Sri Lanka: A Moment of Reckoning

6 November 2018 12:02 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The greatest upheaval ever known since this country regained political independence occurred just a few days ago. The event of appointment of a new prime minister and members of a new cabinet sent shock waves among all concerned citizens of this country and rightly so. The whole episode in this political scene has become a bone of contention with some defending the actions to be in accordance with the Constitution, hence legal while some others argue these decisions as blatantly unconstitutional and illegal. As a result, it follows that democracy is at stake and is being put to severe test and in the brink of danger. The international community watching this incredible scene is putting Sri Lankan political authorities under pressure to keep acting in respect of the Constitution of the country and thus preserve democracy honouring people’s verdicts.  


It is very sad, discouraging and enerving that over a long period of time, things have taken such a turn in the inner sanctum of those in the seats of the highest power that led to this shocking impasse. Had those in the Good Governance Coalition given serious thought to the contradictions they were experiencing and the difficulties encountered in running the country’s democratic administration, this tragedy would not have happened. With this catastrophe, the entire country has come to a halt lacking sufficient time even to put things right which involves solving immediately the political and the economic crisis, lowering the standard of living and reviewing the taxes. These factors are radically needed to have a country at peace and contented. The fact, that the situation had deteriorated to such an extent as to put these things in jeopardy in national life, leaves all of us in a state of dismay and bewilderment.  

 

Our good name was scarred in the international scene and the war-crimes charge was hailed at us, an issue over which we are still battling for clearing our name


The Good Governance government should have known better how to conduct its affairs in patience and wisdom realizing that parties in the coalition are multiple and that there needs to be cooperation and collaboration in all fronts to keep their governance stable. Coalitions always run the risk of breakdowns unless the parties involved are ready to keep steady despite difficulties and differences they might eventually encounter in running a government together. This is evident given the fact that parties in coalition are always from different political persuasions and they need to some extent compromise and find a common course of action in the interest of the common good of the people whom they are striving to serve thus creating an even field. Politics is no game for politicians only to play as they want with scant attention to the sorry plight of the people. They are elected representatives to care for their interests. Sovereignty rests in the people: the country belongs to the people. Politicians represent the hopes, aspirations and dreams of the people. It is them that they represent in the august chambers of democracy: the parliament and the cabinet on the national level. One must argue convincingly about their commitment to work for the common good of the citizens, irrespective of all differences.  
Sri Lanka has seen diverse vicissitudes of politics of all colours for the last seven decades of her national life. It has taken stock of the turnings and twisting of political leadership that often times left the people in utter confusion and anger on the one hand, and on the other, insincerity, lack of authenticity, bribery, lying, cheating and corruption kept deranging the nation’s march towards prosperity and progress. Those who wielded power at the expense of the people’s vote must render an account for this national disaster. Many lament the shocking speed at which Sri Lanka had deteriorated in the last few decades in comparison with other Asian countries that  have prospered in leaps and bounds. Once in the dust of ashes, they have now risen to be economic giants in the continent. Their forward-march will indeed impact the international scene in the decades to come.  


We have had serious problems during this post-independence period. The most crucial were the ethnic tensions that caused conflagration in violence many a time. These were “black” events. One remembers the ethnic riots of the late fifties that eventually led, little by little to an armed conflict that struck this poor country which could not afford dumping its little resources on heavy arms. We are not a country trained for war or a war-type culture or ethic. Our religions abhor violence and destruction of life and property. It is the “dhamma-deepa” of non-violence and metta, this august historical seat of Theravada Buddhism that we are so proud of. How come, it has turned to be a land of cheating, lying, fraud, violence and confrontation many a time? How come our politicians have grown to be a breed of irresponsible leaders who dare squander the assets of this beautiful country graced with so much of natural resources and an impeccable culture of our noble people? How come that politics in this country had gone in the wrong direction of party-politics that confuses our people even today. When they read our newspapers, the common man in the village and in the fields will go into tantrums of confusion not knowing what is happening to their dear motherland! May be those in the cities and those in high ranks of the social class will conveniently overlook this plethora of media reports and just turn a blind eye to the events that have overtaken us.  

 

Many lament the shocking speed at which Sri Lanka had deteriorated in the last few decades in comparison with other Asian countries that  have prospered in leaps and bounds


This country has had serious set-backs from the time of the short-lived SWRD epoch that despite its seductive socialism was rocked by a number of hartals and strikes destabilizing the normal functioning of a “people’s government”. Then came a period of lull but yet with unstable governments. Finally came the “poor era” of the 1970’s to be quickly overturned by one of open economy, free-trade zones and accelerated hydro schemes. While there were no multiple mega-projects, the Premadasa-era brought economic projects and awakening to the villages to be matched with a fitting educational programme to the rural youth. In the meanwhile the ethnic conflict raised its head once again and devoured this country for three-decades. It was a time of utter disaster and catastrophe to the island nation. It brewed through a terribly misguided ethnic and language policy.  


Our good name was scarred in the international scene and the war-crimes charge was hailed at us, an issue over which we are still battling for clearing our name. With people unsteady with their choice at the ballot, two major parties decided to form a national government in order to wrest the country of the economic crisis, political instability and work hard to regain the lost name in the international scene. This succeeded to some extent. But much of the bribery and corruption within the country could not be tackled and ideological differences within the leaders of the national government became so intense that radical changes were carried out in the seats of power. With this situation oppressing us, we are at present in a state of bewilderment as to where truth and justice are resting. 


Both sides of the divide argue equally strongly in favour of their opinions: some for constitutionality/legality of the changes made by the Head of State and the others condemning the outrageous nature, as they say, of the changes that are clearly un-constitutional. In any case, democracy is in a lamentable crisis in the country at the moment. Many politicians and legal experts propound three alternatives to get over the impasse that inundates the country today: either take the matter to the courts and argue for the illegality of the political decisions taken or consult the parliament in an early and emergency session or consult the people for a new choice of theirs in a referendum or a parliamentary election. All these three it is argued are legitimate. The fact of the matter is that the crisis being acute, a delay in its solution is going to cost the nation great harm and continue to tarnish our international image because the international community tends to see in Sri Lanka the emergence of a political dictatorship that flouts the will of the people and the right they have to a government that governs in fairness and justice. The sudden change in the office of the Prime Minister remains the bone of contention.  


What do the people expect in this situation of uncertainty and national disaster? At all costs a chaotic situation has to be avoided. The normal affairs of the government in maintaining peace and order in public life have to be secured. The political leaders at the helm must act with restraint and with immense wisdom and foresight so that the country does not plunge into a worse state of disaster. As soon as possible, the confusion had to be taken head-on and with great humility on the part of everyone. This is not the time to fish in troubled waters. Many pundits will come out with a plethora of opinions presuming to solve the riddle. At this moment, common sense and love for the country must take primacy among all: politicians and the masses at large. Both these sectors are responsible to bring back peace, order, harmony and prosperity to the motherland.   

 

What do the people expect in this situation of uncertainty and national disaster? At all costs a chaotic situation has to be avoided. The normal affairs of the govt in maintaining peace and order in public life have to be secured


All right-thinking citizens must become aware and understand the serious nature of the crisis that has overtaken us. While the political leaders have to cease playing games, the civil organizations and the religious leadership of the country must intervene to indicate the proper path to tackle the crisis. What is at stake is not in the choice of a leader who can stem the tide and free the country from it political exile , but the right choice of the people who need to act in a mature way to opt for a salutary change that will augur well for themselves and their future posterity. Nothing can be achieved with political instability and an ailing economy. A sound economy cannot be built with a status-quo experiencing constant political instability. One depends on the other. This is the twin-challenge that politicians and people at large face today. 


The choice is ours to patiently and wisely tackle this phenomenon. Together we will go to a strong future full of promise or together we will crumble as a country. The hour is come for a serious reckoning. Beyond all petty vested interests and greed for power, this is the moment to act with a sense of responsibility inspired by a true patriotic love and concern for the good of the motherland. If all act tactfully and prudently, the immense constitutional crisis can be transformed into a moment of opportunity.  

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