5 March, 2024


The Aragalaya Can Create A New Politics

By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

At the very next elections to be held in Sri Lanka, be they local government, provincial or parliamentary, I urge those who are now protesting all over the country, and on the Galle Face Green, to contest and enter the political mainstream. It is time these young people come forward to participate in shaping the future of this country.

We have seen impassioned, articulate and enlightened political discourse from the most unexpected sources. A case in point is the young man in a motorcycle helmet at the Mirihana protests. His impromptu address to the authorities in a peroration of unintended theater, drew immediate applause from the crowd of protesters, going viral on social media. That was one of the most inspiring and memorable moments of this series of on-going protests. Who wouldn’t want to see him in Parliament replacing one of the current crop there?

It is the duty of all those with the wherewithal, to enable their entry. They can be seen supporting the protesters with all their needs right now. They need to convert that support into helping them in the many ways that may be necessary, to enter the mainstream. Judging by the vibe at Galle Face, I would guess that there wouldn’t be a dearth of volunteers for this purpose. Take inspiration from the way Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)– the youngest elected representative of the American legislature–and the Squad were enabled and supported to run for Congress, outside of the political establishment.

The disappointment with the ‘225+1’ as they are, has not abated at the protests, despite the various moves by both the regime and the Opposition to respond. So far these responses have left the protestors cold. In fact, the protestors have firmly kept the main political parties from joining their protests in any way.

The protestors’ slogan of sweeping the lot of them away needs a follow-up. Those young people who say that there are many who can manage things better, must bring them along and have them try. That can only be done by entering the legislature, and the time is coming. They may never have a more optimal opportunity, when the public is desperately looking for change.

Whether they contest as Independents, or form a new political Movement or party emerging from ‘the Struggle’, is to be seen. But contest they must, if things are not to be politics-as-usual, which they detest. They want a brighter future. Well, they can shape it that way by entering the fray.

The old method has seen all sorts of undesirables enter parliament. This is due to the nominations process. We are all at the mercy of the party leaders in this process and end up having to put up with their nominees’ eccentricities in shamefaced subjection.

This is a chance to prevent that circus from coming to town. Those motivated people in the protest movement who sincerely want change and intelligent governance, jump in. All those who can’t, support them as best as you can.

Mandate of 6.9 million

We have heard it said that the current regime and the President has a mandate from 6.9 million people to complete their term. Excuse me, with that mandate came a Social Contract where the people temporarily ceded some part of their sovereignty to the President and Parliament in exchange for provision at the least of basic living conditions. Right now, only those in power would claim that the Social Contract has not been broken every which way by them.

I would say that bankrupting the country is proof enough. Along the way to bankruptcy, they have put the people through the wringer of unending queues for fuel, food, gas and milk, leading to several deaths. There is no recovery plan that they have presented which spells an end to the on-going nightmare. This sense of entitlement comes from never being held accountable. Well that seems to have changed now. So, I’d say, wake up. The people have.

We hear more sense from the streets, than at the debates in parliament. The moment a searching question is posed, the ‘drunken monkey’ routine begins. The rest of the pack joins in, hurling unrelated insults, manic laughter along with banging the tables, ending in meaningless shouting that drowns out any discernible words. A coherent reply by a Minister is a rarity.

Is this what our parliamentarians understand as their mandate? They have failed their mandate a thousand times. And now the country itself is seen as having failed. Its affairs were in the hands of those with the mandate. It is they who brought it to the state it is in now. Yet, they are unwilling to bear that responsibility, nor to admit their part in it.

So, what good would it do to bring them all back and expect a different result?

Be the Change

Since the state of affairs now being protested against cannot continue, and yet will if nothing changes, those exemplary and inspiring souls who care enough about the people to protest in the pouring rain as well as in the scorching sun, and those who support them in every conceivable manner, should attempt to take the reins into their own more empathetic hands and steer this island towards a different, more hopeful future.

This pearl in the Indian Ocean has produced and keeps producing exceptionally talented, spirited sons and daughters routinely. They are unbelievably innovative, motivated, resilient and determined. They are intelligent and compassionate. They have overcome numerous challenges in the island’s history with their humour and talent for satire intact. All this is plainly evident at the protests, including at Galle Face, in the slogans, the songs, the sculptures, the speeches, the unity and the solidarity.

Except, they have hardly ever opted to be in Parliament or any other legislative institution. The time has come to change that.

Wherever you are, and whatever you do for your country, your legislators are more than capable of messing things up on a macro or mega scale. And whatever your skills, you end up being a victim of those who have been so isolated from the people that they no longer see, hear or care about the people’s bitter cries. Worst of all, they seem to be out of creative ideas as well.

This island deserves better. To all those who have shown themselves during these protests to be a far better option to represent the interest of the people of this country than those who have brought it down to its knees, I say, be the change you want to see. Hold your nose if you have to, but contest first, then change the system from within. Let the Aragalaya bring a new politics.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    But Sanja The political system is not conducive to accomodate your line of thinking.
    Yes these bravehearts deserve to rule the nation but we need to change the mentality of the electrorate and the system of governance. In that people should elect candidates who would govern the country for the greater good of the nation. And racist politics shouldn’t be on the main agenda

    • 2

      Your husband /self proclaimed political analyst and his siamese twin Wimal Buruwanse paved the way former high criminals be back but under apolitical candidate. All knew that GOTA would have been better to be a petrol station assistnat but a president ?
      As of today, entire country is in complete shambles.

      Their rejection to go home is morally repugnant. But in the days to come, they have to leave the office – else, I have no doubt, the fate of MAHINDA and GOTABAYA will be no different to that of Nicolae Ceaușescu (Rumania) and Gadafi (Lybia).
      This is the first time, we see the direct attacks being flown on country s leadership. If anyone would compare it with former govts since independence – people s agonies became that stronger by hour. –
      Just listen to ruling party former ministers and supporters, they make every effort to put the blame on all 225. It is another political gimmick to dilute people angers on Rajapakshes.

  • 2

    It is easy to say that young talented protesters to come into mainstream politics without any fundamental changes to the constitution and fundamental roles played by politicians and religious leadership. So, it is important that first the existing governing body should come out and the country should be governed by a temporary administration from qualified talented persons who are not part of the any political party. This group should find a suitable constitution that is accepted by majority of the diverse communities. It is important to understand by the religious leadership that they have no role to play in politics and their role is to help people to encourage better society free from corruption, lies, and hatred but to help the poor and educate people to respect each other, and eliminate violence.

  • 3

    All strength to your voice there. May it be heard loud and clear in both the vernacular among the rural villages where the humbuggery exacted most victims. They must realize that it is not “Karumey” but a deliberate design for the ravaging of a nation’s wealth that occurred with giving nominations to thieves, pimps, murderers, drug kingpins and other scumbag slime-balls all the way. It is perhaps time now, for young women like you to share the leading of the nation to prosperity from the shambles it is in now.

    • 2

      Well said Lasantha
      Yes I wish these articles of faith are available in both Sinhalese and Tamil so that masses could feel the urgency
      and hopelessness of the hour
      Time is nott our side

  • 0

    …… drew immediate applause from the crowd of protesters….. want to see him in Parliament replacing one of the current crop there…..
    Yes he may be eloquent and well intentioned, but is he real legislature material? May be.
    But we should not be swayed by emotion alone – rather think wisely to send some with real capabilities to lift us out of this mess. It is this being swayed by ‘talk’ that has helped many of these so called legislators with only the gift of the gab and desire to rob, to exist.
    I would exercise more judgement in selecting whom to vote. Eloquence and good intentions alone are not enough.
    ….be the change you want to see. ….but contest first, then change the system from within….
    Certainly, we have to sift at least 200 of the 225 but there are some few in parliament who are sincere and can be of much value. A system change must come, where the legislature is not the sole custodian of framing a constitution nor of enacting laws that can enrich the legislators, where they can vote everything for themselves without check, like pensions, salaries, allowances and perks like car permits. There must be judicial review not limited to a time frame, as of now.

  • 4

    Good Luck and best wishes to the youth and people protesting. It would have have some use at the end, someday. Then again, The Sinhala have a very short memory as an ethnic group.
    They all fell for the fraud and the conniving rallying cry from the crooks who used racism and their ethnocentric lamentations to fool them. They mobilized the ignorant and ‘Dusseela’ monks to fool and ill inform the Sinhala, loathing with racism. I will not be surprised if the same happen again.
    Added to that, about 40 super rich families control Sri Lankan political outcome. Gota & Cabral gave them unprecedented tax breaks which would not have happened in any other country. IMF will not help us unless the tax breaks are reversed. The bottom line is all governments need people to pay taxes.
    With all ills brought-on by RW, the country was on the right path. Mangala presented two consecutive balanced budgets in 2018 & 2019. Sirisena lost his ideals to bring us to this point.
    At the end of this saga nothing significant will come out of it, except for the fact that lenders will not look at us favorably. Already WB has declared that Sri Lankan economy is unsustainable as it is.

    • 0

      Dear Nancy Twins.
      Hello to both of you.
      May be, conceding all you say, other than “Good Luck and best wishes to the youth”, any definite suggestions you can give that can help the youth in this situation.

      • 2

        I wish we could. We are old and have too many battle scars we are licking to heal. These kids are amazing. They have the courage to call that the emperor has no clothes. Our ways of thinking are old. We could never have imagined that the youth of our land of birth has finally broken the racial an religious boundaries to come together and work together. Especially, the Muslim youth who are usually branded as ISIS supporters! One Country, One People, as opposed to Gota & Gnanasara’s ‘One Law’.

  • 3

    Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka,

    Very sober thoughts indeed!

    Let us abolish the executive presidency along with the proportional system.

    Ideology no longer counts, let there be diversity and have independents, even if they are mavericks.
    Political parties and party leaders had a monopoly over selection of candidates since the 1978 constitution. And the prospective candidates have to be in the good books of the party hierarchy to get selected as candidates..

    These measures led to the tyranny of established politicians

    Let politics may no longer be a profession.

  • 2


    Your distant cousin the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Stalin has made arrangements to send you food, rice, vegetables, … This time there is no attempt to send you Parippu.

    Could you inform us if Sunil Hadunnetti is also enjoying Indian rice, veg, …etc.
    By the way how about SJ, Udaya, Wimal, Dinesh, ……. Champika, …

    • 1

      Dear NV
      Most importantly will Rathana Padeniya Mahindananda and Gota who wanted everything organic – ha ha that “organ” that they use – enjoy all these vegetables mainly the wanbotu..

  • 2

    Find a way out to get rid of Rajapaksa cronies, who still believe they could cotinue with some new faces of thier own grabs.

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