The Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Nayake Thera, in a prophetic message on Wednesday called on right-thinking people to come forward and speak out to restore democracy, social justice and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.
The Nayake Thera, who heads a movement for a just society, said the virtues of such a society were going with the wind and patriotic people must act fast to save the country.
During the past seven years, Sri Lanka has seen a gradual degeneration towards dictatorial trends with checks and balances being removed one by one. The dismantling of democratic processes began with the 1978 constitution and the powerful executive presidency. This was used to postpone elections and to abuse powers and privileges in a way that it drove the LTTE to a 30-year war while the JVP went back to an armed insurrection resulting in hundreds of thousands of people being killed, injured or displaced.
The UPFA vowed to abolish the executive presidency within 24 hours if it came to power. The pledge was made by Chandrika Kumaratunge who described the executive presidency as a curse. But it seems that when a power-hungry politician assumes this powerful office, the curse becomes a blessing. So the 24-hour pledge went on for 11 years. Ms. Kumaratunge stepped down in 2005 being forced to do so in terms of the Constitution. When the Rajapaksa administration came to office in 2005, it assured an early end to the war and a glorious new Sri Lanka. But what we see today is democracy, good governance, the rule of law and accountability becoming largely words in the constitution. The police, the public service and the judicial service have virtually lost their independence with the scandal of a minister threatening the Mannar Magistrate and the mob attack on the Court showing the extent to which the judicial service is under threat and how glorified law-makers have become blatant law breakers.
The Rajapaksa government has now called early elections to the North-Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils. Elections are more the way people think than they vote. Opposition critics and independent analysts say the Government is continuing to abuse public funds, property and human resources in support of the ruling alliance. The police have little or no independence and are forced to overlook the criminal actions of stooges and sycophants of UPFA candidates. The Elections Commissioner admits that because of the 18th Amendment he is helpless to stop the abuse.
As the respected Nayake Thera said, those who wish to save democracy must now come together and do something like the Arab spring so that Sri Lanka will become a model of Asia and not a decadent dictatorial farce, though ruling politicians basking in their ill-gotten wealth and extravagance boasting of wonders and paradise.