18 September, 2019

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Democracy And The Change Of Government

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

The stoutest defender of any government will grant that periodic renewal is good; universities recycle Deanships and companies CEOs. There is a reason for term limits though none can guarantee the next will be better. Term limits are imposed because fresh air brings vigour. It was good for Thatcher to go after long at the helm; I don’t like Narendra Modi but it will be good for Congress to take a back seat for a while.

It will be good for GotaMahinda to go. Should this team to hang on for, 18, 24 or 30 years like Robert Mugabe or Bashar al-Assad? Enough is enough of Lanka’s ruling alliance after nearly 20 years in office.  Nobody can guarantee that the next person, if the Executive Presidency is not scrapped, (Ranil, Karu, Fonseka or Anura Kumara) will shine and who is best is another discussion. But now it is time for spring cleaning.  This is my minimalist argument.

I will now go beyond minimalism to persuade you that, in any case, this government is bad. Looking back over the last half-century, isn’t this Gotabaya-Mahinda UPFA regime the worst in our post-independence history on many counts?  Forget the Tamils; I am making this assertion on behalf of the country at large. There has always been corruption, sometimes horrific, sometimes less intense; there has always been encroachment on democratic rights by the state. But never in our history has a regime been so corrupt at all levels and across the board (Cabinet, Provincial and personal hangers on) and never has profiting from or condoning the drug trade reached so far up. Not even in two periods of state repression, 1971 and the dark days of Premadasa’s slaughter of thousands of youth, was there a purposeful attempt to lay the groundwork for dictatorship.

I have never heard a moral case against changing the Rajapake regime; what I have heard is that even if it be desirable, it is difficult to achieve given Rajapakse’s post-war approbation and Ranil’s congenital drawbacks.   Let’s take it in two steps; if the argument is that Mahinda is a strong candidate (though not so strong after the PC elections), I do not contest it. If it is said that Lanka needs to get rid of this regime, but it’s a tough fight, I agree.

Graft, power abuse and nepotism

A patron-client network fans out among the people. About 10 almighty leaders, all members of the dynasty, are held up by about 3000 UPFA MPs, provincial and local councillors, and flunkeys in patronage positions. This vibrant middle-layer demands votes and cheers from the grass-roots in exchange for favours such as contracts, intercession in securing a job, fraudulently fixing a land title-deed and so on. If each middle-level flunkey can commandeer 300 persons (an MP or councillor has a bigger stooge base) we are looking at about a million clients. This is the Rajapakse base in the seven Sinhala provinces. It is this three-layered, patron-crony-client nexus that explains the degeneration of the eventual client, the public. It has rendered all society corrupt in its own image.

It is for this reason that Lanka’s people ignore abuses by state, regime and politicos, though only too well aware of it all. Fear is lesser reason, the erosion of public morals the greater, this is a point I have made several times. It is also timely to quote from the UNHRC Resolution supported by 23 countries . The three paragraphs referring to the erosion on human rights in Sri Lanka under the pernicious Gota-Mahinda regime read as follows.

Expressing deep concern at reported intimidation and retaliation against civil society members, including those who met with the High Commissioner during her visit,

Expressing serious concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, and threats to judicial independence and the rule of law,

Alarmed at the rapid rise in violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, particularly against members of religious minority groups in Sri Lanka, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians, etc.

I need say no more about the appalling record of this regime on human and democratic rights and the abuse of power. The world at large has spoken

International pariah status

The most recent humiliation that the Rajapakses have burdened this country with is an international pariah status that brings with it moral opprobrium and a sanctions threat. Two operative clauses, 2 and 10b, say.

Clause 2:  Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation etc.

Clause 10b:  (Requests the Office of the High Commissioner) to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes etc.

There is ambiguity. Is he High Commissioner’s investigation to be done if GoSL declines “to conduct an independent and credible investigation” or it is a sham, or is it to be undertaken anyway? The ambiguity is intentional. It is not easy, after a local enquiry commences, to declare it a sham and commence a probe under 10(b), but it would be simple to declare that a parallel probe was always intended. The West and the Commissioner are keeping this card up their sleeves.

The government will attempt to mobilise monks and chauvinists to dance the jig on the streets and proclaim imperialist plots from the rooftops, but it won’t deceive people who grasp international politics. And provincial elections have shown that it is less and less likely to fool the public at large either. The country’s reputation is in tatters and there is no way to start the process of renewal except by prefacing it with regime change. Let’s take a break from Gota-Mahinda and renew the democratic traditions of this country.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    16

    The most recent humiliation that the Rajapakses have burdened this country with is an international pariah status

    Let us say, Rajapakses are international pariahs. Now who are the international idols? Veluppillai Thangavelus, Suren Surendirans, Fr. SJ Emmanuels, Hon. Visvanathan Rudrakumarans, Ananthi Sasitharans, BTF, GTF, Erik Solheims, Jayalalithas, Siobhain McDonaghs ?? Oh dear! I’ll take my chances with Rajapakses anytime. Thank you very much.

    • 6
      2

      You sounds like you want to contend with worse rather than the worst. In other word, you want to pose the stupidity as a brilliant idea.

      Don’t you have a vote select the best? What is the brilliant idea in settling with worse? When are the Sri Lankans going to listen to some intelligent writing and act upon that rather than retaliating for those writing?

      Can you read English? Can you understand KD’s two line ” Forget the Tamils; I am making this assertion on behalf of the country at large. “

    • 4
      3

      Nz in,

      It appears that you will resolve every problem in Sri Lanka to a simple Sinhala-Tamil equation. Please remove your blinkers and look at the reality on ground!

      Sengodan. M

    • 2
      1

      In saying ” if the Executive Presidency is not scrapped, (Ranil, Karu, Fonseka or Anura Kumara) will shine”, David missed a couple of his “single issue candidates” – Maduluwawe Sobhita and Wisvalingam.

      Goes to show that a fool will always be a fool no matter how much edcation he is given!

    • 2
      0

      This [Edited out]- Mahinda Rajapakshe deliberately destroy the court system in Srilnaka.

      http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/45910-proper-procedures-not-adhered-to-in-pardoning-psd-personnel-unp.html

      Ajith Perera is very right asking the reason those PSD men to be set free ?
      Right thinking ones should support opposition to go on weeks long protests against these unjustificable decisions made by MR himself.

      He is the most abusive president in South asia today.

      • 3
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        Only way out will be UNP to make a coalition with Democratic Party (DP),CBK supporters in UPFA, and other smaller parties —> then defeating MR will be a reality. People will grasp this in coming month… that is for sure

  • 1
    6

    Navi Pillay gets a mention above. Her CV makes for interesting reading. Go to Rense dot com and read “Navi Pillay: US Imperial Tool” by Stephan Lendman

  • 3
    2

    “I’ll take my chances with Rajapakses anytime.”
    And live outside the country enjoying the benefits of a free world.
    LOL: What an hypocrite?
    :)

  • 6
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    Rajapakses are still a dynasty in the making. They have miles to go. At the moment too much is hinging on one man. Even Gota behaves like a poodle at Carlton house eating from Aiyas hand.

    Mahinda cannot let go as there will be havoc, the rest of the pack will just self destruct. To defeat him you need some one of equal stature or more. Only other option is a common candidate plus a united opposition.

    • 1
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      Safa:-

      “Even Gota behaves like a poodle at Carlton house eating from Aiyas hand.”

      Haven’t you got it the wrong way round?
      Gota is only biding his time. He is the shrewd one, who knows that the popularity of his Aiya allows him a free hand.

  • 1
    0

    KD, there are those post-Marxists who tell us globally we have entered the post-democratic era in humanity citing Zizek, Badiou and other post-ideology and post-democracy theorists, and here you are talking about reviving democracy in Sri Lanka, and it is bourgeois democracy, anyway, they would say. Post-democrats argue that no regime change would revive democracy as it is the super-class of capitalists who hold power irrespective of the regime. Isn’t this true in the case of Sri Lanka as well? Do you think the UNP gives two hoots about democracy? Will the JVP be any better given how they have physically beaten up the group that broke away from the party? What do you think?

  • 5
    0

    “The government will attempt to mobilise monks and chauvinists to dance the jig on the streets and proclaim imperialist plots from the rooftops, but it won’t deceive people who grasp international politics”

    …and therein lies the problem. Those who grasp internationl politcs are too few and those who grasp the usefullness of a well placed bribe are many.

    For the Hoi palloi whether Sri Lanka is a British Colony, a pariah state, or a family business has had no bearing on their lives. The only thing that has caught their attention is that now, they are part of the victorious glorious aryan Sinhala Bhuddist Nation and the oppostion is trying to wake them up from this most pleasing dream.

    In Sri Lanka along with the widening income disparity, is widening intelectual polarization and perhaps gap. Kumar David makes sense but only to a select few who dare to show disent.

    The problem is for all the predictions of doom and gloom that have been written by Kumar and his fellow travellers including leading economic pundits in the UNP, these doom and gloom scenarios have not manifested themselves on the ground. Rendering Kumar and other intelectuals mere false prophets.

    What the opposition needs is an able communicator and loud alarm clock that will rouse the people.

  • 4
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    prof. KD ,

    when Robert o blake was the Ambassador to SL ,once he was asked , what was the true intentions of US maneuvering over SL affairs , then he categorically rejected the idea of regime change , he was quoted as saying “ US wanted to help all Srilankan people “ , but today current Ambassador Ms M.Sisson is some what ambiguous in her answer , of course she wouldn’t openly declare that Obama administration is against the current junta regime and planning to overthrow it , but all indications are there to come to a reasonable conclusion , that is ‘enough is enough’ for them as well.

    with the invertible looming danger of Geneva debacle over the horizon , the junta regime has been cornered to a place where there is very little maneuvering left for further lame excuses ,remember when PoE report was out , they jumped up & down from the roof tops saying it wasn’t fair , as it wasn’t a home grown solution , now MR has his own home grown solution (LLRC)under his belt , what excuse can he bring for not implementing meaningful recommendations of LLRC (17 th Amendment ) , is it possible to say there is no 2/3 majority in the parliament ? or need more time ? did MR think twice before bringing the draconian 18 th amendment at the lightning speed to SL constitution , what is the justification he has for indefinite postponing ? ofcourse, segment of srilankan grass eating masses will accept what ever excuse the junta regime is going to come up with and no doubt they will be parroting the same song day in day out, but will the international community fall prey to MR’s dubious games ?
    when we have all the other so called self centered intellectuals busy on praising the king for his every move ,Prof. KD thank you for taking the initiative to bring the common candidate (SI)topic on to the public discourse , sadly today , all most all the celebrities, sportsmen/women, intellectuals et al are on the winning side , in other words “ wasi Patthata hoiyya” .

  • 3
    1

    Kumar David,

    Sri Lanka is a failed, and now a rogue state not abiding by international UN conventions. Elections are a side show to fool people at home and abroad.

    Tom, Dick, Harry, or Podi Singho will all be the same: They will create more chaos as the president’s secretary predicted if international investigation is approved.

    New order requires a revolution: How about a Bolshevik one?

  • 8
    0

    This government which has demonstrated in many fronts that it will stoop to any low level to pursue its hegemonic and power expanding objectives, has to go in the national interest. It has lost its moral right to govern this country.

    Prof.Kumar David has very clearly shown how the whole political and social structure in the country is being corrupted by this regime, to cling on topower for ever.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 2
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      Dr RN,

      We all know the problem. But the mis informed public will not realise it until it is too late. No point blaming the public as our mainstream media is biased and the flow of information is filtered and anti-Rajapakse fronts are being portraied as anti-Sri Lankan (more likely anti-Sinhala Buddhist).

      And the likes of KD and other intellectuals (including you) seemed to be ingnoring the mis-informed public and has an Audience all over the world but not where it matters.

      Thank you

      • 0
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        Sadly true. This situation is the result of the tyranny of the ‘ Democracy’ that is practiced in Sri Lanka. A kept, cowed, bribed and biased media media has shrouded the truth. The people read, hear, see, discuss and debate, but are yet in the dark. What they read is not the truth, what they hear is not the truth and what they is also not the truth. A web of expertly spun ‘ Maya’ ( illusion) by those holding the reins of power, is keeping us trapped in ignorance. We do what we can do, but the venomous spider does yet feat on all of us. This government has learned a lot from the LTTE and is replicating its methods on a grand national scale.

        Dr.RN

  • 0
    4

    Professori David,
    So, you have chicken up, I mean the pow wow with Dayan eh.

    You got your nexus wrong, math wrong, in fact everything wrong. You should live in a village like me to understand the psyche of a Sinhala Buddhist and to realize why MR keeps winning. He saved the country, he saved the nation, he saved the religion. Only reds and greens do not see it that way. MR is the Diyasena for most of them you stupid.

    I didn’t vote at the last PC election. So didn’t many. But none of those ‘3000 UPFA MPs, provincial and local councillors, and flunkeys in patronage positions’ you visualize could force us to cast our vote. You’re just dreaming monkey see, monkey do.

    By the way, where is your man ven Sobitha, the trojan horse?

    • 2
      0

      Banda

      “So, you have chicken up, I mean the pow wow with Dayan eh.”

      My FOOT! LOL

      Prof David is clever, Only fools like Dayan will continue to argue just for the sake of arguing, the wise will simply ignore and move forward.

      • 0
        0

        monkey do monkey see

  • 3
    0

    AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE WRITTEN…
    HOPE PEOPLE WILL OPEN THEIR EYES TO THE PACK OF LIES UNLEASED BY THE MAHINDA RAJAPAKSHE GANG.

    ALWAYS READY TO FOOL THE PEOPLE FOR THE M.R. GANGS BENEFIT.

    OFCOURSE M.R. & CO GETS THE CREDIT FOR BRINGING DOWN THE LTTE GANG.

    IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH BETTER WITH THAT HAVING SAID, M.R. GANG STEARED THE COUNTRY IN THE TRUTHFUL, HONEST, JUST WAY.
    THEN THIS REGIME COULD HAVE RULED FOR EVER.
    BECAUSE OF SO MUCH DICTOTOTRIAL WAYS THE COUNTRY IS RUN, THAT PEOPLE NEED CHANGE & A JUST SOCIETY.

    THIS IS JUST A ONE PARTY SHOW WHICH MUCH GO LIKE– MOHAMMED GAD
    DAFI, BEN ALI, SADDAM HUSSAIN, AND THE LIKES.

  • 1
    0

    Prof. KD,

    Recently in the OPA I overheard that only an alliance led by a “common candidate” acceptable to all races and religions can defeat the present government and the priorities of the winning alliance should be amendments to the constitution to abolish Executive Presidency and 18th Amendment and reintroduce 17th Amendment and to ensure equality for all.

    When the issue of governance cropped up during conversations with my not so rich relatives in remote areas during Aluth Awrudu visits, I mentioned about these priorities. They had no clue about 13th, 17th and 18th Amendments and were somewhat critical of the regime but were concerned about high cost of living, lack of basic facilities in rural hospitals and lack of facilities in rural schools and also the lack of proper infrastructure services.

    On the way back to Colombo I was thinking of this alliance led by a common candidate acceptable to all races and all religions.

    Well.MR is already a such common candidate with several racist, socialist, nationalist and philosophy-less parties in the alliance supporting him and if this short-sighted elite are in search of a common candidate they should screen those in the alliance with MR, who meet the elitist criteria. All “suitable candidates” in the opposition are spent forces and none of them are capable of splitting the vote base of the present common alliance.

    • 2
      0

      The main requirement is that EP be scarped since it is at the root of bad governance, abuse of power, and the ECONOMIC issues that people complain about as you mention.

      The identity of the candidate is just a corollary; Sobitha has said this again in his Daily Mirror video interview. It is still up. Have a look:

      http://www.dailymirror.lk/video/45484-we-need-a-common-candidate-to-abolish-executive-presidency.html

      If MR himself abolishes EP – which is the easiest way since he already has 2/3 majority – let him run as the next Prime Ministerial candidate. If he wins, so be it, it’s up to the people, as you say.

    • 1
      0

      The Professional has made a valid point.

      What about Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate?

  • 2
    0

    Dr David, the white van might be on the way.

  • 0
    0

    Careful Kumar what you wish for. Our Sri Lankans have a pithy saying along the lines ‘kiyanne mehemai, karrane????’ or ‘See will you, telling like this, doing like that’. MR was our crusader for Human Rights then….and now? Well, after he came into power and got Gotcha on board came the epiphany. Gotcha convinced him that what the country really needs is a proper bastard. Voila! Democracy in its proper form is a concept lost on the Sri Lanka of today. We are not a homogenous community; left-handed arse washers around the countryside and free thinking bromo-people in the capital writing high falutin bollocks to improve the national average and impress the foreigner. Until the day dawns when we will find a bastard with a velvet glove to rule over us, we’ll have to make do with MR and gotcha, his faithful Rottweiler.

  • 0
    0

    KD, Don’t you think that Prabhat Patnaik’s analysis of the Indian situation in the EPW article titled “Neo-liberalism and Democracy” (see, below for the link) is a lot relevant to understanding Sri Lankan situation as well? If that is the case, would the abolition of the Presidency possibly become a reality in our scenario? Even if it becomes possible, would a mere regime change, really change the ground reality for the life of ordinary citizens?

    http://www.epw.in/perspectives/neo-liberalism-and-democracy.html

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