracy and rule of law. This is what Sri Lankans lost on 26 October 2018 you Nitwit! You can prophesise you neoliberalistic theories till the cows come home, thats never going to provide the common sense answers to the common sense questions the common citizen is asking!

  • 0
    0

    Gamarala’s side kick Dayan should read and comprehend the message in this article : https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/burning-the-house/, instead of wasting his and everyones time on a topic of no relevance to the current crisis situation.

  • 0
    0

    The internal issue is about one-family autocracy or a faulty democracy
    The external issue is between neo-liberal or dragon led globalisation
    One is a faulty democracy, the other a one-party state
    Whilst these two are the leading horses, they are not the only participants
    This realisation however will not come about until non-economic and non-political issues becomes the reality; that is the environmental
    Sri Lanka’s sovereignty is primarily due to it’s island nature, but it’s internal emphasis lies elsewhere, limiting it to a two-horse race

  • 0
    0

    Britton Wood system of old order we have been fought since 1974 when New world Order been debating since 45 years which is people of developing countries have gone through .
    It was Algiers conference under UNO ,1974 that issue came into being a form of polemics of by time decolonilizaton process was start of Third World countries. Indeed the hundred of nation were struggle for liberation of an Economic sovereignty which was against Neo-Liberalist economy model .

    What I have to say 1977 UNP that under the JRJ an introduce Neo-Liberal Economy -political system of governance in Sri lanka.
    The current the political-economy-social crisis in Lanka that root cause has gone over 40 odd years. The peculiar Crisis has come to the turning point of Politically, Constitutionally economic destabilization of nation development and Rupee devalued by UNP leadership has gone far without any solutions.

    On going crisis not that majority of members of Parliament ,it is whole system is not proper order an operated by UNP mismanagement of development of GDP.
    RW of orthodox that UNP has misguided whole order of Democracy of Island that directed involved by CB Bank bond scam has undermined very foundation of Monetary ,Fiscal Financial and Economy and development ….since 2015 January 8th.
    The President of MS says that he was powerless and voiceless during that three and half years.
    The cohabitation of “good governances” and rule of law under supervision of UNP leadership of RW and CBK become invalided.???

    We have come to the point that People want give New Mandate for chamber to new era development .
    The political corruptions has play key role play by UNP leadership of that discarded real development of sustabanilty of capitalism in Island.

  • 0
    0

    sarath de alwis

    “I don’t think JRJ gave a damn about neo liberalism because there was no such label at the time.”

    True.
    Do you think we should make arrangements to send this man to boot camps, reeducation camps, “new life” camps, internment camps, ………….perhaps Gulag.

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