26 October, 2020

Blog

Sri Lanka: Some Reflections On Resurrecting Democracy

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

There was general consensus among many political scientists that democracy in Sri Lanka by and large functioned smoothly in the 1950s or even 1960s. This impression was shared by both local and foreign scholars such as AJ Wilson, IDS Weerawardena, Howard Wriggins, Calvin A Woodward or James Jupp. This impression was correct when referring to institutional structures, competitive party system, press freedom and the periodic elections that allowed the changes of government from one party or coalition to another. Compared to a country like Burma, which achieved independence in the same year as 1948, Ceylon was much better and stable. Burma was beset with violence and ethnic strife from the beginning.

Erosion of Democracy

Even during this period, however, as the time passed, the quality of democracy diminished due to the factors such as ethnic majoritarianism or conflict and political favouritism. Another aspect of favouritism was based on urban-rural divide or language proficiency in English. This prevailed both among the political decision makers and the bureaucracy. The citizenship issue of the Tamil plantation workers was handled arbitrarily soon after independence, and the official language legislation completely discriminated against all Tamil speakers in 1956. After these two events, Ceylon could hardly be called a proper democracy, but it escaped the attention of many observers.

The formal institutional structures of democracy alone could not prevent these deformations. Only leaders, political parties and citizens could prevent them if they share a democratic value system based on equality, fairness and justice. Democracy is not only an institutional edifice. It is profoundly a value system based on human rights that should govern the everyday lives of people and the leaders of our political parties. In this particular case of discrimination against the minorities in the initial stages of post-independence Sri Lanka, the failure to forge civic nationalism instead of ethno nationalism could be highlighted as a major underlying factor. The leaders of both the majority and the minority communities were responsible for this failure. In a multi-ethnic society like in Sri Lanka, without civic nationalism, democracy cannot survive properly.

In any emergent society after independence, there were obviously competing claims from various social sectors and population groups. Nevertheless, the grievances of the rural masses or the youth were not only competing claims, whether in the South or in the North. They were related to profound social injustices as the institutional structures were dominated by the urban and the rich. After the formation of the SLFP and the FP, these masses were politically mobilised and gradually brought into the political scene. They were mere spectators during the colonial times or even the yearly years of independence.

In terms of democratic values or practices, there was a difference between the urban and the rural. Although the urban could not be considered ‘higher’ in understanding democracy, the rural were by and large deprived of modern education. While Sri Lanka boasted about higher literacy rates in general, there was a vast difference between the educational achievements between the urban and the rural, and this gap still prevails. The social formations or ethos in villages are more pre-modern than in towns, not so conducive to democracy.

This is not to blame the rural for any democratic deficit or degeneration in the country, but to highlight a seemingly crucial problem and to emphasise the importance of democratic and human rights education in any regeneration of democracy. Those who brought the rural masses into politics not only failed to educate them in democracy but also utilized their submissive populist political instincts to create authoritarian leaderships. Populist instincts of the masses are perennially submissive to their leaders, parties and authoritarian structures. These instincts are mainly concerned about the delivery of certain ‘goods’ to them or to the country, real or imagined.

Economy and Population

Two other factors that dislocated the functioning of democracy are population explosion and economic stagnation. Even after the opportunities became available under what is termed as the ‘new international division of labour’ (NIDL), Sri Lanka failed to rescue its economy from the old ‘dependency trap’ in time. When it ‘opened’ the economy in 1977, it was too late and too little. Although the economy was opened, the polity was closed. The 1978 constitution was more authoritarian than even the governor’s rule during the colonial times. The initiative for authoritarianism came from a leader who was ‘urban’ and who belonged to a party which was ostensibly committed to democracy. This shows the gravity of our democratic dilemma.

In politics, no one could be totally believed if he or she is motivated purely by power or position. This applies more to the incumbent President who was a ‘human rights agitator’ in late 1980s. What might require are firm guarantees to the people in terms of democracy and human rights and a proven track record. Alternative might be the forging of a collective leadership of equally competent group of people again with firm guarantees on principles. The history has shown the emergence of such leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi or Nelson Mandela who worked collectively with others.

Since independence until early 1980s, the population in the country almost trebled giving rise to a politically explosive situation. The percentage of the youth in the population was extremely high without proper employment prospects or better educational opportunities. Youth were impatient about the slow democratic processes and took the path of armed struggle, insurrection and even terrorism also due to ideological reasons. The results were disastrous. Sri Lanka is a small island packed with over 20 million people which is in itself a strain on the democratic system. The system is vulnerable to instability and chaos unless firm institutional structures, committed political leadership and commensurate civic awareness are built or in place. The pure military power will not manage the system.

Sri Lanka had a strong trade union movement in early decades of independence which was a counter balance for an already degenerating democratic system. But the TUs also became degenerated and instead of bargaining for workers’ rights, often resorted to affiliation with parties and coalitions in power hoping to win over some concessions as favours. Parallel development was the degeneration of the old left parties. The new left that emerged to fill the gap in a sense was much worse in terms of democracy or democratic values.

In Sri Lanka there had been so far two main authoritarian trajectories. The first came in 1972 in the guise of socialism and populism which wanted to assign all authority to one chamber on the pretext that it is elected. The second came in 1978, installing an executive presidential system insulated from parliament also with other powers and immunities. At present there is a growing amalgamation of the two. There are current efforts to unequivocally establish that the judiciary does not have any review functions over the legislative or other matters of Parliament. Two term period for the office of the President is already removed; independent commissions subjugated. The remaining obstacle for a full authoritarian system on the vertical dimension is the existence of the provincial council system under the 13th Amendment. The next effort would be to repeal it, if the opposition does not prevent it through strong resistance.

Way Forward?

Any glance at the challenges that democracy in Sri Lanka has faced reveal that resurrecting democracy in Sri Lanka is an arduous task, nevertheless possible and necessary. It is not only a task of changing the regime but also the system. If democracy is not reinstated in the foreseeable future, the country will plunge into both political and economic chaos.

One mistake that the critics, however, should not do in assessing the present status in the country, in my opinion, is to consider that all democratic potentialities are exhausted. That is not the case, or that is not the way it should be perceived. The regime is authoritarian but sitting on a democratic system however weak or fragile. People love their freedoms however they understand, and they deserve more. People are also rights conscious, and they deserve more and full measure of the fundamental rights. Any attempt at violent overthrow like in ‘Arab Spring’ not only would be a disaster but also can strengthen the authoritarian character of the regime. A new regime installed through violence or force would not be democratic either. It would create another cycle of violence and further degeneration of democracy. The change should be peaceful but forceful.

Another error might be to think that the international community (IC) can do the change, however you define the IC. It has to be understood that the international solidarity for regime and system change is necessary but it has its own limitations as well as disadvantages. The engineering of selective pressure might be the best. It has to be the people who have to mobilize themselves to assert democracy, human rights and justice to all communities. International standards are important as bench marks. It is through that kind of a social process and transformation that the people could educate themselves to the tasks of upholding democracy not only in politics but also in their personal lives.

Unity between and solidarity among various communities and sectors are important. There is a profound feeling of alienation within the numerically minority ethnic communities and particularly the Tamils from the political system. Unless and until their grievances and the issues of accountability are taken up in a genuine fashion, building of proper solidarity might be difficult. That is also the right thing to do by an authentic democracy movement.

Similar solidarity should be forged between the urban and the rural and the initiative should come from the urban as they are better organized and also privileged than the other. There can be apprehensions among the rural about the intentions of the urban groups. These should be properly alleviated.

Democracy is important both for the labour and the business. The public sector trade unions have a major role to play in resurrecting democracy in the country. They are the bulk of the organized working class. The existence of a vibrant and also a democratic trade union movement is part and parcel of a healthy democratic system. A similar or perhaps a larger role is left to the media, both printed and electronic. If there had been circumstances under which the media had to operate with some self-censorship, now it is time to shake off the fetters. Social media is also pivotal.

What about the role of the political parties in the opposition and for the time being in the government? Major political parties and their leaders are obviously responsible to various degrees in the process of degeneration and even stifling of the democratic system in the country. The resurrection of democracy in the country should also mean the resurrection of democracy within political parties. All parties need to reaffirm their commitment to democracy and human rights and ensure measures that all leaders and members abide by the principles. The civil society organizations need to pressure the political parties to make these commitments to the people. No democratic party should keep anyone in the leadership or even in the membership who have involved directly in human rights violations. Political parties should be purged to eliminate violent, corrupt and communalist politicians from their ranks.

The four major parties – the UNP, the SLFP, the TNA and the JVP – and also the left and the other parties may have different roles to play in the process. The SLFP appears to be completely hijacked today by a family/military/bureaucratic clique completely against the founding principles of that party whatever the past mistakes or deviations. It has to break away from the authoritarian grip. The UNP may have a similar task of reform itself as it has become seemingly paralysed to face up to the challenges posed by the authoritarian regime.

Most important might be to build a second-track leadership both to pressure the existing political parties and also to play an independent role in resurrecting democracy combining both principled issues and day to day grievances of the masses. No democracy movement will succeed purely based on ‘textbook’ issues. The issues should be practical without being opportunistic. In recent past there had been three movements that emerged. First was by the academics who demanded 6% allocation to education among other matters. Second was by the lawyers who stood for the independence of the judiciary against the impeachment of the CJ. The most recent was by an assorted group of youth who stood against ‘hate speech’ and for inter-ethnic justice.

All these are incipient democratic movements. If a second-track leadership for example of 100 committed people – of academics, lawyers and youth – could be built in the coming few months based on these three movements, that would be a centre of attraction for further enlistments for a broader democratic movement. The next to come into the democratic struggle would be the trade unions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Superb, Laksiri! Hope it is translated into Sinhala and Tamil.

    • 0
      0

      Thanks Dayan. Jayampathy offered to arrange translation after seeing your comment.

  • 0
    0

    I encorage more people to read and participate with conscience.The aritcles I have been reading are an education in my mid fifties. These articles must be filtered down to the grass root level and the younger generation need to have the knowledge of our past, unlike the education we received in the sixties to the late seventies. The education we had only allowed us to be selfish and uncaring.

  • 0
    0

    Spring dawns even after the bleakest Winter!

    • 0
      0

      Truth

      “Spring dawns even after the bleakest Winter!”

      Really, is Dayan Jayatilleka going to stop typing?

  • 0
    0

    The rising Trade Unionist will be appointed as National List MPP quickly
    and the Regime will roll on and on…………..

  • 0
    0

    Where is the Cheap Justice Mohan Pieris. Why is he not seen in any news in the recent past??? Any one!

  • 1
    0

    Thanks Laksiri. A veritable manifesto for democratic centrism and renewal. While I mostly agree with the thrust of your argument, could I make three points as follows:

    (a) What is the chance of transforming conceptions of group or national identity held among our multiple communities from an ethnic to a civic model? Is the lesson of history that democrats should stop trying to transform these deeply held identities, accept that they are here to stay, and instead focus on how they can be rendered into a positive force within a politics of plural and constitutional democracy?

    (b) How tenable is your urban-rural divide as a category of analysis in the post-war realignment of politics -this has happened state-wide, but especially in the urban sector – whereby, there seems now to be little difference between urban and rural voters in relation to voting patters. Just look at the candidates with the highest preferential votes in the Colombo District (and other districts in the Western Province) and the policies they have offered, and we can see that the electoral behaviour of urban voters is virtually the same as the rural sector in the way you have described the latter. Indeed, we just need to look at the sentiments expressed by Duminda Silva’s supporters the other day at Nawaloka hospital to demonstrate this point (whether this event was stage-managed or not is irrelevant to my argument). I don’t want to go into the explanations of this realignment, but one inescapable matter is below.

    (c) Beyond the question of the problematic and destructive regime, you have been diplomatic about the biggest elephant in the room (pun intended): the self-inflicted political castration of the United National Party. There is little prospect of influencing the regime toward more enlightened and constructive behaviour (as you know better than I) and so the focus of democrats should be even more on the prospects for democratic opposition. This is indeed your thesis, but the point to note is that we have a community of voters, not citizens, in Sri Lanka. Consequently, the only plausible agent of regime change is the democratic opposition in the south, not the “foco” of non-politicians you suggest. This is why there should be regime change within the UNP, prior to any successful regime change at the level of the state. I am therefore sceptical about the prospects for the anti-political civic opposition you seem to support.

    • 0
      0

      Asanga, regarding point B. I believe the voting patterns in the last Presidential and General election are little jaded because of the fact that they were held within a year of the war being completed. The ‘awe’ factor was still strong with regard to the ruling coalition. Hence Werawansa’s rabid Sinhala Buddhist Nationalistic, bordering on racist, rhetoric was able to attract more preference votes than even Ranil.

      With regards to the UNP, no regime change, within it, is possible without the ‘Superpacs’ that control the UNP agreeing to the change. Currently the sponsors are making to much money keeping the UNP exactly where it is. When something starts to smell fishy in politics, the stench generally leads to money or monied interests.

    • 0
      0

      Thanks Asanga. The following are my initial thoughts on your three valid points.

      a. Complete transformation from ethno to civic is not possible or even necessary in terms of identity. In terms of ‘ism’ there should/can be changes and that is possible through democratic process, dialogue and recognition (of identity, security and participation). It is a question of degree. Nationalism is a fluctuating thing whether ethnic or otherwise. It might not disappear as Renan predicted. But I go with Hobsbawm that it is not the task of the ‘intellectuals’ to endorse it especially ethno nationalism. I was impressed by the Swiss ‘model’ where people at least have three levels of identity and loyalty (no ism as such): to the commune, canton and federation. In Sri Lanka ethnic can prevail but civic should be built. We need solutions both to ‘recognize and to transcend’ ethnicity as much as possible. I wrote a short piece on “Some Parameters for a Political Solution’ to Pravda and Daily News somewhere in 2002 I believe where I advocated this ‘dialectical’ approach.

      b. My urban rural distinction is partly an analytical tool and partly a ‘rhetorical’ tool to drive a point. You have some valid points. But I believe the distinction still prevails beyond the voting behaviour. As LGS Kuruppu once observed ( Kearney repeated) every worker in Colombo is partly a peasant. Likewise, at least some voters in the urban electorates are partly rural. In proper rural areas ‘submissive instincts’ might banal and when they come to Kolonnawa they can be quite vociferous.

      c. I think you are absolutely right about the ‘Elephant.’ I surely wanted to be little diplomatic. We can employ dual or multiple track approach for change, changing the main opposition, forging a strong civic force (not non-political: I didn’t say that!), a good measure of international pressure etc. and etc. I don’t think a reformed UNP alone could bring the desired change. Then it would not be a resurrection of democracy; a better change perhaps which might not last. In the absence of change within the UNP, forging a strong civic force takes priority even as a prelude to that change. I also would advocate a desirable split with the SLFP.

      • 0
        0

        Thanks for responding Laksiri.

        I think we’re agreed on (a), that the civic-ethnic balance is a question of degree in places like Sri Lanka. We arrive at the same conclusion from different philosophical bases, Hobsbawm in your case, Kymlicka, Tierney and Rosenfeld in mine. I would particularly endorse your point about multiple identities that an individual can hold and how they can be constitutionally accommodated, and this is crucial to both plural democracy and the rejection of essentialist ethnicity, Sinhala supremacism and Tamil separatism. I cannot remember your Pravada/Daily News piece, but I do recall vividly your exposition of political and cultural nationality at Locarno round about the same time.

        On (b), thanks for reminding me about the Kuruppu/Kearney point. I also take onboard the point made by Bedrock Barney about the special nature of the first round of state-wde post-war elections.

        I am persuaded by your clarification on (c). Let’s hope it happens!

  • 0
    0

    These people who call themselves political “scientists” are wasting their time trying to fit Sri Lankan politics into some theories of their own.

    What do you really mean when you cry “resurrecting democracy in Sri Lanka is an arduous task”? Are we in a dictatorship? Are there no elections? Is the law not working (because Shirani B is not here)?
    What is the bloody problem?

    If the SLFP is captured by a family or military or anyone else, but keeps on winning elections by thumping majorities, are you suggesting the public are ignorant or they have not seen this? Do they all need to go to an America State Uni to be able to fill this democracy deficit? This is bunkum.

    This kind of ridiculous ‘ivory tower’ view is stupid.
    Stop trying to display yourselves as the learned elite and promote yourselves!

    The country has a government and your political analysis is based on your not wanting to see the good side.

    • 0
      0

      None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.

      • 0
        0

        This c*** is writing under at least 1000 pseudonyma, and also posts articles here.

        Then he goes and cleans the US embassy and the Temple Trees.

        I’m sure most readers know his identity.

    • 0
      0

      The bloody problem is there is no law and order in this country. Elections are won by fraud. The majority is not educated – they same who believed in Mrs. B’s rice from the moon ! So they keep voting.

      Corruption, waste, thuggery, nepotism. The country is ruled as if it is own by the family. No freedom of expression. Media is controlled.

      It is no more a democratic country. That is the bloody problem !

  • 0
    0

    Bravo, Dr. Laksiri Fernando, Food for thought!
    You have said something at the end which is so vital, significant and desperatly needed. Keep Writing Laksiri. Your pen is so powerful.

    • 0
      0

      Thanks Thenuwara, it is encouraging.

  • 0
    0

    Whatever that could happen has to be through the existing political system. It is not possible for civil society to implement change other than through a revolution. Such was tried by the JVP and LTTE and failed. Govt is entrenched with the power of money, state machinery, media, military, police etc.

    The possible method for change as proposed by the author is through a strong and enlightened opposition. This could arise from within the political parties themselves. The old parties need to be revamped and young educated youth with broad vision and secular idealogy need to come to the fore front.

    Commonly it has been the policy of educated people to avoid politics as it is a dirty game and considered nobodies business. However it has become dirty as the good people have abandoned it and the thugs and murderers have taken control. So it is up to the youth to join and bolster the mainstream parties and make their views heard on behalf of all the people of this country. It seems that we cannot implement change without speaking out from within the system. Join the bandwagon to implement change.

  • 0
    0

    Taken together, Laksiri and Asanga are saying some vitally important things.

  • 0
    0

    Laksiri Fernando, There is no logic in your article here. You said,”…in recent past there had been three movements that emerged. First was by academics,second by lawyers and the third by assorted group of youth who stood against “hate speech”.

    So in your letter with or w/o knowledge you admitted that in Srilanka there is democratic freedom for protests,rallies,agitation or whatever. So there is no need o resurrect democracy in Srilanka. What u need to do is resurrect and amend your astray mind.

    • 0
      0

      Oh la lah here we go one got already hurt and reacting. Laksiri has delivered the massage so he must be so happy with this above comment.
      You talking about freedom? Its true those three movements emerged but didnt you know the end result? Let me remind you then. The first one Academics have been threatned and/or bought some of them by Kekille, The Lawyers did a brave and an outstanding job yet the CJ had been impeached by a panel of donkeys. And the third, the Vigil or the Youth were questioned by CID. This is your lokka Kekille’s freedom.

      FYI, You cannot stop the people any longer as they are some way or the other gathering together against this maniac despots. Save your breath dude, you may need it for later use. let in the meanwhile Dr. Laksiri write more. Why dont you sit and watch.

      • 0
        0

        Thanks Pandukabaya for your intervention.

        Laksiri

      • 0
        0

        Pandukabaya, Laksiri never delivered a new message. Laksiri rpeating the same shit that pro-LTTE tamil diaspora keep vomitting for the last 4 years. No democracy in SL, ill-treat minorities, economy is in bad shape bla..bla… All Laksiri wants a puppet like Ranil W. at the helm of SL. No ruler can survive without support of people. Do You and Laksiri thinks that popularity of MR eroding and in next election puppet back boneless Ranil W. come to power. Keep on dreaming guys.

        • 0
          0

          Rana – Ranil coming to power in the next elections or not isnt the issue. But you are right yes, the poularity of MR is seriously declining. You can see that for yourself mate. We dreamt and not any more. By hook or by crook this regime should go. This family is ruining the country. I can not stand to see that hopeless and useless unwanted two namesake ports built without doing a simple feasibility studies (actually all those reports/studies were ignored by the regimist)thus ruining the priceless wildlife, endangered animals and endemic species. Let alone everything else. why cannot you guys see these.

          • 0
            0

            Sumanasekara, You or your bankrupt UNP never ever can throw ths regime out by hook ,by crook or by any other means, for next 10years. Try and do it. Mattala harbour and the airport would be fully functional after oil tank farm completed. The only snag is that. It is just a matter of time. The area cleared for Mattala airport is shrubby barren land and not a jungle. Earlier they plannd to expand Weerawila airport but abandoned the idea because of the facts you elaborate here such as wild life etc.. You guys never even set your foot on this part of the island and talking bullshit.

            Finally I’ll tell you one thing. It is because of this family that so far keep this country in one piece. If Ranil W. carry on few more years in 2004-2006 this country already divided into two countries.

            • 0
              0

              PANDUKABAYA, I mistakenly type sumanasekara’s name. Sorry the above view is for u PANDUKABAYA.

        • 0
          0

          rana

          ” Laksiri rpeating the same shit that pro-LTTE tamil diaspora keep vomitting for the last 4 years.”

          Such as……….

          • 0
            0

            Vedda, Let him repeat another 100 times until it goes into dummy heads of our people. I dont see anything wrong with that even if what you were saying is true. Thats one way to make our ‘olamottalayos’ aware. In that case Dr Laksiri doing a clever job or he is prompt.

            Rana – You saying it was a barren land. Do you know what the importance of those barren lands? You have no clue i guess mate. I was in South Africa working with proper rangers for years in game lodges. You dont know the worth of those mangrows or shurrby flora and fauna. So lets not go there.
            You said mattala airport would be fully functional after the oil tank project has been completed? May I ask when? Isnt it fully functional now? Then why the heck they opened it? This airport is a pukka white elephant purely made for one reason ‘namesake’ which the entire country know of. Billions of dollars have thrown in the drain for a lunatic’s inferiority complex. Besides snagging work should be carried out every three months is my guess. Lets assume that these ports are fully functional as you say. Alright where will they find ships to land from? Enlighten us mate? What a comic it is to land at mattala when a ship take off from katunayaka? What the idea behind. Just to keep the port busy? This is what happen when allow clueless foresightless visionless leaders to run a country.
            Finally you were saying ‘if RW carry on’….You guys again have no idea what actually happen behind the scenes. You all are biased and prejudice and so narrow minded fanetics. It was RW who broke LTTE into two. Do you know that mate? Karuna is sitting with Basil and Champika in the same raw at present because of RW. Its true Perci Mahendra Rajapaksa happened to be the president when ruthless barberic LTTE was defeated. But the credit must go to few – India, for allowing the war to wipe out LTTE and to Pakistan for the military support and ofcourse the General SF for his stretagies and leadership from the front who is now sitting hopelessly confused completely trying to gather what happened to himself. Having said that, yes MR did it so we elected him as the leader as a gratitude, didnt we? The entire nations celebrated LTTE victory including the Tamils (many peace loving Tamils thought at least we can now live peacefully without facing harassment). After several years do we enjoy that peace? What the war victory gave us? BBS, Mervin Silva, Paba, Malini Fonseka, Chamika Ranawaka, Sarana, Julampitiye amare, Radaliyagoa, Hulugalle, Weerawanse, Mohan Peiris, Sarath Silva, Cabraal, Sajin Vaas, Duminda Silva, 300 plus regime famili members etc and another communal tension. Who made all these? The same Perci and Siblings from medamulane.

  • 0
    0

    Asanga, please do work these observations up as an article, which I hope Kalana Senaratne, Liyanage Amarakeerthi and perhaps Dayapala Tiranagama will comment extensively on.

  • 0
    0

    is this the Dr. L Fernando I see on youtube to be disillusioned (on 22 Dec 2009) of the ‘treason’ of a once-opposition candidate for executive presidency for having ‘surrendered’ to the international vultures what were supposed to be kept as state secrets? I wonder how their dictionaries now changed their definitions of ‘baseless’ allegations to mass scale human rights violations and war crimes and state of lawlessness and bad governance. is the one i see in this comments section the same Dr. D Jayathilaka that i find on youtube to be educating Mr. S Hattotuwa and his readers that the war crimes allegations were all catagorically baseless?

    you scratch my back, i scratch yours, us is awesome!

    Perhaps these political scientists have all concluded from their calculations that the game has only two possible outcomes: either usha-sri-skantha-raja and co are getting their yugoslavian model solution (something Dayan Jayathilaka has been trying too hard in alluding to by his persistance on quoting his ‘experience’ with the palastinian membership case at the UN) or that the dynasty continues for generations with its impunity and favoritism operating on concentric circles with the lower radii preferred over the larger (as Ms. T Gunesekara puts it) and these political scientists have already figured out their uselessness to the regime.

    Hypocrisy, I would conclude. If you want to be truthful, be absolutely truthful.

  • 0
    0

    I think there is excessive focus on the structural features of democracy and thought-behavioural pattern of the populace. Such study and identification may be essential to improve the democratic system and map strategy for change but we are missing something more important.
    Now we cannot say that Sri Lanka did not have a decent democratic structure with internal laws and international covenants for protection. Yet the system failed. The reason is that the governing leadership lacked belief, understanding and commitment to democratic principles. Likewise the voter did not fully understand their rights under a democracy and how such rights when correctly applied bestowed enormous benefits to their progress. One thing that is clear is that our leaders are too political and lack commitment to good morals and values. Likewise those who vote them in to power also do not discriminate between good and bad, honest and dishonest, disciplined and not, hardworking and lazy, drug dealer, extortionist or thug.
    However good the system is it cannot succeed with a poor quality political leadership and voter. For example if the incumbent President had decided to govern in a democratic and egalitarian manner no one would be raising issue. Even with the enormous power vested in him this President could not resist the temptation to help himself. The problem is with the individual politician or voter. So how do we go about tinkering with the system not to shackle the leadership, but ensure their righteous governance too? And how do we educate the voter? In other words how do we change Sri Lankans?!

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.