29 May, 2023


We Need A Third Way Of Doing Business In This island Like No Other

By Jeevan Thiagarajah

Jeevan Thiagarajah

I rarely set out to write in the manner done with this piece. The last was in 2009. This land like no other has had three previous variations to the popular notion of an Arab spring. Under gruesome circumstances we survived. In the post 2015 era we tried to consolidate broadly the rule of law. 51.28 percent of Sri Lankan voters enabled it. The “palana kalaya produced much “lihilvima to the overall environment. The parallel was when Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was voted President first and as one Sinhala weekly Editor said there was a “lihilvima” from ‘beeshanya” then. The 2015 contestants added the phrase “lihilvima” from “dooshanaya in the slogan of Yahapalanya.

The contest to control the SLFP brewed thereon as an equally  important side show with the SLPP gaining ground. By 2018 the SLFP was playing catch up with the SLPP. A renegade group of 16 pro-Sirisena SLFP parliamentarians stood out- side their Ministerial positions. They needed office soon and the SLFP with the President needed to merge with the SLPP. The President likely wants to run for a second term. If he has guarantee to do so from the SLFP/SLPP  one does not know. The current crisis is driven primarily by these sets of issues. A reset was required  with events unleashed recently.

By first quarter 2018 the President openly spoke about his hope Prime Minister Ranil wickremesinghe would be replaced. The President set about destabilizing his own Government. It set in motion the events seen thereafter. One in the fore front of that failed  move early this year was active in the efforts seen recently. In the taped phone conversation released to the public he speaks of the 117 they had which was prevented by the internal threat of a counter cross over from the SLFP. 

We saw the Parliament with effective Committees chaired in several instances by MP’s from the Opposition, a vociferous opposition led by those in the SLPP, the Presidency and the coalition Government in bringing in a fair degree of checks and balances to the exercise of power in the country. 

If one were reimagine conversations before May 2009, post and now what can one say? Where in heavens name are we?

A group of Sri Lankan students overseas in a part their release say, “Once more, power is being used purely for political gain rather than towards building people-centered institutions and an inclusive and democratic political culture. These acts damage the health of institutions and processes that sustain democracy, pluralism and rights. They will have a permanent impact on the future of Sri Lanka’s youth”. 

Jayadeva Uyangoda describes his personal agony as one in which, “The damage done on October 26 evening and continues to be done thereafter to Sri Lanka’s democracy, and the democratic futures of the young generation to which the children and grand children of both President Sirisena and I belong, is a devastating personal setback to me.

Now on, recovery of democracy for Sri Lanka’s next generation is likely to be preceded by another phase of grave violations, setbacks, violence, resistance, and tragically, bloodbath. Thus, for me, political is the personal too.”

It’s hard to not agree with these two sets of views.  

A hard look at so called politics, politicians and parties present a not  so happy picture. For example where, what and who is the SLFP? The UNP does have a set of leaders below RW who could well present a different UNP. What of the Left? Parties representing minority interests? How long can they survive before being gobbled by lucre and more?

What happens to public service and most importantly the unfortunate hollow promises the Constitution presents to citizens? 

At another level, we do need preferential tariffs and markets to trade. We need investments coming into the country. On both counts do we present ourselves with any sense of seriousness or decency before global markets ? Tamara has bemoaned the overt international scrutiny and potentially pressure. Not even during the closing stages of May 2009 did we see the kind of allergy to SL we are seeing now , expressed in very negative light.  

The moral of this short piece is, “We need a third way of doing business in this island like no other”. For example if reform in a party is what is sought one does not cross over to do that. If issues are to be canvassed can a caucus if need be from both sides of the floor of the house not coalesce? If one were to vote according to ones conscience does it preclude sitting independently? All of this is premised on the basis we actually follow the rule of law. If we don’t, the precedent and example set for others to follow and the consequences are frightening. These maybe pipe dreams. The real world maybe all about money, prestige and selfish drives for power in Sri Lanka. Politics in this country stinks. 

If 1983 broke the back of this nation, I am at a loss to lend words to what we brought on ourselves recently. We can’t possibly survive and assume business would be as usual hereafter. The wish is what ultimately replaces  the current status quo would be different, setting a whole new trajectory for the better for the country. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 6

    Interesting analysis, but who will bell the political cats? The politicians, and I am afraid the society itself, are corrupt to the core.

    Either a revolution or outside intervention can set the course towards true democracy.

    If one looks at many 3rd world countries around the world, you can see why they can’t break free of the misery they are in. They don’t have intellectuals to lead their countries with sincerely and dedication.

    So the muddling goes on, authoritarianism, majoritarianism and all.

  • 4

    Mr. Jeevan, Less hand wringing and more analysis is needed here as there is an Emergency in our strategically located Indian Ocean Island.Today there is an Economic war and cyber war against people of Sri Lanka with lots of fake news against China.
    In fact, the present Constitutional and political economic crisis was set in motion by Bondscam Ranil’s IMF MCC advisors who wrote Ranil’s disastrous economic policies and Vision 2025, and worked to put Lanka into and a foreign aid induced debt trap and crashed the Lankan Rupee so that Bondscam Ranil would sell off Lanka’s assets cheap to his Washington backers.
    Lanka’s is a small economy and is being played by US linked bond markets and global finance rating agencies like Nomura rating and Moodys agencies. Nomura Ratings agency which bought Lehman Brothers after the 2008 crash published fake figures and data of Sri Lanka’s debt and began the crash of the rupee that led to the Presidential Constitutional coup.
    The fact is that at the root of the constitutional crisis is the falling Lankan currency that was destroyed by BONDSCAM Ranil who looted the Central Bank, so that no FDI would come to Lanka, and then started selling off strategic assets of Lanka (land, transport and energy security infrastructure), without due diligence or transparent tender process. Bondscam Ranil’s economic policy was drafted in Washington by MCC IMF to benefit America First and the global 1 percent, loot the people of Lanka, and further Mr Trump’s Cold War against China in the Indian Ocean.

    • 3

      I am really wondering why there is no single word about M R in your “analysis”. We, the lesser mortals are eagerly waiting for “an analysis” in the same wave length about MARA from you. Please enlighten us.

  • 3

    Jeevan Thiagarajah wants a “…..Way Of Doing Business In This island…….”.
    Right now the only way is through the culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity.
    Is it” Like No Other”?. No. This method is being adopted the world over.
    China used it to get rich and bridled it, just in time, to become powerful. India is trying to control it. Several countries have gone down the drain. We are on the brink of.
    Jeevan says ~ “…..By 2018 the SLFP was playing catch up with the SLPP”.
    No. SLPP was created to frighten MS into surrendering SLFP on a platter. This did not happen.
    At the last LC elections SLPP firmly impressed the mind-set that ANY attempt to address grievances of minorities will led to separation and………..
    We need to search our heart as to why we got caught in this vortex.

  • 4

    We have to build up people centered independent institutions to counter manipulations by politicians

  • 2

    True. To bell the cat. Very difficult task ahead. Unless and until intellectuals and all religious leaders join together to educate the voters about the calamity that we face and refrain them to act wisely in order to select best legislators.

  • 2

    What is needed is a movement of citizens – especially younger citizens – which is broad-based, multi-ethnic and religious to challenge the entrenched nepotism and corruption in our SOCIETY. Do not forget, the politicians are only a part of this society.

    Their values (or lack there of) is just a manifestation of our societal values. Unless we confront those values which are deemed unfair, we will never reform our politics.

    Moral leadership is nurtured from bottom up. That is what we need, if we are to stand up to the bullies on the world stage like US, China, EU, India, IMF etc.

    • 0

      I whole heartedly agree with your sentiment. Regarding your last sentence, look at Singapore or Taiwan who are small economic giants with stable governments. If Sri Lanka comes closer to these countries, elimination corruption and bad politics no one will be able to bully. Got it.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.