18 August, 2022


We Will Walk On And Walk On  

By Sarath de Alwis –

Sarath De Alwis

When you walk through a storm 

Hold your head up high 

And don’t be afraid of the dark

 At the end of a storm 

There’s a golden sky

 And the sweet silver song of a lark 

Walk on through the wind 

Walk on through the rain

 Though your dreams be tossed and blown

 Walk on, walk on

 With hope in your heart

 And you’ll never walk alone. ~ ‘You will never walk alone’, Oscar Hammerstein II

Sri Lanka awaits the determination of the Supreme Court on the authority and sustainability of the President’s gazette notification dissolving parliament and scheduling fresh elections to elect a new parliament.

Holding elections is not democracy. Holding elections under the rule of law is democracy. Now, the President has told us how he expected our democracy to work.

In an interview he has explained why Mahanda Rajapaksa, his pick to replace Ranil Wiskremesnghe failed to garner the required 113 members of parliament.

 The expected crossovers demanded more than Rupees 500 million to defect. He has in the same interview confessed that his nominee now did not command a majority in the 225-member parliament despite claims that were made immediately after his surprise move on 26th October. 

Derived from the ancient Greek “demokratia,” democracy literally means power derived from the people. So, let us get straight to the point. Democracy is too much Greek to our Gamarala. 

But that should not lull us in to complacency. Democracy also seems to be too much ‘Greek’ to Gotabaya, Gammanpila, Godahewa and a gargantuan gobbledygook galore disenchanted with the 19th Amendment.   

Why did we enact the 19th Amendment? Gotabaya says that it was aimed at the Rajapaksa family. Not quite accurate. The 19th Amendment repealed the obnoxious 18th Amendment that emasculated the independent commissions and perpetuated Rajapaksa family hegemony permitting dual citizens the luxury of discretionary patriotism. 

The Sinhala Sunday Broadsheet- ‘Sathi Aga Aruna  published by the preeminent oligarch spawned during the decade of the Rajapaksa monolith has an interesting editorial this Sunday. It is captioned ‘Bahu Bootha Yugayak’ – literal translation –  An Age of Hocus Pocus. 

The editorial claims that the 19th Amendment has created the current crisis. It also claims that in the three years since its enactment, the country has known nothing but chaos. Oligarchs want law and order. They don’t approve of street protests.   

Newspapers are entitled to their opinions. But they are not entitled to their facts. The editorial pleads for a national consensus to repeal the 19th amendment which it claims, was enacted to serve a narrow political purpose. 

Now we reach a critical point in the current brouhaha. This same oligarch was the preferred choice of Malik Samarawickcrama to handle the UNP’s advertising and PR campaign during the last local government elections.

Ranil Wickremesinghe during a debate in parliament accused the same oligarch for pump and dump activities in the stock market. 

It is a strange world. Our liberties are in peril. Oligarchs are taking liberties with our gains of 8th January 2015 and they have patented liberty as a brand name and own plazas of liberty, courtesy the Urban remodeling czar.

Aristotle warned that greed of oligarchs and resultant inequality would bring instability and make the republic in to an oligarchy and an empire. 

Plato feared that demagogues would misuse ‘free speech’ and install themselves as tyrants.        

Making history or retooling democracy are never easy. The process of achieving both objectives is rarely pretty. That is an understatement. The process is ugly. 

Creating a democracy without dismantling the oligarchy that sustained the earlier autocracy cum kleptocracy was an exercise of futility wrapped in fantasy.

Primary dealership of Perpetual Treasuries was authorized by a friendly governor of the central bank.  That was oligarchy operating in the shadows. Under the good governance regime, the father in law was made governor of the central bank and it was now a great groovy gravy train. 

This essay is not about right and wrong or good, bad or ugly. This is an essay exploring the oligarchic grip of our democracy. 

Who are oligarchs? Oligarchs are a set of elites with enormous material resources to spend on securing and fortifying their privileged financial statuses, political interests and societal privileges. 

Political Scientist Jeffrey Winters defines their principal vocation as “wealth defense” and divides them into two categories. “Property defense” and “Income defense”. 

Our challenge in protecting the democratic gains of the 19th amendment is to properly comprehend the linkage between the two realms occupied by the oligarchs- economic and the political.

A president lost in the no man’s land between the two realms openly speculates on the high cost of purchasing members of parliament. The poor man is totally out of his depth. 

At its core occupation, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes.

Wijayadasa Rajapakshe a principal mover and shaker of the project is the mouthy piece on record for another Rajapaksa era oligarch – the avant-garde buccaneers of oceans unlimited. 

We in pursuit of democratic ideals are vulnerable to the intrigues, machinations and mind manipulation of oligarchy because we are focused totally and unequivocally only on political equality. We overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.

Under Rajapaksa rule oligarchs were embedded in the regime. Under the crony rule of the post 19th Amendment democracy, there emerged warring oligarchies. What was collective under Mahinda turned competitive under Sirisena Wickremesinghe duumvirate. No wonder it has incensed Maharajahs who were used to the kind of Sultanic oligarchies under President Premadasa as in Suharto’s Indonesia. 

Such dog in the manger oligarchies are rear but they do appear like rear comets. Now the poor ‘Gamarala’ is gazing in to the sky in total wonderment how the comet of such great promise vanished in to nothingness with such terrible haste. 

Oligarchs do not approve of the 19th Amendment because it makes for a level playing field. Oligarchs need a legal system that is skewed to work in their favor, so that their illegal behavior rarely gets punished. And they sustain all of this by financing elections. Under the Rajapaksa regime and the 18th Amendment they had the best of two worlds- rule of law and the word of one man. Under the 19th Amendment it is rule of law pure and simple. 

Oligarchy works because its leaders institutionalize their power through law, media, and political rituals. How can we change this terrible system? There is only one way out. We must create a more economically equal society.

The problem arises here and it explains the editorial demand in the ‘Sathi Aga Aruna’. Why should the oligarchs allow such policies that reduce their wealth and make society more equal. If they can keep the people divided, they have little to fear from the occasional protest or even a fast unto death. 

There is hope. Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are all human institutions. With our solidarity as we have demonstrated since 26th October, we can use this opportunity to bring government back to the people.

At such a point in time, the people will unite for long enough that their protests will lead to such power, that we may compel parliament to adopt the 20th Amendment and abolish the abomination of the executive presidency by a referendum and a general election. The question before us is whether democracy will emerge from such an oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government. 

These are strange times. Maharajah type oligarchs are hobnobbing with extreme patriotic demagogues.   

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Latest comments

  • 7

    I feel that judges have been sold out ..
    Mahinda and Maithri may have brought them with their power and money..
    Sri Lankan judiciary is not like that of Europe or US .
    Sri Lanka judges; media and all civil servants are sold in the market .
    They get their jobs and promotion with support of President ..
    Now they can not say no to to him.
    Unless they are brave enough to risk their life and protect the integrity of judiciary ..
    They would come up with some excuses to play around ..
    I hope law and order is maintained .
    I hope M&S pay the price for his deception.
    He will be impeached once MR come back .
    He will be send him by MR soon.

    • 9

      Critical thinking,
      I disagree with you that judges have been sold out already because every one in Srilanka now knows that Mahinda & Sirisena is openly engaged in bribing MPs and Judges. It is now obvious that there is a coup to capture the power forecefully and illegally by this group. People now very clear and understand the impact of this illegal political coup. So, I am sure that even some of the judges who are thinking of short term financial benefit will always think about the impact of the long term damage they do to themselves, for their children, for their society,for their country and for their conscience.
      Can they face their children? Can their children go to school? Can their spouse go to any social function? Can they even go to a hospital for a treatment? Every one remember their face and remember what they did for the money.
      I am sure they will not dare to go against the principles of justice!

      • 1

        Is this What is called Democracy in Sri Lanka?
        We elect a Candidate who Says He/She follows the Principles of a Chosen Political Party!
        The Elected MP then Switches Sides, for a ‘Bribe’, to a Political Party with opposing Principles!
        It is not the People Who decide on the Way they are Governed, but the Greed for Tempting Cash by Politicians who have no idea of the Constitution!

  • 8

    Lankan politicians are elites who have formed two teams.
    Lankans are sleep-walking towards a cliff. We may end up a failed state.
    Both teams are bad, not care two hoots about Lankans.
    Both want to occupy the power centre at any cost.
    The ominous part is both teams do not care about democracy and do not want to get to the bottom of the 26 October putsch.
    So the only choice Lankans have is to keep walking on.

  • 11

    Nothing is sinking into the thick skull of this no good lunatic. By the minutes he is going mad, and acting mad. He has done, and still doing collateral damages to this beautiful paradise, and it’s good people. Enough is enough, it’s time all to get on the streets to chase this lunatic man. He thinks he is God and have absolute power on everything. He doesn’t know that the power is with the people, it’s they who put him in that place. People’s power brought down worst dictators in the world. Walk on the streets, see the pulse of the people, all are cursing him for his third rate actions. Without a proper government, everything at stand still – nothing is functioning in the government institutions, and the economy going to collapse- just see the amount of capital flying out of the country. He made this country the laughing stock of the world. People are very well aware, when Ranil and UNP refused, he jumped with MR to get their backing for his next term bid. All that now badly back fired. He not only dig his grave, MR’s too, due to their shameless greed for power and perks.

  • 8

    gee this buggar can write

    • 0

      This is not really writing in that sense. This is churning out hate.

  • 9

    Dear Mrs Manawadu

    I get your point.But can’t you say that in a more nicer way?

  • 6

    Sarath De Alwis, can you be brave enough to name the Oligarchs please?

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0

    I sometimes think that there are some countries that are doomed to remain under or developing in the foreseeable future. Not even the Gods and Devas can help.

  • 7

    Oligarchs are
    one of a small group of powerful people who control a country or an industry and this applies mostly to the new Russian oligarchs and how they amassed enormous fortunes when the Soviet Union broke up.
    It doesnt apply in a Sri Lankan context. and MR and his cohorts are not Oligarchs. All the money which they used to wield control came from Chinse Government which had a poltical conotation.to bring Sri Lanka into its sphere of influence.for her own benefit . I am sure you appreciate that is the cause of the current crisis between MS.& MR on one side and RW on the other side..
    Holding elections is not democracy. Holding elections under the rule of law is democracy. Now, the President has told us how he expected our democracy to work..
    *** Holding elections under the Rule of law isnt democracy either. if you flout the norms of Democracy as MS has done. After elections under the Rule of Law Good Governance and delivering what you promised is Democracy. MS has failed on every promise and you can work it out for your self. Devolution , Corruption under MR. Justice to Lasanthas family and that of Thajudin and so on.
    I am not sure what you mean by the following.
    “Why did we enact the 19th Amendment? Gotabaya says that it was aimed at the Rajapaksa family. Not quite accurate. The 19th Amendment repealed the obnoxious 18th Amendment that emasculated the independent commissions and perpetuated Rajapaksa family hegemony permitting dual citizens the luxury of discretionary patriotism.”
    *** Dual citizenship was afforded to allow Tamils to reclaim their Properties which otherwise would have been taken over by the State and has nothing to do with patriotism It was for material benefit.
    This essay is not about right and wrong or good, bad or ugly. This is an essay exploring the oligarchic grip of our democracy.

  • 1

    Maestro Sarath De Alwis is doing a yeomen service in briniging back the good Ranil government. Thank you Sir.

  • 2

    We need a complete change without any of these parties who have become corrupt over time. The masses are taken for granted merely for their benefit.

    The next constitution should bring in an item to stop these parliamentarians fixing their own salaries and benefits. The people should have a say in it through a committee with a peoples majority.

  • 0

    “Primary dealership of Perpetual Treasuries was authorized by a friendly governor of the central bank.”
    Sarath is so hell bent on apportioning any blame (if not create one) on the MR government, now giving primary dealership to PT is the fault. How many other dealership would have been given by the previous government? could anybody have imagined in their widest dreams that the gravy train is about to take off?

    People of Sarath’s ilk seem to be so socked by they have done they have turned ostriches still try to blame others for their mistake.

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