Restoring democracy as a head line is not something we can be proud of. True we got over one critical undemocratic act and the process that was taken to restore the status core is definitely a reason to be proud of. As we saw and anticipated, what we encountered was only the beginning. By all account the saga is likely to continue for a while. However it may not be all doom and gloom for the citizens. There are some positives that surfaced in the process for us to remain hopeful. We’ll discuss them later.
Look at the five precepts of the current Sri Lankan politics. Unless they are changed and got people to realize the true meaning nothing is likely to happen except the transfer of power from one group to another. Would you recognize them? Sure there are a few others but these may be the core.
Democracy = ‘My way is High Way’. More powerful people get others to follow their high ways. Judiciary = ‘Justify my way’ – Considered as the mechanism available to justify pre-made decisions. Religion = ‘Blinding act’ – Systematic process that is used to brain wash people towards myth & disharmony. Nationalism = ‘Racism’- Process to exploit less exposed people thorough fear psychosis. Modernization = ‘Foreign interference’ – Rhetoric being used to prevent people embracing the new world
Actions under these banners have been successfully used to manipulate the general public particularly in non-urban areas. This is the critical mass that chooses the parliamentarians. The attraction of large crowds to activities under any one of the above ‘Banners’ is a compelling testimony to their negative effect and penetration in the society
Identifying the issues, finding root causes are of no avail unless creative solutions are developed and implemented. The actions needed to be moved from the cities to grass root levels in the distance places in the country. The issue is compounded by non-availability of any credible and effective communication channels that can reach non-urban masses as most main stream channels have aligned themselves with the promoters of the above ‘Five precepts’
Aftermath of October 26 actions yielded in several positive outcomes and gave some hopes. First let us capture them
– More than ever the smaller political parties played a very decisive leadership role in guiding and providing direction whilst withstanding the pressure and manipulations. In the absence of a strong and credible third force in the country, the leadership acts we saw were promising.
– Various civil society groups and individuals rally to effectively highlight the issue and show determination to take the issue to a positive end. The methods and avenues of communication they employed were innovative and engagement of several female groups was encouraging and powerful.
– The professionalism, credibility and courage shown by the highest court surpassed the expectations of many. When the independency of the judiciary has been a question for several years, the Supreme Court lead by the CJ himself made Sri Lanka proud and set an example to rest of the judges. If the right people are appointed they showed they can stand upright. They were heralded by world press and the legal fraternity across the world
– Combining all his political experience (barring some old patches) and courage, the speaker too did a splendid job when things were falling apart. Thanks to his courage and wisdom, the country got a firsthand opportunity to see how the lowly people they elected behave in a place they should never have been sent to.
– When all the main stream media enforced a self-inflicted seizer on disseminating right information and denying the people right to know the truth, the online community (web news lines, e -papers, social media groups etc) did an excellent job. That probably halted the infamous MP sale process. Surely the end results would have convinced those ignored them at least to be curious now. On the other hand in a world communication happen to be the one of the most powerful weapons, how Sri Lankans have been deprived of such opportunity is unforgivable.
– Not ignoring some of the possible reasons, the role played by the international community including the neighbors was a morale booster and potentially augurs well for any future positive initiatives
Should we not build on these successes and make use of the ‘Good stuff ‘and good people?
Unless we think differently and initiate some decisive actions, the public will not support will dissipate. Wining their confidence requires tangible results. How about considering following actions. The group identified above should be able to lead
– Set up a parliamentary dash board to track the progress of special court cases on weekly basis. This way public can track the performance of courts, legislature, get to know the truth and see an end of them.
– Demand expediting inquiries against the allegations of mega scale issues and similarly track them in the parliament. This may cover allegation against sitting members of the parliament
– Demand the Government to cancel all Rs 500/- notes and up and issue fresh notes
– Demand suspension of all the bank accounts which has over Rs 50 million (or any other practical number) and release the suspension only after signed written explanation submission as to how the money was earned
– Develop an app that can be easily downloaded (free) by the over 30 million mobile users in Sri Lanka where they can directly access communication sites. Similar action can be initiated to set up public communication hotlines/portals to upload pictures/Videos/Audios of any malpractice that is being committed. Some innovative methods are required to provide the necessary exposure to the non – urban folks who eventually decide the fate of rest of the country in a vote
– Pursue Foreign countries to impose a temporary travel ban for all who have been charged in the special courts and their families though local courts may have lifted the travel ban on them
Unless we initiate concrete actions, nothing will change in the country. There may be several other actions that can help. Let us surface them and generate that enthusiasm and momentum.