18th Amendment, Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Politics and Governance, Post-War

The pathetic capitulation of the organised Left in Sri Lanka (Updated with statement from Leftist leaders)

Organised Left parties in 2005,

“THE Group of Five Left Parties (Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Mahajana Party, Desha Vimukthi Janatha Party and Democratic Left Front) consider that the Manifesto of Presidential Candidate – Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse titled “Mahinda Chinthana” a pro-people manifesto, although these parties have certain reservations in regard to some of its contents, the parties said in a statement issued yesterday. The statement said: “The Five Left Parties are specially appreciative of the pledges contained in the “Mahinda Chinthana” in respect of strengthening democracy. The commitment to abolish the executive presidential system and to draft a new constitution is one of its important aspects.”

Emphasis ours. Vasudeva Nanayakkara in May 2010,

“The socialist parties are opposed to the rescinding of the constitutional restriction for an incumbent president to contest for more than two terms. The Common Left Front comprising the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), Sri Lanka Communist Party (SLCP) and the Democratic Left Front (DLF) will hold a seminar at the National Library Association Auditorium on May 31 to discuss their proposals. DLF leader and parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara said yesterday the Common Front would propose the setting up of the post of an executive prime minister to replace that of the executive presidency.”

Emphasis ours. Vasudeva Nanayakkara in June 2010,

“Meanwhile ruling party parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that he will oppose any move to strengthen the executive presidency. He said that he has always opposed the executive presidency. Responding to a question Nanayakkara said that moves that would enable the president to seek another term will be opposed while being with the government.”

Vasudeva Nanayakkara on Ada Derana, a few days ago,

“The Leftist parties’ opposition to the proposed Constitutional Amendments are the same as to their opposition to the 1978 Constitution, Democratic Leftist Front General Secretary and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara told Adaderana a short while ago.”

Vasudeva Nanayakkara in Daily Mirror, today,

“Left parties in the government decided a short while ago to vote for the 18th Amendment despite some disagreements over the proposals, Leftist MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara told Daily Mirror.”

What changed? How could a senior citizen and political activist like Mr. Nanayakkara support an amendment  so heinous as the proposed 18th Amendment? As Qadri Ismail notes,

“On the national question, however, the organized left, with the rare exception of a Vickremabahu Karunaratne or Sarath Muttetuwegama, has been a paragon of complicity with Sinhala nationalism. It bears iteration that the same Colvin R de Silva, who said with astute prescience in 1956, that establishing Sinhala as the only official language would lead to separatism, sixteen years later effectively instituted Buddhism as the state religion.”

An interview conducted with Mr. Nanayakkara in April 2009 is embedded below.

Update, 7 September 2010: The Editors of Groundviews were emailed the following statement today.

We condemn the decision of the executive committee of the Socialist Alliance to vote in favour of the18th amendment ignoring the decision of two of its constituent parties at the highest level, the Political Bureau of the Lanka Samasamaja Party and the Central Committee of the Democratic Left Front not to participate in the voting. The opportunistic nature of this decision is clear from Vasudeva Nanayakara’s statement to the media that they are opposed to the contents of the amendment but will vote for it. What logic!

The pronouncement of the Socialist Alliance is a decision to support a move towards establishing an authoritarian regime. This is a betrayal of all what the Left has stood and fought for under trying circumstances for many decades. The opportunist and self-serving leaders of the Socialist Alliance now stand exposed and we call upon the progressive forces to oppose the 18th Amendment and to fight against the establishment of an authoritarian state, by united action with all who stand against this menace.

Signed by:

  • Asoka Weerasinghe De Silva (LSSP Treasurer and Political Bureau member)
  • Wimal Rodrigo (LSSP Deputy Secretary and Political Bureau member)
  • Lal Wijenayake (LSSP Political Bureau member)
  • Percy Wickramasekera (LSSP Political Bureau member)
  • Vijay Kumar (LSSP Political Bureau member and President, Lanka Estate Workers’ Union)
  • Jayampathy Wickramaratne (LSSP Political Bureau member)
  • TM Raseedin (LSSP CC member and President, Ceylon Federation of Labour)
  • Chameera Perera (LSSP CC member and Secretary, Samasamaja Youth League Federation)
  • Helaruwan Senaratne (LSSP CC member)
  • ASM Farook (LSSP CC member)
  • Jude Lester (LSSP CC member)
  • Walter Wilegoda (DLF Ex Co member, Treasurer and CC member)
  • Quintus Liyanage (DLF ExCo member, National Secretary and CC member)
  • Kumar David (DLF CC member)
  • Lankaloka (DLF ExCo and CC member)
  • Dilshan Dharmasena (DLF CC member)
  • Chandrapala (DLF CC observer)