By Basil Fernando –
A peaceful mass uprising on 9th July 2022 has brought about the end of a political era which started with the promulgation of the 1978 constitution of Sri Lanka: that constitution completely undermined democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the country. During a period of continuous protests over 3 months, the people constantly demanded the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. However, Rajapaksa had repeatedly refused to comply with the people’s mandate, claiming that he had been elected by an overwhelming majority of the people. Finally the exasperated people gave the president an ultimatum: resign by July 9, 2022! A vast number of people from all over the country gathered before the president’s official residence and finally occupied presidential house and secretariat buildings. As a result of this clear demonstration of extreme dissatisfaction with his family’s greed and the president’s incompetence, which had brought about a complete breakdown of Sri Lanka’s economy and its disastrous effects on the lives of most people, the president finally had agreed to resign on 13 July 2022. His decision has been communicated to the honorable speaker of the house. The prime minister has also offered his resignation.
We will later learns the details of how a new administration will established in the near future. However, we also need to maintain our focus on the long term changes that are required. There are several fundamentals that need to be considered if we are to resolve the structural problems that have been inherited as result of the introduction of 1978 constitution. For all practical purposes this constitution is a dead letter. However, it needs to be formally abolished by employing a process that involves the full participation of the people of Sri Lanka! We need to enact a constitution which is holy based on the principles of the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights: these basic principles are the essential foundation and framework for building new structures of government and reforming all public institutions. Given the systemic theft of the country’s and people’s resources and wealth by a small number, but well-organized elite families, in order to decisively end corruption and the abuse of power, the most urgent need in the country is the establishment of a comprehensive legal framework, with structural checks and balances, as well as clear and open accountability. Without a clear, comprehensive and enforceable law to stop corruption, there will be no fundamental change in the functioning of the state. The establishment of functional state is an essential pre-condition for resolving of the problems associated with the complete collapse of the economy that resulted from the debt crisis. Ridding the country of corruption is also an essential condition for the creation of a stable political system, which could provide the requisite leadership to resolve the current economic and long-lasting social problems. Only then will the government be in a positions to provide for the full welfare of all the people.
A stable political system can only be built and maintained on the basis of the effective system of administrative of justice. This necessarily involves the reform of the police, particularly the investigative branches of the police, by bringing the attorney generals department completely under the rule of law and removing all obstacles to the independence of the judiciary. This requires the strict enforcement of laws relating to non-interference with the administration of justice.
In the present circumstances, parliament should give priority to the necessary legislative changes, including making the requisite budgetary allocations, to achieve these changes.
Given the present desperate financial crisis in the country, at this critical moment, every higher income individual should agree to cooperate with all the citizens of Sri Lanka and agree to contribute their fair share in taxes, in a substantive manner, to bring about economic and political stability in the country.
The establishment of a credible political system, that can eliminate systemic corruption and provide full accountability is essential to obtain the full cooperation and support of all Sri Lankans, including those currently living outside the country. Once those systems are in place and effectively operating, Sri Lankans living abroad will be more prepared to contribute generally to helping deal with the Dollar crisis and thus resolve many of the hardships that people face as a result of the dollar denominated debt crisis.
Without such an overall change to the political system it will not be possible to win the cooperation and support of the masses of people who have taken to streets and also others who are unwilling to contribute financially for the lack of confidence in the political system. Obtaining the support of international agencies and other governments will also depend on the measures set out above that need to be taken to ensure a true political stability.
The attack on the Sirasa Media team at the Prime Minister’s residence needs to be condemned and immediate action should be taken to investigate the incident, arrest all suspects and consider criminal charges to ensure justice.
As shown by peoples interventions in recent months, the freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly are the basic pillars for the protection of society and also individuals. The present moment should be utilized to consolidate these rights: such a consolidation will create a fundamental change in the political culture in Sri Lanka.
The constant ongoing vigilance of the people is the only way to ensure that new systems of administration that are to be established will function for the benefit of the people and the nation. Therefore, people should keep a peaceful vigil, particularly at the present time and in the months to come, to ensure that the needed substantial change for the better could be achieved in Sri Lanka. The people also need to establish new civil society groups to help monitor the developing political landscape of Sri Lanka and to ensure that future permanent structural changes will include new features on the basis of, and which will protect, democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
hanchopancha / July 10, 2022
It is amazing how some people can survive on BS alone.
old codger / July 11, 2022
“A New Era Of Politics Begins In Sri Lanka”
But we still have the same voters, don’t we? No government is going to supply unlimited fuel at low, susidised prices. I predict a succession of unstable regimes until the voters learn there is nogain without pain.
Chandrametha / July 11, 2022
Thank you for writing this article and I could not agree more with what you have written. With the begining of New Era, I hope, it is also mandatory to establish a mechanism to stop uneducated and people with criminal records spent or unspent becoming Law makers. Minimal educational requirement at degree level should be prerequisite for potential parlimentarians. Parliament is an expensive place to run, at the expense of tax payer, Therfore inappropriate debates must me avoided. It is a moot point whether running cost of parliament per minute has been calculated! An exercise for the relevant professionals. It is equally important to bring about a mechanism to end septogenerian/octogenerians ruling our country. If you need a coronary artery bypass operation, would you go to a young confident and talented 44yrs old surgeon or 75 yrs old ageing surgeon with limited physiological resources and slow mentation?
Retirement age for parliamentarians should be set in line with other professionals like Chief Justice etc. Why should parliamentarians be any different!
Naman / July 11, 2022
SL citizens thought that the “NEW ERA” was to start in January 2015. Ranil.W +Maithripala Sirisena deceived them by NOT bringing the crooked to justice. They too joined the corrupt.We need to REMOVE the pension benefits + other Perks for the parliamentarians. The “DEEP STATE” WITHIN THE STAFF OF MINISTRY OF DEFENCE needs to be removed as soon as possible as they may be behind damage to private and public properties.
The “ill gotten wealth” by politicians and their associates need to be handed over to GoSL. Those who had been given jobs by crooked politicians should resign from their jobs especially Ambassadors and High Commisioners. We need to confiscate the passports of those who have committed VARIOUS crimes.
Noor Nizam / July 11, 2022
THIS WAS NOT JUST AN ARAGALYA OF THE YOUTH, IT HAS MORE DEEP INVOLVEMENTS.
Was Gotabaya’s failure to bring all the corrupt officials and government servants and politicians before the law and punish them over the last 31 months lead to this “Aragalaya”?
This is not just an “aragalaya”. The manner in which it has been moving since it started shows all the signs that it is being worked out according to a set plan. It has resemblances to what happened in Libiya and in Iraq some years ago when the West implemented a change of government.
A lot of opportunistic and disgruntled politicians and business interests and religious dignitaries have contributed towards creating this disaster to “Mother Sri Lanka” our “Maathrubomiya”. All the corrupt government officials from the ranks of Grama Sevaka Niladari, Department Directors and Engineers, Divisional Secretaries, Asst. Secretaries and Secretaries of Ministries, School principals, Some elements in the Tri Forces, Statutory Board Members and Chairman’s and even Doctors (JVP) sympathizers have played their part in this great disaster because they felt that a “RIGID HAND” governance will bring them all to book before the “Rule of Law”, but GOTABAYA failed to do that little bit (bring all the corrupt officials and government servant as he promised during the last 31 months) before the law and punish them.
Champa / July 11, 2022
Ha ha, really? A new era?
Who are the protesters?
It is reported that the protest was organized by the Inter-university Students Federation (IUSF). Look at their history. IUSF is responsible for introducing “sexual ragging” and illegal drugs to universities. Once a Vice Chancellor of a university revealed that senior students of Student Federations rape freshers under the guise of ragging. When the IUSF students were not engaged in sexual ragging, they protested on the street disrupting the education of other students. These are the youth who forcibly entered the President’s Official Residence and demanded his resignation. Just look at their behaviour at the President’s House. See how lame, immature and indecent they are. Are we going to let this immature lot decide the future of Sri Lanka?
Forcibly entering the President’s Official Residence, criminal trespass, wilful damage, mischief and causing danger to the President’s life are criminal offences. All those who forcibly entered the President’s Official Residence should be prosecuted and heavily fined for their mischief.
Naman / July 11, 2022
what is role played by AVANT GARDE maritime services in the last 4 months ?
Are they or their connected people behind the destruction of porperties?
Kalay / July 12, 2022
Its interesting everyone is talking about building the country. Is this new direction going to include all people or just Sinhala Buddhist only? If only Sinhala this country will go back to the same story before April 2022. There will be new people who will come to power and find a way to make money and help their relatives. Well Who will bell the cat? Are you ready Sri Lanka to share your democracy with all minorities? Even though fuel shortage and food shortage Jaffna and East managed well. Colombo suffered most. Will you let the history repeat itself? Think about it Sinhala majority. Are you going to get smarter?