L.S.S.P should take a lesson from one of its exemplary members the late comrade Wesley Muthiah.
Posted on August 3rd, 2010

By Charles.S.Perera

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ On the 4 August,2007, our dear friend Wesley, parted from us leaving an empty space among his friends, all those who loved him, and had come to know him well. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Looking back at what a fieryƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  political party LSSP was, and what it represented to Wesley, one feels sadƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  that Tissa Vitarana and Vasudeva Nanayakkara are only the remainingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  embers ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  a dying fire.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ If Wesley was there today he would still have refused to believe that, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ he would have rather said that they are like ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the glow of an ebbing sun that announcesƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  its risingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  again, like the LSSP comingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  back again to revitalise ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ socialism in theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  uncertainƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  political sceneƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  of Sri Lanka, where the ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ people have not given up their ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ resolve to ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ weather the storms toƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  chaseƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  political uncertainties, to await the hopeful message of Socialism that LSSP once brought to the historical political scene of Sri Lanka in the nineteen thirties.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ That was the political commitment ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Wesley.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  He sought no name, gain, or public applause. He was satisfied being in the background, doing his utmost to bring the message ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  the LSSP where ever he found himself.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  He was a dedicatedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-SamasamjistƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ who kept LSSP vigorously aliveƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  from his youth to end of his life .

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ More often, people are taken for granted when they are living and active. But once a person has departed, we begin to see him differently, for what he was in reality, we question, we begin to see what is missing since he had left us, and we measure him ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ from the memories and the ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ work ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ left behind.

Wesley did not seek to convert any one to LSSP.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  But when speaking to those he met,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  his loyalty to the partyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  and the principled attachment to socialism showed in his convincing arguments such that, those who listened understood that LSSP has more to it than what they had thought ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ , and did not hesitate to accept an invitation to a meeting heƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  organised.

That was Wesley , whether inƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  MataleƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  where he was working as ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ a Labour Officer, or in UK where he was a teacher, and a Student member of the Honourable Society of LincolnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Inn.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In Matale, his work took him to the tea plantations, where he came in contact with the poor, then neglected Tamil Estate Workers. The contact with these poor people, gave meaning to his political work. He was determined to help them to rise above their suffering. He organised the Matale Estate Workers Union, with a liaisons officer as a contact man between the Estate workers and the LSSP Group in Matale.

Even after leaving Sri Lanka, Wesley did not forget his dear Estate workers. He collected Sewing machines, type writers, and computers, at his own expense, and with the help of his friends, set up workshops around Nuwaraeliya, and Talawakele to help the children of the Estate workers.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Wesley was a socialists, who did not seek fame, popularity, political position, financial gain or self aggrandisement. He was a selfless man- a kind we rarely meet. He had taken away the ” I , and Me ” concept from him, giving himself selflessly to the cause of LSSP. He would willingly sacrifice even his own personal aspirations for the cause of the Party.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ When he started ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ organising the LSSP Group in London, he was preparing for the London Bar Examinations ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ from the ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. But organising the LSSP Group took most of his time.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  He therefore had to choose between the Organising of the London LSSP Group, or preparing for the Bar Examinations.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  He chose the former, hoping to do the Bar Examinations later.

He was dedicated to the cause of LSSP, but significantly not as a political activist, but a loyal party member to promote the party among the people.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Unfortunately, the LSSP lacks members like him today , and that is why the LSSP isƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  in a sorry state, slowlyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  fading in to oblivion.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Wesley stood by the PartyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  giving his time and energy, through out its different phases of existence. Even when every thing ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ seemed ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ bleak, and the future of the party uncertain, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Wesley did not relent his enthusiastic support, he intensely believed in a ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ resurgence of the LSSP.

Wesley was a Christian not merely because his father was a Pastor, but Jesus ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ was for him the symbol of the suffering poor exploited by the owners of the wealth and capital, LSSP was aƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  way out for the mass of the poor people exploited by the rich and wealthy, to rise above theirƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  seemingly hopeless conditions of existence.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Wesley was alwaysƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  present as a member of theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  LSSP, to gather the ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ sympathisers ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ for a meeting, at an informal ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ party, at his home or some place, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to talk about matters relating to the LSSP , andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  inform them of the role they have to play to have a different political system that embracedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  the working class without any ethnic difference.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the context of the sad stateƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  into which theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  LSSP has fallen to-day , one bitterly feels the absence of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the people of the calibre of Wesley to revitalise the LSSP and keep it alive , organising workshops, lectures, and meetings to attract the attention of theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  sympathisers and well-wishers of the party.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Wesley believed that if LSSP is to find its rightful place in Sri Lankan politics, it has to be with the people all the timeƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  not just during elections, to fold camps afterwards, until the next election time.

Wesley did not impose his point of view. He accepted criticism of the LSSP, and gave possible reasons for the errors committed by the Party. However, if the criticism was not justified he would quote from books, relate incidents and go all out to prove that the criticism was not justified.

The greatest contribution of Wesley, not only to the LSSP and the Left Moment of Sri Lanka but also to future generations of politicians, historians, and students, is his writings. When the Public Records Office of London released the secret files documenting Britain’ s persecution of Ceylonese anti-war freedom fighters, Wesley conceived the idea of writing the history of the LSSP and the Left Movement in Sri Lanka.

He contacted late Sydney Wanasinghe, a fellow member of the Party and got him interested in his projected. This partnership, resulted in the issue of the first book, “Britain, World War 2 & the Sama Samjists”, in January,1996, followed by, ” Bracegirdle Affair” (1998), ” We Were Making History”, (2002), “The Case for Socialism”(2004), “Two Languages One Nation-One Language Two Nations” (2005), ” Socialist Women of Sri Lanka” (2006), and “Colvin R de Silva: Selected speeches and writings”, (2007).

These books tell the story of a wonderful political adventure, at times romantic, some times tragic , and often of an absorbing interest, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ aboutƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  those who wanted to change the attitude of a people who were allowing themselves to beƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  exploited by those who owned the land and wealth.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It also tells how the people, despite their cultural traditions and religious fervour were inspired by the pioneers of Marxism in Sri Lanka,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  and changed their way of thinking forcing the existingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  political system to accept principles of socialism.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This recorded history of theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  left movement of Sri Lanka ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ will stand a monument to the memory of Wesley Muthiah.

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