15 April, 2024



By Nishthar Idroos

Nishthar Idroos

A phrase that does not have much meaning with the rest of the world yet an integral part of the American political way of life. A distinct dysfunction of a working democracy in that. A default mechanism that works wholly and totally against the people. If you are a federal worker you’ll find yourself working without being paid.

How can this term be associated with a working democracy? Uncle Sam supposedly the champion for people’s rights depriving lawful wages for his people, how ironic? A true democracy labours assiduously to fulfil the needs and wants of the people yet we hear of these inbuilt closures and cessations that essentially impede true action orientation towards the people.

Ivan Simmons, an Illinois resident and working for the Federal Government, has not been paid for almost three weeks now. He works for the National Museum as a “Closing” clerk.

We are being told that a government shutdown in the United States of America occurs when Congress fails to pass sufficient appropriation bills or  resolutions to fund federal government operations and agencies, or when the President refuses to sign into law such bills or resolutions. Wow? A president refuses to sign? Essential employees are still required to work without pay until the government reopens. Most governments of the world including Sri Lanka consider themselves democratic, at least in name. As per its much taunted and lauded academic definition one would assume such governments postulate a sincere predilection towards the wellbeing of the people, right? Wrong?

In a democracy, people are sovereign at least academically that’s how it’s defined and taught. Supposedly the highest form of political authority. Power we are told flows from the people to the leaders of government, who hold power only temporarily, let me repeat only temporarily.

The above represents an ideal. The greatest irony of all is that most democracies of the world especially those in the third world are in eternal shutdown and its people have no clue. There is an ever deepening and widening chasm between the people and their elected representatives. The reality of democracy in these countries is deceptive if not demoralising.  Every executive minute unutilised, improperly utilised or under-utilised vis-à-vis fulfilling the needs of the people is a definite shutdown plain and simple.

Sri Lanka emerges as the classical example. A doctor works hard for his patients, a lawyer works hard for his client. These are defining professional attributes. A politician is elected out of the many who show up for a much nobler purpose. And when he/ she squanders, dissipates and prostitutes an entire system, making it profusely questionable and placing it to great disrepute this tantamounts to a blockade, drag and impedance which constitutes an unofficial shutdown.

Short-​termism has become embedded in the political and business culture of modern democracies. By design all politicians have relatively short political horizons and this is worse in Sri Lanka; they find their official and expected duties  interrupted by precious time abuse and misuse by way of  conspiracy, connivance, counterplotting, contending, combative sports and of course the never ending elections. As a consequence there is hardly any substance emerging from deliberations, signs of a perpetuating shutdown.

Politicians naturally drawn to focus their efforts on seducing their electorates with short-​term sweeteners and nocuous doosras keep the mob busy with inebriating laced intoxicants, they’ll continue to chant “jayaweeva” till the cows come home.

A political impasse was triggered on 26 October and a possible culmination of the shutdown was witnessed. What ensued was unprecedented. President Maithripala Sirisena said he would not reinstate Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister even if he was able to prove his majority in Parliament. “I will not appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister in my lifetime. Even if they have a majority, I have told them not to propose him as I won’t appoint him as prime minister.”

It’s remarkably astounding that a man who couldn’t have gone much further than a senior cabinet minister was enthroned in the highest seat of the land with the help of the UNP, unceremoniously pulls out the rapier from the holster and pursues to chop the head of the very man who was instrumental in putting him there. Let me remind that gratitude is an embedded and enshrined trait of a practicing Buddhist.

In the last decade the Sri Lankan political arena had burgeoned to a mega titillating soap opera. Instead of serving the people corrupt politicians had formed a tight knit cabal and carved this de facto shutdown. Their modus operandi quite clear. They want to save themselves from possible incarceration hence subverting the process as much as possible both within and without the parliament and by extending credence to none-issues, non-existent phantoms they think they’ll survive. They possibly will.

Democracy – letting people choose leaders who govern them as the best way, the only legitimate way, to ensure the well-being of a country is no longer a source of inspiration for millions around the world. Intriguing line from John Adams, America’s second president still continue to reverberate and intrigue people. “Remember, democracy never lasts long,” Adams wrote. “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

President Donald J. Trump has already put the noose around his neck and it’s only time before someone kicks the stool. President Maithripala Sirisena had already demonstrated an amazing proclivity and tons of enthusiasm to be an avid fan and disciple of Donald J. Trump.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    I am fed up of this ‘gratitude’ talk – Sirisena trying to chop off the head of the man who put him on the throne. I am asking for the umpteenth time – isn’t this the very nature of Sirisena that Ranil and Yahapalana masterminds made use of in 2015? ( For those who have not seen this yet: https://youtu.be/8-4aDbeSgzA )
    Of all crooked humbug politicians couldn’t great Sobhitha thero find one donkey among them who at least did not actively support the 18th amendment and the impeachment of the lady Chief Justice to lead us along the greate moral journey of Yahapalanaya? **** You.


    • 4

      Very true agreed.
      Next time lets elect someone with a degree and not a person from a village

      • 0

        G P
        All Male S L Politicians claim “90 degrees” but they are nothing but eunuchs, impotent.
        They are all impotent and “all talk”-the nature of the beast.

  • 1

    The Real Power, whether in a Democracy or any other system of governance, rests with MONEY. In the most Powerful Democracy in the world, the US, without Money, it is NOT possible even to contest in Elections, whether Presidential, Congress or Senate.

    After the Elections, the Party in Power, has to look after those who provided the Finance to win the Elections who are called “Lobbies”. For example, the Guns Lobby, ensures that Guns are freely made available to All who can pay for them with No questions asked. Never mind which Party wins the Elections and to Hell with the lives of innocent people who voted and who are shot and killed or maimed by trigger happy loonies at their whims and fancies. See how the “Sovereignty” of people works in the most powerful “Democracy” in the world.

    And, there is the Arms Lobby of the Military Industry which needs Wars and Conflicts to prosper. One wonders whether the Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the so-called rebellion in Libya and Syria and the continuing blood-bath in those countries would have taken place if not for the Arms Lobby.

    So, that Democracy represents the Sovereignty or Power of the people, is a nice slogan.

  • 1

    Well, according to the US constitution it is not a democracy.

    As for Trump, the popular media love to say that he is done, yet there he still is, defying the Establishment with astonishing brilliance.

    Scott Adams’s latest book talks of Trump’s methods.

    I for one believe he will last for a while.

    The only reason for downfall I can see is if Obama’s economy collapses on Trump’s watch. But Trump, being Trump, could probably divert blame even from that.

  • 0

    Idroos, please don’t compare President of USA to our President who is only fit to be a Grama Sevaka and nothing more. He was a Cabinet Minister of Rajapaksa which had behaved MOST undemocratically during their 10 years of rule.
    Murdered innocents-Civilians, Politicians ,Journalists,Ruggerite,surrendering fighters, white vanning dissenters,
    Taking massive bribes on Chinese Projects ; Robbing the Tsunami relief Funds and using to bribe the LTTE to stop voting Ranil W
    Our President who was a Minister of the previous REGIME should go ASAP

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