( April 29, 2017, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) May Day is celebrated on May 1st. It is an ancient northern hemisphere festival that celebrates spring, with maypoles and flowers – a holiday in many cultures.
It is also a day of workers’ solidarity. It was chosen as the date for International Workers Day of the Second International to commemorate the voice of the Working Class. It originated in the aftermath of the bombing at a labour demonstration on Tuesday May 4, 1886 at Haymarket Square, Chicago.
In Sri Lanka, May Day is the day of workers’ protest, with marches and speeches and the fight for the rights of the working class. A number of the main political parties will be holding their May Day celebrations in Colombo. Several Trade Unions will also conduct May Day rallies in addition to the political parties.
Sri Lanka forgot the March for Science on Earth Day, 22 April, 2017. Perhaps we can be excused for it, as environmental protection was hardly on our minds, as we vented anger at the Meethotamulla disaster. Can we change the name of the Department of Disaster Management to something more conducive for happiness?
No one will want to miss the demonstrations of May Day for two reasons. It is the day when “the country comes to town” in bus and van loads. It is also the day that every politician finds a solution to our problems as espoused in the removal of the capitalistic economy.
High expectation at rallies
Former President and Kurunegala District MP, Mahinda Rajapaksa has called on the people to bring the Yahapalanaya Government to its knees by thronging in thousands to Galle Face Green on May Day, where the Joint Opposition is holding its May Day Rally.
Eleven political parties and the Joint Council Trade Union, which represents 100 Trade Unions, have pledged to participate this year at Galle Face Green. Whoever who gave the JO permission to hold its rally at Galle face, must have known that it is not an easy task to fill the green, but simultaneously eat humble pie, if otherwise.
The UNP will host its May Day Rally at Campbell Park, Borella. What will it say about ETCA or about developing energy and infrastructure projects in Trincomalee?
The SLFP will conduct its rally in Getambe, Kandy. We learn that it has booked 2000 SLTB buses and 1000 Private Buses for people islandwide to participate.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will hold its May Day Rally at the BRC Ground in Colombo. This year’s rally will focus on economic development, social equality and national peace. Trade Unions, Farmers’ Unions, Fisherman’s Union, Youth Unions, Women’s Union, Student Movements and Artistes are expected to participate along with the International Left Movements and Communist Parties from Cuba and European countries.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has organised its May Day Rally in Akkarapattu, Ampara. Nawa Sama Samaja Party’s rally will be held at Price Park in Gunasinghapura, while the LSSP will hold its gathering at Ananda Samarakoon Ground, Nugegoda. The Communist Party’s Rally is at Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo.
How many will express confidence in Sri Lanka?
It is anybody’s guess that with all these many meetings at a variety of destinations, whether there will be anybody left at home, or whether it will be all a show which we as Sri Lankans look forward every May Day to don our Red and Green Man shirts and shout slogans at each other till the cows come home? Will it be a “blame game time” about the “kunu karatha,” (the garbage cart) or will we show the world that we express confidence in our land?
Will it be carnival time in Colombo? While so many pressing issues are in the melting pot in our land, why not have a day off to recharge our batteries and see our problems in a new perspective, not as a challenge but as an opportunity to think and work at it again? There is nothing wrong to give voice to our real concerns? It is quite natural to enjoy our diversity?
Call for help
“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” is also a distress radio call with siren on board a ship or aircraft informing of the nature of an emergency and requesting attention of ships/aircraft in vicinity. It is a emergency procedure used internationally as distress signal.
Could it be a reminder for us in Sri Lanka to call for help to resolve our immediate problems, which do not go away without a plan of action? Should we be careful not to commit to something which we don’t have resources as a nation?
Our strength, is our weakness?
As far as I can visualise our problem, if there are five Sri Lankans, we have seven opinions? May Day is a day to unite round the maypole? Do we unite to solve our problems together like many other nations? Should we not respect our Motherland for what it is worth? How can we thus create value in Sri Lanka? When we assess our worth, it is our people who are our value. We need to consider capacity, both financial and human value? In today’s business environment, it is important for our leaders to display confidence in financial discussions and understand the financial implications of their strategic decisions. We need to take stock and plan where we will be in 20 years time and take steps to arrive at our destination. Our short sighted policies have not only brought us immediate satisfaction, but also disaster. Can we make sacrifices for our future generations rather than live in the present for a change?