Lankan Oppn leader says working people have to observe Black May Day' due to 'reckless' govt policies
Colombo: Sri Lanka's Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa on Sunday said that the country is witnessing the most calamitous and disastrous Labour Day since its independence and the working people were observing a Black May Day this year due to the "reckless" policies of the "tyrannical regime" led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948.
The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.
Premadasa, who is also the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader, said in a message to mark the International Workers' Day that the present reckless government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has pushed the island nation to the brink of bankruptcy for the first time in its history, the Colombo Page news portal reported.
Due to the inability, failure, illogical arbitrariness and arrogance of a tyrannical regime, our country and future generations have been plunged into an unprecedented fate.
In such a situation, working people in our country have to celebrate May Day this year as a Black May Day , he was quoted as saying by the online news portal.
Premadasa said that this may be the last May Day celebrated in an anarchic country and a victory for working people.
Labour Day is a symbolic day that commemorates the history of the bitter struggle in which working people sacrificed their lives shedding blood and sweat and carried on for a long time up to victory, he said.
But now the current regime in our country is depriving working people of even the rights they won in the past.
We have never seen a government in history that has shattered all hopes of people in the country in such a short period of time after assuming power, the Opposition Leader said, adding that the government has robbed all hopes of working people of the state and the private sector.
Even people who are barely making their ends meet have been thrown onto the road, he claimed.
The entire working class, including in health, farming, fisheries, estate, transportation sectors etc., are facing severe hardships. And, it is not even possible to find a non-anarchic, unbroken field.
Even those who are performing the most essential services, risking their lives to carry out their mission, have fallen out of the attention of the rulers, Premadasa said.
Unscrupulous economic management has led to the plundering of local resources and it is almost impossible to find even a single field which remains undisrupted, he said.
Social problems have been aggravated by the inability of this bankrupt government to provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, medicine, education, employment and so on.
This anarchic regime, which has failed to create an environment in which the people can live without fear or suspicion, has made its sole existence dependent on state terrorism, Premadasa added.
Meanwhile, former president and the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Maithripala Sirisena said that the government has to accept the people's demands, pointing out that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took over a prosperous country but now over 200,000 to 300,000 people have to face hunger and starvation.
He said that the demand of the people is that the leaders of this government should step down and the people should be allowed to hold elections and elect a new government, the News First website reported.
People are dying inside houses. Some even collapse while on the road and die. And someone was shot dead during the protests. This situation could escalate if the Government continues to stay in power. The Government has to accept the demand of the people, Sirisena said.
Speaking at the event, General Secretary of the SLFP Dayasiri Jayasekara said that the incumbent government is an example of the result of arrogance and idiocy.
Sri Lanka needs at least USD 4 billion to tide over its mounting economic woes, and talks with international institutions such as the World Bank as well as countries like China and Japan for financial assistance have been going on.
Sri Lankan officials were in Washington last week to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.
India has agreed to extend an additional USD 500 million credit line to help Sri Lanka import fuel.
India has already agreed to defer USD 1.5 billion in import payments that Sri Lanka needs to make to the Asian Clearing Union.