By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka –
It’s The People vs the Political Class, in the Aragalaya. The People are winning because they are clearer, more intelligent and are way ahead of the politicians. The parliamentarians who can’t seem to get what the people have made crystal clear, can play silly buggers only until the people stop letting them.
The People have come together for a common cause irrespective of their other differences. They have managed to distil the essence of their demands into a couple of slogans which cannot be more explicit. The Parliamentarians in the meantime are still thrashing around unable to come to a common position nor able to persuade an adequate number into a majority to support any of their proposals.
These things take time, they say. The Constitution doesn’t provide for that, they say. They look for solutions within their comfort zone, while the people they represent have long left that and are taking risks in a previously unchartered zone packed with risk and danger. The politicians are not planning to follow their example anytime soon.
The People knew that the solutions had to come through the legislature. They did everything they could to send their message through their protests, which are spread across the island so no one could possibly miss it. But increasingly it is dawning on the people that their message is just not getting through. The ugly truth is revealed that the representatives of the people have been living in a parallel universe once they crossed the Diyawanna, in which they began to believe they acquired some special status which elevated them above the people who are pretty much a sideshow.
The People no longer trust the 225, and certainly not the +1 to represent them. They have put them on alert. The leaders of the April 28th demonstrations have even given them a deadline to do the job or get out of the way. It’s in the interest of the political class to quickly comprehend that the law, the constitution, and all other rules are kept by The People as expected, only as long as those who govern keep their side of the contract as well.
The President was rudely awakened to this truth when on April 3rd the People flouted the curfew which sought to prevent the first mass demonstration. Even the cold-blooded shooting by the Police of an unarmed protester has not ebbed the momentum of an enraged people. The People have already declared that they will have those who refuse to leave, out on their ear before long. Constitutional niceties will matter little at that point. It will be ‘que sera, sera’ afterwards. Those who worry about who will fill this or that Constitutional post needn’t worry. If they don’t act fast, they won’t have any say in any of that.
There Will Be Blood
If the politicians don’t prevent the People having to do the job themselves, there will be blood. The People will have little regard to how they do the job at that point. How difficult is it to grasp that The People want the President, the PM and the Rajapaksa regime gone?
So, in the absence of a legislative solution, the solution will devolve to the street which can do it only one way. That way will inevitably elicit a response from the law enforcement and security authorities who have pledged to protect the political elite. The People will be beyond caring by then, having tried to persuade their politicians to get over themselves and do what the people demand. They will march forward regardless of the dangers to themselves and blood will flow on the streets.
Whoever fires the guns, this blood will be on the hands of the politicians. They would have failed the people who gave them the privilege of governing. While The People suffered, some died, most had enough, and almost all marched and protested, giving plenty of time to act with similar urgency to resolve the fundamental issue they had identified as the cause of their problem, the politicians couldn’t reach across their petty little differences as The People had done. Instead, they were huddled in corners endlessly debating the many versions of the 21st amendment, the pros and cons of the Executive Presidency, and who would be President or PM. It may be none of them.
Tone Deaf in A Parallel Universe
The People said ‘Gota Go Home’. They said ‘MR Go Home’ or a much more flippant version of that. Addressing the regime, they said the lot of you get the hell out, because time is running out for us, but they are not being heard.
The refusal of the President, the PM, the Rajapaksa regime to comprehend that they are being held to account for their actions, and that no mandate, Constitutional provision, or legality could excuse the conduct which brought the whole people to the streets in protest; and the shameful inability of the Opposition to work around any constraints to change the status quo in the governing structure without indulging in their own predilections; their inability to persuade their fellow parliamentarians to come to a common position and make them stakeholders in a new transformational arrangement, and the continuing divisions within them exposes something very concerning about them.
It will be seen that not one among them had what it took, to seize the moment, step outside the frame and muster the strength to do what is necessary to be the person or persons of destiny that this moment needs.
If Parliament fails, that person or those persons of destiny will emerge from the struggle, after blood is spilled, for want of courage and commitment from the political class. That class or political elite cannot see that The People don’t give a damn for the rules anymore as they gather in the proliferation of GotaGoGamas around the country. Every profession, every class, every category of people has shown courage and commitment as they join the struggle and do whatever they can in their own different ways to strengthen the call for change.
All the People expect is for the President to accept responsibility for his monumental blunders and step down.
They expect the PM who couldn’t stop him, to also step down, in line with his own declared belief that once you’ve lost the confidence of the people, you must leave.
It is the case that the 20th amendment made the PM powerless, but he campaigned for the 20the Amendment. The regime has been a disgrace, and so The People expect the Rajapaksas to vacate forthwith so the country could be saved from plunging further into the abyss. If they don’t do so willingly, The People expect the Opposition to make this happen.
That none of the above is likely to happen is the shame contained in the expensively maintained centers of governance and legislation. That the People of this island, are nothing like those who represent them, is clear in the precincts of every GotaGoGama, including in the supportive protests in the Diaspora.
Those of you in the business of governance, learn from the people and grow a spine. Put your bloated heads together and come up with a plan before The People have to. The People have already suggested what you should do. All you have to do is to unite to throw the perpetrators of this misery out, and quickly settle down to sorting this mess out. Remember, with or without you, The People are not planning to lose this one.
No solution proposed to-date by the Politicians of all sides responds adequately to The People’s voices. But The People mean to be heard. They will shout louder for a time, in a last clutching at straws. Then the shouts will cease to be demands, and turn into roars of rebellion or even revolution. And as with all such overflowing of mass frustration, as they climb over the walls of the citadels they had privileged their leaders with, to throw them out with their bare hands, the guns aimed at them will claim their victims, adding for the first time to this island’s history, a People’s Revolution, not driven by ideology, but by existential imperative. The Martyrs will be celebrated and the political class denounced with every generation.
chiv / May 1, 2022
“In the war people are winning because they are more intelligent and clearer than politicians.”. Sanja , relieved to know that . Just like Rajapaksas few here keeps asking after Rajapaksas what next ?? Who can do?? Sure to me, students of today seems more intelligent and smarter than their retired professors.
Sunil Abeyratne / May 2, 2022
Most of the readers would remember how easily blood was spilt in the past.
My fear is that it would be the same this time.
I concede there is mass awakening but:
(1) Will the bulk of the middle-aged folk be as committed as the young?
(2) Will the institutions (includes the security forces) with vested interest to preserve the status quo, allow changes – let alone embracing such changes?
(3) Will the current ‘Aragalaya’ dissipate allowing targeted hunting of ‘trouble makers’?
(5) Anura Kumara Dissanayake divulged a list of properties that MR and his clan have acquired. It is likely that there would be a response to such explosive stuff, when it suits the clan.
chiv / May 3, 2022
SA, question is regardless of Aragalaya can bankrupt failed nation, be revived???
Sunil Abeyratne / May 4, 2022
Sri Lanka is a rich country – ruined by the political class with the support of the corrupt senior government officers.
Once our debt is restructured, an honest administration could revive the economy.
People can be bankrupt but countries cannot be!
We still have lots of expatriates working all over the world and their remittances would be enough to buy the essentials – Not luxury items.
The infrastructure for tourism is well developed – steady flow of foreign currency.
Luxury items (high-end vehicles are an example) have become their needs now. That has to stop.
To state the obvious – we would not have been in this predicament if competent people were allowed to formulate and implement policy.
Frugality is a virtue – something elite should learn.
I am still not sure if those in the Aragalaya understand what needs to happen after the Aragalaya.
I still don’t know why Nivad Cabraal attempted to defend the rupee around 200 to USD. Surely, a central banker knows that pegs do not work. Pound sterling/DM [Soros] and Euro/Swiss are classic examples.
Sri Lanka could have utilised the wasted reserves (including gold) to buy fuel now.
Lester / May 4, 2022
Sunil, exactly. Tamil tiger terror supporters in Western countries want the country to fail. Complete anarchy and collapse. This has been their “backup plan” since Nanthikadal. With the fall of the LTTE, they lack the organization and implementation to make it happen. This protest, despite being amateur, must be a godsend for them. That is why the TNA is keeping quiet. These people are opportunists and the best opportunity for them is an environment of complete chaos, ideally one that requires foreign intervention.
No doubt Sri Lanka is need of dire political reform. Not only political, but financial institutions as well. At some point Rajapakse may have to de-throne, but that requires a certain environment. The environment is looking more chaotic as time passes. Which means a strongman is needed to ensure control. Look at Iraq after Saddam Hussein, for example. If people think Rajapakse is bad, the Marxist policies of JVP should make them think again. Or “federalism” for minorities which will cause permanent economic devastation. What is the alternative to MaRa?
old codger / May 4, 2022
“we would not have been in this predicament if competent people were allowed to formulate and implement policy.”
“I still don’t know why Nivad Cabraal attempted to defend the rupee around 200 to USD. Surely, a central banker knows that pegs do not work.”
That’s simple. He wasn’t a Central Banker but a mediocre accountant, just as the Finance minister was a corrupt illiterate , who got his position due his membership of the Royal Family. Nobody would call the President competent either, except maybe as a gardener.
Of course, the pathetic souls who prattle on about “terror supporters ” will continue to sing for their supper.
SJ / May 5, 2022
You are right about the wealth of the country. Without it nobody will lend money.
Recovery from debt is not achieved by rescheduling debts.
It takes resetting the economy to be out of destructive debts altogether.
Import control is crucial to cut wasteful consumption.
Imports are necessary only as much as they help to enhance production and generate wealth.
Yahapalanaya was not about such options either.
Sunil Abeyratne / May 5, 2022
These are the consequences of appointing incompetent people to critical positions.
The present governor noted that the government did not take timely action, which precipitated the current crisis.
leelagemalli / May 5, 2022
Not only Dr Silva, there were whole lot of senior men incl. former premier RW reiterated that there would be no other options but to go to IMF.
All men including that -bedpan style mouth bearer- Bandula Gunawardhana were naively optimitic about nothing like bankrupsy status would ever be reached..-. today they stay deaf and dumb – unique to srilankens…
Nivard has gone missing. In a civilized country, these men would have now been arrested…. but in a country where law and order restrict to the orders of the incumbent president, these idiots would have remained as WEERAYAS /cardboard heroes. Those who ever thought that GOTA woudl be other way around – should be STUPDIER than appeared to be.
I happened to watch how they behaved in the parliament today. … , former defending lawyer of Gotabaya (another bag boy) aka today ‘s temporary minister of finance in current cabinet Ali Sabry shamelessly added ” yes it was a real big failure ” to have made a set of wrong decisions – along during the last 2 years.
As of today – the size of reserves is just 50 US$ Millions. See the levels we are fallen in.
Surprisingly, yet today, Nivard Cabba who spoke high about his magical powers, stay unarrested. ???????
In a law bound country, Cabral would have been be hung by as of today.
a14455 / May 5, 2022
Rich with what? . Do we have natural resources like Australia or Argentina? Do we have a population that is large and significant like Bangladesh or Pakistan ?
The only things Sri Lanka has going in its favor is the location for which Giants like India or China will fight for. We dont have a competitive market-oriented system,
Illusions of granduer does not feed a people. and the aragalaya is nothing more than a nadagame by entitled middle class brats. We are very close to crashing and burnin like Argentina unless we play our cards right.
SJ / May 5, 2022
Argentina got rid of debt by defaulting and restoring the economy. It was made indebted again by a right wing regime and again fighting back.
Sunil Abeyratne / May 5, 2022
Thanks for your response.
My comment ‘Sri Lanka is a rich country’ was not intended to compare Sri Lanka with a country that is endowed with almost unlimited mineral resources. Australia is a super-rich country and there are only a few such countries.
Sri Lanka certainly can feed its citizens and also export food (this includes fish). Our water resources are adequate for agriculture. Anything grows in Sri Lanka and subsistent farming keeps the villagers fed.
Such is not the case in Australia. Without the benefit (the dole) the unemployed would be helpless. There are other support services like the Salvation Army. Sri Lanka does not have an adequate safety net but people do not starve (I don’t how it is now).
Argentina is a basket case.
It is resource-rich but its infrastructure is owned by the USA, which benefits by Argentinian economic activities. Argentina is where it is because of corruption.
Sunil Abeyratne / May 5, 2022
You say that
‘the aragalaya is nothing more than a nadagame by entitled middle class brats
Wonder if you have evidence to characterise ‘Aragalaya’ as a ‘nadagame’.
All what I know about the Aragalya is based on what I have read. So, I am unable to contest what you say.
My thoughts are that the Aragalaya is an expression of people’s discontent because they are subjected to extreme hardship. Such an expression has the potential to transform itself into a revolution, particularly when people have concluded that the responsibility for their hardship resides with the government.
I would not speculate as to how this would end. But, with alleged corruption (apparently with as presented by AKD of JVP) would incense people.
leelagemalli / May 5, 2022
Long time no see.
Some thought one diehard Rajapakshe backlicker was less..
To correct u the only thing Sri Lanka and srilankens is huge inferiority complex/ Hambantota bps/was proved with direct backing of u the kind of permanent slaves/ today powerful youth made them highly dependent on the last straw /which pirith chants. .
Now Mahinda and his siblings and offspring s are like ” red cloth to a bull”. See a man how he destroyed a nation and himself/ Thanhawa kills him 10000 times before he really dies soon. I wish him and the family whole lot of curse for all high crimes his involvement committed 🤔🐃🤔🐃🤔🐃🐃🤔🐃🤔
nimal fernando / May 6, 2022
Ye have some mental issues, buddy! :))
“very close to crashing”
What more is there to crash?
“Illusions of granduer does not feed a people.”
You got that right, pal! ……. I suppose you got the idea after visiting all the white elephants in Hambanthota! :))
“nadagame by entitled middle class brats”
It’s a better nadagama than the Rajapakse nadagama …….. to each his own, you seem to like the Rajapakse nadagama better ,uh?
Do you still believe the rating agencies downgraded us because we are Asians? …….. The state of the economy had nothing to do with it? ………. Don’t you think they are better seers than ol’ Nana Akka? :))
You can deposit/drop a Lankan anywhere in the world …….. the genes remain the same ……
Is it any wonder we are in this pickle? :))
I don’t want a pickle
Just want to ride on my motorcycle
And I don’t want a tickle
‘Cause I’d rather ride on my motorcycle
nimal fernando / May 6, 2022
“Luxury items (high-end vehicles are an example) have become their needs now. That has to stop.
Frugality is a virtue – something elite should learn.”
“The protestors want good old S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike to wake up to the cruel irony of the off spring of his faithful follower who crossed the aisle with him feeding ‘Rottweilers’ and ‘Angora cats’ while ordinary mothers line up for milk powder at half empty shops.” — Sarath de Alwis :))
“We still have lots of expatriates working all over the world and their remittances”
Do you send money back home? ………. Regularly?
“I am still not sure if those in the Aragalaya understand what needs to happen after the Aragalaya.”
Is that important? …….. Can things get any worse? ……… Are you implying the Rajapakses knew what they were doing? ……. except how to rob? :))
Did the Germans and the Japanese understand what was going to happen after they lost the war? ……… They seem to have found their way back. Spectacularly.
“Euro/Swiss are classic example”
Unlike Lanka, the Swiss did not want their Confoederatio Helvetica franc to be strong ……… It’s the reverse ……… unlike us poor sods, some countries/people have all the luck!
In the absence of man, the world consist of simple truths. :))
chiv / May 5, 2022
SA, my comment above is, what never materialized in 75 years, will happen now without such Aragalaya ?? For sure the outcome of this struggle against corruption, tyranny, crime, nepotism, political exploitation will decide the future, of our country one way or other. All the resistance we saw in the past were either political,racial or religious. whereas this resistance by the struggling masses is a spontaneous reaction Hence we already see some changes witch was never witnessed in past. a) People standing together regardless of religion, race, cast, class….b) overwhelming support of public, intellectuals, religious leaders,diaspora, trade unions, businessmen ….c) no signs of violence even under provocation ( it’s more than a month now) d) reluctance of Mafia family/military to do anything drastic , which otherwise would have been the choice. e) wide spread international exposure, media reporting, concerns raised by diplomats f) crooked politicians have never been cornered as “deer in head lights”. g) Pretty much Aragalaya has been apolitical free of religious, race, language and other influence.
chiv / May 5, 2022
Sorry. Correction, “What never materialized in 75 years will NOT happen without such Aragalaya.” Yes we may have resources, people, tourism, expatriates …. which alone is not enough for a radical change, in our whole system. Countries can stay in bankruptcy much longer than individuals. Recently Puerto Rico managed to come out of bankruptcy, after being in for decades. There are many countries , which are not so fortunate as PR. To explain medically, people ending up with life threatening conditions due to years of neglect ( heart attack, alcoholism, diabetes) can be revived by treatment, but without making necessary life style changes the prognosis will be the same.