By Laksiri Fernando –
Reading news from Sri Lanka is depressing. Suffering of the people due to cost of living, loss of employment or small businesses, breakdown of welfare assistance from the government are some of the reasons. News from daily life of the people is also disheartening with full of crime, family violence, cheating, drug use, and stealing. All these are symptoms of a deeper crisis in society and a breakdown of a value system.
The day-to-day language (yako, uba, thopi, thow) that people use, as evident from some teledramas, and social media is also clear of a social degeneration. Under these circumstances no one can blame the young people and the educated who try to migrate to other countries for living or for work.
The behavior, the actions and the explanations of the politicians are a deeper reflection of the above situation who are also mainly responsible for the country’s deepening crisis. Take the example of the President. It is the duty and the responsibility of a country’s leader to reveal and explain his or her positions to the country, and even to the international community, about important policy matters.
Elections and Jokes
In a democracy, there is nothing more important than elections. It was well known that local government elections were due in March. First, the President was obliquely silent. Then he started joking about it saying, ‘there is no elections to be postponed!’
There is no problem to the people that this President is a jovial man. But there should be a limit. He should not repeat his Royal Collage jokes especially when the country is in dire straits. It is good that he often appears in Parliamentary debates. But his behavior, arguments and jokes in those debates are reprehensible.
When he was appointed as the Prime Minister by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he even joked about the economy. He said ‘We invite tourists. They even can join the Protests!’ The above photo is by the BCC on this matter showing his jovial gestures. He even joked about the former British Queen just two days before her death which became condemned by many international journalists. What a Joker! It is difficult to believe that he is serious bout democracy or the economy. It is more difficult to believe that he will be trusted by the IMF although they might give priority to the country.
There is no doubt that compared to many other political leaders of the country he has some economic knowledge and experience. As a Minister (Finance or in charge of the economy) he can be good. But as the President of the country, he has so far proved to be hopeless, useless, and intolerable.
Importance Local Government
The local government system in Sri Lanka has a long history as Gam Sabha (village councils). It is not something just introduced by the British. Both the Colebrook Commission and the Donoughmore Commission acknowledged their importance. However, it was the British who introduced franchise to the system now under threat from the present President. It is difficult to believe that Philip Gunawardena’s son, as the Prime Minister, would oppose the elections. President undoubtedly is the culprit. From what heritage has he got this undemocratic orientation?
Of course, there are some weaknesses within the local government system. But who have created them? Present day politicians have done so. One of the major weaknesses of the present day politicians is their rigmarole manner in addressing crucial economic, political and social problems. They appoint committees (or commissions) and committees and produce reports and reports. They are in the absence of commonsense, principles and practicalities. They change positions very easily and forget what they have said or promised even the last week! The reason is that they have come to politics for opportunistic purposes. Under the present ‘preferential voting’ system, it is difficult for the ordinary, the educated and genuine people to come into politics unless they go behind the opportunistic leaders.
The present President has a more precise heritage. It is not directly related to his family except they all were rich and cherished personal wealth directly and indirectly. Wickremesinghe’s heritage is more of something created by him. It is about power, glory and perhaps fun! He has been the Prime Minister for five times in the past without delivering much, except creating crisis from crisis. Can he deny that he was involved in Batalanda torture and violence? This was revealed by a commission, although no action was taken against him.
It appears that Ranil Wickremesinghe particularly has a hatred against youth from lower social classes.
Of course, no one can condone what the JVP has done in the past. Even at present they should be more careful not to ignite violence or unnecessary trouble in the country. But there are/were indications that they are at a reform path, and this is something that should be strengthened without condemning all their actions and policies. Even in genuinely creating good governance (Yahapalanaya) they tried their best to support and participate. These principles also should apply to former LTTE supporters and even remaining sections.
There is a major task in the country to reform and reorient the youth for democratic processes and encourage them for positive, creative, and responsible activities. This cannot be done unless the establish political parties and leaders like Wickremesinghe, Kumaratunga or Premadasa take a positive attitude towards the JVP or the NPP. The universities, academics, and civil society organizations (NGOs) also can play a pivotal role in this endeavor if they free themselves from narrow party politics or similar orientations. A constructively worked out strategy is necessary.
Violence and Non-Violence
During the Aragalaya (struggle) last year, incursion and occupation of Presidential Office and Presidential House were perhaps inspired by what happened in America after the last elections. However, the invasion and damaging of Wickremesinghe’s private home was different and cannot be condoned by any means. Likewise, the attacks and burning of over 60 houses belonging to the government MPs also were despicable. If (or As) the JVP was involved, there is a necessity of soul searching in the country. Otherwise, the country would soon drag into the situation of 1980s.
Even if the JVP (or NPP) was involved in these violence and violations, the President should not behave in the same manner. That is not expected from a democratic leader. This is not merely a defect of the presidential system. This is about the broader political system and qualities of the political leaders.
In coming straight to the recent situation, the way the police handled the protest march organized by the JVP and the National People’s Power (NPP) on 26 February in Colombo was reprehensible. Who was behind it? There cannot be any doubt that it was the President. Those parties and others have every right to protest over the virtual sabotage of the local government elections by the President. One has died and 28 others were hospitalized because of police attacks at these protests. Although only water and teargas were used, those were enormous and brutal.
In sabotaging the local government elections, planned to be held on 9 March, the reason given was lack of funds. However, millions of funds were spent on Independence Day celebrations for the armed forces. Instead of the military, school children should have been mobilized for the occasion. The election is not an ‘essential service,’ according to the President! The Speaker has agreed however now to allow the Parliament to put forward a resolution to allocate necessary funds for the local government elections. Parliament is supreme. If it is approved (no doubt) the elections could be held somewhere in April.
However, there are other matters to be considered. Majority of the trade unions are on (token) strike on 1 March against the new high taxation and coercion against the working class. The situation reminds the year 1980 where the present President’s ‘maha-guru’ (big teacher), J. R. Jayewardene took measures to attack the working people and the trade union movement as a measure of economic reform. This is again the trend today.
Under the present circumstances, it might be good for the country to go for an overall political change by holding both Presidential and Parliamentary elections together and look for a new economic agenda with the support of the international community and closely friendly countries like India, China, Japan, EU, and other countries. This will save money and possibly bring a new agenda for democracy and development.
Cicero / March 3, 2023
Look for an economic agenda with friendly countries is hardly a great solution. The only agenda that Sri Lanka had was ethnic politics. Friendly countries are there to exploit. The list has India, China and EU. Do they have similar policies? Have they not been exploitative? China has got large parts of the country and gave loans for fancy projects of little use. India has been bent on capturing assets like the oil farm and the port. As Malaysia did during its economic crisis, it is best to look inwards, develop agriculture, conserve and build internal resources, not service debts that had dubious purposes like building the Lotus Tower, stop corruption and recover all corrupt assets. Above all get rid of the tired old politicians and ask the monks to stay in the temples and not disgrace Buddhism.
old codger / March 3, 2023
Is Prof. Laksiri the author, or his daughter Lihini Fernando ?
“He even joked about the former British Queen just two days before her death which became condemned by many international journalists.”
Well, whatever else Ranil may be, he is no soothsayer.
old codger / March 3, 2023
“look for a new economic agenda with the support of the international community and closely friendly countries like India, China, Japan, EU, and other countries. This will save money”
So, the “system change” involves more begging, but not from the IMF? Which properly governed “friendly country” puts our interests before their own? There is only one in the list which might show interest, if only because it doesn’t want a pimple on its backside.
nimal fernando / March 3, 2023
Dr. Laksiri Fernando,
When is Ranil getting an honorary doctorate for his yeoman’s/stellar service for the nation?
Don’t let Ranil supporters/fans feel you were partial to the Rajapakses! :))
Where would Lanka be if there were no Lankans? …….. No 1, eh?
leelagemalli / March 3, 2023
Laksiri Fernando (Chair person of WUS for asian region) was one another dire support of PIMPs born to Medamulana Cave.His Prof Title helped Medamulana animals to score more.
That is why these men with Dr and Prof Titles are equally complicit for the mess created in srilanka.
I dont think MOTHER lanka would ever forgive these men. I remember this man was praising that “MR-SORISENA COUP in October 2018”. These men are even worst than deadly viruses spread out of african congo.
What have these men having lived in DEVELOPED world learnt ? What have they brought to home though sometimes lived on the costs of the govts ?
In contrary to that, I have met Indonesian and African digantories of their govts, how they made bilateral or multi lateral agreements between western countries and their home countries so that their future generations could learn in their technical colleges and universities.
Cicero / March 3, 2023
Did not know he was a professor. Would not give him a C grade
leelagemalli / March 3, 2023
Think twice if Sri Lankan universities have recent PhD graduates. LF may not fall into that category, however, his behavior was similar to that of Wimal Bhuvanse or lower level Sri Lankans. Allowing only Vimal or the likes to express themselves in public should be prohibited in a civilized culture. Most of them what comes out of his mouth are just hearsays, though in public.. These men were created and glorified by Malecha Rajapakse ideology as a tool of their political existence. Most of them were flithy style public speakers.
Even today I wonder how that Jayasumana (another Rajapakse gang) became a professor. This person was the mastermind of Dr Safi Saga who almost killed that innocent family. Sri Lankan media is highly biased towards “SB Majority”. Therefore, nothing coming from SB Buddhists will be tested or confessed. As a neutral person, truly saying that this is a greater threat than modesty.
Without sufficient postdoctoral experience, no candidate will be awarded such titles even in Africa. Another thing in Sri Lanka is that Sri Lankan media still use them as “professors” even after their tenures at Universities are over. This is wrong in the eyes of Europeans. Professor is a European term for teaching. However, some countries use the term repeatedly. In the UK, doctors prefer “Mr” to “Dr”. They correct it again and again in our emails.
Native Vedda / March 4, 2023
“Don’t let Ranil supporters/fans feel you were partial to the Rajapakses! :))”
One think you have forgotten.
Ranil should earn it by killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians before Colombo senate could be persuaded for a honorary LLD or DSc.
Raj-UK / March 3, 2023
”President Should Be Responsible”
Be realistic. We all known that but, forget the President, who has ever taken responsibility in SL politics? To be fair by RW, how about holding the Rajapakses responsible first for crimes against the state?
SJ / March 4, 2023
Who has taken responsibility for his/her evil deeds in the UK?
Raj-UK / March 5, 2023
As usual, you are missing the point & making an irrelevant comment for the sake of argument but now that you have asked, politicians in UK can’t survive if they don’t deliver. They don’t have to accept responsibility, their own party will sack them without hesitation. Lis Truss made disastrous decisions & lasted only 44 days. Boris J. had to step down because he lied to Parliament about a knees up at No 10 during lockdown. These are relatively insignificant compared to blunders & corruption in SL, yet, those responsible continue to be in power.
leelagemalli / March 5, 2023
Shooting the messenger for some reasons is common in slanken culture. Rajapaksa knew that majority of the island nation would never see it right. .
Raj, I heard Yoshita Rajafuckers[ uneducated son] explaining that he completed several Masters during his 1-2 year period he is said to have spent in UK.Bias media men never questioned how 🤔.
RBH59 / March 5, 2023
Reading news from Sri Lanka is depressing.
President Should Be Responsible! He is unable to unwind the present situation or convince IMF and directing to burden the publics not recovery one who pilfered the country He said to take unpopular decisions on behalf of the country. Well-told stories help turn moments of great crises into moments of new beginnings RW the message does not reach the people because he is not from the people The blame of his history what he did to the country.
Buddhist1 / March 5, 2023
The time is ripe for every party contesting the LG election to give in writing to the public as follows:
When a general election is held and a new government is formed they will appoint an independent commission with powers to take legal action against those found to have violated the Constitution, Human Rights, Laws of the Land, and the Parliament Standing Orders. The commission’s inquiry has to be done in public and telecasted over all TV channels. The inquiry should cover Cabinet Decisions, Actions of Ministers, Speaker of the Parliament, President, PM, Ministers, State Ministers, Senior Govt officials, Advisors/Staff of the President, Armed Forces, Police, CID, MPs, and the Attorney General.
People should vote only to the party or parties that give this promise in writing to the public in their manifesto.
Buddhist1 / March 5, 2023
Missed one point, the investigation should also include Buddhist Monks and the leaders of other religious bodies.