16 May, 2022

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The People’s March To Freedom

By Sonali Wijeratne

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.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    “What should the people of Sri Lanka do”? This question is raised in the article. The ANSWER:

    Follow the example of Mahatma Gandi. (1) Stage NO CO-OPERATION such as NON PAYMENT OF TAXES, NON PAYMENT OF UTILITY (electricity, water) BILLS, TRAVEL IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT WITHOUT PAYMENT OF FARES, (2) Organize MARCH (peaceful/non-violent & democratic) by the PEOPLE and let the Law Enforcement Authorities ARREST in THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS so that there will be no room in the remand prisons.

    The above action cannot be done without “LEADERSHIP” and “GUIDANCE”. The organizers must be PATRIOTIC and NON SEEKERS of political advantages. This SPIRIT was shown by Mahatma Gandi who did not seek political ambitions but worked in co-operation with PATRIOTIC forces.

    • 1
      0

      Biggest problem in current context is that President does not say anything.
      :
      Communication of the leadership with the people has been no comparable to any of the previous govt. :
      :
      Just imagine, main stream media repeat about the letters of resignations of the cabinet minister being handed over to the president, however, they dont mention about the validity of such resignations so long PM remains.
      :
      TV channels should finally work with the legal experts before being passed silly news clips to the nation. This nation was ruined firstly by media then by politicians.
      :
      At least today, PEOPLE in this hell should be aware of it.

      • 0
        0

        LM they know well, more the slips they make will drag deeper into their own grave. People should understand by now. ( it has been more than a decade of lies ). Did you hear what our only minister Johnston said. ” president still has the support of 6.9 million Patriots and there is no reasons for him to leave, these are just small group of people causing trouble.

  • 15
    0

    The Rajapaksa’s have this ugly history of not taking responsibility, or being accountable, for anything.
    When Human Rights Agencies called for accountability for the missing and killed citizens up North, they BLAMED the western nations, their media, pointed fingers at other nations, attacked UN officials personally for “targeting” poor Sri Lanka, showed our arrogance to them, and refused to cooperate.

    Now THEY have messed up again, failed the people, mismanaged this country, all because of unqualified family members and cronies holding vital positions, corruption (from 10 percent to 50 percent deals), all stumbling around with no coherent policies to get this country on track.

    People are getting angry as each day goes by, with no electricity for 13 hours,, no paper for the children to do their exams, long lines for gas and fuel (affecting transportation among other things), and preventing people from living their daily lives in the most basic ways. So guess who they blame again for their utter incompetence? Yes, those damn foreigners are picking on poor little Sri Lanka again.

    If this utterly crooked family has some conscience, or shame, they would all resign.
    THEY HAVE FAILED IN LEADERSHIP, AND FAILED THE PEOPLE AND COUNTRY.

    They can all go and live with their ill gotten gains in some exotic nation in luxury and comfort, while Sri Lankans suffer and try to pick up the pieces.

  • 7
    5

    As a start to save money the government should stop paying all university students, rich and poor, “maha pola” or whatever allowances except for the very needy few.

    Even first world countries provide university education to their citizens on some kind of loan basis to be paid back in installments when they start working.

    Poor Sri Lanka cannot afford these freebies introduced by socialist minded rulers of the country.

    This is only one area to reduce state expenditure. One can think many areas where new measures can be taken to create an efficient sustainable economy.

    • 1
      0

      Re-introduce NDT (National Development Fund) for say an year,
      recoverable from all earners of Rs. 0ne lakh a month. Nandasena
      on behalf of his high tax range friends misdirected himself and cut
      taxation – a silly-minded move. His advisors enjoyed the cut but
      never disclosed the figures that were involved.

  • 6
    0

    Ha Ha.
    …”Some rats are already seen slinking away from the sinking PJP ship.”….
    Exodus started .
    https://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Namals-wife-in-laws-leave-country/108-234384

  • 7
    1

    If GR is still President of this so called “interim government”, it will mean the scoundrels will still call the shots, and be in control of our economy and country. This is simply a way to calm down the people in the country, and make them think things will change. Leopards cannot change their spots. There could be some hope only if his war criminals, felons, cronies, and family members, are out of the leadership in our country, and have no powers. Those responsible for the fine mess we are in.

    Putting a fresh coat of paint on a crumbling house, is not going to do anything.

  • 16
    1

    Dear Sonali
    Thanks for your brilliant article.
    At this point, it is absolutely clear, what needs to happen.
    We have to sweep all Rajapaksas, their assistants, benefactors, friends, sympathisers and well-wishers from the political arena.
    We need to appoint a world recognized and capable person as president to take it from here.
    I personally think we will need a lot of women in the new cabinet. Sir Lankan women should be encouraged to participate in the recovery process.
    Most importantly, I feel that the 69lacks who helped these criminals into power should take responsibility in removing them as well, it is only fair and it should be a way of making up for their wrong attitude and for the wrong reasons, in choosing a bunch of criminals, against all rational thought.
    People make mistakes, but how they choose to make amends and move forward is what counts.
    Our recovery lies in truth, Justice, Freedom, equality, fair play and kindness.
    We need more people like you, who can and will stand for what is right.
    Jayaweewa🙏

    • 6
      0

      If we are to give democracy a chance, Let the People March to remove the Rajapaksa government
      ———–
      We saw this same drama back in 2015.

  • 5
    1

    The vital question is whether Sri Lanka is heading for a military rule. If that is so, I think this is the real beginning for obtaining independence through bloodshed. At this juncture, the role of India should also be watched together with the fate of about 300,000 Chinese in Sri Lanka. Can Mahinda Rajapaksa rally the support of the Parliamentarians of his party.

    • 10
      2

      The biggest pitfall here would be Gota leaving the seat only for Mara to become the interim president.
      We have to agitate more against Mara, who is the mafia boss behind this family rule circus.
      Gota is a pupped, the real bad guy is Mara who is steered by his wife.
      Those two are preparing the stage for Namal.
      They are gathering all necessities to facilitate Namal’s future as president.
      Considering their selfishness, greed, and heartlessness, they will go ballistic after they achieve Namals dream.
      We have to weary of this possibility.
      We have to pursue this struggle to its conclusion.
      They say strike when the iron is hot.
      Right now, the public momentum is strong and the people are united, we need to push forward with perseverance and diligence till they are all kicked out.
      We should not accept any compromise.

  • 10
    0

    The political system in Sri Lanka has evolved over several decades into a parasitic self-serving one, where public interest is merely a ploy to get into power. The fools who vote every four or five years don’t understand this as they are always struggling to survive and any promises seem tantalizing, come election fever time. The solution for Sri Lanka is not in elections per se as they were conducted earlier, with the two major power blocs sharing the bounty every four or five years. A grassroots movement that believes in a peaceful revolution must come to the fore, with nominees who have served the community and have proven track records being given nomination, instead of thugs and hooligans who can garner lakhs of popular votes of the fools. This systemic change must genuinely have country first, not as a slogan but by provable evidence from everyday actions.

  • 7
    2

    Good article. Though constitutionally there is not much of an option, not sure about the conclusion. President who dosen’t get or listen to any advice stays and rumours are Dinesh the yes man is PM and Harsha FM. That sounds to me like , he is the man selected to stand alone in the line of fire while Rajapaksas continue to loot. So that they can come back and say ” didn’t we say so “.

    • 4
      0

      As expected the cabinet is gone but GR and MR stays , that means they are not responsible for any of the mess they created. Who will replace those clowns who left and what can any genius achieve under corrupted Rajapaksas. Another Lankan tele serial staged.

  • 2
    1

    When things go bad the capacity to think properly deserts. That is human nature. That makes things even worse.
    .
    We have two problems at hand:
    How to steer us clear out of this mess.
    How best to see that we don’t repeat the mess.
    .
    I am not competent to offer a solution, to the first. Someone capable should should show the way for us to come out with the minimum damage. We have such men.
    .
    That leaves me with the second. I could contribute because I love our country.
    .
    I have to delve into a bit of our past. Pleas bear with me.
    .
    I have been telling repeatedly that our Democracy was premature. I am convinced of that even more, today. We have an electorate that knows how to abuse democracy. For instance, we ‘think’ that periodic Elections ensures democracy. We have been screaming at the top of our voice that a decision by a ‘majority’ of the electorate is democracy. Both of these have been proved erroneous, in our case.
    .
    How should a nation be governed. Tapping into the available resources for optimum outcome is the best way to govern a country. ( I avoid elaborating, for reasons of word limit, imposed by CT.)
    .
    When we go on tapping into the ‘wisdom’ of the very same people who have failed us time and again, we should not be expecting a better outcome.
    .
    Our manpower is not second to any in the world. We waste it for political reasons. Electing our representatives is political; Governing should be apolitical.

    • 3
      0

      Dear Nathan,
      thanks for your valuble input.
      .
      But I am wondering why you think that “Our manpower is not second to any in the world. We waste it for political reasons”.

      What is manpower in simple words?
      1.power available from or supplied by the physical effort of human beings.
      2 usually manpower : the total supply of persons available and fitted for service.

      I think our people as a whole overestimate about our “manpower”.
      .
      Unlike in many other like minded nations, ours lack that much in general knowledge. It is therefore the reason them to get caught by easy tricks repeatedly being played on them by crook politicians. That is why I simply believe, that our mindset – thinking pattern should be subjected to paradigm shift. No room should be given to any SANGAYAs to be active in politics. They should better work on the buddhist affairs and society building leaving politics be performed by ” qualified politicians”:
      Mahanayakas, if they really love this nation, should come with code of ethics to their sanga community. THeir lethargic and indifference nature permitted stupid and roudy monks to commit high crimes as today, in public.
      .
      By 2015, people of 22-million island nation were very clear, that Rajapkshe regime (not a govt) from 2005-2015 did lot more harm to the nation so that no corrections can easily be made.

  • 7
    0

    The despicable Rajapaksa government is now driving the ordinary people of Lanka to desperation and the edge of anarchy.
    —————
    They have been doing that for over 15 years.
    But it ‘didnt matter’, back then because it only effected a section of the population.

  • 5
    0

    The turn coat behaviour of journalists amazes (sickens) me.
    When the fake pandemic was unleashed, they were all collecting their fat wages to ‘work from home’, while demanding even more tyrannical lockdowns from the Rajapaksa government.
    They didnt care a hoot about how many working class people lost their jobs, went destitute and even committed suicide back in 2020.
    Now all of a sudden we see all this ‘concern’ ‘for the people’.

  • 3
    4

    Author was likely not around during JVP days. Sri Lanka has seen much worse. I don’t think the solution is “anarchy”, as that may lead to unwanted things. The answer now is an IMF loan and the end of COVID-19, to restore the economy to some normalcy. China is the one that needs to take accountability here, as their synthetic virus is wreaking havoc everywhere, even a full one year after the vaccination. If Sri Lankans wish to remove Gotha in a democratic election within 2 years so, let the process play out. Sri Lanka is not Zimbabwe. There is neither dictatorship nor hyperinflation.

  • 1
    0

    This is no march to freedom, no turning point for clean government. Though they cry ‘Enough is enough’, they have not had enough.
    .
    If corruption and nepotism mattered to the people, why did they not protest in this manner all these years? They are only protesting today because they have been personally hit in their wallets and stomachs. The euphoria will soon be over and it will be back to business.
    .
    Once the Family has gone a new bunch of thieves will be in power. The people will sigh in relief and stop protesting. The corruption will continue but the thieves won’t be so closely related. We have seen it all before. What happened to the Dharmishta Society, Yahapalana, Land Like no Other etc? All went the same way. Grand slogans meaning nothing.
    .
    That is my pessimistic prediction. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

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