25 November, 2020

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Regime Change Without An Election – How Do You Effect It?

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

There is a groundswell of opinion developing in this country for regime change.

The “ground realities,” as our pseudo-intellectuals call them, are several in number and, in order to provide some focus to this presentation, let’s name the major ones.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s popularity

I am not the only commentator on the Sri Lankan political scene who has referred to the fact that our new monarch has built up a considerable fund of personal popularity.  However, I do not subscribe to the theory that this is due to his heroism in battle as popularly accepted, particularly by the Rajapaksa Sycophancy.  Considering that I advanced this fact a considerable time before the defeat of the Prabhakaran horde, it can hardly be defined as hindsight.  The annihilation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) could have been achieved with significantly less bloodshed (both Sinhala and Tamil) and the war ended several months before the butchery at Nanthikadal.  However, a swifter end to that conflict would not have served a well-orchestrated publicity campaign with a mushrooming number of enormous “cut-outs” of the President, his brother of the intemperate tongue and an army commander described by the Rajapaksa siblings as “the best in the world” then.  Let me emphasize the fact that what had ended up as a rag-tag bunch of nihilists, surrounded by the armed forces on three sides and with a sea of which they’d lost complete control on the fourth, did not have the capacity to resist, for any length of time, one of the largest armed forces in the world.  Add to that disadvantage the fact that all those countries with the technical capacity to provide marine military intelligence were readily supplying it to the government of Sri Lanka which began to sink Tiger supply ships thousands of miles out of our territorial waters.  No, the prolongation of “the war,” with the attendant casualties, was deliberate and the icing on that cake was a returning Chief Executive, kissing the tarmac at Katunayake airport in a gesture laden with symbolic importance if not originality given that it was pioneered by a pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church  a long while back!  Make no mistake, the Rajapaksa government deserves to be elevated to Public Relations Heaven for its masterly execution of a P.R. campaign that has had no equal in the history of Sri Lanka.  Building on that popularity, every illegal act, totally contemptuous of even minimal democratic norms, became the reality in elections that the President called with monotonous regularity.   To describe the UNFPA government as a political juggernaut during this time would be to understate the Sri Lankan reality!

The deliberate destruction of the Rule of Law

In addition, to fortify that dominance, the message went out, loud and clear, that whatever the Rajapaksa horde wanted to do, it would, any vestiges of democratic practice notwithstanding.  The steady erosion of the rule of law was accompanied by an “in your face” arrogance, particularly by the most violent of its acolytes such as Mervin Silva.  The power of the lowest in the Rajapaksa Hierarchy was constantly reinforced by the permissive impunity with which their every transgression was met.  These were not only ignored but were often extolled!

The racist euphoria and triumphalism that followed Prabhakaran’s defeat has been followed by an erosion of the rule of law, deliberately driven by a government that wanted that euphoria replaced by an abject fear of rulers who would brook no opposition, not even the most minimal kind, and destroy anyone not prepared to bend the vassal knee to its corrupt machinations.

This segueing of euphoria into abject fear has been successful primarily because of a war-weary populace who was a stereotypical example of a population expressing a collective thankfulness at being hit with a five-pound hammer after being subjected to assault by its ten-pound sibling for nigh on three decades!  As that old cry has it, “Anything for peace!”

That is the current “ground reality” facing those living in this country with no prospect of anything resembling relief, leave alone change for the better, in the immediate future.

The Rajapaksa Regime must go, but the question is how does one accomplish this without recourse to undemocratic violence?  How does one effect “regime change” democratically after the electoral process has been perverted beyond recognition?

Peaceful protest and non-violent resistance is the only option available to those who still believe in the validity of human dignity and democratic practice.

In the matter of getting rid of a far more powerful adversary, the Indians, led by The Mahatma, showed the way.  While India, sixty-five years after throwing off the imperialist yoke, is not where it could or should have be in the matter of social justice and equity, it is still one of the two behemoths-in–waiting in the matter of international economic dominance and that should tell us something about the possibilities for our small island nation.  There is a way and it is one of non-violent protest and civil disobedience.  In fact, I would suggest that it is, particularly given our predicament, the only one open to us.  Whether Sri Lankans bowed and bent by years of conflict, have the will to engage in what is going to be a slow and painful process is anyone’s guess but I would venture to suggest that they have no other choice and would be far better off voluntarily engaging in such an effort rather than responding reactively and from a position of weakness when that option is forced upon us.

Make your choice – act pro-actively or reactively, but act you must if your human dignity is to be salvaged!

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Latest comments

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    Sorry to point it out, but you didn’t say a word. You support regime change through non violent protest and civil disobedience. OK. Elaborate on that. Otherwise it is only the pretext to say something bad against Rajapaksa. A bit trivial.
    One suggestion? The need to engage the Sinhalese masses. Intellectuals are well aware of the risk of a dictatorship. But it is important to show that the poorest ones are the most affected by a corrupt policy.And you need to speak to them, with a language they can understand.
    Second,that ethnic tension won’t be lifted by violence. To include Tamils and Muslims as citizens of a united Sri Lanka, you need to accept their diversity.
    Regime change won’t occur because of a couple of lazy editorials.

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    I agree with Celerati Editorial. Sinhalese masses/asses are the ones who have to be convinced as to what is been done to the country behind the guise of false patriotism.
    At the moment the state media has very effectively hoodwinked the masses/asses into thinking that the enemy is at the gates, and those who protest against this despotic regime are working to the diktats of their foreign masters. People like Hudson Samarasinghe of the SLBC very effectively uses pithy Sinhala words do describe how MR is the only saviour who can save us from all who want to destroy this country.
    The masses/asses are the key. And non violence won’t work either. There will be bloodshed because the Rajapaksas’ won’t give up all this power without a fight.

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    The steps to be taken are:
    1. Opposition parties should not participate in the Parliament and should not visit the Parliament at all but meet in a common location outside the Parliament and conduct sessions.
    2. The Judiciary should not participate in case other than the cases against the ruling party members, so that those cases, including Mervyn’s sons case and the Baratha Lakshman’s case can he heard. Also all bribery cases should be heard and there should be encouragement from the Lawyers to request citizens of the country to file cases against the MPs and Ministers who have taken bribe and involved in illegal activities.
    3. All government servants should stop working, at least those who are against what is happening in the country.
    4. Every day, in every city, those who do not go to their work places should meet in a common place.
    5. Demand should be made by the citizens for a National Govt to be established with the Prime Minister being selected from a Non-politician with international recognition.
    6. A special court should be established in inquire in to all illegal, un-democratic actions taken by every state organization including the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Police.
    All this can be done in a non-violent manner.

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      7. A non-stop hooting at every occasion MR/BR/GR/NR is seen in public.
      This moral ploy will be effective to teach Voters where they stand.

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        @punchnilame
        I think option No.7 that you suggested is the best. All dictators including MR and present day members of parliament are filled with excessive pride.(hubris) Getting jeered and booed in public would be like a slap in the face. If all the people around the country could be convinced to hoot and boo at them where ever MR and his MPs were seen it would be one battle won in the war to oust the Family dictatorship in Sri Lanka.

        Given below is a link of where Namal Rajapakse, was received by a shower of stones when he visited the Menik Farm camp along with representatives of several media institutions sometime back. Link No.1 shows a pic of Namal with mud all over his body. And link No.2 is the news story. :)

        @PresiDunce Bean – Links removed by Colombo Telegraph. The story is fabricated. – CT

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          “@PresiDunce Bean – Links removed by Colombo Telegraph. The story is fabricated. – CT”

          ‘PresiDouche Bean’ caught posting bogus stories again?

          *Gasp* Well I never!

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    Non violent protest and civil disobedience ain’t gonna shift this dictatorial regime. That is a certainty. The military is with the regime and the regime has over the years resorted to threats, abductions, torture and murder to frighten it’s opponents into a state of subjugation. The masses are scared and helpless.

    Under such circumstances the only way to depose Rajapaksa is by violent means. This will be perfectly justified because violence is being used by the Rajapaksa regime to suppress all dissent. You can only effectively fight violence with violence when what you are fighting against does not tolerate protests. Thus far non violent protest by some civil society organisations and professional associations have been brutally suppressed by violence or threats of death by the regime. You only need a small group of dedicated and determined people to effect regime change by taking out Raja and his all powerful hatchet man brother. I hope there are at least a few true patriots and freedom lovers who are willing to do the deed for the sake of the country, it’s people and their children’s future.

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    Celerati Editorial & Presidunce Bean;
    My submission was not intended to be a manual on civil disobedience methods. Apart from anything else, a thousand word essay is hardly the place to try to emulate Mao’s or Che’s writings on the subject of changing governments by non-parliamentary means. It was meant to be a reminder of the options that were open to anyone seeking a non-violent removal of a government, with a capsule history of why such an effort would be difficult because of the manner in which its “popularity” was established by those we’d like to be rid of. Just for the record, I have, over many months past, sought the means to get dissenting views (such as those that appear in CT) into the mainstream Tamil and Sinhala media. Despite the assistance and support of several other journalists, those efforts have not met with the success that all of us would have desired.
    In any event, thanks for the feedback and feel free to contact me directly by email.

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    Quick Fox I like your suggested Modus Operandi. I only wish there was someone around to provide the leadership and as Celrati Editorial and PresiDunce Bean say, convincing the masses is also part of the leadership role.

    We have self appointed grand bodies calling them selves the “Friday forum” etc who have no chance of providing this role. I feel they are mere opportunists expecting to gain international recognition for meritorious deeds in word rather than action.

    QF your critereon for a prime minister “non politician with international recognition” worries me. This may be the reason for the existance of the Friday Forum….beware.

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    To get a regime change first thing to do is to change the opposition leader.people always thinking what is the alternative to Mahinda.

    To get a regime change you need to win over the masses who are asses,but nevertheless decide who is going to be the chief ass to rule them.

    So can you tell them here is Ranil your chief ass,when they know that he is not one of them,but a educated gentleman from colombo 7.

    Isn’t it better to offer them Sajith Premedasa whose dad will certainly ring a bell with the masses/asses.

    Colombo 7 people cannot rule this country anymore because the wealth distribution is so lopsided.You need to get a opposition leader who has the confidence of the masses that he will distribute the wealth in a more fairer manner.

    Hence Ranil will always be like a runner who has no proper running shoes because his handicap is his elitist background.

    Mahinda will be happy to have Ranil as opposition leader,but will decidely become nervous if Sajith Premedasa leads the UNP.The support of the masses that mahinda has will start splitting because of the Ranasinghe Premedasa name.

    A new UNP with a new leader is what is needed for a regime change.The new UNP must start shedding its elitist brand and become for the masses/asses and rebrand itself.

    Otherwise be content to be forever in the opposition.

    You can’t change the masses/asses who will always vote the donkeys into parliament,but you certainly can set a thief to catch a thief.

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