Largely due to arrogance instead of magnanimity in the afterglow or aftermath of the May 2009 victory in the war, the Rajapaksa regime appears to have plunged into one hell of an international, political and economic mess. Cabinet changes or even a change of administration apparently won’t provide a solution. Sri Lanka needs major structural changes in the Constitution and the economy to put the country back on the road of genuine democracy and social justice for lasting peace and sustainable development.
Crisis after crisis since 1978 have made it obvious that the executive presidential system – a curse made worse by the 18th Amendment where absolute power was given to one person – needs to be abolished and parliamentary democracy restored. The SLFP, which leads the ruling patch-work coalition, had in 1994 described the executive presidency as a curse and pledged to abolish it within months. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge did work out a new constitution. But the UNP strongly opposed it and forced the President to abandon it. Later, the President obtained all-party support for the 17th Amendment through which the powers of the Executive President were reduced with checks and balances coming into operation. But after the 2010 presidential election and the 2011 general election, the Rajapaksa regime imposed the 18th Amendment after using cheques and unbalanced tactics to buy a 2/3 majority in Parliament. Now it is showing no intention of changing the constitution. But amid widespread calls for a change, the National Bikkhu Front announced recently it had taken an initiative to get legal experts to draft a new constitution. The Bikkhu Front said it would take the new draft to the main Buddhist prelates and other religious leaders insisting that the Rajapaksa regime should implement it.
Another major structural change needed immediately is the dismantling of the globalised capitalist market economic system. After more than 25 years this system has fallen apart worldwide and produced a monstrosity where the hundred richest people in the world have accumulated as much as 245 billion US dollars, which is enough to eradicate poverty four times over.
In Sri Lanka the situation is the same if not worse. Independent encomiasts say that as much as 85% of the wealth and resources of Sri Lanka is controlled by 15% of the population comprising the rich and ruling elite. We urgently need a new economic system where national production is encouraged, agriculture is restored to its due place, and structural changes such as ceilings on land and housing are imposed to bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. If we do not rebuild our economy on the solid foundation of social justice, we are only building sand castles which will fall apart in a storm.