- Employment is a fundamental right
- By 2030 China would be a superpower
- ACSA, SOFA and MCC will make Sri Lanka a US colony
- Govt. signing agreements to find money
- Manifestos attractive, but not practical
- During war Tamils targeted, after war Muslims targeted
- No discrimination based on religion, caste or sexual orientation
While much of the election spotlight is focused on the presidential candidates of the major parties, those of smaller parties struggle to have their voices heard. One such person is Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) politburo member and propaganda secretary Duminda Nagamuwa, the youngest candidate in the fray. The 38-year-old former Inter University Student Federation (IUSF) convener, who mustered 9,941 in 2015, is running for a second time. The FSP, which split from the JVP in 2012, aims to revive the socialist struggle. Speaking to the ,Dailymirror Nagamuwa pointed out a range of issues, including youth problems, minority rights, employment issues and how new imperialism could make Sri Lanka a colony of super powers.
QAs the youngest candidate in the list, have you identified any critical issues currently faced by the youth?
The country’s youth are facing more socioeconomic challenges than they did several decades ago. They are facing challenges in job security. There’s a tendency for youth to get IT-related jobs, including updating software and online apps. Although considered as popular, IT jobs don’t guarantee EPF, ETF and other retirement benefits. Some youth migrate to Colombo for jobs, while others leave the country by boat seeking employment. Even if employed, people don’t see much progress. From a socialist perspective, we want to ensure employment as a fundamental right for all citizens. Youth must have the right to a decent job. People can no longer lead a quality life. They are bogged down with work stress and are isolated and disconnecting from societal relationships.
QYou recently said people weren’t using their brains when voting. Could you elaborate?
In politics, people become emotional and take emotional decisions. When people are afraid of something they can be made to do almost anything. In politics, people refer to history or relate certain incidents to particular candidates to garner more votes from a target audience. In our leftist movement we are trying to convince people to think critically and use their brains to cast their vote. This was what I meant.
QAs a socialist party, you oppose imperialism. How has imperialism changed over the years?
Marxism says that imperialism is one way of ruling the world. Economically, the World Bank has taken control over monetary transactions. From a cultural perspective, our food cycles and patterns have evolved. Companies want us to think in a linear manner to promote their products.
In the global context, when the US won the cold war over the USSR, the US became the sole power. But it is anticipated that by 2030 China would also be a super power. Moreover, the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) grants US soldiers the right to roam around freely in our country. They will communicate on different frequencies, and worst of all, they will not be answerable to any local laws.
Along with that, we have the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact which focuses on road networks, land acquisition and other areas. When these three are combined, Sri Lanka will become a US colony. It is clear the Government doesn’t have money. They sign agreements to find money for campaigns and cover all other expenses.
QWhat about wealth distribution?
The manifestos of major party candidates look attractive, but they are not practical. One said Rs. 10,000 will be given to Samurdhi beneficiaries. But that’s not doable. We have categorised wealth distribution into three areas. That is the Government economy, the people’s economy and the private sector economy. Even when the government is facing an economic crisis, the bigger burden falls on the people. How come most companies record profits at a rate even when the government is in debt? The problem is there’s no way to generate money. So politicians adopt malpractices. It’s not practical to be making such attractive promises. When we explain this from a socialist perspective, it’s like 20 million people raising their voices.
QSri Lanka’s ethnic issue is widely discussed, especially during election season. How do you view this?
The British colonizers adopted a divide-and-rule method to rule Sri Lanka. After independence, our politicians followed the same path, introducing the ‘Sinhala Only’ Act and setting the groundwork for Black July. As a party we feel that the majority community should focus on common issues while the minorities should focus on special issues. During the war, Tamils were targeted, and after the war Muslims have become a target. Both major parties knew who was behind these incidents, but even the Opposition remained silent.
We propose that the Sinhalese who have been victimised should appear for Tamils and Muslims who have been victimized, and the latter should trust the former. Then it doesn’t become a divide-and-rule struggle anymore, because two groups that are victimized are backing each other.
QWhat about other marginalised groups, like the LGBTIQ community and what is your stance on empowering them?
It’s wrong to victimise people based on their religion, caste or sexual orientation. But there are different markets that revolve around such individuals as well. If you take a certain fashion, there’s a market and a social need that revolves around it. These are more common in the West. If such cultures enter countries like Sri Lanka, then society must decide how it should adjust.
QAlthough you campaign for democracy outside, there’s criticism that the IUSF (affiliated to the FSP) engages in anti-democratic activities inside universities. Your response?
It’s wrong to say there’s no democracy within the IUSF. There have been instances when IUSF office bearers were asked to step down because they didn’t get involved in IUSF activities. We have always taken collective decisions.
I think you’re referring to ragging. In fact, this is one issue where we are still lagging behind in finding a solution. The socialist movement doesn’t support ragging. They try to use ragging to familiarize students to student culture.
QRecently you said that elections laws were disadvantageous to smaller parties. How is this so?
Four of our supporters were recently arrested while distributing leaflets in front of the Narahenpita Labour office. If election laws apply to us, they should apply to everyone. This is like playing a match according to their rules on a pitch prepared by them.
QWhat plans do you have for national security, health and education?
Though it’s called national security, it is those 225 who are being safeguarded. Many of their wives go to church. But did any of them go on Easter Sunday? This shows that they knew all about the attack.
Secondly, it is easy to establish security if certain factions don’t spread hatred among the people. Politicians who try to create issues among Sinhalese and Muslims are the actual threats to national security. So if you get rid of them, their agendas cannot be fulfilled.
In terms of education and health, we are against these sectors being privatised. Recently we saw an incident where a toddler from Tamil Nadu died inside a bore well. One reason it shook the world is that though there were enough ways he could have been saved, no action was taken. This is how hospitals function as well. They have enough medicine, but people can’t afford to buy them. Ultimately they die. On the other hand, schools shouldn’t be privatised. All facilities in international schools should also be available in state schools.