26 April, 2019

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Need For Peaceful ‘Regime Change’

By Laksiri Fernando

 

Dr Laksiri Fernando

Even in peacetime the world has an awful lot of problems. Only in peacetime can we get on with solving them.”   –  Bill Oddie

After the end of the war against the LTTE, ethnic reconciliation with all minorities, the Tamils and the Muslims alike, and also between them undoubtedly was the priority. There was no justification of the war otherwise. Development was necessary in parallel, but not as a substitute or instead of reconciliation. The policy of the Rajapaksa regime, as it has turned out to be, is not reconciliation but assimilation. Reconciliation is only by words but not by deeds. This is already resisted by the minorities. The forthcoming provincial council elections in the East will sure to confirm this assertion.

There may be some who believed or believe that the war against the LTTE was wrong or it was wrong because the Rajapaksa regime was wrong. The reasons rightfully given are corruption and family rule, some of the perennial ills of many regimes. This is political puritanism and not political realism. ‘Conditional support’ to the regime was necessary to get rid of the LTTE and pave the way for the sustainable resolution of other problems such as ethnic reconciliation, democratisation, corruption, family rule, rule of law and human rights. These were not easily pursued during the war. Resolution of the ethnic conflict with the LTTE through peace negotiations was almost impossible as proved through experience and that is why the war could be supported or allowed conditionally without supporting human rights or humanitarian law violations. At least that is what the regime overtly promised, a humanitarian operation.

For a long period of time, Sri Lanka’s major political problematic has been what can be called the ‘democratic revolution.’ Without this breakthrough, genuine or people centred development would not be achieved. This is the case even now. While the LTTE was a product of the lacunae or the delay of the democratic revolution, its appearance in the political stage also created a major obstacle for the democratic transformation. A victory of the LTTE could have belated the democratic revolution in Sri Lanka for many more decades. That is why a ‘two stage revolution’ or process was necessary. Now the first stage is over with the demise of the LTTE, the second stage of getting rid of the Rajapaksa regime should begin. It is already on the move.

There were people who believed that the LTTE could not be defeated. They were proved wrong. There are people who believe that the Rajapaksa regime cannot (or easily) be defeated. The adverb ‘easily’ reveals certain defeatism. They would be proved wrong in the coming future. It took three years to defeat the LTTE in the battle field. It might take an equal period of time to defeat the Rajapaksa regime in the political field. The first trajectory primarily appeared to be a military conquest. But the second should be a peaceful political conquest given the parliamentary arena that the regime is primarily based. Sri Lanka also should not go into violence again. The defeat of the LTTE was not only military, it should however be noted. Political de-legitimisation amongst the Tamil people was its real defeat.

The 18th Amendment has been the Rajapaksa regime’s ‘mortal sin’ after winning the war. That was in September 2010. It exposed its character. It alienated many influential sections of professional groups in the country although not immediately. By that time many ills of family rule and corruption also had surfaced.

For the Tamil community, the ‘mortal sin’ of the regime of course is war crimes during the war. There will be no easy escape for the regime from these crimes. The horror of these events will never allow the Tamil community to reconcile with the Rajapaksa regime. It may be necessary to get the maximum possible out of the present regime for the minority communities under international and the UN pressure. But a proper reconciliation would be near impossibility without a regime change. No mediation could galvanize it. The regime has crossed the red line.

There may be some who believe that the regime cannot be changed easily because of its development drive. But day by day it is exposed to be hoax. When the people in the war ravaged North and the East first need basic infrastructure for livelihood efforts, priority is given for major roads and tourist hotels. The main reason is the commissions given by the big contractors. This is the same in the South and other areas as well.

Development may be measured by growth rates for a while. But the people would soon realise that the benefits mainly flow only to a certain class in society and not to them. The income disparities are enhancing and the poor is getting poorer and poorer. This is unbelievable for a regime headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa who was believed to be a people’s man in the past. The only lifeline between the regime and the general masses seems to be few handouts given to them through programs such as Samurdhi and others during election times. These are just to keep them alive on the poverty line.

Then what keeps the regime going? Of course there are time sequences for electoral change. It is only two years since the last elections. Until people are sure that the time is ripe for regime change, particularly those who are dependent on handouts might hang on to the regime out of desperation. This is a predicament of a ‘poor democracy’ like in Sri Lanka. There are of course other reasons. Patriotism is one. The regime is portraying the LTTE still as a security threat. This is something which needs to be exposed. The opposition is also weak. It is not in disarray like in the past but weak.

The readily available forces for regime change of course come mainly from the UNP and the TNA support bases. The JVP is also an important or crucial element in catalysing change among others. Hopefully they will not make the past mistakes by indulging in violence. If they do, the upper hand and the legitimacy will go to the regime. Of course the regime should be resisted, but resisted through the all available legitimate means.

The crucial ingredient is the winning over the UPFA support base for a sustainable regime change. Chandrika Kumaratunga can play a crucial role in this respect if she speaks now, and speaks forcefully. Similarly important is Sarath Fonseka who might be able to break the deception of regime’s bogus patriotism being the former army commander. Keeping the soldiers neutralized in any confrontation instigated by the regime is also important.

There are suggestions for a single issue common candidate for the presidency against Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is simply too early to identify a candidate now. Of course there should be a firm commitment to abolish the presidential system from whoever is going to be the common candidate from the opposition in the future. But single issue might not be the best approach. There are so many issues that a regime change should entail. There are valid arguments that a regime change per se is not enough; a system change is necessary. Of course Kumar David has suggested a system change in the constitutional sphere which might or might not bring a systemic change in the other spheres.

A regime change is a social process. It should address to the various layers and sections of the society. It should be a comprehensive ‘socio-democratic’ program and platform as much as possible. These issues should evolve and arise like in the FUTA struggle for saving the country’s educational system. Of course we can debate upon them in advance but we should not completely predetermine them.

So far there are two sections of society that have moved against the regime in a purposeful manner: the academia and the legal profession. Although short lived, the protest of the legal professionals, both judges and lawyers, against the attack on the Mannar Magistrate is significant like the FUTA strike. To me, these are the first signals of a democracy or a human rights movement. Intellectuals and lawyers have always been in the forefront of democracy struggles throughout the world. This is almost like a ‘textbook’ case. The two issues that they have raised are the independence of the judiciary (with rule of law) and the right to education. The education sector might be the Waterloo of the Rajapaksa regime. There are pressing issues of minority rights and working class issues. There is a need to crystalize them. This would also not mean that everything is rosy or would move smoothly.

At this very moment there are dangers to the FUTA struggle. There can be dismissals of FUTA leaders before reopening the universities. Then there will be legal battles. There can be temporary setbacks but more profound forward struggle in the future. What might be necessary is to call the spade a spade. The Rajapaksa regime has outlived its purpose and it should go.

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    You are now talking Laksiri … That’s very encouraging …. Regime change by peaceful means … I like the concept – ‘peaceful means’ …
    In your and many other’s opinion, this is the most corrupted, unmoral, uneducated government SL ever had … Then you have the right to oppose and work to change …. That is very very good … People like me who believe the current government is not the worst and it achieved a lot in three years with all their faults and corruption included … Most prominent achievement is that the country was saved intact from the clutches of terror … In my opinions, it was unbelievable feat achieved in just two years when whole world against it …. SL is also going through unprecedented development SL had never seen … Yes! There are corruptions, lawlessness and thuggery by politicians … In my opinion, these are not new phenomenen SL just discovered … It was there all the time and I believe that changing government would not solve the problem … That does not mean that people should not try to change the government for a better deal …
    Srilankans Ofcourse need very strong people oriented Srilankan friendly opposition … Not a opposition to serve outsiders to exploit the country to their benefit …. Current opposition leaders like Chandrika, RaniL, Mangala, Sarath F were used by outsiders and still being used …. So, they have no support inside the country .. Judging by articles (Kumar D promoting Monk Sobitha ) shows the bankruptcy of the opposition …
    By the way, like you, FUTA also should declare their aim … REGIME CHANGE …. without hiding … It was so obvious when you see the leaders of top of FUTA … Ranjith Devasiri and monk Dambara Amila … Why are they still hiding behind ‘6% GDP for education’ which they have no mandate to pursue? …. Ofcourse I’m for 25%GDP for education .. But, you have to be practical not to ask for it without any flexibility …. That is too too much to ask from ‘intellectuals’ because they as a body have no wisdom …. . Did these FUTA members who are supposed to be intellectuals, show any wisdom by appointing Ranjith Devasiri and Monk Dambara Amila as their leaders? Is there any benefit to the country even if %6 GDP allocated today with these kind of ‘intellectuals’? I am not so sure ….

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      Great stuff keep it coming!
      1. The analysis of the need to get rid of the corrupt and militaristic Rajapakse regime to finally purge Lanka, now that the murderous LTTE is gone is quite accurate. The saying goes – set a thief to catch a thief. Now that the murderous LTTE is gone, the second part of the evil– the Rajapassa regime needs to go!
      2. If Rajpakssa wins the violent circus of provincial council elections this time around, it will be the last – and only because of the massive abuse of public property and rigging.. These elections should be in any case declared NULL and VOID due to the massive abuse of state resources and violence and intimidation by the regime.. If the regime wins it will be ILLEGITIMATE since elections are now a violent circus to maintain a facade of democracy for a corrupt dictatorship..
      3. Regime change is blowing in the winds of Lanka’s academic spring: Rajapassa bros. have fooled some of the people some of the time, but they could not fool all the people all the time! People have seen through the “facade of development” that covers institutional de-development and the looting of public wealth and lands which must be returned to their rightful owners – such as the land grabbed in the east coast in Passikudha and Trincomalee or in Kalpitiya to build massive hotels for Basil and his crony capitalists, that have formed shell companies like Citrus Leasure via looting of EPF and ETF funds and insider dealing in the stock market..
      Once peaceful regime change comes about those lands that have been grabbed by the Rajapassa Bros including in Colombo must be returned to original owners or the properties acquired and sold at market value to compensate the owners for their loss..

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        Don Stanley
        You are 100% right.
        The war was won by committing war crimes in massive scales – this irreversibly tarnished image of our nation. Innocent civilians were ruthlesy slaughtered in thousands with MBRL, heavy guns, cluster bombs, supersonic airraids, naval bombardment and chemical weapons.
        The point you need to remember is that the Brothers cannot be removed from power without foreign intervention.

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      Nice piece and very encouraging to think of a broad and peaceful coalition that includes Chandirka and Sarath Fonseka to help with ensuring the regime change transition that Sri Lanka desperately needs is a peaceful one. Good idea for SF to speak to the forces and hold them in check when Gota the great White van Goon goes berserk, as he is prone to, and orders the armed forces to shoot at university Dons and students, when he sees the Rajapassa regime crumbing!
      But then, it should be a younger generation of leaders who takes over – we are tired of the political dynasties and mafias in all parties. Chandirka, Sarath Fonseka and Ranil Wickramashinghe cannot try to grab power after the transition – they are all part of the problem of the rotten “political culture” in Lanka that needs to change. They can be senior figureheads for the transition but we need the younger generation – preferably the likes of FUTA who are independent to guide the transition and show the way for an equitable and people friendly model of development since all the political parties and politicians are power hungry corrupt and into money politics.. Technically competent and educated younger generation must take the helm and steer the course..
      The time is ripe again for Lanka to lead the way in South Asia and reject militarization and INSECURITIZATION and mal-development that it brings and emphasize social development and regain its high social indicators and be a model of human development in the region..

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      this development funded by foreigners and our taxpayer can be used v much better by qualified people beyond a despotic family thug concept without the white van culls, racist agenda and the proper law enforcement

      this fellow family and 18th amendment is megalomania getting in the way

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    ‘Regime Change’will help the some people’s in the majority community to achieve power.we Tamils have seen many ‘Regime Change’before.What we needs is to change the attitude of the people in power to change.You cannot have reconciliation by building a Siddhartha’s statue wherever you find a boga tree in north other words in our Tamils land. And settling the people from the down south in the heart of Tamils land. With the help of the help of the government and it’s tools.I advice the author to take tour to affiliated area’s of our Tamil people to get a on hand fact’s

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      Stop whining and playing ethnic politics! Rather build bridges across invented ethnic and religious conflict that benefit Rajapassa’s divide and rule policies, and BE THE CHANGE! For a change!

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    It is ironic that we need Chandrika again for so called regime change. She also came to power promising to abolish the executive presidency. When you sit on the seat, the story change dramatically. That is human nature. We had a golden opportunity to abolish this executive presidency when Chadrika was the President while Ranil was the Prime Minister. (if that government survived little longer). There wont be any guaranty that one would abolish executive presidency even if we elect a common candidate as the president.

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    This is the not time of Regime Change peacefllly or violance means.
    MR govt having people’s mandate by last elecation by the PEOPLE’S BALLOT.Let him to compleated task undertake by people’s mandate by democrtic PATH.
    That was peaceful chnage,we need now STABILITY IN THE ISLAND,Upheld unity,soverignty of the people and UNITy OF OUR nation of all nationalities , terrorial intregrity and independance are priority of country agenda.
    Every night you cannot change Governmant ,by wish of certain foreign powers vested interest. Dr Luxsiri working on behalf certain foreign forces,vested interested.His demands seems to be in reality ,NOT THE INTERST OF DEMOCRACY OR PEOPLE’S OF SRI LANKA.

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    As Prof Viswa Wrnapala points out, today there is no rational and appropriate development planning in Sri Lanka – since the Rajapassa brothers have no concept of real human development as a social process and have marginalized the experts and bureaucrats with the knowledge of local development priorities in order to centralize power and control public resources. What passes for development are white elephant infrastructure projects, for which huge loans have been taken to suit the megalomania of the uneducated Rajapakse Bros. while the country sinks in debt and they siphon half the borrowed funds from China into their pockets!
    This sort of “development” process must end through regime change and education of the people by the Dons who must challenge the mal-development of Lanka under the Rajapassa regime explicitly as they are doing implicitly by asking for 6 percent GDP to education.
    The Rajapassa Bros suffer from delusions of grandeur and a form of paranoid megalomania evident in the so called “development” policy called Mahind Chinthanaya which is a load of bullshit ! Chinthanaya is in fact a development nightmare and disaster with massive debt. Peaceful regime change is needed to liberate Lanka from the Rajapassa development debacle..

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    It is unlikely that the current troika will let go unless they are forced to by the majority of the people. A more likely scenario would be widespread strikes and agitation leading to an untenable situation forcing them to step down. It is hoped that this would be a peaceful transition with minimum disruption to the nation.

    Then too there is a problem as to who is going to be the replacement.
    A likely solution would be a National Govt composed of all the major parties. This may include the present incumbent President but without the 18th amendment, PTA and dictatorial powers. Also a small cabinet of ministers.

    The powers of the defence secretary and other ministers will have to be watered down. Also the armed forces need to relinquish their civilian duties and get back to their role of protecting the nation. The Accountant in charge of the CB will have to step down and have a professional economist in that positon.

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    Dr. Laksiri’s article is inspiring and very balanced. He proposes not only a Regime change but also a Systems change.Sri Lanka has tread a path carved out by the colonial masters whether it is politics, economics or social over six decades.Democracy an import to SL never took root in the hearts and minds of the people.It remains still as an exercise of the vote at election time.We have not empowered the people politically. economically so much so that every aspect of peoples lives be it educating children or health or jobs we have seek political patronage as we are an ahinsaka poor lot.We have overused the system by bringing in ad hoc changes .We failed in nation building from the very outset and launched divisional politics hiding behind a facade of patriotism.Religion and ethnicity were used to propagate heroism and patriotism.As some one has commented we have overused the senior politicians .We have to go in search of shiny new leaders from the younger generation where there will be plenty.

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    Off course this Corrupt rogue regime should be chased out by hook or crook, complication is the replacement which should be non politicians, interim Govt for 3 or 4 yrs consisting honest intellectuals, academics, clergies of all religions, abolish executive presidency & 18th Amendment, hold free & fair election. hold referendum for any system change.

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    Dr Luxsri want CBK as Presidnet Candatiture for revitilization of nationl politics again by leadership of medival-fedual type of Family orinted democracy. Dr Kumar David want Ven Maoluwa Sobitha Thera.
    Dr Wickaramabahu Kauratahana already Campaning For Ex-Amry General Satarh Fonseka tip to be Next Presidnet. And Madam Dr Nimlaka Fernado want secular-orinted President may be……another Sarath..Nobody want any change of policy-orinted,and Respect people base democary and FUNDAMATEL POLICY CHANGE in Island of our society.
    The problem of Replacement base on personal grounds againt MR politics.But no any better altanative not yet come .
    They priority agenda on (PRESIDENTSHIP)only. The root cause of corrupation comes from NOT SYSTEM OF CORNY NEO-LIBERALISM ,BUT FORM PRESEDIANCY!
    How is our elites MINDSET & calculation on corrupation.Wonderful!
    They just want only superssed President powers of Change according to the Foreging power vital & vested intersted.
    Another groupe of elties of Dr Uyangoda seek South Afrian intervenation and guidance put system into more disorder.
    NO body want people-orinted and policy orinted system changes in favour of people of Sri lankan.

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    The writer proposes a Peaceful Regime Change. Now please do not jump the gun for what I propose as a change Peacefully effected will not have any value. Now see the Independence we got it almost without a struggle. Do we value our Independence? NO. Here again a Peaceful change will not be valued. Therefore the envissaged change should be paid for in blood, sweat and tears, much, much more than the atrocities during the LTTE War. Higher the Violence, Greater the Value. Had we a Nation of sensible masses, then we could have opted for a Peaceful Regime Change. Considering the mutts we have in our society that I recomended the former.

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    What a shitty idea? No ne in Sri Lanka asing for regim Change only those who appear for LTTE in the diasporaasking aregim change. What we need is to carry on the deveopment and tae the country in to levelwhere no other foreign contry could not interfear our internel matters. The only person who can do it in the present context is MR no one else. We dont want any politicians without backbone running our country! Jaya wewa!

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      The un-seen development, here it is:

      ‘Concrete and steel structures rise to sky high heights
      Carpeted roads extend miles and miles cutting across poor farmers’ plots
      Commissions on contracts unlimited flow from China and India likewise
      Bellies of farmers shrink from hunger showing skin hanging on ribs
      Bellies of commissions takers swell needing eight cylinder cars to move
      them around’
      Shall we fancy this development.

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      your fellow has no backbone to arrest even the killer of his adviser

      no backbone, rather no brain to fix the economy

      what bone to stamp kerosine tax

      we never saw him in the war front and the brother ran away

      Confusing white-van with back-bone

      LTTE dead now, as long as these fellow stay the ‘phanton LTTE’ remains

      Foreign countries are interfering more than ever before, UN, US, China (sweet at the moment)

      Foreign interference was necessary to defeat LTTE; bans, cut funding, inteligence, weapons, turning blind eye for war crimes hoping we would do the right thing, ineffective million march London protest & mere forign minister trying for media

      Anyway this ‘foreign interference’ is an excuse in the globalized world, others are not supposed to look the other way if we are beating our wife and abusing our kids because it is home.

      The present context is largely created by ‘family’, hence the solution; ‘family’ has to go

      Otherwise blood bath years fom now like middle east.

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    Nobody or country can change this regime by Peaceful way or any other way. Laksiri and the other christian organisations,pro-LTTE diaspora trying hard to do it. You can witness it when the provincial election over in few days.

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      sobitha thero, other monks, students, teachers, many opposition and regime Biddists, minorities. liberals and intellectuals are Buddhist, not any other
      we’ll. if your Buddhists are for corrupt white van goons and minority abuse, they are bad Buddhists
      It is your desire for modern western lifestile, your dependence on it including internet, mixed with your insecure jealousy that is talking

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    Bruno Umbato the South American seems to have the political situ in SL mixed up. The Futa has every right to ask a 6% of GDP for education,this is not a mandate but a necessacity for the nation when 20% of GDP is spent on defense and the only conclusion as to this is to keep a uneducated stupid population at gun point should the need arise in the near future.Great article by Laksiri Fdo I did not know he was a Christian,what a stupid remark by a contributor.Whatever you are we need to galvanise in this hour of need as SRILANKANS and throw these despots out.Don Stanley added some great comments and so did Sunila Mendis.Unfortunately for SL after the sixties there was poor political leadership that led to the paralysis in policy making way for thieves and uneducated goons to elected office. I just can’t fathom the hero worship cult like phenomenon the Rarapakses are garnering in the rural sector when $ 5 Billion was spent on armaments and had the forces increased to nearly 500,000 to face up to a enemy of 50,000. Most any one can win in this scenerio.The only positive thing for the regime is that they withstood enormous foreign pressure to call it off and finished off a conflict that the nimble brained past leaders failed.S.L.Gunasekara is someone to think about a single issue political leader to dump the the stupid presidential system.

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    if gota basil were robbing the last electron at the commissioner’s house theres never going to be regime change with brother and son next in line

    some relic will be displayed, many bo trees hugged and the people will happily pay more kerosene tax for the myth of Buddhism, country & racism………… aka patriotism…
    Idiots deserve it until they rise up middle east style many decades to come, relieved at foreign help, too late

    gota believes in the bullet, brother is indifferent to it, may be there’s a message in this

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    If you realy talk about a regime change then go for it , then you need to re draft the constitution with equal power sharing with all the people living in the country. Tell good bye to communal politics send buddhist monks to temple not to parliament or to allow them to destroy mosques and churches. will that be possibel or you are just talking of replacing one devil with another? are you sincere in a regime change then go for it get the professionals lead the struggle

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