20 October, 2020

Blog

Can We Return Sri Lanka To Democratic Government?

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

The danger of ‘Regime change’ seems to be the constant lament of those seeking to create the ‘Miracle of Asia.’ They drag out the term whenever there appears to be anything resembling critical mass building against the most corrupt government in the history of modern Sri Lanka. They apply to the term the most pejorative hue that one can imagine.

The corruption and violence has soaked down to the bone of the Sri Lankan body politic

On the other side of that particular fence are those claiming that ‘Regime Change’ would return Sri Lanka to a more humane, democratic model guided by such concepts as the rule of law, government commitment to human rights, and equity throughout society irrespective of race, creed or gender. Each time they invoke the term, they seek to imbue it with a magical quality, which suggests it would usher in some kind of ‘Sri Lankan Spring.’ However, particularly since what has followed the ‘Arab Spring’ in the matter of reactionary and Islamist fundamentalist tendencies in Libya and Egypt despite both of those countries throwing off decades-long repressive and corrupt regimes, there has been some re-thinking of what might follow similar change in Sri Lanka if the family hegemony that passes for constitutional government is, by some miracle, replaced by a type of representative democracy more like that which prevails in the established democracies of the West and which was to a great extent the norm in Sri Lanka in its first thirty years of independence.
The question, therefore, is whether what can peacefully replace the present maelstrom of corruption and violence is, in fact, going to be close in structure and practice to those of Western Europe and North America. Contrary to the blatherings of the Wimal Weerawansas, Patali Champika Ranawakas and others of their ilk who are clearly dictating political and philosophical direction in this country right now, China, Russia, Cuba and the rest of those alleged socialist or communist countries are not communist, socialist or even close to anything resembling egalitarian in the manner of their governance and certainly not models to follow. Not to put a fine point on it, we are faced with Hobson’s Choice in this regard in that ‘the West’s’ is the only model available to us if we don’t want the kind of despotism of which the Rajapaksas have already given us a first taste.
As unpleasant as that reality might be, that is the plain unadulterated truth. And for those who constantly tell me to ‘burgher-off’ (and I use an euphemistic equivalent in order to avoid the censor’s wrath here!) to some geographical point due north or south of here, may I suggest that, if they believe that Putin’s Russia or China or Zimbabwe are the ‘in’ places to spend the rest of one’s life, they should be organizing legal or illegal means of migration to those destinations for themselves and/or their families?  Let’s start putting our money where our mouths are, chaps!
On a more realistic level, can we emerge from the mire into which every level of national endeavour has sunk – both in the government and private sectors – to establish a modicum of financial honesty and non-violent administration after the most reprehensible elements of a dictatorship have seemingly taken over the Sri Lankan body politic?
There are isolated examples of developing democratic miracles in some parts of Africa and South and Central America that suggest that such mind-boggling sea change just might be possible. One would be optimistic in the extreme, though, if they were to expect such change to occur swiftly where pillage of the public purse and venality without equal is now, literally, accepted as ‘the reality’ and one that is likely to prevail for the foreseeable future.  If it ever happens, it is going to be nothing short of miraculous. It will, realistically speaking, be extremely slow and will require Job’s patience on the part of the citizenry to wait out the process that needs to unfold.
The change will have to begin with that most difficult of processes: change in the national mindset which has accepted without question the corrupted, twisted and nightmarish scenario that prevails across the land. The required change needs to be initiated through the establishment of a structure that returns democratic process and practice to the realm of national governance. The establishment of that framework is a sine qua non for even the hope of a democratic future for us and our progeny and our progeny’s progeny.
The corruption and violence has soaked down to the bone of the Sri Lankan body politic and what makes its removal most difficult is the fact that those wielding the most power and influence at the moment will, of necessity, have the largest part to play in that monumental change. While they might not be those who have initiated and drive the corruption, they are, more often than not, the beneficiaries of the venality of which this land has to be cleansed. The Colonel Sanders Chicken Run analogy comes to mind here!
A complex conundrum? You bet! One beyond solution?  Perhaps not, if enough people of goodwill put their shoulders to the wheel, and let me, in that context invoke a most appropriate quotation from Margaret Mead at this point:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
If that sounds like unrealistic “pie in the sky” speculation address your mind to the fact that the Bolsheviks (Majority) who succeeded in overthrowing the Czarist government were, in fact, Mensheviks (the minority) and it was certainly a minority – the middle class – who brought about revolutionary change in France in the late 18th Century.  In fact, every event that effected sweeping change in man’s modern history was initiated by a few, a small minority of the population.
What is lacking in Sri Lanka in the matter of dealing with massive corruption and dictatorship at the moment appear to be a few good people with a determination to effect the change that the entire nation is crying out for. They have to be prepared to undergo some inconvenience and, perhaps, worse, in order to bring about the change that a whole nation is crying out for.
I do not buy the theory that the approval rating for a group of people who got rid of what was basically a rag-tag band of fascist brigands is going to persist forever and continue to shield rapists, murderers and thieves and, most tragically, destroy the very soul of an ancient civilization which its people are justifiably proud of.
I will repeat what I have said more times than I care to remember recently and which I will continue to repeat ad nauseam:  those of you who DO have significant protection by virtue of the class or economic group you belong to, whose ‘connections’ with those who are pillaging our nation precludes your being terminated ‘with extreme prejudice’ have a DUTY to step out from behind your protective barricades and speak power to truth or whatever term is to the matter of leading the national cleansing process.
The ripples of change have to begin somewhere and I am stating the obvious with regard to where that can and should be. This breast-beating by all and sundry, wailing the ‘woe is me’ refrains of “The opposition parties are ineffectual, Ranil Wickremesinghe is Mahinda Rajapaksa’s best friend, Sarath Fonseka has given evidence of Fascist tendencies” and similar gibberish which serves no purpose, are doing one thing and one thing only: they are presenting excuses for inaction. That must end.
In any event, if you are looking for change in the current Sri Lankan context, the last thing you need is a mirror image of those who constitute the problem and whom you are seeking to get rid of! You need the alternative. People of goodwill and determination must man the barricades.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will Sri Lankan democracy be re-built in a similar time span. But it CAN be done because it MUST be done. For ALL of us to survive in what can, once again, become the Pearl of the Orient.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Emil, great article! There are many ‘middle-class’ Sri Lankans living abroad, and locally, who feel defending our government is the patriotic thing to do. Articles like this will hopefully show some of them that to truly be patriotic, they need to stand up to all who pillage our country, including those who we may have ‘connections’ to…

    Of course then there is that risk of being white vanned… But I guess overcoming white vans will have to be part and package of the struggle… Perhaps one day we can send a fleet of white vans to the parliament, load up the lot of em, and ship them all off in a nice white boat to China or Russia or Iran…

    • 0
      0

      Yes I concede that if there is a will there is a way. It is time, as Emil has suggested that we come out from our enclaves and voice our concerns collectively without prjudice and not fear as the establishment cannot white van all of us, as we are connected to the system by one way or another. The Friday Forum should serve as the mode of conveyance and a wider participation should be publicised and canvassed.

      • 0
        0

        Agreed with your comment.

        Yet the majority of our citizens are timid and “who will cast the first stone” ????

  • 0
    0

    SOON THE ENGINES AND ALL MACHINERIES RUN BY THE DODGY FUEL IMPORTED BY CPC WILL COME TO A STAND STILL.

    THE PARLIAMENTARIANS AND THEIR FAMILIES WILL HAVE TO TRAVEL BY BULLOCK CARTS. THEIR BODY GUARDS WILL BE RUNNING ALONG SIDE THESE CARTS ON FOOT, CARRYING HEY AND GRASS ON THEIR HEADS TO FEED THE BULLOCKS.

    TO BRING SRI LANKA BACK TO DEMOCRACY, THE PEOPLE SHOULD ORGANISE A UNITED ISLAND WIDE DEMONSTRATION, SHOWING SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE RULERS.

    APPOINT, DUNKUDU DUMINDA, MADHAVIYA MERVIN ETC ETC TO ORGANISE THIS.

  • 0
    0

    first of all i must commend you on a job well done . you certainly have highlighted the main reasons for the inaction of our citizens but i do want to stress the fact that the February revolution in 1917 was caused due to the workers unions and laborer’s who were crushed under immense poverty and inflation. might i add that the following October revolution in 1917 was caused primarily by the BOLSHEVIK party led by Vladimir Lenin. coming back to the point i believe that the poet T.S Eliot best expressed the manner in which we should behave in such situations in his poem PRELUDES:
    “wipe your hands across your face and laugh
    the world revolves like old women
    gathering fuel in vacant lots”.

  • 0
    0

    Emil van der Poorten writes strong statements and is quite clear about his views about what ails Sri Lanka.

    Over the years, people have had to make some difficult choices in order to survive in Sri Lanka.

    I am not aware of where the writer resides, but ordinary Sri Lankans who have to travel in buses, go to the local shops and offices have gradually adopted a stance of adjusting to whatever has been foisted on them in the name of patriotism, gratitude, loyalty or whatever else that touches their sensibilities or centrally impacts on their continued survival.

    The status quo is never challenged by political parties, as they too have various end-games in mind, which to me seem quite similar in motivation and intent.

    External intervention in Sri Lanka amounting to “regime change” will never happen, as Sri Lanka is not important enough for them to allocate military or personnel resources on.

    On the other hand, such “regime changes” that did occur in the Islamic world with the auspices of the West were totally in their own self interest and had nothing whatsoever to do with the welfare of the people.

    Governments overseas will always therefore maintain appropriate diplomatic relationships with whoever governs, regardless of how the said governments are percieved by the people.

    It begs the question from the writer as to what he proposes in light of what he himself outlines as an untenable state of affairs, given that ordinary people will not easily sacrifice family, livelihood and personal safety in their democratic aspirations.

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Van der Pooten:

    Once I read your article and very positive responses given by the readers to the article, I remembered an ancient story in India.

    During Lord Buddha’s time, there some religious leaders who were founders of different doctrines. They preached ALL NAKED. There were listeners and followers from every walk life to listen to those and to follow them.

    • 0
      0

      Jim

      There were also many who listened and followed Lord Buddha… Lord Buddha himself challenged the norm/ status quo…

    • 0
      0

      Nower days Poitical Prechers can not understand if there Naked or not, Not even there wife’s and children. We also have listeners and follwers too.

  • 0
    0

    It is most gratifying to note that there are still people like Emil who are not afraid to say what needs to be done to save the country.

  • 0
    0

    People talk about there Food and living. Like the Qween of Englind we have a Seramonial President who appier only for puplic Seramonies, Similar man called D.B. Wijethunga was there before. Even if the Worst Thing happen to the people who Voted our Prsident, Voters hardly hear him at least look at it sympathaticlly. Big talk goes on and on.

    • 0
      0

      No offence, but please do not murder the queen!!!

      • 0
        0

        Raymond, there are no longer Queens. What are left are Queans.

  • 0
    0

    The voters saw it fit to elect village godaya thugs to power & now they should not complain. Frankly these villagers from Medamulane are as bad as the Tiger terrorists.

    • 0
      0

      Or should we say worse (not as bad)?

  • 0
    0

    Those who talk about democracy are so naive, to think that we had Democracy since 1948 and our country prospered because of that.
    Did We ?

    What happened to our country with so called democracy, since we gained independence? We just deteriorated, while much poor countries than Sri Lanka like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia kept developing, leaving Sri Lanka far behind them. Why? Because they gave up democracy and took a Dictatorship path.

    In Sri Lanka too, the need of the hour is a Dictatorship Government that can develop Sri Lanka at least to the level of Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia, by neutralizing the sabotaging forces like bankrupt JVP & UNP who’s only intention is to gain Power by whatever means, but nothing else.

    Most of our Politicians since 1948 were corrupted up to some level until 1977. It increased by 1000% after that. The only National Project the UNP Government undertook for 17 years of rule, by plunging the country into Billions of Dollars of foreign debt was Mahaveli, completed partially, which is now a white elephant.

    At least now there is some tangible evidence to see that some development is taking place in Sri Lanka although there is no reduction of corruption, which has come to live for ever. It is OK, as long as part of the money is spent on development which is taking place now unlike in the past, which was only robbing but no work.

    I believe that under MR our country will develop fast, if he becomes a Dictator like Lee Quan Yu, of Singapore, Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia or Suharto of Indonesia, who took their countries to financial freedom.

    • 0
      0

      MR DON SARATH ITS BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND YOUR STUPID STONE AGE MIND SET THAT SRI LANKA IS HEADING TOWARDS DISASTER, YOU THINK ITS OK TO ROB THIS COUNTRY AS LONG AS SOME DEVELOPMENT IS TAKING PLACE RIGHT? WHAT DO YOU THINK IS HAPPENING TO THE ECONOMY RIGHT NOW? ITS IN BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DEBT AND THE DEFICIT IS WIDENING FASTER THEN WRINKLES ON MAHINDA RAJAPAKSAS FACE! THIS FAMILY IS ROBBING THIS COUNTRY AND TAKING AWAY THE DEMOCRACY AND RIGHTS OF ORDINARY FOLK. SO WAKE UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BEFORE ITS TOO LATE IF YOU LOVE YOUR MOTHERLAND.HE FINISHED THE WAR YES THATS A GREAT THING BUT THATS WHAT PEOPLE HAVE APPOINTED HIM TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE, TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY AND DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, FOR DOING HIS JOB HE AND HIS FAMILY HAVE THE PREVILAGE OF LIVING LIKE THE ROYAL FAMILY AND OF COURSE WHY NOT ROB THE COUNTRY WHILE HE IS AT IT.

    • 0
      0

      Don Sarath, you posterior licker of MARA, how the hell do you compare Lee Quan Yu of Singapore etc. with a looter like MARA? Have the former ever imported adulterated fuel, killed their own child dashing on the ground and then escaped from the guillotine, slept with prostitutes, actresses and girls of the age of their daughters, operated white van killer squads against their own citizens, wasted public money by billions, trapped their own country in a foreign debt trap, sold their countries to foreign governments in the name of wasteful and destructive development projects, rigged all the elections in their countries, put their own countries in the UN’s agenda, invoked international investigations and got resolutions passed at UN against their own countries, been attacked jeered belittled joked and cases filed against them every time they undertake a foreign tour? When a country is ruled by uneducated uncultured bastards naturally third class losers like Don Saraths too take on the center stage which we are witnessing today!

      • 0
        0

        Silva,
        All what you mention in you comment hereabove appeared in some website or other except this:
        “killed their own child dashing on the ground and then escaped from the guillotine”

  • 0
    0

    To compare Lee Kuan Yu to Mahinda Rajapakse is a great insult to the father of Modern Singapore. Yu followed the western model in developing Singapore, whereas Rajapakse did the exact opposite, bowing down to the Chinese and the Iranians.

    We were on the right path after the independence, when the British left us with a great infrastructure, and the foundation for a democratic nation. The eelam issue got out of hand because of weak leadership, and Rajapakse waited around for his turn. He has turned out to be a tin hat dictator, mainly because he is being worshipped by a sinhalese majority, which is essentially anti western. If Sri Lanka is to be converted back to a western style democracy, the younger generation of sinhalese need to break away from the stone age mind set, and throw out the entire clan of Rajapakses, who are raping the island.
    Good article, Emile.

  • 0
    0

    Mahinda is a greater statesman than Lee Kuan Yu. People do not know the whole story about Lee Kuan. Mahinda won a war that the west said could never be won. He handled the 300000 refugee problem better than any leader in the whole world who faced such a problem. He faced the pressure by the west than any leader in modern times . Mahinda should forget about the western style democracy and introduce a system best suited to SriLanka. Separatism should be declared a grave crime too.

    • 0
      0

      Rand Jay, Have you got a wife, daughter or a sister-a female with working pulses? Then have that figure(s) ready to be raped and butt-fucked by those in the very regime you support-the NARA, MARA or the Pradeshiya Saba councilors or the goons of the regime etc.! And after they have fornicated you can sell them to mushrooming hotels and brothels of the Mahinda Chinthanaya or Miracle of Asia! If you have got sexy looks you too can earn something by offering your body to regime’s miracle creaters and performers! One of the compulsory and invariable byproducts of despotic and corrupt regimes such as the one in Sri Lanka is that swine characters like Rand Jay get begotten to eat the muck and filth of the despot and his retinue!

    • 0
      0

      Rand Jay, Mahinda is the dumbest fool ever to rule this country! He and his imbecilic family and retinue of donkeys have plunged this country to a near hell!

  • 0
    0

    Descend of the despot has already begun. The only way MARA can prevent is by rigging the elections! No need of Arab Spring type costly and killer revolts to topple this cursed regime, get UN and other international bodies to send in election monitors and get them do a real serious monitoring of all the elections thereby preventing repetition of previous rigging sprees and you can form your new government without any hassle! It is the least harmful and lowest cost scientific method of regime change! Please give your thoughts about that aspect as well.

  • 0
    0

    Line up the royal family: MR, Namal, GR, BR, CR, SR, YR etc. Just observe their looks, their gestures, how they speak and the whole mannerism! Can anyone say they possess any of the niceties, looks, royalties or highness etc. characteristic of royals? MR looks a drunkard and a thug, so is NR, GR looks a vacillating stuttering hangman suitable to fill the existing vacancy at the gallows! BR inherits a moronic funny grabbing and greedy look ever prepared to grab at anything that has value! The two donkeys entrusted with education seems a pair of monkeys who lost their tails in the wedge pulling saga! This is true Miracle of Asia-the personification of evil in the guise of deity!

  • 0
    0

    “HE FINISHED THE WAR, YES THATS A GREAT THING BUT THATS WHAT PEOPLE HAVE APPOINTED HIM TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE, TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY” !!!

    MR did’nt have any patriotic feeling in asking the masses to vote for him to power. If he was genuine in protecting the citizens, he would not have robbed Tsunami funds in 2004. Remember “Helping Hambatota” slogan, as claimed by the former President herself, who was sponsoring Kadirgamer for the post of Prime Minister against MR.

    (BTW, the court case of Kadirgamer’s killing was not conclusive).

    When Indian Govt., led by Sonia was to take revenge for Rajiv’s death, MR took his opportunity to go to war with LTTE, and to come to power he bribed VP to prevent Tamils boycott the election, while Ranil was following the peaceful route. (MR stated publicly that he was fighting India’s war.)

    Because of India’s influence with the West, the West supported the war
    (and for MR’s luck),along with Totalitarian regimes China, Russia, Iran who are anti-West.

    Since the war was not conducted as per Geneva conventions, many innocent Tamils were killed, but that was no concern of MR who was determined to rule the country and changed the Constitution extending the entitled limit of two periods of Presidency.

    So let us not blindly give him credit for winning the war.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.