14 July, 2020

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Vacancy: Wanted A Democratic Opposition

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

There is a prominent vacancy in Lanka’s political terrain; all previous occupants have absconded. The vacant lot is called liberal-democracy and its traditional occupants were called the UNP and the SLFP in a game of musical chairs. For a while it was usurped by a neoliberal authoritarian called JR and after 2012 though Ali Baba and his forty thieves occupied centre stage the state itself remained largely liberal-democratic. There was gentleman-liberal (Dudley), populist-nationalist (SWRD), centrist republican Mrs B and even a harum-scarum Chandrika. But give or take a bit here and there, and except for a ruthless bent on the Tamil question, the state from 1948 to 1983 remained liberal-democratic and largely so even after that. Now the opposition is impotent and deeply divided. In fact, there is no organised liberal opposition at all to an evolving Authoritarian-Militaristic project. The JVP on the left, if it does well on 5 August, will be a different sort of barrier; but the liberal version is all but dead. The regime has used coronavirus as a smokescreen to strengthen its stranglehold and outflank the two flavours of the UNP and miserable rump SLFP.

A seventy something year tradition is evaporating. The metamorphosis that has begun could end in wholesale transformation. The UNP is shambolic and chaotic like never before – not even after the defeats of 1956 and 1970 did it fall into such a pitiable state of nothingness. The Tamils and the TNA are exhausted, they have given up the ghost; what else is there to do after the LTTE danced with the devil while the military buried the Tamils. The Muslims are on the backfoot without the capacity to resist refulgent Sinhala-Buddhist mass hostility flaring through Presidency, Military and State. 

The Friday Forum declares that the blood and thunder Task Force “established a military regime within a civilian regime and a parliamentary democracy”. The US, Commonwealth, Indian and CPC controlled Chinese military baulk at moving against the people, but Gota’s putative model seems to be derived from Burma and pre-Imran Khan Pakistan. Therefore, there is a need to create afresh an entity (a front, an alliance, a gathering place of some form) specifically charged with protecting and enlarging democratic spaces. Despite election fever and election pandemonium, or maybe just because of it, it is good to get started before the elections.

Some readers may raise an eyebrow about a Marxist zealot getting excited by democratic passions. The answer is that the task requires participation of the widest sections of society not just leftists. A pluripotent mobilisation of many social classes, ethnic groups and people of different political hues who are willing to come together in defence of democracy will be opportune. Lanka’s youth is strangely docile at this moment when in the US (Black Lives Matter), Hong Kong’s rioters, European populists of the left and right and in nearly all South and Central America, young people are on the march. I can’t fathom this somnolence but the young must be woken up. This is not a left-only but an everybody job. A democratic league by any name should be gathered together. A task, exceptional to these times and circumstances, has to be addressed by a wide alliance. As a political mission (democracy) does not require consensus on economic policy. For this reason, it is an “All are welcome, all Party” gathering. It should be about democracy in political space and decency in public life. I for one have other fora in which to ventilate my Marxism and leftism.

For these broad reasons, we must also watch how government initiatives to ameliorate distress to the public fashioned by officialdom work out. An Ombudsman Office has been created to address public complaints and grievances. A former DIG, S. M. Wickremasinghe, has been given the responsibility. His task “Is to provide solutions to distress caused to the public by negligence or excesses of public officers”. In principle excellent; a democratic task. I am assisting a friend with a very distressing test case of a personal nature to approach the Ombudsman. I will keep readers appraised, in broad terms, how efficaciously and fairly the new Ombudsman gets cracking. Let’s say “best of luck” to Mr SMW because these things are complicated.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    “Prof. Kumar David”… …but Gota’s putative model seems to be derived from Burma and pre-Imran Khan Pakistan.

    Are you saying Imran Khan became President with the backing of the army. He is very much hostage of the Army.
    …or are you nice to him to get some free ticket for the T20 world Cup.

  • 4
    2

    Prof. Kum has added a lot of salt and pepper to his basic message, namely, “Now the opposition is impotent and deeply divided.”. This is the thrust of some my comments. They banked on the strange behavior of the Elections Commission and expecting the courts of law to give a pronouncement so that they could perpetuate a dead parliament live forever. Who won? The chap very often described in CT comments as “Herr Gottler”. Nobody to question him on what money is drawn from the Consolidated Fund. If there is a preponderance of militia men around in whatever pretext there is no forum even to submit a quasi-plausible answer “This is just a temporary measure to deal with the situation and I have appointed to right man for the right job just to face this situation.” If elections were held even part by part of the country, (a good part of the country did not have any corona at all) a new Parliament can be summoned once half of the seats are filled. Yes! There could be a preponderance of “flower buds”. Doesn’t matter! Let the very small number in opposition team-up to give a decent good fight.

  • 9
    5

    What isthe point there is no one to oppose and nothing to oppose. You only have these in a Democracy.
    Just look at North Korea and Gotha Lanka resembles NK minus Nuclear Bomb

    • 6
      6

      Please tell us what you saw in North Korea.

      • 6
        2

        SJ

        You really are thick.

        EKA
        DEKA

        What is there to see man. Frankly NOTHING
        If you are hungry and try to flee to SK you are shot dead. Even a toddler knows that. Then again what do you expect from a Sinkala Race who cant count beyond DAHAYA.

        • 1
          3

          If there is nothing to see, why “Just look at North Korea”?
          *
          “Then again what do you expect from a Sinkala Race who cant count beyond DAHAYA”
          But I certainly do not expect anything sensible from you.

          • 4
            1

            SJ
            If there is nothing to see, why “Just look at North Korea”?
            *** So all of a sudden you have become an outward looking man. You cant throw stones from a Glass House. Sri Lanka is the worst County in the World. There are other dictatorships but Gotha after contesting an election has become a Dictator by DECEPTION. I compared Sri Lanka to North Korea and don’t forget it was you who asked the question why NK. Sri Lanka is EKA and NK is DEKA
            “Then again what do you expect from a Sinkala Race who cant count beyond DAHAYA”
            But I certainly do not expect anything sensible from you.
            If that is the case why do you make yourself a fool showing your inability to debate sensibly and cleverly but still persist.
            Even you must be ashamed of where Gotha is taking the Country. Now everyday CID is questioning petty thieves but he is surrounded by Ali Baba and 40 Biggest thieves. Laughing Stock of the World.

            • 0
              0

              What can one say but “Have fun”.
              I am amused by those resorting to calling others names when they have no idea of what to say.
              *
              BTW,
              This is plain curiosity:
              Does your name transliterate as கலி, காலி, களி, காளி, கழி or காழி?
              Your language tempts me to opt for the second.

          • 0
            2

            SJ,
            .
            agree with you more.
            .
            NK is a place -similar to the srilanka – in making under Brother Duo: That is what I feel, I have no idea about yours SJ.
            .
            I am known to few that got hurt to untold stories all prior to 2015.

            So my future travels back home to NK-STYLE My MOTHER LAND … will likely be a dream.

            • 1
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              LM
              We are ill informed more than poorly informed about North Korea.
              We discuss it based on a picture painted by the mainstream US media.
              There is designed misinformation about several imperialist targets. North Korea is one.
              People who visited North Korea have a vastly different impression.
              Thus one has to check and double check on stories.
              *
              Most importantly, North Korea has been under siege by the US and allies since the Korean War, in which North Korea was effectively demolished by US bombing.
              South Korea is still under US military occupation. The US is the sole obstacle to Korean reunification which is the dream of a vast majority in both Koreas.
              *
              Once a country or its leader are painted in a bad light we borrow that idiom to pass judgment and draw parallels.

              • 1
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                Yes, since we have to rely on the some information on NK, it is no right to judge based on the little.
                You are right.
                But tell me, if we are ill informed also about Srilanka ? I dont live in the country, but I pick up my info from various sources.

                • 1
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                  My protest was to the comparison.
                  *
                  Information as data– people have much access to it at home and abroad. But selection is subjective.
                  Understanding and interpreting data are separate from possession of data.
                  Think of the number of people who have been wishing Sri Lanka the worst of COVID-19 to spite the regime.
                  One needs to be objective in any matter.

              • 1
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                Dear SJ Well said,

  • 4
    0

    Reference the last paragraph of this article, the past President Sirisena too had a Grievance Management System in his Office to receive complaints from the Public through the website “tellpresident.lk”, promising solutions. I complained about my grievance against the Department of Pensions about error in my pension payment and my grievance was not solved till he left Office.
    Now, I have submitted the same complaint to the new Ombudsman in the new President’s Office. Let us wait and see whether new broom sweeps well
    Vela

  • 4
    1

    There is certainly a vacancy for a democratic opposition in SL. Entry into big league politics in SL is through family connections, riding on the waves of popularity of a ‘political dynasty’ or for cronies who can intimidate voters by thuggery or bribing with money earned from dubious enterprises.

    Political parties should take the responsibility of nominating those with the necessary education &, preferably, proven competence & ability. CBK made the disastrous choice twice by appointing party loyalist ‘yes men’, probably thinking that their mediocre education & total lack of finesse in diplomacy & ignorance of world affairs would make them her puppets but the worm turned in both cases, & SL had the most inept & corrupt leaders ever to govern the country. Now we have a saviour, who, to many, has proved himself by eliminating terrorism &, now, a pandemic, with his swift & decisive leadership, supported by his military brothers in arms. As the last resort, many of us welcome a ‘no nonsance’

    • 2
      0

      Raj-UK,
      There was a vacancy for a democratic opposition in Sri Lanka during ‘Jadapalana’ Government but that vacancy was filled in a highly ‘Undemocratic’ manner. Yet, none of these dumbos who scream ‘Democracy’ uttered a single word about that. Did Sambandan fulfill the duties and responsibilities as the Leader of the Opposition? NO!. Only thing he did was saying ‘Yes Sir’ to Ranil for everything and promoting their separatist agenda. For not playing the role of Leader of the Opposition, he was rewarded with a luxury house in Colombo for life time sucking Sinhala tax payers’ money. Not a bad deal for a separatist octogenarian.

      For ‘Koti Diaspora’, TNA, NGO suckers thriving on $$$s and Regime Change mafia, Ranil and his ‘Royal Gang is ‘DEMOCRACY’ despite their despicable record of not conducting elections but Rajapakshes who gave democracy to people in the North and East who were under a megalomaniac autocratic madman are ‘DICTATORS’.

      “There is certainly a vacancy for a democratic opposition in SL.”

      • 0
        0

        Dear EE

        That is what happens when you kill all the FP/ITAK/TULF/TNA opponents who exercised their “democratic” rights to make their own case to their people on a National platform would have saved the Nation. Furthermore silenced their opponents calling them traitors for being a citizen of Sri Lanka and standing up to the TULF bullies/killers. Then the same lot have to be paid/looked after/protected at the expense of the GOSL armed forces/India risking their soldiers life for most part of the miserable war. Once the war is finished you go to the parliament and say I never asked for a separate state and I never killed your children in the armed forces either but I want to put your children on trial by foreign jury??. Now you know why LTTE leadership was eliminated without a trial because for the Indians and the TNA the truth was not to be told to the world during any trial…that was all that mattered to this folly. If you cared about the well-being of the people in the North and East and the Nation as a whole you would have stood with Hon MR and worked for One Lanka??? 11 years we could have achieved stability and paid tribute to all Mother Lankan children who died in this miserable war planed and executed by the TULF/Tamil Nadu mafia by poisoning our children to kill each other?

  • 5
    1

    Prof Kumar David,

    Then,

    The single issue was the “Regime Change”.

    Now the single issue is “democracy”

    The “Black Lives Matter” may end with “Police Reforms”

    Marxists had now become neo-Marxists

    • 3
      2

      Good one.
      Prof Kumar Neo Liberal Marxist. Thero is Smart Patriotic Alt Right Marxist. All lefts (none of them) contributed to any school of thoughts or the fields of economy, politics, social science. They violently competed within them for naming right of their opponents. That is why the books on Marxism have moved “old classics section” in libraries. Beyond the violent crowd that support government for Arrack, Biriyani, and Jaffna Kancha & these days people talk about Marxism if they run out of topics in contemporary politics.

    • 2
      5

      Sri
      You are mixing things. There is always a short term goal and a long term goal in politics.
      When fascist threat is imminent, the task is to overcome it.
      Being rid of the MR regime was essential, but what should follow it was not given serious thought, as the key players were the UNP and its allies who had nothing but power in mind.
      Since 2018 November there is a serous threat to the democratic process. That needs addressing.
      It is not a matter of agreement or disagreement with the writer about his proposals but giving serious thought to the threat.
      It will help to make critical comment on the essay than lightly dismiss the fascist threat.
      *
      As for BLM, even if its sole tangible achievement is Police Reforms, that itself is worthwhile in the context of the US.
      BLM is about much more, and from what I see will keep fighting for social justice on other fronts.
      Some initiatives do not end with the end of the movement that gave life to them. Like ‘Karma’ they go on and on in various forms.
      *
      Kumar Davids paragraph about ‘about a Marxist zealot getting excited by democratic passions’ is rather weak.

      • 4
        0

        SJ

        Sorry,

        When we classify our enemies and join in a common front with a lesser enemy and once victorious we get ourselves swallowed.

        Big fishes always swallow small fishes!

        History is full of lessons.

        Common Programmes and common fronts have to be carefully natured, otherwise, …..
        This is what happened to LSSP and Communist party when they joined with SLFP in 1964.
        Don’t we learn from history?

        • 1
          0

          Sri
          Thanks.
          In 1963, the LSSP, MEP & CP formed the ULF and the trade unions cutting across all political barriers put for ward 21 demands.
          That intimidated the SLFP government. Mrs B was keen to wreck both. She approached the MEP leader to join her in a coalition. But Philip G declined since he was in the UF which was already in place and insisted that it had to be all three left parties. Then came LSSP’s turn. NM Perera agreed to join without even consulting his partners.
          Philip G was bitter; and bitterness made him join the UNP in a coalition in 1965.
          The CP did not have an alliance with the SLFP until 1969 when the LSSP and CP decided to work together and contest as the UF coalition led by the SLFP.
          The temptation of parliamentary political power has been the ruin of Left parties of Asia.
          CPM has acted more sensibly in Kerala than in Bengal, where its power in the State Assembly destroyed it.
          History is at times a mischievous teacher mixing good lessons with bad.

          • 1
            0

            SJ,
            Now let us get back to the context -for protecting and enlarging democratic spaces.
            Whatever the outcome who will be the beneficiary,- the rogues with the democratic mask!
            And the others go back to the starting point licking their wounds

          • 1
            0

            Dear SJ

            What were the 21 demands please and where would I find the details for learning purposes please.

            • 1
              0

              Dear TV
              The 21 Demands came up in the context of serious economic issues developing in the country. A majority of trade union federations came together to put forward the demands. While it was independent of the ULF formed by the LSSP, MEP and CP, the left had predominance in the trade union movement at the time. The plantation trade unions joined in, as did unions without party affiliation. The UNP had minimal presence in the TUs.
              *
              When the ULF collapsed the trade union front also gave way.
              I am sorry that I do not have the documents. However, Sanmugathasan referred to them in several of his writings, including the books written after 1971. You cannot expect help from the LSSP or CP quarters.
              *
              I did a quick Google search and spotted
              “https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/11/lssp-j11.html”

              • 0
                0

                Dear SJ

                Thank you for the kind response. Interesting to learn the Intonational prospective too of all that took place historically at home and overseas over time.

                I was born in July 1963.

                Historical events took place in the same year. Sep 1963 our government reps meets JFK and Nov 1963 JFK was assassinated.

                World war 2 finish/Regional Independence/India&Pakistan starts war footing/Korean War/Vietnam war finish….we start our journey with JVP uprising……I feel sorry for the leaders who has to pick up the pieces post colonial saga/geo political blunders and direct a Nation on a constructive path then…..it was a bot of a hit and miss politics as we were all leaning on the job too correct?

  • 1
    0

    If the offices of the government are properly macro managed & properly functioning, theoretically there are no grievances to be micro managed. For Ex. if the DVM office cannot understand private citizens’ transportation problems, ombudsman who is only a common troubleshooter or coordinator, who has no nuance knowledge in that subject, cannot appreciate the subtle issues behind those problems and isolate them to assign priority to get attention from his seniors. Why the Human Rights department is such a failed entity in Lankawe though most famous of their time in the country has manned it time to time? What happened to the UNHRC recommended four offices to provide transitional relief for the war victims? They all turned out to be Aanduwa’s spies and acolytes on the same night of the day they were handed over these “Services for Society” jobs. A concept of common welfare is not present in the Sinhala Buddhism preached in Lankawe. The Modaya mass has been tuned by unscrupulous Bald Heads that Buddha had requested them to bring the land Ceylon to him even from stealing it’s from current location. Sinhala Intellectual politicians have built their fortress of self-helping hypocrisy government on foolishness. It’s the Bald Heads, Sinhala Intellectuals and the Modayas mass, unknowingly well coordinating within them by their stupidity to sweep the Lankawe into the ocean. .

  • 0
    0

    Lanka received another $ 140 million from China for day to day expense (to tide over the present financial problems according to China).. EC says he is trying to keep the cost of elections bellow 10 billion LKR. Some where in between MR was thinking of building another empty cricket stadium. GR blamed CB for not printing enough money. Ravi agrees with GR in squarely blaming CB for not stimulating economy. Arent we lucky ?????

    • 0
      0

      During anti-Tamil communist MN Perera’s time, he ordered not to serve rice in Colombo restaurant. This is because that time the Tamil’s Vegetarian Restaurants were popular in Colombo and many Tamils go on fasting on Fridays. Without rice they were forced to abandon the fasting. Muslim who exclusively serves beef, failed to support Tamils that time to preserve restaurant owners’ right to supply the food what people asks for and Health Department recommend. Now effectively Tamils and Muslims are divided with the help of standardization, Muslim Guards, Razeek Kuzhu.
      I hear there is a new uniform law is coming to employees. In Fridays, employees must wear local batiks. This sounds like a patriotic move. But the target is Muslims.
      In the Trinco Hindu College issue, where Royals used their power to force Muslim culture inside the Hindu School, but Buddhist school like Visaka were excluded. I think Muslims will be left alone in this uniform, like the Tamils were in all other previous occasions. Muslims like to wear black on those days. Recently US State Secretary Pompeo said Lankawe majority is targeting minority religions. I think if that kind of observation had come at the time of Secretary Condoleezza or Kerry, US could have made difference in religious antagonism in Lankawe, by now.

    • 0
      0

      Ranil who protected Old King has said Royals will not give any solutions to Tamils. Old King is saying he needs to gather Muslims and Tamils’ support to get 2/3. That is the talk Ranil is balancing with his talk. It is election time. That is why the wolves are crying to for the sheep. But that Old crook, in 2017, local government election, used ultra-Sinhala Racism to kill the Secret Solution. Royals claimed that the minorities are no longer the King Makers; Sinhalese have understood how to make them Kings and Queens. The lesson here is in 2015 and 2019, two elections in a row, Tamils and Muslims did not vote for Royals. But in all other election UNP and SLFP has been showing Tamils as the Muslims’ enemies and harvesting Muslims’ votes. But in 2015, while Hakeem and Rishard were still supporting Old King, majority Muslims voted against Him and brought New King, who a man virtually unknown until then, to power. This is the change in Muslims made Sinhalese to vote for Royals unitedly in 2019.

  • 2
    2

    CT
    Can you reserve a special page dedicated to the lunatic fringe?
    You can call it CT-MAD.

    • 1
      0

      CT

      Perhaps SJ would like to replace the popular word traitor with lunatic fringe.

    • 0
      0

      CT
      Kindly give serious thought to my proposal.

  • 0
    0

    Dear KD

    I see your analysis and respect. However one has to accept we were doomed even before the independence?? we are always going to be part of the external power struggles from the geo political masters and the local Tamil/Sinhala/Muslim/christian/Atheist racist mafias who will kill their fellowmen under any disguise??

    Given all is proven (we are indeed surrounded by ocean full of sharks) beyond reasonable doubt at the expense of Mother Lankan children blood and their precious future? instead of looking for an opposition (which we have failed miserably for the past 70 ++ years to find qualifications/calibre/someone fit the job scope requirement to be a Member of Parliament etc.

    Why do not we try 20 years of no elections and ruled by the current President and the Military where we the people go about Nation building with no politics??. Should ban all parties with language/Religious names/Compulsory military service/Disband the PC’s/Minimise the government positions all the way to municipal level? No further military expenditure but invest in futuristic Navy fit for purpose and a strong coast guard to secure Mother Lanka resources from bad elements and for environmental/sea pollution.

    • 0
      0

      continued

      we should have an IC system/finger and face recognition/centralised and all the government/private departments/offices should have a “readers” of all and any activity from police/secret services work to National function should be centred around this where the system is kept unto date all time. This will form a major part of removing crime/efficiency/fraud buster/remove courts time will leave the human and financial resources to focus on human well being/National planning etc. The entire coast should be managed for intruders with sophisticated similar system integrated too.

      Since we have not had time to evolve to be normal people capable of taking of each other and susceptible to misuse and abuse by foreign powers we need to buy time before we vote again. We will know when we are secure and ready to open up the lockdown…..we need to be honest to ourselves until then in our own interest.

      • 0
        0

        continued

        the media freedom also to be curtailed for the same time and forced to participate in education the public to be civic minded by articles of scientific/futuristic nature related to environmental issues/consumer advisory roll/morality. No one need to know what religion one belongs to as is a private deal between the “Almighty’s” and the individual so they know how to empower each other in a humane society.

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