16 May, 2022

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Repercussions Of The Rape Of Sri Lanka

By Neville Fernando

Neville Fernando M.D.

Shortages of essential food and medicines, daily power blackouts, unavailability of cooking gas and petrol, and high inflation have led to an unprecedented collective anger in the people of Sri Lanka. The present economic crisis has plunged Sri Lanka into the status of a beggar nation, seeking international help to avert a total bankruptcy. 

Sri Lanka has been under the political rule of the Rajapaksa family virtually since 2005. Drastic decline in the economy of the country happened since then due to their corrupt family rule. Egregious nepotism and large-scale plunder of the resources of the country have created a pitiful nation. Still, the main reason for the acute meltdown of the economy is the massive unpayable loans from China for wasteful vanity projects presented as ‘Development Projects’. 

Peaceful protests and rallies against the Rajapaksa regime, happening in almost all cities around the country are now a daily feature. The largest protest movement is in the capital city of Colombo, and is ongoing at the beach promenade Galle face. That location, designated as ‘GotaGoGama’ has been transformed into a 24-hour, month long occupation by thousands of citizens from all segments of the society. They comprise of enthusiastic, energetic, independent and non-violent protesters. Most of them happen to be youth who are clamoring for major changes in governance which has failed them. Their main demand is the resignation of the President, with the rallying slogan – Gota Go Home.

This simple message belies a spectrum of demands, including;

* Rajapaksa family to be eliminated from holding power.

* Changing the Constitution to eliminate the concentration of power in the President, and  distribute it more evenly between the President and Parliament.

* Rejection of all 225 members of the Parliament, who the people believe are collectively responsible for propping up the corrupt Rajapaksa regime.

The protesters hold an idealistic view of Sri Lankan life, based on a united Sri Lanka, which rejects divisions among people on ethnic and religious lines as well as traditional party politics.

During the 74 years since Independence, Sri Lankan politicians had displayed a lack of ability to properly manage the affairs of the country. Traditional party politics had ignored the need for intelligent handling of the economy.  On the contrary, blunders in governance were many. Misguided ethno-religious policies had resulted in many serious setbacks in the country. Among them were the “Sinhala Only” policy in 1958, a 30-year war against LTTE terrorism and 2019 Easter bombing by an ethnic group. These were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. It is no surprise that currently, the country is in such dire straights. 

Opinion polls show a rejection of the regime by 87-89 % of the people. Although respondents have cited the corrupt dealings of the Rajapaksa family as a whole,  the main figure responsible for the current disastrous state has been singled out as the former President and later Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He had craftily created the image of a congenial, father figure, a true champion of the common man and a devout Buddhist. For decades he was able to camouflage his real persona — a calculating self-serving person out to enrich himself by stealing as much as possible from the country. In the process, a whole slew of family members, close supporters, associates and officials too were able to reap immense rewards. Methods used by the Rajapaksa family to stay in power included ignoring democratic principles, using autocratic methods and crafting divisions among the masses on ethnic and religious lines.

However, the dire situation in the country has also created a golden opportunity for a wholesale and systemic change in the culture of Governance. Among the changes needed, are:

* Elimination of waste, fraud and abuse of public wealth.

* Abolition of nepotism.

* Meritocracy in appointments.

* Reinstation of the Independence of the Judiciary, and strict and equal application of the law.

* Accountability and transparency in all  Government activities.

* A vision for a robust economy

* Strengthening of state institutions.

* Changing the electoral system, which has produced low caliber Members of the Parliament

* Official decoupling of religion from Government Affairs.

There is an urgency to bring about these changes, and such a ‘system- change’ should be comprehensive and should not leave any loopholes from where the previous flawed features could re-emerge.  The current Government has a mandate which is due to expire in two and a half years. But it is clear that the current situation has exposed a dead end in the status of the economy resulting in public disgust. Every day the current regime stays in power is seen by the people as  another day of struggles and hardships.

Misleading and deceiving the public had gone on for decades. But it was destined to collapse sooner or later. The achievements by the GotaGoGama movement  have brought about numerous fundamental transformative changes in the collective mindset of the people, including the diaspora. Most important among these is the highlighting of the fundamental concept in any successful democracy, that Supreme Power or Sovereignty is vested in the People. Stated differently, the people are the real bosses. In the past, lack of this realization had led to unquestioning deference to corrupt politicians. The result of that has been the economic disaster we are experiencing today, and its expression in the present island wide protests.

Protests are ongoing and the situation in the county is dynamic and perilous. At the time of writing there had been violence as a result of an attack on peaceful protesters by the thugs sponsored by the Rajapaksa regime. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the prime minister along with the Cabinet has resigned and he is holed up in a remote island on the east coast obviously trying to flee the country.

So much for man who was considered a revered hero. Now he is basically a fugitive. His brother Gotabaya (Gota) who is the President is now relegated as the sole power to deal with this political and economic catastrophe. 

Undoubtedly every possible intervention and help especially from non-political experts will have to be pursued. It also involves a long process of recovery of stolen money stashed away in many foreign countries.

In the aftermath of the demand by GotaGoGama for a total political reset, it is difficult to envision the Rajapaksa Dynasty from ever regaining power in Sri Lanka. It is unquestionable that aspirations of GotaGoGama have unleashed an unprecedented force for good.

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Latest comments

  • 13
    0

    I assure with Ranil Rajapuksingha, ..It also involves a long process of recovery of stolen money stashed away in many foreign countries…. will never come to pass.
    He has said his priority is the economy to give R’s time to hide the the loot, and the people to be deflected from that idea of recovery of loot.

  • 3
    0

    …Among the changes needed…
    And add that all important “judicial review of any law, at least for three years” as past events have proved the short time interval now is far too limited.

  • 9
    0

    Thanks to Dr N F on listing the CHANGES needed in our political system that has brought our country to carry a begging bowl around the world.
    I am not sure you can put the blame of Easter Bombing on an Ethnic group. It may be that the “DEEP STATE” of the GoSL got hold of this group of Muslims to carry out the Bombing in the Churches especially in where the affected were Tamil Christians. This act of Bombing was made possible by the INACTION of the former President & PM (MS+RW). I thank you also for asking for a UNITED SL and not Unitary SL. We need to follow the Canadian system of two Federal states for a United SR

  • 6
    0

    Continued
    SRI LANKA.
    We need to add to the CHANGES
    1] Election Commission that is able to bring strict limits to who can contest and have a limit to the money spent on their election activities.
    2] MP post should not have pensionable benefits.
    3] The Rulers should not be able to use Security Forces for nefarious activities.

  • 6
    0

    Corruption start from politician
    There should be some qualification to enter parliament.
    Time limit should be imposed to politician to be elected (15 years or elected 3 times)
    No perks so they can’ t be rich by becoming politicians.
    Auditor general should be given power to audit and file cases in courts to people who become rich by corrupt means.
    Total independence of judiciary and mechanism to control corruption within judiciary.
    Appointment to police free of political influence and commission inquire irregularities in the police.
    No politician as chief guests and cord of ethics to deals with public. Common way of addressing Honorable, Sir , his excellency should be do away with.
    Independent public commission.
    If we can do this futures Mynas can be controlled.

  • 3
    0

    Let is look at the agenda irems:
    # Rajapaksa family to be eliminated from holding power. (Can we make it part of the constitution?)
    # Changing the Constitution to eliminate the concentration of power in the President, and distribute it more evenly between the President and Parliament. (How will it help devolution of power?)
    # Rejection of all 225 members of the Parliament, who the people believe are collectively responsible for propping up the corrupt Rajapaksa regime. (But it was the people who elected them. Is there something that needs cleaning up in the election process?)
    *
    “However, the dire situation in the country has also created a golden opportunity for a wholesale and systemic change in the culture of Governance.”
    Nice thought. But id any suggestion listed under it pointing to “a wholesale and systemic change in the culture of Governance”.
    What are suggested are tinkering jobs that will keep an unfair and unequal society going with no concern about foreign meddling.
    *
    Let us define unambiguously what we mean by “wholesale and systemic change”

  • 3
    0

    The changes suggested are good but it depends on how to bring the people under one umbrella.

    • 1
      1

      The way Thambi did?

      • 3
        1

        Thambi did the right thing but China Communism and Rajapaksa racism did the dirty work.

        • 2
          0

          “Thambi did the right thing “
          Like disposing of anyone that did not toe the line. Great!
          *
          Who did dirty work like helping to sink Thambi’s gun runners and standing side by side with SL Army?
          I know that you very much like to forget uncomfortable bits of history so that Tamils can be taken for a ride for another 30 years.

  • 4
    0

    6.9 Million voters brought the Rajapaksas back on the saddle. They were taken for a good ride that Gota would checkmate the minorities.The Rajapaksas knew only too well the Mahavamsa mindset of the Sinhala Buddhist voters. Anyway, realisation has come on the wave of the economic crisis. Better late than never………………
    First the Rajapaksa cabal need to be made Persona non Grata before anything else.
    The arrangement now is to postpone matters by the appointment of Ranil.W. as PM.
    Perhaps buying time to organize the loot……………….

  • 1
    0

    “…the main figure responsible for the current disastrous state has been singled out as the former President and later Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.”

    What a naïve conclusion.
    The person responsible for the current disastrous state is the present Prime Minister. He deliberately ruined the economy. He borrowed heavily and used part of that for consumption and no one knows what happened to the rest. He and ‘Appaya’ allowed Muslims to carry out terrorist attacks and ruined tourism. After ruining the economy, as usual pretend that he is an expert in managing the economy.

  • 3
    0

    Politicians in the Phottuwa group are now terrified of their lives, after many of them had their palatial mansions burnt down by pent up public anger at their ill-gotten riches while the poor, whose money they stole, starve in queues and die of malnutrition or easily preventable or treatable disease. The poor are justifiably furious about the level of insensitivity to their plight, displayed by the self-centred politicians who lament their own losses acquired from stolen funds. Mere shouting of slogans or holding placards did not seem to work, did they?

    • 0
      0

      LP
      Who do you think committed the acts of arson at the dead of night with not even a burn to anyone?
      Not the poor.

      • 0
        0

        SJ,
        Good morning.
        My take is,
        PEOPLE WHO DID NOT DARE TO GO BACK TO THE VILLAGE TO FACE THE VOTERS??!
        Permanent EXIT!!
        No necessity to face voters??!!

    • 6
      0

      Dear LP.
      I find it amusing that SLPP MPs (and 10 Independents like Wimal Gamman & Vasu etc.) who came to power saying they were against Ranil’s policies and subscribed to Rajapakse policies, but now Ranil says he will not follow Rajapakse policies. Yet the SLPP says they will now support Ranil. Hilarious and shows the extent that “Politicians in the Pohottuwa group are now terrified of their lives” that they are ready to do anything to save their seats.

      • 1
        0

        And any wonder that the youthful protesters want 225+1 to go.

    • 0
      0

      Hi LP,
      Good morning.
      People are forgetting, that all these properties, being investments of ill-gotten wealth, must be heavily insured and the claims, if any would be paid by underwriters to those owners?!
      Has anyone thought that then there is no need for these villains to return to the village!!!
      They take the payment and walk laughing all the way to the bank??!!
      The big question, considering it was done at dead of night, who in fact did it??
      Is it those angered by the assault on the Aragalaya??
      Or those Maha Mola Karu (MMK) or Master Minds, who planned the assault as a means to savour double benefit?
      (1) Cast blame on Aragalaya Supporters?
      and
      (2) Reclaim the invested money from underwriters?
      Deep thinking is necessary??!!

  • 1
    0

    “Misguided ethno-religious policies had resulted in many serious setbacks in the country. Among them were the “Sinhala Only” policy in 1958,…”

    Why do you think ‘Sinhala Only’ policy is a misguided ethno-religious policy?
    Sinhala was the official language of Sinhale until British changed it and introduced English as the official language. After Sinhalayo gained independence from British rule there was no need to keep English as the official language and hence, the Government discarded English and brought back Sinhala as the official language. Is there anything wrong with that policy decision?

  • 1
    1

    “Still, the main reason for the acute meltdown of the economy is the massive unpayable loans from China for wasteful vanity projects presented as ‘Development Projects’.”

    Talking rubbish!
    Chinese loans are not that massive and they were not used for wasteful vanity projects. They were used to implement projects prepared by the Southern Development Board established by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Debt burden was created by Ranil Wickramasinghe by borrowing heavily issuing ISBs.

  • 0
    0

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  • 0
    0

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  • 2
    0

    Costa Rica a population of 5 million has a GSP of US $96 billion. Sinhala land with a population of 22 million has a GSP of US $81 billion. So BACKWARD. We wanna be the next SIngapore Jokers!!

  • 1
    0

    Yeah Hamabtota Port who borrowed money for it? Who borrowed money for Pearl (dont know what it is called)Tower ? Who borrowed money for AIrport in the middle of no where and not use? etc etc?

    Are you telling me that the sinhalas who now call publicly the RAKSHApakeses TERRORISTS as documented by news channels fools?

    The reason why sinhala only is needed is to keep the sinhala frogs in the well so to be able to keep them continoulsy in the well whereas the sinhala KLEPTOCRACTS childern are educated in english and in the west.

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