Watson Fernando

Last updated

Watson Fernando was a Sri Lankan communist politician and trade unionist. [1] He served as president of the Ceylon Communist Party (Peking Wing) and was a member of the Moratuwa Municipal Council. [1]

Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist) is a political party in Sri Lanka. The party surged in 1964 following a split in the Ceylon Communist Party. Initially the party just called itself 'Ceylon Communist Party' as well, and was distinguished from the main CCP by denominations like 'Ceylon Communist Party ', etc. In the end of the 1960s the party was one of the major leftist parties in the country. The general secretary was N. Shanmugathasan.

Moratuwa suburb in Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka

Moratuwa is a large suburb of Colombo city, on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, near Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. It is situated on the Galle–Colombo main highway, 18 km south of Colombo city centre. Moratuwa is surrounded on three sides by water, except in the north of the city, by the Indian Ocean on the west, the Bolgoda lake on the east and the Moratu river on the south. According to the 2012 census, the suburb had a population of 168,280.


Early political and labour activism

Fernando worked as mercantile clerk. [2] He rose to become a district-level leader of the Communist Party. [2] In the first parliamentary election of 1947 he contested the Moratuwa Electoral District seat. He obtained 722 votes (2.58%). [3] He was a leader during the Hartal of 1953. [4] As of 1958 he served as Vice President of the All Ceylon Toddy Workers' Union (CTUF affiliate, with M.G. Mendis as President). [5] He again contested the Morutuwa seat in the March 1960 parliamentary election, obtaining 1,091 votes (4.49%). [6]

Communist Party of Sri Lanka communist party

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka is a communist party in Sri Lanka. At the legislative elections of 2004, the party was part of the United People's Freedom Alliance that won 45.6% of the popular vote and 105 out of 225 seats.

1947 Ceylonese parliamentary election

General elections were held in Ceylon from 23 August to 20 September 1947. It was the first election overseen and administered by the newly-formed Department of Parliamentary Elections.

Moratuwa electoral district was an electoral district of Sri Lanka between August 1947 and February 1989. The district was named after the city of Moratuwa in Colombo District, Western Province. The 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka introduced the proportional representation electoral system for electing members of Parliament. The existing 160 mainly single-member electoral districts were replaced with 22 multi-member electoral districts. Moratuwa electoral district was replaced by the Colombo multi-member electoral district at the 1989 general elections, the first under the PR system, though Moratuwa continues to be a polling division of the multi-member electoral district.

Sino-Soviet split

Fernando became president of the Ceylon Trade Union Federation after the split in the Communist Party in 1963. [2] He had sided with the pro-China faction in the split. [2] In 1964 he held the post of Ratmalana District Committee secretary of the party and was one of 116 signatories to the declaration that marked the definitive split of the party into two groups. [7]

The Ceylon Trade Union Federation was a national trade union centre in Ceylon/Sri Lanka. CTUF was founded in December 1940, united various unions led by the United Socialist Party. The founding meeting of CTUF was chaired by a Buddhist monk, Ven. Saranankara. Pieter Keuneman served as CTUF president for some time.

UF government and formation of CPSL(M-L)

Fernando led a split in the party in 1972. Fernando criticized the party leader N. Shanmugathasan's opposition to the United Front government, arguing that UF was a 'progressive force'. [8] Whilst the party leader N. Shanmugathasan was abroad in Albania in April 1972, Fernando tried to seize control over the party. [9] Fernando led a meeting on July 10 that declared N. Shanmugathasan expelled from the party. [10] [11] N. Shanmugathasan replied by summoning the party Central Committee on September 22, which declared Fernando expelled. Fernando's faction regrouped and at a meeting on November 12, 1972 it took the name Communist Party of Sri Lanka (Marxist-Leninist). [10] [12] Fernando sought to bring the Maoist movement closer to the UF orbit, but his faction remained a minor group compared to N. Shanmugathasan's party. [13] Just like the main pro-China Communist Party, Fernando's CPSL(ML) sought to maintain contacts with the Communist Party of China. [14]

The United Front was a political alliance in Sri Lanka, formed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL) in 1968. It came to power in the 1970 general election, but broke up in September 1975.

Central Committee is the common designation of a standing administrative body of communist parties, analogous to a board of directors, whether ruling or non-ruling in the 20th century and of the surviving communist states in the 21st century. In such party organizations the committee would typically be made up of delegates elected at a party congress. In those states where it constituted the state power, the Central Committee made decisions for the party between congresses, and usually was responsible for electing the Politburo. In non-ruling Communist parties, the Central Committee is usually understood by the party membership to be the ultimate decision-making authority between Congresses once the process of democratic centralism has led to an agreed-upon position.

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka (Marxist-Leninist) was a political party in Sri Lanka. The party originated in a split in the Ceylon Communist Party, as tension had risen between N. Shanmugathasan and Watson Fernando. On September 22, 1972 the N. Shanmugathasan-led Central Committee of CP(P) declared Fernando and fellow CC members Ariyawansa Gunasekara and V.A. Kandasamy expelled. On November 12, 1972 Fernando's group declared itself as the CPSL(M-L).


He was married to Milna Fernando, the couple had two sons. [1]

Related Research Articles

Bolshevik–Leninist Party of India, Ceylon and Burma (BLPI) was a revolutionary Trotskyist party which campaigned for independence and socialism in South Asia.

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Peoples Liberation Front, a Sri Lankan Socialist Party

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, often abbreviated as JVP is a communist and Marxist–Leninist party and political movement in Sri Lanka. The movement was involved in two armed uprisings against the ruling governments in 1971 (SLFP) and 1987–89 (UNP). The movement entered democratic politics by participating in the 1994 parliamentary election as a political party, and has been a third party in Sinhalese Sri Lankan politics since then.

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is a Trotskyist political party in Sri Lanka.

The Hartal 1953 was a country-wide demonstration of civil disobedience and strike, commonly known as a hartal, held in Ceylon on 12 August 1953. It was organized to protest of the policies and actions of the incumbent United National Party government. It was the first mass political action in Ceylon and the first major social crisis after independence. This event is of historical significance because it was the first people's struggle against an elected government in the country.

Nagalingam Shanmugathasan was a trade unionist and Maoist revolutionary leader in Sri Lanka. He was the founding General Secretary of the Ceylon Communist Party.

During the Donoughmore period of political experimentation (1931–48), several Sri Lanka leftist parties were formed in British colonial Ceylon. Unlike most other Sri Lankan parties, these leftist parties were noncommunal in membership.

Edmund Samarakkody Sri Lankan politician

Edmund Peter Samarakkody was a Ceylonese lawyer, trade unionist, politician and Member of Parliament.

1970 Ceylonese parliamentary election

General elections were held in Ceylon in 1970.

R. Sampanthan Sri Lankan politician

Rajavarothiam Sampanthan is a Sri Lankan Tamil politician and lawyer who has led the Tamil National Alliance since 2001. He has also been a Member of Parliament since 2001, and previously served as a Member of Parliament from 1977 to 1983 and from 1997 to 2000. He was the Leader of the Opposition from September 2015 to December 2018.

Leslie Goonewardene Sri Lankan politician

Leslie Simon Goonewardene was a prominent Sri Lankan independence activist, politician, Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister. He was one of the founders of the Marxist Lanka Sama Samaja Party – the first political party in Sri Lanka, and later served as the party Leader from 1935-1977. He later served as Minister of Transport and Minister of Communications in the Second Sirimavo Bandaranaike cabinet under the United Front Coalition. He was designated as a National Hero of Sri Lanka for his leadership in the Independence movement, and his efforts are celebrated each year on the Sri Lankan Independence Day.

Vaithianathan Karalasingham was a Ceylon Tamil lawyer, writer, politician and one of the leading members of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

Weerahennedige Theodore Wilfred Meryl Fernando was a Ceylonese teacher, trade unionist, politician and Member of Parliament.

S. C. C. Anthony Pillai politician from India

Sebastian Cyril Constantine Anthony Pillai was an Indian trade unionist, politician and Member of Parliament.

Merengna Gaulius Mendis was a Sri Lankan trade unionist and a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Robert Gunawardena

Robert Gunawardena, born Don Benjamin Rupasinghe Gunawardena was a Ceylonese politician and diplomat.

Somaweera Chandrasiri

Somaweera Chandrasiri was a Sinhalese poet and Ceylonese politician.

Hugh Edmund Peter de Mel was a Ceylonese politician.


  1. 1 2 3 Daily News. Obituaries
  2. 1 2 3 4 Robert N. Kearney (1971). Trade Unions and Politics in Ceylon. University of California Press. pp. 44–46. ISBN   978-0-520-01713-9.
  3. "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1947" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-02-04.
  4. Wesley S. Muthiah; Sydney Wanasinghe (2002). We were making history: the Hartal of 1953. A Young Socialist Publication. p. 75. ISBN   978-955-9150-03-9.
  5. Directory of Labor Organizations, Asia and Australasia. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1958. pp. 9–8.
  6. "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1960-03-19" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-12.
  7. Marxists.org. To All Marxist-Leninists Inside the Ceylon Communist Party
  8. Asian Survey. University of California Press. July 1975. p. 754.
  9. Problemas internacionales. Agencia de Información de los EE.UU. 1973. p. 32.
  10. 1 2 Asian Analysis. 1972. p. 46.
  11. News Review on South Asia and Indian Ocean. Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses. 1972. p. 201.
  12. Milorad M. Drachkovitch; Lewis H. Gann (1978). Yearbook on International Communist Affairs. Hoover Institution Press. p. 318.
  13. Tribune. Ceylon News Service. 1975. p. 9.
  14. British Broadcasting Corporation. Monitoring Service (September 1973). Summary of World Broadcasts: Far East. Monitoring Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation.