Socialist United Front government led by Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike paid ten rupee payment and a lunch packet per head and free transport to people in order to attract tens of thousands to the Galle Face Green May Day rally according to a “confidential” diplomatic cable sent to US Secretary of State by the US Embassy Colombo.
Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked US diplomatic cable from the WikiLeaks database dated May 04, 1973.
In the context of current debate on payments, free transportation for Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa factions of Sri Lanka Freedom Party ‘May Day’ rallies, we publish below the cable in full;
SRI LANKA CELEBRATES MAY DAY
Date:1973 May 4, 12:45 (Friday)
From: Sri Lanka Colombo
To: Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs | Commander in Chief US Pacific Command | India New Delhi | Secretary of State | United Kingdom London
1. SUMMARY: UFG COALITION PARTIES MOUNTED ALL- OUT EFFORT TO CELEBRATE MAY DAY. FREE TRANSPORT AND MONEY PAYMENTS HELPED TO ATTRACT TENS OF THOUSANDS TO GALLE FACE GREEN. PM TOLD CROWDS THAT SIZE OF TURNOUT DISPROVED CLAIMS THAT RECENT SENANAYAKE FUNERAL SHOWED POPULAR REJCTION OF UFG. SHE REITERATED COMMITMENT TO 1970 ELECTION PLATFORM OBJECTIONS AND PROMISED SPEEDIER IMPLEMENTATION, CITING LAKE HOUSE TAKEOVER AS MOST RECENT PROOF OF UFG INTENTIONS. OTHER SPEAKERS ATTACKED UNP AND CLAIMED THAT PARTY REACTIONARY AND THAT IT ACTIVE IN ATTEMPTS TO DISCREDIT UNITED FRONT THROUGH INCIDENTS. RALLY UNDERSCORED UFG NERVOUSNESS AND UNCERTAINTY, ATTITUDE WHICH MAY LEAD TO TOUGHER LINE WITH UNP. END SUMMARY.
2. UFG COALITION PARTIES STAGED FIRST MAY DAY CELEBRATIONS SINCE 1970, AND MOUNTED ALL- OUT EFFORT TO REDEEM POPULAR IMAGE ERODED BY NATIONAL MOURNING FOR DUDLEY SENANAYAKE. WITH INCENTIVES REPORTEDLY INCLUDING FREE BUS TRANSPORT, TEN- RUPEE PAYMENT PER HEAD AND LUNCH PACKETS, PRO- GOVT TRADE UNIONS AND UFG M. P. S SUCCEEDED IN TURNING OUT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SUPPORTERS FOR MASS MEETING MAY 1 ON GALLE FACE GREEN.