5 March, 2024

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What Next For Aragalaya?

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

History has proved again and again that when unarmed people come out to the streets and maidans in tens and hundreds of thousands, guns and cannons of the police and soldiers would fall silent. There is nothing to beat the power of people. Aragalaya has succeeded in awakening the conscience of Sri Lankans at last. Congratulations to those youngsters for creating a mini-human tsunami to chase out the President.

The momentum of protest, which actually started with that spontaneous march from Pottuvil to Polikandy on 3rd February 2021 by Tamils and Muslims culminated, after a short interval, at Galle Face Green with the aragalaya, headed by an enlightened generation of Sinhalese youth, in April 2022. For more than three months these youngsters kept their vigil and cool, sacrificed their comforts, remained resolutely apolitical and won the admiration of a variety of well-wishers, both at home and abroad. Sadly, that coolness was shattered by setting fire to the private residence of Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe and vandalizing President’s palace. Such rowdiness should be stopped at once to protect the sanctity of aragalaya mission and its ultimate goal of systemic change. The real struggle has not finished yet, it has only begun.

Aragalaya is at the cusp of achieving one of its primary objectives of sending Gotabaya home and ending with him an authoritarian and corrupt regime. There is no question that those who were responsible for bankrupting the nation should be brought to books. They should not be allowed to hide anywhere in the world until they clear their names. But apart from that, the real focus of aragalaya mission should be to bring about systemic change, which goes far beyond changing personalities and government. It is a mission dedicated to put in place a new socio-political and economic order, which constitutionally combines democracy with rule of law and an economy that guarantees minimum level of subsistence to all with rewards for the enterprising and productive. The constitution should be people oriented with proper checks and balances to prevent it being hijacked by the numerically strong and economically powerful. Until that is achieved aragalaya should continue with its mission and maintain the pressure for change.

This generation is quite capable of realizing its mission, because it is qualitatively different from its predecessors – an observation some would find uncomfortable to accept. To start with, this generation of youth is more knowledgeable about happenings in the world in which it lives. It constantly in touch with its counterparts, shares their feelings and aspirations, and is deeply committed to the cause of freedom, justice and rights. These men and women are not simply romantically attached to these causes, but are prepared to struggle to achieve them. They realize that the present world order is corrupt, unjust and discriminatory, and issues that are dominating world attention such as global warming, gender inequality, famines and starvation, poverty and squalor, social discrimination and so on are direct outcomes of an unjust world order or system, which needs serious restructuring. They therefore demand systemic change. Sri Lankan aragalaya is the local chapter of this worldwide phenomenon. With cautious optimism one could assert that it is from this community of youngsters, perhaps in alliance with a couple of existing progressive groups, that a new Lee Kwan Yew would emerge to take this country from a failed state towards somewhere closer to another Singapore.

In the meantime, an interim government with a small cabinet of technocratic ministers should be sworn in and that government should continue negotiating with IMF and other aid agencies for temporary relief to ease the dollar crisis. A renewed effort should be made with friendly nations, and particularly with the Arab world, to tackle shortages in food, fuel and medicine. Above all, the country’s production base, which once brought in respectable amounts of foreign exchange but systematically destroyed over decades by politically designed economic policies, which ended up not in exporting products but the producers themselves, requires radical reparation. A permanent solution to the economic crisis has to come from the production base. There is no alternative for a balance of payment surplus if the nation wants to recover from its catastrophe. This is where the systemic change becomes an absolute necessity. Until then people have to endure more suffering. The interim government should quickly set a time frame for general election, because no government should continue without a mandate from people. The danger is that an election may bring back the paragons of the defunct system to betray the expectations of the new generation, in which case aragalaya has to continue into the future.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    “What Next For Aragalaya?”

    They are many steps ahead of you and I ….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXgdstNirfc

    They have it all figured out ……… very astute ……..

    • 10
      2

      Some of those of the same vintage as the author have been looking forward to a Glorious, Peaceful and Bloodless Revolution like that of 1688 in England. It has come to pass, notwithstanding the cynicism of the negatively oriented. GREAT is the one word encomium for the disciplined multitudes of the young, the middle aged and the sedate.

      Much against the reservations of the old and the experienced, the young have triumphed. So also the unprecedented, fearless participation of women who have extended a distinguished role. No less commendable is the restraint exercised by the Armed Forces and the Police.

      What society would look forward to, is composure from July 13 th for no less than 6 years in raising the value of the Rupee steadfastly. As of now the Central Bank has a knowledgeable, strong minded Governor. Discounting the incendiarists, the nation should solicit the services of the outgoing Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe whose half a century of invaluable experience should be seen in its correct perspective.

    • 7
      12

      Aragalaya must get rid of US puppet Bondscam Ranil who is responsible for the current International Sovereign Bond (ISB) debt trap! NO one is indispensible and RW is not wanted!
      he was the Master mind of the BOND-scam at the CBSL that destroyed the credibility of the highest financial instituton in the country and left the door open for the Sovereign BOND debt trap and US Vulture Funds like Blackrock to capitalize on political corruption in Sri Lanka’s political elites.
      Ranil is using the IMF to hang onto power, but the IMF which is bailing out the ISB holders is part of the crisis and NOT the solution.
      RW is now putting out videos to show that he is a victim hoping to get a sympathy vote to cling to the job of PM! Shameless there are others who can do the job! NO ONE IS INDISPENSABLE!

      • 5
        10

        Aragalaya must also take back the Central Bank of Sri Lanka which is controlled by external actors who do NOT work in the interest of the people.
        The CBSL with IMF ae trying to make the US dollar which is Weaponized, the main currency in Sri Lanka by crashing the value of the Lankan Rupee on Washington Consensus instructions.
        This is the new Colonial project after the MCC compact was rejected, now the IMF is pushing the same agenda through Dollar Debt Trap Diplomacy and this should be challenged.

        • 1
          1

          “With cautious optimism one could assert that it is from this community of youngsters, perhaps in alliance with a couple of existing progressive groups, that a new Lee Kwan Yew would emerge to take this country from a failed state towards somewhere closer to another Singapore.
          The author seems to share the common Sri Lankan fascination with Singapore.
          But the fact is that LKY was a highly educated lawyer (Cambridge). He started out as a leftist union leader. He was committed to preventing ethic conflict.
          I doubt any of the young protesters have these credentials. Some monks have been chased away, but others have been entertained, including Sobhitha, who played a major part in promoting the Rajapaksas.
          In the final analysis, LKY turned Singapore into an economic success, but with limited personal liberties, and a state which interferes in everything from how you buy a car to how big your house can be, or what you post on FB.

    • 6
      3

      By now there are reports that Gota is in an unnamed country. Some of those reports also state that he will return on Wednesday, the 13th to formally resign. Believe them if you wish to. The real story will emerge in time. My guess is that he would have escaped aboard the naval vessel “Gajabahu” with as much of the loot as he could take.

      If somebody could locate even half of what we have lost, we may be able to get our economy restored to respectability. Unlikely.

      The gloomy truth is that this country will remain among the poorest in the world for decades, perhaps centuries. One ray of light. The guy reading out all that recognises that the racial and religious divisions that the Rajapaksas have created are the cause of our tragic fate.

      Nothing supernatural in that!

      • 0
        0

        SM,
        .
        Senior lawyer Nagananda Kodithuwakku twists the information. To me he is no different to a dramaqueen.
        I really dont know whose to rely on.

        Basil Rajapakshe is said to have tried to leave the country early this morning.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lfxua6M8cM

        Basil has no right to leave the country at this moment.

    • 6
      3

      Democracy was born for citizens to vote on big issues ……….. to go to war or not etc. …………..

      Citizens were the male residents of Athens …….. foreigners and slaves were excluded. ………. Women were not citizens: after all, Native’s ancestors were Greek ………. women got the same treatment even back then ………

      Citizens who shirked their civic duty were doused in red paint and shamed ……….

      A parliament was elected to represent them and vote on in other less important matters when citizens were busy with their daily professions/chores ……….

      A PARLIMENT WAS NOT ELECTED TO LORD OVER THEM!

      I’m no historian or philosopher …….. learned all that recently from the tour guide while visiting the agora, the birthplace of Democracy ………. half-listening while ogling Greek lassies ………


      It’s easy, ………. go back to the original concept of democracy.

      The parliamentarians are just representatives: treat them as such.

      Remunerations should match the work they do: don’t give them unnesscerry perks. And don’t let them decide their own salaries and perks.

      • 8
        1

        continued

        Let the Salaries Commission that decides the salaries of government servants decide the salaries and perks of the pols/reps ……… and let some ordinary citizens sit in the salaries commission. Or let a impartial representative committee of ordinary citizens vote on the pols’ salaries/perks. In the computer-age it’s not difficult for remote-voting as long as it can be kept corruption-free.

        Don’t use the ridiculous last constitution and all its corrupt amendments as a blueprint for the new.

        Start from scratch …….. focusing strictly on the rights of all citizens …… and the government and the representatives doing/upholding nothing but that …….

        Sri Lanka showed a unique Aragalaya/struggle ……… let us have a well thought-out unique constitution of our own ……….. show the world.


        And once and for all, make peace with the minorities.

    • 5
      1

      nimal fernando

      Please watch this short clip:

      Please resign as soon as possible
      Jul 10, 2022
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgg3kwQm09w&t=179s

      Whenever there is a discussion on devolution of power crops up, the bigots and the political analyst take a very stupid position.
      Executive presidency is needed to keep the country together and cannot afford to have federal state, as it would eventually lead to separation. Therefore they convinced themselves for a unitary state, under all powerful president, ….

      The fact of the matter is even a strong, powerful, war winning, Sinhala/Buddhist president cannot guarantee a place to sleep, leave alone keeping the state together.

      What this island needs is a set of democratic values, goodwill, compassion, respect for life, human rights, human dignity, ……………
      Send all those members of police force and armed forces on an expedition to Antarctica, political analysts to Russian Ukraine border, Sangha and and its followers to Tibet (to learn Buddhism), all the politicians and their cronies to Blackhole if we can afford, ….

      This is necessary for them to unlearn everything that they have stored in their head.

  • 4
    15

    “The momentum of protest, which actually started with that spontaneous march from Pottuvil to Polikandy on 3rd February 2021 by Tamils and Muslims culminated, after a short interval, at Galle Face Green with the aragalaya, headed by an enlightened generation of Sinhalese youth, in April 2022.”
    *
    This is theatre material.
    The P–P march of February 20-21 was a fairly well planned activity. The spontaneity was in public support. It was accused by some as a TNA move to rescue its declining support. But the point is that it had no follow-up.
    Is the author suggesting that it reincarnated in the GFG?
    What is important is that Tamil nationalists have held back support for the Aragalaya by imposing conditions. What pathetic lot they are who do not know what is at stake and what the Aragalaya is about and why and how it grew and how it is transforming itself..

    • 5
      1

      “What is important is that Tamil nationalists have held back support for the Aragalaya by imposing conditions.”
      Aragalaya was not organised by Sinhalese Nationalists or gave their support to Aragalaya. Tamil political parties did not participate but only gave moral support and asked the Tamil people not to involve in the protest because that will give an opportunity to the Buddhist Fundamentalists including Rajapaksas to use racism which will create another bloodbath in this soil and spoil aragalaya’s goal. Did the aragalaya or any other left parties give their support to P-P protest? Why?

    • 5
      1

      ” What pathetic lot they are who do not know what is at stake and what the Aragalaya is about and why and how it grew and how it is transforming itself..”

      Yeah, as long as it is not about imposing Maoism on ordinary people, and celebrating Weeping Widow a great leader, then it is fine.

    • 5
      1

      Of course, you know what it is all about but not other Thamizh. You are very constructive but not the rest. What is wrong with the Thamizh stating they also want their just rights to be granted and their lands restored? Why do only the Chingkallas have this right to demand and get what they want and the Thamizh and Thamizh Muslims do not? Typical. Even now trying to score a point and cheap popularity at the expense of the other Thamizh.

      • 2
        1

        People like them are of no use to anyone. Haven’t we heard enough of their empty talk. They did it for 75 years and will be contained to continue for another 75 years.

  • 11
    1

    Yes, an interim government with a small cabinet of technocrats as ministers..

    The President, Prime Minister and the ministers be likeminded people and capable of working as a team in terms of a road map.

    All of them should not have any political ambition to contest elections because in that event they will be compelled to take populist decisions to hoodwink the people for electoral success in the short run .

    They must work closely with IMF within a neo- liberal policy framework but supporting vulnerable groups with adequate cash grants, but no free hand outs and subsidies.

  • 11
    0

    Gota still there having meetings and staying with them.if he wants to resign he should have done its straight away why dragging till 13.may be tell the generals to take over and he would command in remote. He is very adamant he is not leaving. He dont have good track records,always dirts, cheatings, arrogance thick pig head.

  • 16
    1

    Next step to find a leader to run country.
    The new leader’s first step should be find foreign exchange.
    Can any new leader find foreign exchange?
    No way.
    Only way is to sell the country to foreign powers.
    Enjoy the one nation, one language, one religion in a country where you do not want to share the power with Tamils.

  • 9
    1

    There is no alternative for a balance of payment surplus if the nation wants to recover from its catastrophe. Ameer Ali.
    I wish to amend it, with Ameer Ali’s consent.
    There is no alternative for a balance of payment surplus if the nation wants to recover from its economic catastrophe.
    But, …. .
    There is another catastrophe. The political catastrophe. That is even more urgent. Both have to be tackled simultaneously.

    • 2
      0

      Nathan Aiya,
      .
      Not just one single catastrophe, but several catastrophes are there.
      :
      Political,
      Religious
      Social
      Educational
      and and…..

      Not only POLITICIANS but also people (voters) are to be blamed. Not just voters only, but those who stay mum not reacting timely should also be blamed..
      .
      Above all – YELLOW PETs and non-buddhists LEADERs are to be blamed, not having done the due whenever they noticed it…. they all paid the blind eye.

  • 7
    1

    “What Next For Aragalaya?” more aragalaya!
    Tamil people are living in perpetual struggle since independence under oppressive Sinhalese regimes. Only now the Sinhalese are undergoing struggle; it is only the beginning for them. All these 74 years they enjoyed killing Tamils, raping women, grabbing their lands, jobs and dignity. 1.3 million Tamils were periodically expelled from the island and Tamils who emigrated know how to struggle, work hard and smart to live with dignity and prosperity in the West.
    Live is a struggle for every living being in the world: There is no exception; when they lose the struggle they die.
    Sinhalese society and their leaders must realize this basic fact: They cannot be prosperous by just suppressing or expelling Tamils and Muslims. Even if they occupy the whole island, as most the Sinhalese leaders set about achieving since independence they will not become prosperous, progressive or developed in the world community.
    The current bankruptcy of the country is partly because of destroying Tamil people’s wealth, missing their competitive work and not benefiting from their intellectual capital, by expelling substantiation population. Even the Tamils left back in the island are not allowed to develop because of the Sinhalese Buddhist racist State and its agents.

  • 4
    1

    What ever it takes, like Basil, the protesters should find ways to stop other Rajapaksas, especially Gotha (using his immunity until resignation) from leaving the country. For Gotha, all it takes is a court / stay order preventing him from leaving. (applicable soon after resignation). That will give plenty time to protesters to workout other ways.

    • 2
      1

      Reportedly Gotha escaped today morning with help of military . Took a private jet to Maldives.

  • 3
    0

    ARAGALAYA movement[AM] should continue for another DECADE in order to keep the new RULER’s under continuous check / monitoring. We need it,so that
    they will not give any room for people who may try to instigate ethnic & religious HATREDS.
    Aragalaya movement should address the needs of the Tamil speaking citizens of the country. Tamils will take long long time to TRUST the Singhalese. Tamil DIASPORA are willing to help their MOTHERLAND which is in CRITICAL state due mainly to Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalists over the last 7 decades.

  • 3
    0

    Ranil held the Premiership by virtue of Gotabaya being the President of the country. He was neither nominated or elected by the Parliament nor the people. It was a servitude; a Master, Servant Relationship. With the cessation of the Master the Servant is automatically released from his servitude. That simple logic must be applied for Ranil to resign.

  • 7
    0

    Where are those dogs like EE, Soma, Champa. and Lester??
    Have they died of shame?
    Who will sponsor them on CT now? Especially EE and Lester.
    Eat shit and die Rajapaksa worshippers. You do no deserve to live.

    • 4
      0

      Lester sounds to be nervous not being able to hold on his side job.
      .
      You and I know that these guys would do any low level jobs to keep their heads above the water.
      .
      I am sorry for LESTER or the like – still behaving like MAHINDA KANADHAGAMA…. even if his lovely ones would have been raped and murdered, the kind of men would remain like MULLERIYA patients.

    • 5
      1

      H.T,
      They’re still around. But why do you want them gone? Don’t you have fun bashing these guys? CT would be very boring if we were were only congratulating each other.

  • 0
    1

    “With cautious optimism one could assert that it is from this community of youngsters, perhaps in alliance with a couple of existing progressive groups, that a new Lee Kwan Yew would emerge to take this country from a failed state towards somewhere closer to another Singapore.”

    Singapore is actually very similar to Sri Lanka. Singapore used to be part of Malaya. It split up after two racial riots similar to Black July 1983. In Singapore, however, the minority was able to dominate the majority (Chineselam!), without the use of suicide terrorism. Similar to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Singapore has draconian laws with strange punishments such as whipping. Most interestingly, Singapore is not a democracy. It is a socialist enterprise with politics in full control of a single family.

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