By Sonali Wijeratne –
The despicable Rajapaksa government is now driving the ordinary people of Lanka to desperation and the edge of anarchy. Masses relatively deprived of the basics as energy, power, transport, medical supplies, food at reasonable prices are presently being muzzled, denied the freedom of expression and right to gather for peaceful demonstration. Curbs are imposed on social media. Arbitrary arrests and detention of young men, women and others engaged in protests within democratic rights have brought out hundreds of volunteers from the legal fraternity, some with high credentials to offer their services in the defense of these freedom fighters. Some rats are already seen slinking away from the sinking PJP ship.
As widely acknowledged, it is the worst socio economic crisis since Independence in 1948. According to the International Monetary Fund the country is in a state of solvency with unsustainable public debt and double digit inflation galloping to an all-time highest in Asia. A loose monetary policy, gross mismanagement of the economy has led to the sovereign debt crisis where gross reserves have been allowed to reach a critically low and insufficient level to cover even near term debt service needs and imports.
Needless to say, since 2019 to date, it is the Rajapaksa Government that is entirely to blame for the immediate series of policy blunders in the vitally crucial areas of agriculture, debt repayment, foreign exchange management, pre-pandemic cuts to taxation and revenue, lack of timely recourse to debt re-structuring, domestic economic restructuring rationalization IMF negotiations etc. etc. What else could the people expect when approx. 75% of the government budget and important portfolios pivotal to the development of the country are managed by this family who are not in the least qualified for this job, if not for any professional employment! What are the respectable or impeccable credentials that Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa or Central Bank Governor Nivaad Cabraal have for the job? “The answer is blowing in the wind”!
As common as it is to see a wounded or dying creature in the forest surrounded by beasts of prey, the Rajapaksa’s have seen to it that the strategic political and economic interests of China and India in Sri Lanka are traded for short-term loans and credit lines. The sovereignty of our Nation is now lost to foreign interests across the island ranging from its Ports, Oil Tanks, peripheral islands in the North, Air and Sea defenses.
The question for us the People of Sri Lanka is, should we allow this Sataka tribe to wreck further damage on our Island? Can this Nation afford to wait another couple of years for a General Election and a Presidential Election under continued misrule and mismanagement? In the meantime, this notoriously inept, corrupt, nepotistic clan and their retinue of obsequious, servant boy public servant, replete with Johnston’s flyovers, commissions, “Basils deals” and clandestine agreements, series of non-tradable projects as Bird Parks and Walking Tracks may completely devour and annihilate what is left of our beloved island.
What should the People of Sri Lanka do? Should they not unite against a common cause and erect a stronghold of solidarity for a common purpose? Changing the political pillow from time to time and finding that each party betrays its trust is the proverbial experience of the electorate.” To err is human”. Hence it is destructive and vain to castigate the 6.9 Mn. who voted the Rajapakses in at a time when today even those who voted for this Government are bravely agitating publicly and mourning their folly! Playing party politics and yearning for the political party of their choice to come into power is the prerogative of the politically opportunistic.
Let us not deceive ourselves. As Patriotic Citizens, we must eschew partisan politics. In the run up to the last Presidential Elections, those who sought political patronage for themselves and their ilk had no compunctions of wining and dining the major parties prospective Presidential candidates at their homes even when all that they had to offer the people of this country were promises and promises to give anything and everything to the Electorate, once they came into power!“ My generation has failed the People” laments a three score and ten past former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka during Yahapalanaya era, castigating successive governments and their budgetary operations that caused financial instability leading to the current economic chaos. Increasing spiraling debt has been the unfortunate contribution and inheritance of several successive governments over the past decades. And it is a fact that prior to the last Presidential Election none of the candidates of the two major parties had the courage and political integrity to tell the people where the country lay in its path towards solvency and propose measures however unpopular to gain financial stability! Today Sri Lanka would not be in this parlous state, if they had not engaged instead in populist policies, declarations each trying to vie with the other to woo the masses with populist wasteful promises and entrenching the Nation further, in a vicious debt cycle and mounting inflation.
Today, the march of the ordinary people, across the island is plain. They want a responsible government which can restore the basic amenities, manage the economy efficiently, and cease fritting away the Nation’s resources on foreign powers and corrupt deals. Playing partisan politics in this game will set us back at zero. If we are to give democracy a chance, Let the People March to remove the Rajapaksa government and put in place instead a representative interim government: a National Government that will only take into account the restoration of the freedom, dignity and glory of our Resplendent Island and not plot and ploy narrow partisan interests of gaining political power.