16 May, 2022


Gota Is Saving The country

By Vishwamithra

“Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

In the midst of darkened skies and uncertain dreary clouds there appears a ray of hope on the not too distant horizon. Hundreds of thousands of youth and their parent and grandparent generations of Sri Lanka seen on the streets of Colombo and other cities, rural villages and almost in every household seem to be getting together as one Sri Lankan family, discarding their petty ethnic, religious, caste, creed and all other differences. That indeed is an excitingly enlightening spark for an otherwise apathetic and ambiguous mass of humanity. Electricity is in the air.

Parliament, the so-called ‘Temple of Democracy’ and the ‘Citadel of the People’s Voice’ is in utter disarray, far too removed from reality; those who were elected to navigate the troubled waters of State-affairs have encountered a massive gridlock of squelchy kind. Protesters numbering in hundreds of thousands have taken over the daily routine of life. Empty stomachs, homes enveloped in darkness, hearths devoid of kerosene and cooking gas and only strong yet weary and exhausted legs to carry them from point A to point B, are of no consequence to these youngsters. They carry their children, in some cases infants and toddlers, on their shoulders. As a matter of fact, they, as at now, are carrying the hopes and dreams of the whole nation on their young and sturdy shoulders. What a sight to behold!

Who and what made this possible? Who and what caused this chain of events that is unfolding before our eyes? A clarion call for a wholesale transformation from the status quo, to use an oft-repeated cliché, is no voice in the wilderness. When, especially in the wake of a brutal thirty-year war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) and its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the country was sharply polarized along ethno-religious lines, it has come together for one common cause- establishment of an incorrupt and competent government. It was then, Tamils in one corner, Muslims in another and the great majority Sinhalese, comprised of almost 75% of the total population, in the middle, so to speak. Now they are all in one bunch.

The current rulers were elected on the premise that they ‘saved’ the country from the Tigers of the North. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was declared as a hero of the war effort. But after the failure of the Yahapalanaya government Gotabaya was propelled to the throne and on the shoulders of the members of the ‘Viyath Maga’ group; Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new President of Sri Lanka was virtually carried to the Presidential Secretariat. The defeat of the Rajapaksas in 2015 was perceived as an aberration and the masses were led to believe that the new President would establish brand new form of governing principles devoid of all corrupt practices the governments of the previous two decades were associated with.

It took just less than two and half years for the masses to realize that the new jokey they voted into power is not only entrenched in the same old dump of corruption, but he was incompetent beyond all limits too. He surrounded himself with some half-past-two thirty cohorts, distributed the most lucrative government appointments to them and allowed his family and friends to plunder the country’s treasury. Unbelievable levels of corruption were reached while he is in power and stupid national policies contributed to the atrocious plight that the country is confronting today.

When the foreign exchange crisis hit the country, when they ran out of dollars to pay back the enormous debts, when basic necessities stopped reaching the average households, the carnival turned into utter economic chaos and political unrest. The youth of the country could no longer swallow the bitter pills; the various stories that began their slow but steady cascade into the ears of the people became true and reliable. The economic crisis started its turns and twists and engulfed the entire population making it a fertile ground for a social dynamic most historians and social scientists call political deadlock.

Hirunika Premachandra, a former Member of Sri Lankan Parliament dared the Rajapaksas at first and with a few women of determination and raw guts marched towards the residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and surrounded it. A new genesis captured the imagination of a sleeping country. The rest, as they say, is contemporary history that is still being written on the streets in Sri Lanka.

Today the government of the Rajapaksas is gripped by fear; it’s being made totally impotent and helpless by the sheer weight of the economic crisis and they don’t seem to have any answer. The people are now asking for their proverbial ‘pound of flesh’. Then the country’s legislature met and talked and talked and talked for four consecutive days. But no solution seems possible and its appearance on the horizon is not visible even as an ever-evasive mirage.

Some rats began leaving the sinking ship; the nuances of failure were spelt out but no real confession, either by the President or the Prime Minister. The Cabinet of Ministers resigned but the main culprits, Gotabaya and Mahinda both of whom have become the targets number 1 and 2, still remain in cushy seats of power. Interim governments, caretaker governments, temporary measures to overcome the brewing political crisis have become mere words that are losing their intrinsic meanings. Parliament once again showed that it is not capable of reaching a consensus as to the resolution of issues that confront the country today.

The median age of people in Sri Lanka is estimated to be 31.1 years, with the median age of men being 30.1 years while females have a median age of 32.2 years. Furthermore, Sri Lanka has a high life expectancy of 75.94 years, with a male life expectancy at 72.43 years and female life expectancy at 79.59 years. This is also why 9.1% of the country’s population is in the 54-65 year age bracket, while 8.1% of its population is above the age of 65 (Source: World Population review). Sri Lanka is a young nation. It’s being proven beyond a reasonable doubt and widely displayed by the massive participation in the demonstration by the youth of the country.

And thanks to these stupid and corrupt decisions by the Rajapaksa family led by President Gotabaya, the youth of the country has come under one single banner today. Irrespective of caste, creed and religion, they are standing together as one family asking for the collective resignation of the government and the Rajapaksa duo, President and Prime minister. Not even the thirty-year war against the Tigers of the North could unite the country against one single enemy. Today the youth have come together, against corruption, against incompetence, against nepotism and most of all against ethno-religious divisions. That is why I dare say that Gota has saved the country today by offering his family and himself as the ‘common enemy’.

When curfew was declared in the wake of the protesters’ efforts to surround his residence, the people did not abide by the government’s decrees. During the curfew hours the people were on the streets while the Rajapaksas were hiding inside their homes. The irony was that the curfew was for the Rajapaksas and not for the people!

But where are we going from here. The recent parliamentary proceeding exposed the inability and incapacity of our elected men and women. After almost three weeks of protests and demonstrations, only Karu Jayasuriya who is not in Parliament made a logical move by addressing the burning issues of our youth. With all his limitations and past indecision-prone-conduct, Karu still remains the only politician acceptable to the youth of today, not as a permanent solution but at least as an interim leader who would establish some lasting new political traditions that might hold the country together. But Karu is not in Parliament. Being so precariously placed on the edge of total collapse, would there be any leader of any party today who would ask one of their MPs in the national list to resign and facilitate Karu’s entry into parliament. Extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary solutions. This is one such an extraordinary circumstance and one such an extraordinary solution.

All other leaders, including AKD and Sajith would not enjoy the confidence and faith of the mass of people who are clamoring for transparency and accountability.

The country is watching you; they may be busy coming out to the streets and expressing their own anger, fury and rage, but it is the fundamental cause and fundamental function of a parliamentary democracy to safeguard, protect and defend the sovereignty of the people.

It is still not too late for a divided Opposition to unite; it is still not too late for a reconciliation of all divisions, subdivisions and petty differences that haunt the very existence of not just our democracy; it’s gone way beyond the nuanced aspects of a state; it’s the very continuation of a people as one single nation that is in danger of extinction today.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Every day Gota is in office, it is costing the country in millions that it does not have and is heading into a black hole.

  • 4

    “All other leaders, including AKD and Sajith would not enjoy the confidence and faith of the mass of people…..Karu still remains the only politician acceptable to the youth of today,”
    Hardly. There is a touch too much Sinhala Buddhism in Karu, which impelled him to support MR at one time. I would prefer someone who hasn’t been a political acrobat.

    • 2

      OC according to author median age of men /women is below 35. Due to know the median age of our cabinet and parliament members ???

    • 2

      Old Codger

      Agreed, Karu has Sinhala Buddhist leanings but I think he can be considered as a moderate & his switching sides in the past can be attributed to Ranil’s autocratic leadership & arrogance. I am being generous but I know for certain, old Karu’s hands are clean, furthermore, internationally acceptable. Therefore, at thus crucial time, I would settle for an honest man. There is no other among the current lot to lead an interim govt.

  • 3

    Every day Gota RATPACKSE is in office, it is costing the country its SOVEREIGNTY to countries like china whose whole aim is to control other peoples and IMPOSE chinese racism on the subjugated peoples!! Something to look forward to by the racist sinhalas I suppose!! t

  • 14

    “The current rulers were elected on the premise that they ‘saved’ the country from the Tigers of the North.”

    Wrong. The current ruler (Gotha) were elected because of extremist Muslim suicide bombers who blew up churches. The brother of Gotha was elected because incompetent Ranil was about to give 1/3 of the country to terrorists without any pre-conditions. The majority community (Sinhalese) elected Rajapakses as a last resort because the minorities refused to negotiate in good faith. Whether Gotha stays or leaves, keep these basic facts in mind because the cycle may repeat itself.

    • 4

      If 1/3 of the country was indeed given to terrorists, we wouldn’t be dying in gas queues today. There would be no parippu queues.The USD would be around 150. There would be no diaspora. And best of all, the Rajapaksas would be busy pumping petrol in Jaffna and you would be washing their toilets.

      • 13

        According to the CIA, EU, Australia, etc. the LTTE were proscribed terrorists.

        “The LTTE has been designated as a terrorist organisation by 33 countries, including the European Union, Canada, the United States, and India.

        Your opinion as a terrorist sympathizer/supporter does not agree with the facts. Just because you believe in a fake history and wake a fake flag around does not mean a terrorist organization can gain legitimacy. September 11th, 2001, was the day when all terrorists had a “Nanthikadal Moment” as the civilized world adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy. Good luck.

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