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Nanayakkarapathirage Martin Perera, better known as Dr. N. M. Perera,(Sinhala ඇන්.ඇම්.පෙරේරා [en em pe reaira]; 6 June 1905 – 14 August 1979) was one of the leaders of the Sri Lankan Trotskyist Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). He was the first Trotskyist to become a cabinet minister.


N. M. Perera

DR.N. M. Perera.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
In office
19 April 1956 – 5 December 1959
Prime MinisterS. W. R. D. Bandaranaike
Preceded byS. W. R. D. Bandaranaike
Succeeded byC. P. de Silva
In office
14 October 1947 – 8 April 1952
Prime MinisterD. S. Senanayake
Dudley Senanayake
Succeeded byS. W. R. D. Bandaranaike
Minister of Finance
In office
10 May 1970 – 2 September 1975
Prime MinisterSirimavo Bandaranaike
Preceded byU. B. Wanninayake
Succeeded byFelix Dias Bandaranaike
In office
11 June 1964 – 17 December 1964
Prime MinisterSirimavo Bandaranaike
Preceded byT. B. Ilangaratne
Succeeded byU. B. Wanninayake
Member of the Ceylon Parliament
for Ruwanwella
In office
September 1947 – 1960
Preceded byseat created
Succeeded byH. G. Somabandu
Personal details
Born(1905-06-06)6 June 1905
Sri Lanka
Died14 August 1979(1979-08-14) (aged 74)
NationalitySri Lankan
Political partyLanka Sama Samaja Party
Spouse(s)Selina Perera[1]
Alma materSt. Joseph's School, Cathedral Boys School, S. Thomas' College, Mutwal, Ananda College, University College, Colombo, London School of Economics
OccupationEconomist


Early life and educationEdit

 
The young N.M.Perera completed his secondary education at Ananda College in Colombo, he played cricket for the school team.
 
Perera was a student of Professor Harold Laski at the London School of Economics.

NM Perera was born to Nanayakkarapathirage Abraham Perera who was a rent collector at No 36 St Joseph 's Street, in Grandpass, Colombo.His Mother Johana perera and He was Fifth of nine members of family of five boys and four girls.[2]

Perera started his schooling in the vernacular section of St. Joseph's School, Grandpass and was later was admitted to the English section. From there he was sent for one year to a Branch School of S. Thomas' College, Mutwal,[3][4][5] then known as Cathedral Boys School, Mutwal. In 1919 he entered St Thomas' prep, but left in 1922 and joined Ananda College. At Ananda he played cricket for the school.

He obtained a bachelor's degree from University of London External System at the University College, Colombo during 1922–27 and then left for the UK to join the London School of Economics and University of London, 1927–33.[6] There he was a student of the legendary Professor Harold Laski, being awarded a PhD for his thesis on the Constitution of the German Weimar Republic. A further comparative study, of the Constitutions of the UK, United States, France and Germany, won him a DSc from the University of London. At the time Perera was the only person in Sri Lanka to hold the degree of Doctor of Science.

Political lifeEdit

The work done by Perera (as a member of the Suriya-Mal Movement) in the Kegalle district during the Malaria Epidemic of 1934 and during the subsequent floods gained for him the support of the poor and caste-oppressed people of the area, who called him Parippu Mahathmaya after the dhal (or parippu) he distributed as relief supplies.

In 1935 Perera was one of the founder members of the LSSP. In 1936 he contested the Ruwanwella constituency, which at the time was the Thun Korale areas of Yatiyantota, Ruwanwella and Dereniyagala and parts of the present Galigamuwa electoral division, from the LSSP. His opponent was Molamure Kumarihamy of the Meedeniya Walauwa, the feudal manor which had tremendous power over the poor people of the Sabaragamuwa area at the time. He was to hold this seat, or its Yatiyantota portion on division, continuously until 1977.

After his election, he and Philip Gunawardena (the other LSSP member of the State Council), acting as people's tribunes used the State Council as a platform to carry forward the party's struggle to gain full independence for the country from the British. At the time only people like N.M. Perera and the LSSP stood for complete independence for Sri Lanka: the leaders of the Ceylon National Congress were only concerned with obtaining concessions from the British.

He was imprisoned in 1940 during World War II, but succeeded in escaping on 5 April 1942. He secretly went to India and worked with the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India, Ceylon and Burma (BLPI) in that country's independence struggle. But According to Encyclopedia of Marxism 1936–40, he was the LSSP delegate to Indian National Congress session, 1937. Formed Ratmalana Railway Workers' Union, 1937, and All-Ceylon Estate Workers' Union, 1939. Led militant strike at Mooloya Plantation, January 1940. Arrested June 1940, incarcerated at Wellikade Jail and Bogambara Prison. Escaped to Bombay, July 1942. Arrested in Bombay, July 1943. Jailed at Badulla, 1943–45.[6]

After the war, when the LSSP split, Perera was the leader of the faction that retained the party name. After the 1947 general election, he was elected Leader of the Opposition.

On reunification with the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party (BSSP), he remained with the LSSP when the Viplavakari Lanka Sama Samaja Party (VLSSP) split off under Philip Gunawardena.

Perera was elected Mayor of Colombo in 1954, the only non-United National Party-politician to take that office after 1945. He was Mayor for two years. In 1956 he was elected Leader of the Opposition again, a post he held until 1960.

When LSSP was divided over possible government participation in early 1960s, Perera was the principal leader of the wing that wanted to enter into government with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which led to LSSP's expulsion from the Fourth International in 1964.

He was Minister of Finance in the short lived Coalition government of 1964 – 1965 and in the United Front government of 1970 – 1975.

In the general election of 1977, he lost his parliamentary seat for the first time, (except for the period he was imprisoned during the Second World War) having won every single election for the Ruanwella constituency or for its successor, Yatiyantota.

His funeral in 1979 was one of the largest ever seen in Sri Lanka.


Trade union activitiesEdit

Perera was the president of the All Ceylon United Motor Workers' Union, and the United Corporations and Mercantile Union the Ceylon Federation of Labour (CFL). He was appointed their chief negotiator by the striking workers during the 1946 general strike.

Other activitiesEdit

An avid cricket fan, like many Commonwealth Trotskyists, he became Chairman of the Board of Control of Cricket in Sri Lanka, and worked hard to obtain test status for Sri Lanka.[7]

Further readingEdit

  • Dr. N.M. Perera's Policies and Achievements by Prof. B. Hewavitharana[8]
  • Parliamentary Democracy (1931) By N.M. Perera,
  • The Case for Free Education (1944) By N.M. Perera,
  • External Economic Assistance (1964)By N.M. Perera,
  • The Economy of Ceylon: Trends and Prospects (1971)By N.M. Perera,
  • Critical Analysis of the New Constitution of the Sri Lanka Government (1979)By N.M. Perera,[6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Selina Perera – The relentless revolutionary". The Island (Sri Lanka). 12 April 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Dr. NM Perera: a politician ahead of his times" (PDF). pdfs.island.lk. 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  3. ^ Dr. N.M. Perera 1905 – 1979 : An honest and upright politician Archived 8 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Dr. N. M. Perera: A true visionary
  5. ^ Doughty fighter and man of principles
  6. ^ a b c "MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People". Encyclopedia of Marxism:.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  7. ^ "Colossus among political leaders". dailynews. 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  8. ^ "Dr. N.M. Perera – Parliamentarian – par excellence". Daily News. 10 January 2007.

External linksEdit