By Jayashika Padmasiri
The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) is the latest leftist movement that joined left-aligned parties in Sri Lanka. The dissidents, the breakaway faction of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) or whatever it is called today the FSP is playing a significant role in the Sri Lankan political arena. FSP Propaganda Secretary Pubudu Jayagoda talked to the Daily Mirror on the latest development of the party, future plans and their stance on some of the key recent issues relating to Sri Lanka.
Q: Many fronts are alleging that the ‘weaker opposition’ is a major problem in Sri Lanka. What is the stand of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) on this?
If we consider the two main opposition parties in Sri Lanka, the United National Party (UNP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) we do not see much of a difference in their political principles and ideologies with that of the government. The UNP is engaged in a ‘waiting’ political system which fails to bring anything positive to our society. It is only trying to pave a path for them to come to power, while the JVP is enrolled in a ‘screaming’ political system while trying to win the attention of the public. So we do not see much of a difference between these two parties and that of the government. The manner in which both these political parties reacted to the impeachment against the former Chief Justice (CJ) is a good example for this. For the FSP, the opposition is not a contract which tries to topple the government, but an active discussion and an organisation which fights for the rights of the people and deliver the people into a system where they will fight for their rights and win. We do not want a political system which would choose the ‘less bad’ and the ‘less corrupt’ but a system which would defeat everything bad and corrupt.
" Anywhere in the world people have a right to speak against human rights violations or environmental problems: for example in the matter of global warming, Sri Lanka has a right to speak against U.S.A. as they release huge amounts of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere '
Q: Are you planning to contest future elections as a separate political party?
Yes. However, whether we give nominations or not, we are constantly in the election process. Our intention is not to win, but to show the alternative to the public. Today the people are not happy with the system, and the ones who win the elections are those that have the most money and power. So we want to show the public that they have another way, another choice other than settling for the ‘less bad’.
Q: Unlike other existing political parties the leadership of FSP is a mystery to the general public. Earlier Sri Lanka was under the impression that JVP dissident an Australian citizen, Premakumar Gunarathnam was the leader of FSP, but then later he was categorized as just a ‘politburo member’ of the FSP. Who is FSP’s current leader or how can the people identify the FSP leadership?
Most Marxist parties do not have a single leader. They are more of a collection run by a collective group of people.
Q: In that case if a Presidential election is held who will be the presidential candidate from the FSP?
We have still not taken a decision on that. However we are against the Executive Presidential system. But that doesn’t mean that we are under the impression that after demolishing the Executive Presidency, all problems will be solved in our country.
Q: What is your voter base? Do you believe that you will be able to attract the votes of multi-ethnic and multi-religious sections of the country?
Our voter base is Sri Lankans. We are against political parties being formed as ‘for Sinhalese’, ‘for Tamil’ or ‘for Muslims’. The only difference and contradiction we see in our country is the economical discrimination amongst people.
Q: If a common opposition is formed including JVP, with a common aim to defeat the Rajapaksa government would your party join it?
At present we do not see anybody that we can consider as a common candidate. However the problem is not with the JVP, but of ‘what would happen next ‘if such a candidate is elected.
Q: There is speculation claiming that perhaps, former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumarathunga will be brought forward as a common opposition candidate in the next presidential election, if that becomes a reality, how will FSP respond?
We doubt that she would have the answers for the prevailing problems of our country. And there is an old Sinhalese saying, “Lihala Balapuu Malla Obbala Ballana Epa” (there is no point in trying to find out what is inside a bag which has already been unfolded literary). Those parties are trying to fight and settle for the ‘less bad’. But we want to eliminate badness and corruption completely from society. So definitely we would not support such an act.
Q: Don’t you think that the resolution brought forward by the United States of America against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, as an undue interference on an independent country?
Anywhere in the world people have a right to speak against human rights violations or environmental problems: for example in the matter of global warming, Sri Lanka has a right to speak against U.S.A. as they release huge amounts of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere. However when considering the resolution brought against Sri Lanka by the U.S.A. we do not believe that it is an interference done with a genuine intention but an interference caused through political intentions and capitalist intentions. So therefore we see this interference as undue. However if the world genuinely believes that our country has done something wrong, then they have a right to bring a resolution against our country. But we are against this particular resolution brought forward by the U.S.A because they do not show a genuine interest on the human rights issues. They violated human rights in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. So we cannot accept the resolution they are bringing against Sri Lanka.
" Our voter base is Sri Lankans. We are against political parties being formed as ‘for Sinhalese’, ‘for Tamil’ or ‘for Muslims’. The only difference and contradiction we see in our country is the economical discrimination amongst people "
Q: What sort of an impact do you think this session would have on Sri Lanka?
We know for a fact that neither the U.S.A nor the European Union are genuinely interested in solving the human rights issue in Sri Lanka. They are involved in this because of their own political and capitalist agendas. So Sri Lanka instead of implementing these resolutions, will try to fulfill the capitalist and political expectations of those countries. Therefore after the Geneva session neo-liberal capitalism will improve more in Sri Lanka while arousing racism.
Q: In your opinion to what extent do you think the Sri Lankan government has implemented the suggestions of last year’s US resolution against Sri Lanka?
No, not at all. Last year Minister G.L Peiris said that he would discuss what America wanted. So the government knows what the U.S.A wants and they know that they are not interested in solving the human rights crisis in our country. It knows that U.S.A. wants to use Sri Lanka as a military and a political strategy in the Indian Ocean. So the government can get away without implementing any of these resolutions, as they know very well that it would not be an issue.
Q: With the anti-Halal campaign in Sri Lanka how do you think the Middle Eastern countries and Islamic countries would react to the resolution against Sri Lanka?
Maybe sometimes they would vote against Sri Lanka. But we cannot predict what would happen.
Q: India being the closest neighbour and having many close historical, religious, social and economic relationships with Sri Lanka, don’t you think that India’s role against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC is unjustifiable?
The only reason that the Indian government interferes in this matter is not that they are interested in solving the issues of the Tamil people living in Sri Lanka, but because they want to win the votes of the people living in Tamil Nadu (TN). So the Indian government is using the mentality of the Tamil Nadu citizens. However we believe that what is most important here is not to think about the Geneva resolution or India’s participation in it, but to make sure that another tragedy (such as a war) does not occur in Sri Lanka again.
Q: Being one of the minor opposition parties, what are your political targets and when do you think you can achieve them?
Our plan is a long-term plan. We are not taking part in a 100m race but instead marathon. We are not concerned about the cheers of the fans, because we know that if we run fast the cheers would improve, but that we will not be able to run for long. So we believe that the leftist politics in Sri Lanka should improve. So our intention is to strengthen the leftist movements. Therefore we are working with the leftist movements in Sri Lanka and the leftist movements in other countries.
" Our plan is a long-term plan. We are not taking part in a 100m race but instead we are running a marathon '
Q: Socialism has failed in many countries as the solution, so do you think that for a country like Sri Lanka ‘socialism’ is the correct path for unity and development? Or is it just a ‘Utopian concept’ belonging to dreamers?
The trust we have in socialism is a not the sort of a trust that a person would have of ‘curing cancer through praying’. People believed that capitalism would not become a crisis, but from the 2008 September 9/11 attack this was proved wrong. Today the capitalist crisis is a live show. So we have grounds to believe that someday people would change their minds.
Q: Do you think that thought would ever become a reality, or would it merely exist as a ‘Utopian concept belonging to dreamers’?
History is written in the world using decades. Slavery and the feudal era are examples of that. So far capitalism has only existed for 300 years. So our duty is to contribute to the next chapter in history and work to bring justice to the people who are deprived in this society. We believe that there is power amongst the people to change this system. There is an English song sung by John Lennon called ‘Imagine’. In this song there is a line that says, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” So socialism is a common dream that people all over the world share and because of that we believe in this dream.
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