By Pabodha Hettige –
The majority of the Sri Lankan general public once again proved the country’s need for moral, socio-political and economic emancipation upon electing a cluster of Rajapaksas and the faithful disciple goons into the parliament, perhaps endorsing the slow and painful death of democracy.
The eligibility criteria
We proudly send the uneducated, drug dealers, looters, those accused of corruption, actors and actresses and murders to the parliament.
Amongst the major eligibility criteria carrying and kissing babies (assurance of proud and un-emancipated parental votes), posing with senior citizens, growing a mustache, wearing the traditional dress, visiting temples and directing the first words of every public address towards the monks are of prime importance. (The effect is as such even a certain monk encouraged Rajapaksa’s to execute dictatorship in order to save the country)
Moreover, they should appear as the hypnotic saving grace of the Sinhalese Buddhist masses and promise to save the race and religion from the intruding minorities. (But it is okay to get the votes and Biryani from the minority.) Boosting the fundamentalist ideology and elevating Rajapaksa’s to the royalty is a must, which in return guarantees them parliamentary seats without even considering the futuristic development goals, strategies and policies.
Since the war victory of 2009 Rajapaksa family has been rewriting the history with the coronation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as an incarnation of King Dutugemunu and Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the brave commanding force behind the victorious army of soldiers.
However, had General Sarath Fonseka won the presidential election of 2010; the Rajapaksas wouldn’t have derived a significance worthy of dust.
What the Sri Lankans have forgotten is that the current object of worship, his Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa was once the scary cat who fled to America during the most intense phases of war, who was brought back and idolized by his brother, ex president, Mahinda Rajapaksa to a venerated position of a war hero. We as a nation weren’t thoughtful enough to consider the consequences of letting a likely war criminal to enjoy head of state immunity from the trials he was facing in the United States federal courts.
Even the disposal of his US citizenship was pronounced at the lapse of three months after being elected as the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. It was a fine instance of the abundance of the deceitful Rajapaksa nature, which was unnoticed by the blinded majority.
The slow and unseen militarization
The impaired political streak of Gotabaya Rajapaksa continued with his only reliance being the military.
Retired and current military members being appointed to key ministries like Ministry of Law and Order and Ministry of Finance, certain agencies such as the police being placed under the Ministry of Defense, high positions in the civil service being awarded to military officials, a disciplinary committee being appointed comprising the members of the armed forces and more over the Covid-19 task force being entrusted to Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, (Head, National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak) who was accused of his alleged involvement in war crimes during the final stages of the country’s civil war are instances we should have questioned the prerogatives of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Furthermore, a president in his right mind would not have pardoned and released Sunil Rathnayake, an ex staff sergeant of the army convicted of the brutal killing of eight Tamil civilians.
While the Rajapaksa regime has come under constant criticism by the activist groups and organizations, the majority of the general public seems to be happily endorsing these movements.
Upon a closer analysis, Sri Lanka seems to be marching towards an unwarranted militarization, which will leave frightening consequences on democracy.
Rajapaksa brothers and the 19th Amendment to the constitution
The Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa before being re-elected called for a 2/3 majority to repeal the 19th Amendment to the constitution, which largely curtails the powers of the executive presidency. The power hungry Rajapaksa was in the view that the 19th Amendment was introduced to curtail his political revival. With the conclusion of the General Election few days ago Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) registered a massive victory securing 145 seats in the 225-seat legislature making the brothers closer to the realization of their dream.
The preceding 18th Amendment to the constitution facilitates the re-election of president any number of times, independent commissions being brought under the authority of the president, bestows the president all the parliamentary privileges and immunities and the constitutional council being replaced by a five member parliamentary council.
If the 19th Amendment, which curtailed the above, is abolished, the safeguards on good governance will suffer at the hands of the brothers with the role of independent commissions to oversee the public service, judiciary, the police, elections, and human rights being massively politicized and being controlled according to Rajapaksa whims and fancies.
By giving Rajapaksas a massive power we have established a clear and paved road towards the death of democracy and the majority who has zero idea about democracy and good governance will be elated to know how their civic power has helped the Rajapaksa’s to realize their ultimate dream of “In power forever”.
However, currently empowered with an entire brigade of thieves, convicted murders, dim witted actors and actresses, chain snatches and other faithful comrades in the parliament, the Rajapaksas can dance to their own beat at the expense of our valuable vote. Sri Lanka can probably celebrate demolitions of more Buwanekaba Rajasabha pavilions, aggravated extra judicial killings, forced disappearances, abductions in broad daylight, curtail of fundamental rights, economic downslides and many more adversities for all which we shall gleefully hoot and grant approval.