25 September, 2021

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What Should Be The Political & Economic Alternative?

By Michael Fernando

Dr. Michael Fernando

During the past 73 years since its independence this country has been govern by the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party  (SLFP) or alliances headed by these two parties. It is very clear that these governments have brought this country to the brink of economic, political and social collapse. The UNP regime which came to power under the leadership of Mr. JR Jayewardene in 1977 introduced to Sri Lanka neo-liberal economic reforms in 1978. All these governments have been corrupt. They followed a policy of cronyism and nepotism.  These policies followed by the post-independence regimes and the inefficiency of  rulers  have now deepened the crisis which the country has been facing.

First we must explain what kind of a economic and political policy we suggest to follow in the present complicated international situation. We reject capitalism together with neo-liberalism.  What we need is a system of social justice which guarantees individual freedom. There were some positive elements in the first active revolution against feudalism and capitalism which took place in October 1917 in Russia. After the second world war a system called “socialist” was established in Eastern Europe. However, by 1991 this system collapsed in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries due to several reasons including the lack of real social justice. We do not approve the one party rule prevalent in so called socialist countries. We accept  democracy which ensures freedom and social justice. In some countries such as China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba there is a system called “socialism”. We do not fully agree with this system too. However, we will try to accept only the positive elements from  these countries.

We have to be aware of the new developments which have taken place in the international relations when we think of an economic and a political system suitable for us. Whether we like it or not, a certain degree of globalization had occurred in the world economy. Due to this reason we have to accept a kind of a division of labour. For example we can’t try to compete with Japan to produce automobiles. Japan has achieved tremendous advances in that regard. What we can do is to assemble the vehicle parts produced in Japan. We have to do value addition to our resources such as graphite, ilmenite and phosphate. For this, we need new technology and foreign investments. Furthermore we have to give due consideration to the importance of our geo-political location in the Indian Ocean. In other words, we must first exploit our situation in the international economic and political situation before achieving complete social justice.

Moreover reconciliation among all nationalities living in this country is of great importance. We are against some economic and political systems but not any particular nation or country.

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Latest comments

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    Dr Fernando
    I agree with the spirit in which you say these things.
    There is a notion among some that freedom to make money at any cost is a fundamental right of individuals.
    *
    There are only weak residues of socialism in China and Vietnam. Cuba has upheld the socialist spirit despite external pressure. North Korea is a far more egalitarian and fair society than we are made to believe. But its economy has taken a beating owing to undue pressure to ward off the siege by US and South Korea plus Japan.

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    ”What Should Be The Political & Economic Alternative?”

    I don’t understand the question. SL has a agricultural & tourism based economy but due to its strategic geographical significance, there maybe a maritime advantage potential, which a visionary Athulathmudali saw back in the late 70s but since then, it is the Chinese who have benefitted. A few decades ago, Vietnam was a war torn country with a murderous regime but has risen from the ashes & today, assembles high end vehicles for the South Asian/African market under foreign investment & a major exporter of garments, & Bangladesh, perhaps one of our poorest neighbours, has over taken SL in garment manufacturing. SL garment exports are a fraction of what used to be & we assemble poor quality Chinese, Korean & Indian vehicles, imported in SKD form circumventing import regulations for domestic use, which are not the same as assembly plants with foreign collaboration for export. So what is political & what are economic alternatives?

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    A good article, partly misunderstood by both the above commenters.
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    I asked Native Veddah to look at it. He said he had, and said that both SJ and Michael Fernando were misguided.
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    For once, NV had got it wrong owing to careless reading. But we venerate NV so much that the humble village school master didn’t dare challenge.
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    Will I have time to add more?

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      Will more get added?
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      In similar circumstances, I submitted three long and carefully thought out comments. Accepted then, but they disappeared the following day.
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      How unfair! And that form an institution not belonging to the Rajapaksas.

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