Asia Society presents
Prison. Is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people by ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is a noted author on the ward winning broadcaster Lee Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. If you live in New York and you want to travel to Ceylon you have to go halfway around the world you'd have to travel about 10000 miles. But from what I've read of the country I think it would be well worth the trip. It appears to be a country of great beauty. The capital of Ceylon as you probably know is Colombo about 12 million people live in Ceylon on an area of about 25000 square miles. There is much to be said about Ceylon especially because it has always been a crossroads in the world. Today it is perhaps a crossroads politically. It certainly has been for many years in from the trade point of view and from a
cultural point of view. As you probably recall salon was a British Crown Colony for a number of years about 1815 to 1948 in 1948 Ceylon was granted its independence and since then has become a full fledged member of the British Commonwealth. And I think we are fortunate that our guest on this program is a man who is highly regarded in Ceylon. He is doctor and am Pereira Dr. Perera was formerly a minister of finance in the House of Representatives. For since 1936 and at the present time he is one of the leaders of the opposition party and PEREIRA And so lovely from what we've seen and read. However would you place it geographically a little more than I have just about
the bottom of India. A small narrow strait called the pox trades separate Ceylon from India. History has it that one stage you are part of the continent. But that's only a problem with a guess. But beautiful country scenic beauty is certainly something very enchanting. It hitting the send the tapers down to the core started on beautiful course throughout the island. You're good. Lovely scenery all over the coastline is certainly to watch the salon is trying its best to bring it to new beauties to the notice of residents in the United States as well as Europe. You know to get as much as possible.
What changes have taken place since 1948 when you became independent very many changes have taken place. In point of fact salon is developed early rapidly during this last 20 years we have grown industrially have improved considerably. To give you one example. Average life today is very nearly 65 years. I think 20 years back which is certainly in the 40s so doing this 20 years much progress had been made educationally we have now for universities so long we have free education. There were a child gets a free education from the kindergarten right to the university and to the university. Is everyone eligible for the university and every person who passes the
interent examination and eligible to without it paying any fee without paying any fees. Well that's right you know that much better than a lot of other countries are doing. Yes I understand one of the reasons why your health has improved so much is that you have eliminated malaria to a great extent very great extent although Malaria is a difficult disease to completely all come from time to time you get. Suddenly they could sense. But we can by and large say that we have eradicated malaria and so on. Apparently the women of Salon play an important political role at one time. You know Prime Minister washerwoman years you know not many of those around. Yes we are quite proud of the fact that the first woman prime minister. It was a long time to run. Now since you've been in your government's legislative body since 1936 and you didn't get your independence deal nine hundred forty eight. What kind of government did you have. Say between thirty six and forty eight. We had the sort of colonial government in
point of fact with a certain amount of internal independence to carry out certain amount of work internally. For instance education data free to carry on it so I was able to do it up on our own. But. All other fundamental matters were in the hands of the colonial government the Colonial Office in London. It's been said that salon is one of the few countries in the world that's handled its internal affairs so well that if you had changed the government you had elections you improved if you say your health services and education without any major catastrophe. When you have little uprisings here and there as we all do but nothing really great has happened is that true is fairly correct. We have shown that you're capable of working. We accept a democratic process without Syria's upheaval.
Now you are a member of the opposition party. What does that consist of. Who is in this party. The three. Parties or groups there is a Freedom Party which Mrs. Munden Akka was the first prime minister woman Prime Ministers A long is ahead. Then there is my own party the Socialist Party the Singhalese equivalent of the summer somebody's party and there's a small group of Communist Party members in this three groups form the main opposition in parliament. Do you have a party represented in your what would you call it parliament. That's a term for your governing body. I can quite know a part you meant is what your governing body is Kong or US Parliament is the regulator. Yes an equal under the Congress in in in the United States is that a
bicameral group the two houses there. Quite right we have a Senate as well as a lower house called the House of Representatives. Yes. Now to become a party. Are there any legal restrictions. For example does one have to have so many members elected to parliament in order to a status to be established as an official party. No there are no distinctions like that. But if you are a. The party recognized what election purposes. There are certain conditions to be fulfilled and there are certain advantages also to be recognized as a party you should have had at least two elected members of parliament already in your party and you should have existed for five years as a political party. Then you get certain conditions like a candidate for elections has to pay a certain deposit before your chance at the stage of nomination. Well if you are
an independent person you have to be tolerant of these new shot a member of a party that he's reduced to 200. Do these. Then you have the right to have a particular symbol now in Salon we still park on the names have a symbol in the ballot papers so you have a right to a particular symbol and the party Communist Party has how many members only four members four members. Now I understand that you have a Trotskyist party is that the same as a Communist Party or is one a separate That's a separate I did as my own question. Well then sort of like the I have a coupon. Then you'd be the best one to explain your party's views. Why do you use the term Trotskyist. Well that is the theoretical basis on which the party was founded on the views of Leon Trotsky on the views of Leon Trotsky. Particularly in international matters see Leon Trotsky
deferred from stealin on the idea that socialism can be built in one country. That's a basic foundation difference between what is called the office of the Communist Party and the thought is on that theoretical basis. Trotsky deferred from starving and you broke away from starving and formed his own international organization which subsume became the Fourth International. Now if when you say he differed from Stalin and certainly that cost him his life didn't it. No one can prove exactly who killed Trotsky when he lived in Mexico I think was about nineteen fifty six and forty six. You see I do have the figures. Anyway he was assassinated. I got to the end. Yes well that's right I think I have it
here. Anyway the fact is that he died in 1940 so that must have been when he was assassinated. Now what. How did he really differ from Stalin that's not too clear. Did you say that a Trotsky believed that you couldn't have socialism in one country that it had to be an international movement to succeed is at the Point graduate. Trotsky believed that socialism had to be built in a number of countries or business survived. Starting on the other hand argued strongly that socialism can be build in Soviet Russia alone and therefore he subordinated all the other communities parties throughout the world to this one major fact of building up socialism in Soviet Russia. Are you saying then for socialism to succeed in Asia. Isn't that the part of the world that most interests you I imagine you feel that all the countries of
Asia would do better singly and as a group. If they all were socialist countries. Well naturally if they're all we're all socialist countries will be much better off in this in the much better cooperation. I believe the antagonism on ourselves and the tendency to have much better fraternal arrangements regard to trade and so on. We don't care if I may say what makes you so confident about that since many of the world's countries which are socialist or communist now fight with each other a great deal. China and Russia and then Albania doesn't. Look at Yugoslavia and there is great dissension among the shall we call it socialist communist bloc. What makes you think that this would be different in Asia. Well let us not forget that Trotsky urged was that if you want to really develop socialism to the highest level then
we must work towards building up socialist socialism in all these countries. That's the basis on which social socialism can really have a future in the process of building that is bound to be differences particularly if you have capital as capitalist countries as our own in the socialist countries or all the time working up various antagonistic policies and they're bound to be difficulties and troubles. Yes well I don't know what capitalistic influence you're in Russia against China or China against Russia. I have the impression however something deeply rooted within their own philosophies which differed in turn them against each other. Maybe it's something just as basic as they are borderline but leaving that for a moment I would say your theories or your philosophy allow for freedom of choice or socialism in the countries or is that that socialism should be given to countries in Asia because it's good for them. No no this country must build its own socialism.
It use it for himself. If you want it Gart. Suppose some countries just don't want you. That would spoil the movement when you know that depends upon your ability to do sufficient propaganda and proper propaganda in order to build socialism in its country. Each country must build its own socialism no you can't export socialism. Well there are many people who are passionate about Cap socialism and hope to exploit it. I mean that I don't think that's I don't know whether they succeed or maybe they do but if they feel strongly that way I think there's nothing to stop them from wanting to exploit it. So when you know exporting socialism means trying to impose socialism on a country unwilling country that is not likely to last. So he was a must bring from the people. But if enough forces exerted as and some of the European countries in the eastern part of Europe. I don't think Czechoslovakia is that fond of having socialism of
communism. I I don't I think maybe Germany does I don't think Poland. Well there it is and it's through force that remained. Yes you know you cannot generalize on that basis because those countries have become socialists and certain special circumstances immediately after the last war and they are subject to the influence of Soviet Russia and they adopted socialism largely due to the influence of Soviet Russia. Also for other reasons apart from internal reasons there was such a decrease in Soviet Russia wanting those countries to be socialist in order to ensure our own freedom. Yes from the Soviet Union's point of view it was wise to be surrounded by this all bit of countries. However whether the countries had no choice in the matter they adopted that form of government whether they wanted it or not.
Yes I'm glad that that's not your philosophy yours is a gradual evolution into socialism. I want a gradual evolution that's a matter of to be decided by the people or that I'm saying this I do not think it's proper. I do not think it is correct. I do not think it's really a fusible provocation for one country to impose socialism in another country. What I agree and and I think that people with a liberal spirit would agree with you. However I think what is not clear perhaps to our listeners is what is the difference between your party's goals and the goals of the Communist Party. In Salon in Salon Yes. Internally I don't think there's much difference in the sense of we want to develop our own country we want to have socialism built about by ourselves but
externally Yes we are not subordinate to Soviet Russia. You mean your party and our party is not is the Communist Party in its parties and all communist parties for the world. Well who is a friend of mainland China anybody. There's a very small element in Salon but not the official Communist noting it is on their side of the Soviet Union. So what kind of economy do you have now. That is how much have you advanced into socialism at the present time misaligned be have made considerable progress. We have. Taken over and nationalize a good deal of the key industries in Salon the harbor transport the bus transport is available has been government controlled. Then we are taken over the insurance companies. How about foreign investments in your country of a name or less out of the
picture by now. No you still have we still have and it is still there come foreign investments I do not see why not. Well I think some people might be apprehensive thinking they might be nationalized any moment theyd be afraid you would not want to build a company. Nobody have a clear cut distinction between what we do preserve for the got the state to take over and run in the interests of the whole country and what we preserve for the private sector. You would welcome further capital investment certainly. Do you think that people are reassured sufficiently though knowing that your country prefers to follow a pattern of nationalization of industry. Well I do not see why not because. They're given the freedom to invest and work. We are We did establish industries work their industries and make reasonable profits
we would certainly love them to repatriate their capital you have a generous agreement with such people. I mean can they take out a considerable amount of the profit. Yes they can. So it would be financially worthwhile if they had confidence that nothing would disrupt their business. Oh yes I don't see any reason why people should not be allowed to freely carry out their normal business and industrial ventures. Dr. Perera how much private industry still exists in Ceylon that is owned by the people of Sana'a the country quite a considerable amount. Yes. What what what some of of me the trade deal of the trade is still in private hands the private banks a good deal of commercial ventures building construction and various of their estates are all private are the big plantations of the plantations that I would plantations or is it one of the goals though of your party to nationalize or have the government run more and more of the business in industry.
Not necessarily but certainly you know you must go back to the history of the country and find out. To understand it. So long as mainly agriculture because not get our people to come back into industrious and easily. Therefore the state had to step in in order to give the necessary impetus and take the initiative in particular lines of industry that has been done. Nevertheless we also encourage our own people to embark on various industries that are considered amount of industries now. It's a lot oddly off of the lighter industries of the heavy industries like we have in our steel industry around like on a corp basis we have a hard industry that will invest in you develop more
industries and you play in the last 20 years. Yes I understand you've done a very good job and I was a doctor and many people in this country. I'm not sure about how Asia in general feels about American presence or participation in Asia that is we hear that some countries would be quite nervous if we pulled out all together and all the countries say it's the best thing for the United States to get out altogether. Now what if from your point of view what do you think. Yes I think this acquires additional explanation. Yeah I have not the slightest doubt that American people mean well. But I do not think your governments have really understood the temper of the the new nations that have become free. But only after the last war.
Yes I understand the strong why blend nationalism that is good that had been growing up in Asia now instead of helping those countries on the basis of their nationalist sentiments to develop. Which is unfortunate that your governments have. Help the wrong people. Magen example you helped Syngman Rhee in South Korea. You have bowed and the other gentleman was killed in Vietnam. Well when you say the wrong people wrong from your point of view that these people embrace the wrong political and economic philosophy. No subsequent events of crude a day were not the people who the people in those countries want. I mean they didn't represent this growing nationalism in the proper spirit. You're quite right. Yes I think it is very hard to put oneself properly
in the place of the man who lives in another country and no doubt many mistakes were made along those lines. I mean this much about us it. I find they say you probably don't understand it yet and I'm sure a great deal about you. We don't understand it yet but it's very good that we can talk on a program like this and see what we can share of mutual understanding. But I'd like I guess to know that you have had the honor of listening to the comments of Dr. N. M. Pereira formerly a minister of finance of Ceylon and now a member of the House of Representatives. Dr. Pereira is here on a visit and I hope he comes back many times. This is Lee Graham saying goodbye but with a reminder that although East is East and West is West we do think the time has come for the twain to meet. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Graham. Look there is come through you through the cooperation of the society. If you would like to
comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the engine of society who resents. Her.
- Asia Society presents
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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University of Maryland
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