17 December, 2017

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The Significance Of FSP Candidacy In The Eighth Presidential Election

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

Sumanasiri Liyanage

Sumanasiri Liyanage

Mahinda Rajapaksa has to face his erstwhile colleague in the cabinet and the General Secretary of the SLFP, former Minister of Health, Maithripala Sirisena at the forthcoming presidential election. Since many parties including the main opposition party, UNP, and civil society organizations have already decided to back Maithripala’s candidacy, he has now emerged as the main contender to the incumbent president.

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, one of the leading left parties has announced that it will boycott the presidential election although rumors are in the air that its central committee wanted Anura Kumara Dissanayake, de facto leader of the parliamentary opposition to contest. It is in this context marked by the absence of JVP in the presidential race in spite of a 200% increase in its vote at the Uva Provincial Council election held some time ago, that the breakaway group of the JVP, Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) decided to field a candidate representing the social left in Sri Lanka that at the moment is not numerically very strong.

Duminda Nagamuwa

Duminda Nagamuwa

Having been encouraged by the Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) experience in Greece, FSP tried hard to unite all left parties, groups and individuals to field a common candidate of the social left with a minimum but transitional left democratic program at the next presidential election. Well FSP does not claim that the left front it had initiated is Syriza in Sri Lanka; but it seems to me it is Syriza in the making. Whether it will mark a significant moment in Sri Lankan political history is yet to be seen. Nonetheless, this moment is and will become significant and relevant as FSP led social left in its manifesto have raised so many important questions that two principal contenders have refused so far to raise. Most importantly, when both fronts are ideologically dominated Sinhala-Buddhist (UPFA by Bodu Bala Sena and Maithri front by Jathika Hela Urumaya) elements, FSP left front appears to be the most effective secular political formation in the next election. Hence, my submission in this article is that the FSP led social left front poses the real opposition to the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime both in its program and in its practice.

Sri Lanka needs a strong social movement to counter three main trends in its recent history, namely, towards authoritarianism, towards economic policy framework that is biased towards the interests of the upper classes and layers of the society, and towards majoritarianism. Although these three trends emerged prior to MR coming to power, they have consolidated and strengthened under his regime due to multiple reasons.

What is relevant to my present submission is to look at the question of what social movements were actively engaged against the MR regime and its policies and actions. I recognize two counteracting forces in Sri Lankan society that questioned policies and actions of the MR regime. The first group, primarily urban, posed the issue of democracy, rule of law and good governance in their orthodox meanings. The most important group in this category was the Sri Lanka Lawyers’ Association that came forward strongly against the removal of the Chief justice, Dr Shirani Bandaranayaka. It organized many fora to discuss the matters that fell within its purview. Later, Citizen Forum also raised similar issues with strong political orientation. These views had been finally crystalized in the movement for Just Society led by Rev Maduluwave Sobhitha raising two main demands, (1) abolition of the executive presidential system and (2) reactivation of the 17th Amendment by repealing 18th Amendment to the Constitution. These protests by these groupings received so much attention by the media partly because of their elitist character.

The second opposition against the MR regime came from subaltern movements. There are four groups, (1) student movement; (2) trade unions and workers’ movements; (3) protests by peasants and rural masses; and (4) movements by numerically small nations and ethnic groups. Second and third movements were scattered and sporadic. The same can be applied to the fourth movement after militarily defeating the LTTE in 2009. Hence the consistent opposition to the government, especially against its policies on education, has been guided by the Inter-University Student Federation (IUSF). IUSF launched many a struggle in the recent past against cuts of student subsidies, educational reforms, commodification of education and so on. It is interesting and encouraging to note that IUSF was able to defeat government plans to reform education by encouraging private investments to enter into the field of education with the motive of profit. In the last year or so, it won almost all its struggles. The IUSF while struggling for free education also widened the democratic space that the elitist groupings failed to achieve. I remember very well when the march in Colombo city by the IUSF was banned by a court order at the request of the Police, Najith Indika, IUSF President decided to defy the order and continue the march. It proved to be a great victory. The following week, a district judge warned the police not to come forward with such requests. This, in my view, was a most significant victory for the democratic movement in Sri Lanka and all credit should go to IUSF.

The other subaltern movements that were capable of forcing the MR government to retreat include the anti-pension scheme by private sector employees in Free Trade Zone, peoples’ movement against water problem at Rathupaswala, protests by slum people against forcible eviction from their houses, peasants’ opposition to seed and water bills and micro opposition by villagers on their problems.

Maithripala Sirisena announcing his candidacy as a common opposition candidate informed us his program is limited to the abolition of the executive presidency and the reactivation of the 17th Amendment. In this sense his electoral program is based on the demands put forward by the elitist movement. There is no doubt that these are demands are important; but the program built on these demands are necessary but not sufficient to face or counter three major trends in Sri Lankans polity, society and economy. In contrast, FSP’s program is based on the struggles by various social elements in the past ten years taking issues raised by them in its entirety, in other words, confronting the MR candidacy by challenging it with a comprehensive program. Most significantly, the program includes swayan paalana by numerically small nations and protection of whatever the rights they have won, like 13th Amendment although they informed that they are not happy about it.

Last but by no means least I wish to point out something which is, in my view, of great importance. To signify the importance of the IUSF led protests against MR regime, FSP led left front have chosen to field as its candidate a former IUSF leader (there is a minimum age limit to contest in the presidential election – both the present leader of the IUSF and his immediate predecessor are under age), Comrade Duminda Nagamuwa who has led many a struggle on many a front. He is young and can lead many struggles in future.

*The writer is the co-coordinator of the Marx School. 

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  • 3
    3

    Sumanasiri Liyanage –

    Do your part. expose the Medamulana MaRa family dictatorship.

    Video: Large crowds to ‘Defeat despotic regime’
    MONDAY, 01 DECEMBER 2014 23:03

    http://www.lankatruth.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7898:video-large-crowds-to-defeat-despotic-regime-&catid=36:top-stories&Itemid=124

    The first of a series of rallies the JVP has organized under the theme ‘Defeat despotic regime! Rally for Democracy!!’ was held at Nugegoda today (1st) with the participation of a large crowd.

    JVP leaders including Member of its Political Bureau K.D. Lal Kantha, its General Secretary Tilvin Silva and its Leader Anura Dissanayaka addressed the rally.

    The JVP stated that rallies under the theme to defeat despotic regime under Mahinda Rajapaksa would be held in all principal towns. The party also has organized campaigns of leaflet distributions, posters and house to house campaigns.

    http://www.jvpsrilanka.com/en/

    https://www.facebook.com/anurakumara

    • 6
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      Very good analysis Dr Liyanage. Don’t take any notice of frustrated saboteurs like [Edited out] “Amarasiri”.

      As you say, Maithripala is being used as a tool by the failed colonial remnants Chandrika and Ranil. They are aware that the people of Lanka will not fall for their guses again, and therefore they opted to present a subject from Polonnaruwa as a ploy.

      Why should the people vote for Maithripala if he is going to be discarded after 100 days? One hell of an election pledge!

      They will hear the peoples’ answer on 8 January, and probably start complaining about election “jilmart”.

      These frustrated con artists should be condemned to the waste bin of history.

      • 2
        3

        `Why should the people vote for Maithripala if he is going to be discarded after 100 days?¬

        high–muck•e•ty–muck MR padde

        New broom always sweeps clean.

        Enough is Enough of a dictatorship fiddling with constitution
        in an agricultural economy dependant on the forward looking
        rich west for better prices like the mouthing stupid rest.

        Look around you its all centre right governments that are prospering.

        Times they are changing.

      • 1
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        Yes, it is a good analysis by Dr. Liyanage. The IUSF did indeed achieve a lot in encouraging private investments to enter into the field of education with the motive of profit (guess it’s a nice form of democratic socialized-capitalism). However, it is possibly a bit too late for them to come into the polls, even as a third party. Their best success is to align themselves with Sirisena.

        Actually whoever rules will eventually see the merits of a good IUSF movement- even Rajapakse caved into the merits. However, the main issue in this election is balancing out country profits so any form of authoritarianism won’t lead the country down a destructive path (especially in light of global realities).

  • 9
    0

    You do not need be rock scientist to know out come of this election: it is one way traffic.
    I think that MR can’t get more 35% of votes. It is MS who is going to win landslide victory: people are suffering: MR did political suicide with his nepotism, corruption and drug dealing. He was like drug addict he did not see people suffering and he enjoyed the life –
    How many trips he made abroad at public expense while, people are suffering
    People are not stupid for vote for him
    Only way for him is to trigger vote and steal voting box. He might use thugs to kill people :
    I think we could see increasing violence soon
    We could see murder and killing in the name of politics
    We could see lots of problems
    But Sri Lankan history tells us people are resilient
    People will win against any dictator

    He earned a lots of enemies:
    Today all his ministers are waiting to jumb into wining party. Soon all will leave him
    Most of them already done and more will follow
    MR get three options
    To run away from the country as all other dictators
    Or face the judicial court
    or seek pardon from the future President

  • 5
    3

    An excellent piece by the author.

  • 8
    2

    Mr Liyanage, To spoil the real chance that has arisen to defeat the monster Rajapaksa in the name of your juvenile Marxism is stupid to say the least. You once sang the praises of Rajapaksa. Are you still in his pay to now try to salvage him by your encouragement to field a candidate who is sure to chip away the common candidate’s votes? What kind of professor of “political economy” are you to say that the rule of law and good governance are “elitist”? How is it better for your “subalterns” to re-elect Rajapaksa than to elect the common candidate? If you are genuinely concerned about “subalterns” does it not make better sense to get their concerns incorporated into the agenda of the common candidate and his planned national government?

  • 2
    0

    Nass – It is too early to predict the victor and the vanquished as we need to wait until the in fighting in the opposition coalition is over
    on matters of positions and perks and there is a possibility that some
    cross overs may return to the govt. In the history of Sri Lanka, have you ever heard a coalition of several opposition parties stood together
    for a period of 6 months, fighting for a cause. So please do not run into conclusions so early. Do your math in the 1st week of Jan and you may get a fair idea as who will win.

  • 3
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    Sumanasiri’s is one of the most intelligent and interesting analyses I have read for several weeks if not months.

    • 7
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      Deekirata balalluth sakki keevalu! Both Sumanasiri and Dayan (the former more indirectly) are supporting MR. I am not surprised at all about Dayan. But, Sumane?

    • 4
      3

      whats up going for a bunker:S, or the bi s_game??

      boys of the same feather gather together talking about others class caste religion holding candles to lokkas for a bit of cream and jam to top their appetite.

      unlike forces attract.

      slugs with crash helmets crossing the narrow streets discreetly with thoppi in hand signalling both sides of the coin.

      very intelligent indeed & undoubtedly unwise

      Get a life-wisdom

  • 1
    1

    Sumanasiri is talking through his hat. The FSP option will not garner 5000 votes and therefore will do HUGE DISSERVICE to the left by turning the left it into a big joke.

    SYRZA had a huge impact, as it WAS and IS the principle opposition in Greece; not a bunch of school kids running around like puppies.

    The JVP not signing the MoU is fine, but trust them. In the end they will not boycott (whatever is said officially) but quietly vote 90% for the abolition of the Executive Presidency. Not 1% of JVP or mature left voters will support a FSP candidate.

    The TNA too may or may not sign the MoU in the end (there is no mention of devolution there) but will ensure that 99%of Tamils votes go against Rajapakse.

    What a silly article. No wonder DJ who writes equally irrelevant tosh likes in – what happened to Sajith DJ?

  • 0
    1

    Mitri is smarter than Mahinda ;-)

    see here

    [Edited out]
    We may see more and more inspiring Editorial once Mitri is in office and get rid of all the rif raf and rag tag constitutional draconian clauses.
    Then we all will enjoy real democracy where nobody is NOT answerable for their actions and there is no room for complacency!!!

    Then we really do not care even TNA comes to power as the Cow has to eat within the reach of the rope it is tethered!!!

    that is what we want to implement and also no party will receive 2/3 majority EVER so that fools like JR will not play with the SACRED COW( the constitution) in future.!!!

    Then we can enjoy more and more ‘a la NY times or Harpers like Editorials just the one like you had today’

    Let the Multiverse be unfolded and send the rjayakshas packing to the UNIVERSE of HELL for lieing through their teeth and taking the whole nation for a ride in return for entrusting them the powr

  • 2
    3

    SL:says: `In this sense his electoral program is based on the demands put forward by the elitist movement.`

    `Having been encouraged by the Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) experience in Greece,¬

    Syriza extreme left more of naxalite principals and thanks to the 100k US “Semper Fidelis” stationed their they were calmed.
    PIGS collapse was the result of the total population living as non taxing nations and purchasing luxury items for consumption. Can anyone blame the elite or professionals- you must be stupid or canny to do so.(Eastern and southern joined EU to pluck money from trees-fact. Disenchanted now they are being disciplined in fiscal policy)

    Though Greek Prince Philip with german genes like the queen lives in the north the hairy greek folk never play ball but have to play straight bat.

    English has less Latin than French or Spanish thanks to Shakespeare.

    Don’t dream of another insurrection lefty.

    Reason can dream what dreams cannot reason .

  • 2
    3

    99% of Lankans would love to vote against `fat cats` irrespective of their political ideology.
    Over halve century of MP fat cats crossed over during this passé regime.
    There is nothing elite about them but they are the lazy Garfield’s.

    The big issue is Raton’s jumping ship – whom to trust as most have proved to be chameleons??

    When USSR collapsed Socialist Russian thugs squandered and today there are at least 20 Oligarch’s residing at fashionable Sloan Square.

    Lankian Socialist have proved no better and we have that bitter experience from Sirima, NM, Colvin nationalisation, communal etc. now Vasu and family covering niches in the market too.

    Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.-Albert Einstein

  • 2
    0

    Very intersting comments. But I do not think the lower and upper middle class Sinhala community will ba attracted to this braod social programme put forward by the FSP. There are pressing social and economic issues that plague the majority of the Sri Lanka community. But nothing has captured their immagination as yet compared to the religous and ethnic issues that have taken precendce at present. The other disappointment about the FSP is their expressed unhappiness about autonomy for other communties. A more progressive attitude must coming to being if they are to attract the minorities.

  • 1
    1

    DAYAN! Oh you are back and trying to kick with lame feet after you took a hiding when your master,Mara got a fatal blow. What happened to your predictions? Now you back Sumane a Marxist when no Marxists exist in the world of today-except Minister Tissa Vitharana in Mara’s cabinet. Tissa V’s plight is an embodiment of the end point of the Marxist journey whether of FSP or Sumane. Those who fail to read history will have repeat the journey of their comrades.

  • 2
    2

    Mr. Sumanasiri Liyanage:

    I would like to agree with you that ” In contrast, FSP’s program is based on the struggles by various social elements in the past ten years taking issues raised by them in its entirety, in other words, confronting the MR candidacy by challenging it with a comprehensive program ”

    But I don’t as these are all fringe groups and the votes are protest votes AGAINST something and not FOR something.
    There is no denying the fact for the last 64 years the deciding factor in Sri Lankan politics is the issue of Race. Whether you in Left Right or Centre Politics the hate factor plays a major role. The majority might choose to deny it but that is not borne out by our experience.

    So I am afraid there is no “comprehensive program ” that can succeed and the only person who offers a realistic chance of saving Sri Lanka from disaster is Mr.Maihriala Srisena. That is a million dollar question and Sinhala Lanka is not going to change willingly but has to be forced kicking and screaming.
    The ray of hope is it looks as if MR has finally run out of ideas and options and was caught unawares.

  • 1
    0

    May be this “leftist group” should go to Greece and help out their comrades, instead of wasting their time here.
    The JVP increased its vote by 200 % says this Marxist guru.

    If you had only one vote before, and if you got two, then it is a 200% increase!
    Learn some statistics. remember the square root of N law about fluctuations?

    No, you will not lean about it from Rosenberg or Gramaci.

  • 0
    0

    FSP will be as significant as a snow flake in the Sahara. You guys can dream on and get a few thousand old union workers and a few anti establishment, class envious do nothings used to thinking Cuba and North Korea are your role models. GET OVER IT.. You amount to nothing in shaping thinking or voting in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    Cuba is the only state that has a veneer of communism today. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. School girls are forced to engage in prostitution. Communism doesn’t encourage investment because investment is predicated on private enthusiasm and not enthusiasam for a ‘collective.’

  • 0
    0

    How many leftist parties Sri Lanka had since the independence. All for cheating people.

    JVP did that, Vasu deva is doing that.

    I heard the same thing with Peter Kenaman whose only wish was to cheat people and live the life they wanted to. This was told by some one who knew him very closely.

    They all have democratic, socialist or communist opinions . they also have capitalist or aristocratic tastes.

    See how many socialists, particularly JVPers are enjoying the western lives and gave the socialist struggle leaving it to poor people.

  • 0
    0

    Someone mentioned Cuba here. It is true that Cuba is not a rich country. It is also true of prostitution by some young people in Cuba with mainly European tourists. By the way Mr prem vaidyarathna thinks there are no prostitution in US of A please visit Florida. he will find plenty. In Sri Lanka he can go to Anuradhapura. If that is his measurement of well being of a country.
    National health service in Cuba is better than America’s as Obama is trying in vain to give poor American’s decent health care.
    Apart from some boat people, most Cubans I met blamed American sanctions. It is the American sanctions holding Cuba backward. Nothing else. People know that. From all those who are attacking Cuba ask themselves this question? Why America is so afraid of Cuba? Lift the sanctions and allow Cuba to dis-integrate like USSR.

  • 0
    0

    FSP never said any of their booklets that their role models are Cuba and North Korea. It may be true that they are nothing in relation to Vote counts. However their message has something in it. Thieves in both sides destroyed Sri lanka for last 66 years. Can pakis pettiya and Prem deny that? my3’s hotels in Kandy and his brothers dealing with farmers in Sri Lanka. Can you defend that? Corrupted 32 years of Ranil government in Chandrika’s time. And what Chandria did all those years without abolishing presidency. Oh sorry Ranil did not support.
    I am not writing about MR regime. Everyone knows how bad it is and how corrupted it is. I like that at least FSP is talking about them. I am quite happy if My3 wins and stop to Family rule of MR. However don’t forget he has many brothers too. We know all too well SL politics.

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