7 July, 2022


What Is This “Change” We Say We Want?

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perara

Kusal Perara

The talk of “Change” at the coming January 08 presidential polls is more a Colombo Sinhala middle class discourse. In a very general manner, other Sinhalese join in to say “yes”. The common feeling around Sinhala urban centres with no particular interest on any serious issue tends to agree for a “Change”. This has now been translated to mean, “Rajapaksa should go”. Pushed for explanations as to why he should go, one would come against answers like, “mega corruption, dictatorial family rule, breakdown of law and order, drugs and ethanol” and more of such allegations. This list that justifies ousting Rajapaksa unfortunately does not include, “militarisation of society, State sponsored violent Sinhala Buddhist extremism against Muslims, refusal to seriously and honestly negotiate a political solution to the Tamil question, or even the issue of establishing civil administrations in North and East.”

Yet, those rallying round Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena keep saying, this presidential election is crucial and the opportunity to oust Rajapaksa should not be missed for whatever reason. Ousting Rajapaksa they say, would create new “space”. Thereafter the “rest would follow” is the loud call. In plain language what we are told is, “Rajapaksa should be defeated at any cost”. There are those who add, “never mind who or what comes thereafter”. While there is consensus this Rajapaksa regime has to be completely uprooted, these simplifications raise many issues for those who wish to have a clear political definition of the term “Change”. This “Change” for which the Rajapaksa regime has to be ousted, cannot be a vaguely interpreted, populist term.

It is very superficially touched upon in “A Compassionate Maithri Governance : A Stable Country” as liberating the “noble motherland and all its people from the tragic fate that has befallen them” (p/05 – first para). This “Change” could also be understood to mean, that in the future there would be very much less corruption, much like in the pre Rajapaksa era and all political parties would unite to build a less corrupt country.(My Vision – p/06).

Maithripala TempleWhile such “change” to a country with tolerable levels of corruption is also welcome, this country now needs to “change” in to a country that will stop marauding State sponsored Sinhala Buddhist goons resorting to violence against Muslims and different Evangelical Christian faiths, will de militarise society at every level from North to South, will move towards a secular State that will not burden other ethno religious communities of living in a further regimented State under Sinhala Buddhist dominance. Socio economic development needs to be talked of in such a free and democratic country. Is this the “Change” that we are asking for and is this the “Change” that we are being promised after Rajapaksa is defeated ?

When elected President, democracy is promised by Maithripala Sirisena through Constitutional Reforms. The fundamental reform that was aspired for is the abolition of the Executive Presidency and shifting back to a parliamentary system of governance. That now will not be the case. Need to abolish the Executive Presidency that forged a consensus in the Opposition for a reliable common candidate, is now a deformed solution for democracy (Sobitha Movement in Retreat – Sumanasiri Liyanage : Not quite sure though, what Purawesi Balaya Sumanasiri is referring to, pre Maithripala). In Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto, the “change” in Executive Presidency instead of “abolition” is based on the JHU concept of a President with selective Executive powers. The 19 Amendment to the Constitution publicly proposed by JHU MP Rathana thera on 14 October under his label “Pivithuru Hetak”, includes provisions for such a Presidency that retains overall authority over the Cabinet of Ministers as well. Rathana thera’s 19 Amendment clearly includes Defence and Provincial Councils with executive powers to the President and that was Maithripala Sirisena’s position when he spoke to BBC Sandesaya. These executive powers are stressed by Champika Ranawaka as untrammelled power in promising a “Unitary State” under new reforms written into Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto.

It is with such convoluted politics the promised “change” is offered. Reading Maithripala’s manifesto from cover to cover to see how much “change” there is, one would not know or realise that this manifesto is for a country which bled for over 30 years with a brutal war. That this manifesto is for a country that had over 240,000 Tamil citizens barbed wired as refugees in Menik farm. That it is for a country that still has refugees evicted from their ancestral land occupied by the military. That this is for a country with 88,000 young war widows in the North-East alone. That it is for a country that still has the military controlling the lives of Tamil people in North-East. Yet it is incredibly true that none of those atrocities and militarisation has any mention in any of the 62 pages. Therefore this “Change” is defined only in terms of Sinhala Buddhist dominance.

The whole manifesto seeps with extreme Sinhala Buddhist ideology of Champika’s JHU that kept saying even after the Aluthgama-Beruwala Muslim massacre the Muslims are fostering Jihadi groups and they have a sinister plan to dominate the Sinhala race. On 20 June, just 06 months ago, going on even keel with the BBS, Champika Ranawaka told media Hakeem should leave the Government (Rajapaksa’s) if he is ashamed of the inhuman and brutal assault on Muslim people in Aluthgama none of which he is prepared to retract even today.

It is such extreme Sinhala Buddhist ideology in Maithripala’s manifesto that promises, “As a real reply to allegations of human rights violations directed against Sri Lanka I will take action to promote humanitarian and environment-friendly attitudes both locally and internationally. On the advice of the Maha Sangha (emphasis added) I will make Sri Lanka again the centre of distribution of the knowledge and discipline of Indian as well as Asian Buddhists. I will prepare the ground for disseminating among the learned Western society Buddhism and its vision of impermanence and denial of soul that expressed non-violence, equality and great compassion for all. Thereby it will be possible to build a new image for Sri Lanka in the world”. (page 44 – Sinhala copy has more Sinhala Buddhist punch) The new image promised will thus be nothing but that of a Sinhala Buddhistva State. A saffron State the BBS can also be proud of. This “Change” certainly is not for Tamils and Muslims.

There is also a serious reason why the process for this mono ethnic “change” is problematic and not democratic. Assuring to conclude reforms within 100 days, it is this present parliament Maithripala Sirisena says he would be presenting the reforms for “change”. In other words, required two-thirds for constitutional reforms have been assured from the present 225 MPs in this parliament. That is not only hilarious, but an insult to people’s aspirations on democracy and good governance. With MPs crossing, who knows when from one side to the other, this parliament no more reflects the sovereignty of the people. They have proved over and over again, they are not bothered about citizens who elected them to parliament. A good majority of MPs have no social trust they would stay with the voters who elected them. Majority is such, the whole parliament lacks any credibility now. They thus have no moral and political right to represent the people any more. Should these wholly corrupt MPs who decide where they sit in parliament on very private and personal reasons, benefits, privileges and sponsorships be given the right to decide Constitutional Reforms on behalf of the people?

This in turn raises the issue, whether reforms spelt out in Maithripala’s manifesto could answer this question of people’s functional sovereignty in parliament (what is talked of is mere procedural and abstract), as the promise is to allow more power to the Legislature. Constitutional reforms as given in the manifesto and spelt out on platforms do not explain how the present hybrid of executive and legislative powers exercised by elected representatives right down to Local Government bodies will hereafter be dismembered for democratic reforms. Politics become corrupt and the parliament as a system of governance, when elected Legislators (MPs) are given the executive power with the right to decide appointment lists, financial beneficiaries and handle district allocations for development activities. Such executive powers going down to districts have turned parliament into a “supermarket” with every elected “product” having a price tag on it. More powerful the product becomes, bigger the price become. This hybrid of executive and legislative powers enjoyed by elected MPs have to be dismembered, leaving them with the responsibility they are elected for to the parliament as legislators only. A ruthlessly corrupt majority who decide where they sit in parliament for very private and personal reasons, will not want to lose such power in establishing democracy for good governance and accountability. These terms they don’t understand and would not want to understand.

Adoption of constitutional reforms thus needs to be channelled through an alternate process where serious public dialogue can see through the proposed reforms. People’s organizations and the mainstream media need to open up for debates on proposed constitutional reforms. People’s organisations and forums have to be allowed the opportunity to propose amendments and changes, before the final Amendment is presented in parliament. Unless such democratic, citizen participation is guaranteed, this rogue parliament that had never seen any serious intellectual debate cannot be entrusted with the responsibility of adopting promised reforms for “change”.

There is still time for such serious dialogue necessary that could sustain a strong people’s lobby for saner “change”, post elections. A lobby that could push the victorious “Maithri frenzy” beyond Sinhala Buddhist rhetoric and cosmetic “change”. But that would have to be independent and outside Maithripala’s election campaign from the start. Unfortunately that is not how the self appointed citizen’s representatives have defined their role, in ousting Rajapaksa. They thus would end up like the FMM and the Independent Artistes in 1994. Forfeiting such independent presence does not allow for independent lobbying post elections for “Change” this country needs. Or, is it mere ousting of Rajapaksa that we want for a change? A change of Sinhala names and faces? Tragedy it would be, if that is the “Change” we would stop with.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5


    Until the day arises when there is no Vatican state behind Catholics, State of England behind every Anglican, Saudi Arabia behind every Sunni, BJP behind Hindus and USA dominating the world with Christian Evangalists the Republic of Sri Lanka shall remain as the custodian of Theravadha Buddhism.

    If you don’t like it you know where to go isn’t it?

    • 7

      Kusal Perera ,

      Very well said, Sirisena and his group do represent the Sinhala Buddhist supremacists, as did the Mahinda junta.

      What is promised is not change but a cosmetic make-up for the Sinhala Buddhist hegemony of the island of different peoples.

      Among the Sinhala writers only you and Shamini Serasinghe have the intellectual honesty and vision for a secular and fair system of governance in the island.

      More of the same thing in a different style will ensue even if Sirisena wins!

      Chandrika, Champika, Ranil, and others – all these are for Sinhala Buddhist dominance, of course egged on by the Mahanayakes and the Buddhist hierarchy which is the engine of the Sinhala Buddhist supremacy.

      • 3

        Well said Kusal. Thank you. keep on doing the good work.

        “Rajapaksa has had plenty of time to show he is serious about human rights, justice, and accountability. Unfortunately, his administration has consistently done the bare minimum, opted for cosmetic changes and glossed over an increasingly worrisome human rights record – embracing impunity at every turn. If nothing else, the past five years have proven that Sri Lanka’s domestic institutions are still not capable of adhering to acceptable standards of governance, accurately accounting for the past or punishing perpetrators for their crimes.

        For any long-term strategy to promote human rights, organic change and local solutions will be paramount. However, other countries can still help. That being said, lukewarm diplomacy and an agenda that puts human rights on the back burner of policy concerns is short-sighted, unhelpful, and a disservice to those living on the island who are trying so hard and risking so much to make it a more democratic place – not just with their words, but, more importantly, with their actions too.”


    • 3

      Also, this [Edited out] is saying, “State sponsored violent Sinhala Buddhist extremism against Muslims”.

      Where the fook is evidence of “state sponsorship”? Do you think repeating such lies is going to make these accusations real ultimately?

      You need a good “vireka” to cleanse the system of such skit. [Edited out] go to apaya.

    • 3

      Kusal Perera

      RE:What Is This “Change” We Say We Want?

      I suggest you read, Thomas Paine , Common sense Phamplet. 1776, You will understand the change.

      Unfortunately, no Sri Lankan Writer has come up a common sense Phamplet Sri Lanka 2014. They all keep saying Baeee, Baeee and Baeee, like Cattle(Harak).

      Family Dictatorship enjoyed by a selected few Vs, Democracy.

      As a long and violent abuse of power, is generally the Means of calling the right of it in question (and in Matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the Sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry) and as the Medamulana Mahinda Rajapaksa hath undertaken in his own right, to support the Parliament in what he calls theirs, and as the good people of this country are grievously oppressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpation of either.



      • 0

        When will this imbecile learn that no one is buying his stupid idea and he should roll up and shove “Thomas Paine’s Common sense Phamplet” 1776 and shove it up the canal he was born from.

        what a cretin!!!

        • 1


          “When will this imbecile learn that no one is buying his stupid idea and he should roll up and shove”

          Imbecile = Medamulana MaRa, his Shills, cronies-and supporters..will learn on January 8, 2015 that the people of Sri Lanka have used Common Sense to roll up all the Medamulana MaRa posters and shove up the A… of Medamulana MaRa, His Shills, cronies-and supporters.


          Sir, the current election results are not in favor of us.. There was no change even with the Fraudulent votes.. Uva, West, North and Eastern Provinces have an unfavorable situation..

          “No need to Panic. My Hambantota People would have paid me respect … ”

          Sir,.. Hambantota, We have lost Hambantota as well , Sir. The Results just came in..

          “For 8 years, ate, ate unfortunate, only Wattalappam ( dessert)was left to be eaten..”

          ” Now everybody gets the noose”

          “Unfortunate, next month, Word Cup Final, got free ticket ”

          “Aiyyo Money”

          ” If we became finalists, I invited the Australian Prime Minister ti watch the finals?

    • 6


      “the Republic of Sri Lanka shall remain as the custodian of Theravadha Buddhism.”

      You can have the custodianship of Theravadha Buddhism but leave Buddha’s teaching to us.

    • 0


      You are certainly an inimitable imbecile! Can you show this forum with deeds that all the countries that you mentioned except Saudi Arabla that give constitutional safeguards to their respective religion? You can certainly equate Sri Lanka with Saudi Arabia; that is the level SL have stooped to thanks to imbeciles like you!

  • 0

    Before you start building your stupid castles in the air make sure that this three apologizes for this, [Edited out] explains exactly how it happened and name all those who were involved in the cover up and give an unambiguous guarantee that he will make sure that nothing like this happens ever again and that no sooner he comes to power he will insist that the law take its course under an independent judiciary and punish his son and his criminal friends – if not you will soon see things that you have not seen as yet, happening for sure! There is a “general”likelihood of things “springing” into action no sooner the ballots are counted or even before. If you have your ear to the ground you would have heard the rumblings that began this morning.

  • 10

    Nobody expect a complete change from this change. The immediate need is to stop the country moving towards dictatorship. It is true that it is not merely about regime change. This election was not expected and it was brought forward by Mahinda in order to make his family to be permanent head of this island. We all know under this regime democracy become a joke and rule of law and justice system have become a laughable matter. Immediate change needed in the governance and accountability. As I Tamil I would expect that the opposition should have a policy about militarization of North East, Devolution of power to the North East etc. I understand very well that there is a fear in the opposition to tell Sinhalese about these because Mahinda is looking for it and it is the only point he depends for his victory. I understand very well that it is very sensitive matter to Sinhalese and this is not the time for discussing those sensitive issues. You can win the sinhalese people if there is a will in the Sinhala leadership and the Sinhalese leadership should lead on that once they bring all the institutions become independent from authoritarian rule and bad governance. Mahinda had the oppotunity to win the people but he misunderstood the importance of good governance.

    • 5


      A brief comment presented intelligently and clearly. Misrule for 66 years has brought the country close to the jaws of Hitler’s fascism. All ethnic entities,a polity of all religious persuasions, most political formations and all shades of opinion have joined together in a rare spirit. What for? Regime Change. It is already apparent that an unnerved incumbent is getting disoriented. What next? An incredibly widening gap will force the family to drop coup plans by next week.

      The opposition has virtually stopped the descent. Can a few slick words and facile phraseology in a document, resolve the national question? A despot if voted in can call it a scrap of paper and his victory an endorsement of his anti minority policy and exclusion programme.

      Not without reason are minority leaderships speaking with such caution and circumspection. To talk about or to insist on amending the Manifesto is to give a clutch of straw to the drowning enemy. The document is for 100 days, primarily to consummate the process of change.

      It is now for all minorities and particularly for the singularly oppressed Tamils to make the convincing contribution of an 85% turnout. The most erudite and practical Tamil oriented component of the Manifesto can be written and presented to the New Regime within those 100 days. This is the challenge and the responsibility.

    • 0

      Mr Rajapaksa doesn’t know what good governance is but he does know how to make money. Not only militarisation of north and east but ruthless land grab ignoring the owners of those lands who are citizens as him is Gothabays’s policy which will be carried out by Sirisena. We had to wait and see.

  • 8

    A good read by Kusal. Thank you.

  • 5

    Galvanizing the Sri Lankan masses on the widest possible scale against the Mafia-regime should be the central task today; everything else is secondary for the time being. Convincingly visible numbers seem to be the only way to challenge the Mafia-regime’s bogus-victory on January 9. We should realize that this election is an utterly fraudulent exercise; for, this regime simply cannot allow a genuine election to determine its fate. There are too many things at stake. Therefore, democratic means cannot change this regime. Only a social uprising can. [Follow my Timeline on FB]

  • 9

    This article is some food for thought for the TNA.
    Also to all those who simply say “Get rid of Mahinda first; think of the rest later”
    Mahinda in any case has to GO.
    Sengodan. M

  • 4

    A Secular State in the present context of political diversity, will remain a dream.
    But even secular India has its problems.
    Persons in Sri Lanka do not become MPs to serve the people though they say so, in the majority of cases, as the author opines.
    We can at best, hope for new leaders who will make ‘human rights’ a main concern – but, disappointingly, this is NOT even mentioned in either manifesto – in this land of the Compassionate Buddha.

  • 2

    Without referring by name but to concentrate of ridding of corruption and discrimination. This can be achieved through change of government. Rid corruption and discrimination irrespective of race & religion. Then you would automatically get ‘human rights’ to all citizens.

    May I wish all ‘Seasons greeting and good new & prosperous New Year with respect for all’!


  • 2


    A useful critique of the Maithripala Manifesto from the perspective of an armchair commentator.

    I say this because Maithripala has built a coalition of unlikely followers from next to nothing. Actually it is not Maithripala who managed that, to begin with.

    Change does not happen overnight because people do not change overnight. Their opinions can be bought but their ‘dna’ takes much longer.

    Not a single loud mouth who comments in these columns will sacrifice his or her Rajapakse perks for any reason. Be it a duty-free car, paid driver, work-free salary and allowances… etc etc etc. There are people who are well-set in the current corrupt structure that change is not good for them! These are not politicians or their henchmen. These are Sri Lankans who chose to grab the crumbs that fall off their bosses tables. They are the ‘poison’ that is slowly killing Sri Lankan society as we have known it, in our childhoods.

    Their children do not know what it is to miss a meal. They do not know what it is to be soaked in the rain with broken shoes and no umbrella. They think pol-sambol is a delicacy. They do not know that their parents have sold their souls to make their lives seem like heaven.

    It is in this segment of society the urge to change runs into a road block.

    How the message of change and the desire for change can be filtered into these concrete selfish minds is the million dollar question.

    If enough from Rajarata and Pahatha rata vote on the 8th for Maithripala, it might not matter. Then, change will come to Sri Lankan society because the people said so. Otherwise it will happen by diktat.

  • 3

    Changes are required to ressurrect the coutry from ending up Bankrupt &under Dictatorship rule.Unchanged, that is where the country would end. But this change has to be phased out.Adding few words in the manifesto
    could be manupilated to disinform the voters with racist consequences.We have seen this happen many times.The floating voters are not going to evaluate facts vs fiction.It would be wiser and allow the momentum to
    build for the change. One could write volumes to justify a well specified
    manifesto, but the practicality of this has to be weighed diplomatically.It may take many decades to make the masses to attain
    that posiotion of understanding. Bringing relegion, race, language are
    not apt today, because our politicians have unfortunately reversed this
    trend which existed 50 years ago.As far as the Tamil speaking voters are concerened they would respect the decision of the TNA,which fortunately have the best of uncorrupt brains & experience to justify
    their position.There are no guns being pointed. So be brave & couageous
    and say what you want.

  • 2

    Kusal will see and feel the Change if Maithree is elected which according to the response of the voting public is likely to happen. He has to wait patiently.

  • 0

    Hi Kusal Perara a very well thought-out and argued, this would suit all those living outside the shores of Lanka with some intellect, and for those armchair political analysts back home. yet we should assess how many in Srilanka will have access to read this debate. How can the General Sinhala populous would read this article? Many of them have been brain washed by the king himself. Then what about those who do rely on the crumps falling off the dining table of this king for the services[like the Underworld goons] Will they like this change? What about the military and king’s brother[Bulldog], are they going to sit tight? This election would be a political tsunami in waiting! At the Last election some are still convinced Sarath won, most knew that the election commissioner was kidnapped into Temple trees. what had happened to him? What happened to Sarath Fonseka? He would have been court marshalled if not for the International community which was breathing down the king’s neck. This time he should be picked up by the international community commandos before he does some damage to Mithri and the trio’s who had hatched the plot. People have allowed the king to do what he wanted. Country’s coffer had been emptied, Chinese bribes being relied on now; by him and his family. What is his plan B is a million dollar question that we need to wait and see. Srilankan’s all those who want a change, also should be well armed with a plan B. Well ahead of 8Jan 2015.

  • 0


    Thanks for being the pillar of secularism and equality.

    I am reposting a comment from yesterday.

    The confusion brings to light the historic problems facing Srilanka, the paronoia of Majority commuinity and their Sinhala Supermacist/Mahavamsa Mind Set.

    1.The very fact the Election Manifesto of the Common Candidate(such an important document)was not published in Tamil, goes to show the callous disregard for the opinion and feelings of Tamil speaking Minority in the Island,despite Tamil being a national language.

    2.The watered down version of curtailing the executive presidential power with out explicit mention of constitutional difficulties associated with complete abolition of Executive presidency,is due to the fact the JHU(a Sinhala Fascist Outfit) is not interested in such an exercise.

    3.Common candidate goes to extreme extend to prove his Sinhala Buddhist Credential by making statements about not supporting an international/Impartial inquiry into human rights abuses during war and promising another indigenous inquiry with callous disregard for Minority opinion or feelings.

    4.Common Candidate is yet to Visit a Hindu Temple,a Church or a Mosque at least as a public relations exercise, goes to show the arrogance and callous disregard for any other belief other than Buddhism.(MR went to Thirupathi and Visited a Mosque)

    5.The fact that Common candidate has not made any statement about the immediate problems facing the North/East such as Militarization,war widows, Land acquisition,the excesses committed by Provincial Governor goes to show that Campaign committee considers Tamil speaking people as persona non grata.
    (Wiki: literally meaning “an unwelcome person,” refers to a foreign person whose entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country’s government. It is the most serious form of censure which one country can apply to foreign diplomats, who are otherwise protected by diplomatic immunity from arrest and other normal kinds of prosecution.)

    6.This is the same attitude the Sinhala Buddhist Supremacist have since 1948. Time and again they have proved that the Tamil community is not welcomed,with Tearing apart Banda-Chelva Pact under pressure from Buddhist Fascists,JR’s Kandy March,Tearing up of Dudley-Chelva Pact,Non implementation of 13 th amendment in flagrant violation of the country;s constution, despite Indo-Srilanka Accord.Non implementaion of the Governments own LLRC report provisions.

    Having said all these The Tamils have no choice but to Vote MR out to create space for democracy and better tomorrow.

    But a solution with dignity and honor for the National/Minority problem will remain illusive until the International Community decides to intervene and hold a referendum.To this effect The pressure must continue in international arena.

    Sinhala Majority has to decide whether they want Tamil Speaking people as equal citizens and allow for devolution with federal setup to maintain the unitary status or be prepared to let go of the North East(i.e Seperation).

    Decision is theirs.

  • 0

    You want change? Then arrest the Jarapakse clan, seize and confiscate every penny these buggers stole and seize all their assets. Then throw these buggers from a helicopter right into the Indian ocean. That is the change I would love to see.

    • 0

      Tamil from the north

      “Then throw these buggers from a helicopter right into the Indian ocean.”

      “First sign of madness, talking to your own head.”
      ― J.K. Rowling,

  • 0

    Thanks Kusal for letting us know your thoughts on the Common Candidate and what your doubts are. The article detils all the doubts you have. If so, you should satisfy yourself and support MR without any hesitation. Being a fine analyst yourself, you know what to expect from MR regime in his third term. I suppose you know the saying: “The known devil is better is better than the unknown angel” Go ahead an join Dayan Jayatilaka in support of Devil. MR would be glad to accept you with open arms.

  • 0

    It is quite clear that you have reservations that there want be any Change with Maithrie coming to power. It is evident that you don’t believe in “Rajapaksa should go” or “Rajapaksa should be defeated at any cost” (I agree that it is your personal belief)
    So, with no guarantee, you do not trust Maithrie. Then what is your alternative. Is it Siritunga Jaysuriya or Nagamuwa? But it looks more like you are also in ‘hand and glove’ with Dayan, who are in a ways want the “King” to continue.
    MR is looking for more to be appoint as his advisers. You and Dayan fit those slots very well. How about making a visit to the Temple Trees. Ohoma Yang, Ohoma Yang!!!

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.