15 April, 2024

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Why The Aragalaya Is The Only Solution For Sri Lanka 

By Lasantha Pethiyagoda

Prof (Emeritus) Lasantha Pethiyagoda

The parliamentary parasites salivating for their turn for power scream for fresh elections. They have adopted the main demands of the sincere Aragalaya for a “System Change” as a new slogan. It is any rational person’s conclusion that what they really want is to use this slogan and carry on exactly like the present lot, or the previous lot once they start controlling the reigns.

The sixty odd groups that comprise the sincere, committed youth who agitated decently, singing, chanting and behaving extremely peacefully at the Galle Face Green defined and articulated explicitly, exactly what was missing, what gave rise to the rotten system that prevails, who were responsible, and in many instances, what could be done to change the system if they had a say. Everyone wants good governance, elimination of corruption, rule of law, et cetera although most people have got used to personal favours promised at each election as the objective.

In this game of taking turns to slurp at the trough of public funds, the habitual rascals know that their chances of winning more seats than what they have at present are high, if they seem to be in some kind of an “opposition” when the ruling parasites seem unpopular. That is why the dirty frogs jump from one camp to another close to the hustings. If traditional elections are held now, perhaps the main opposition may even get a majority in parliament. But would a new parliament with a new set of eager, as yet lean faces be able to bring about the desired “system change”? (Like “Pigs may fly also”)

The certainty is that many of the grand old vermin and budding new ones with the potential to eventually become crooks themselves will still form the majority of parliamentarians, largely irrespective of what party or group they pretend to represent. Would there be any real change? Would such parliamentarians ever legislate provisions to prevent the opportunities for corruption in all its forms? Even if they do, will such changes be actively practised?

The notorious political monsters like drug lords, ethanol mudalalis, chain snatchers, illicit miners and loggers are now campaigning around the country. The cost of such campaigning must be huge, going into hundreds of millions of rupees a shot. Where do they get money for such campaigns? Who is funding these scumbags? It is obvious that there are interested commercial or industrial entities behind such funding. Various massive scale scams and rackets are allowed to take place to pay off those who fund election campaigns that bring them to power.

Among other concessions, examples like allowing sugar importers to rob the government via a temporary reduction of customs duty, or large-scale blended vegetable oil imports under a misleading category like “edible fats”, wholly unhealthy for consumption, or removing some toxic carcinogens from pharmaceutical to cosmetic categories to enable their “legal” marketing. In all these the repulsive political vermin also privately pocket large blocks (Kuttiyer). This kind of top-level corruption is ignored or forgotten with some “investigative commission” appointed irrespective of party politics.

The system where elections are run with massive campaigns bleeding the poor starving people further, must end. That is because those who would fund their campaigns will demand payback, usually employing wholly unethical means.

The sincere and committed Aragalaya activists demanded a “people’s government” (Mahajaner Aanduwer) outside of parliament. Appropriately, this entity should be tasked with formulating the basis for future governance, at least in the interim.

Corrupt to the core political parties select their repulsive candidates not based on their suitability to become legislators, but solely on their ability to win against their rivals. Consequently, it is the notorious thug, the dastardly wheeler-dealer, the heartless protection-racketeers, the chain-snatchers in moving trains, the murderous drug lords, and other low-life who have ill-gotten money to spend that the party nomination boards mainly select – the ones who can win after throwing around their black money.

In an ideal system change scenario, political parties will not be able to nominate any rogue to stand for election.  Without party nomination, no scumbag can win power even if they spend bags full of black money. But why do these abhorrent criminals want to become Members of Parliament? Because MPs wield enormous arbitrary power and influence in the lives of their constituents and over local police and public servants, businesses and racketeers, almost always acting outside the law.  When this power is removed, the chances are that no low-life reptile would wish to contest – leaving the field to genuinely committed and sincere people wishing to participate in policy debates for economic and social progress in their beloved land.

Traditionally, the political criminals have inculcated a regime of personal benefits for those who would vote to elect them. This personal “gain”, for the average voter, comes in two forms. The first is a material benefit or utility or leverage in actual goods, services or by enabling them to jump ahead in a queue or by-passing due process blatantly illegally. The second is egotistical in elevating their own ethno-religious nationalism, devaluing the status of a demonized minority or “putting them in their place”.

The Aragalaya activists envisioned a people not voting for personal material gain by removing the MPs’ ability to interfere or influence the administration of public institutions. If the MP is powerless to provide personal benefits to individual voters, and the voter’s dependency in this regard is removed, then the voter will have to limit or recalibrate their voting preference on the candidate’s character, public or community service record, ability and usefulness as a good lawmaker. Without illegitimate or arbitrary power, and with less perquisites of office, few dirty rascals would contest an election.

The Aragalaya activists also demonstrated breaking of ethno-religious nationalism, although it is much more complicated, given that a large segment of Sinhala-Buddhists suffers from an ingrained inferiority complex that is buried deep in the subconscious. An inferiority complex vis-a-viz an imagined “westernized elitism and culture” or the “Colombo 7 culture”. And this has its roots in the hidden historical trauma of a millennia of defeat and subjugation, first at the hands of Dravidian invaders and later European colonizers.

This trauma is predominant among those with a “lower middle class social mentality” even if they are economically middle class and “educated” professionals. To them, ethno-religious jingoism, that aversion and hostility towards the “other”, is a way of overcoming this hidden trauma and the inferiority complex associated with it. To them this kind of “patriotism” is far more important than good governance, economic advancement and social harmony and progress, and developing other societal virtues. The outward manifestation of this mentality is minority bashing. Many racist leaders feed their supporters this fodder.

If there is no strengthened uprising or Aragalaya along the lines of Indian satyagraha against the British Raj, a significant percentage of people will continue to vote, without any other consideration, for candidates who are unimaginably corrupt or reprehensible. No “System Change” with the present generation of scumbags can address this. It would require a radical social and cultural change in the people, under the guidance of a committed and tolerant new political class made up of the Aragalaya activists.

A genuine “System Change” would never come through with a parliamentary election. A full-blown peaceful revolution of massive proportions ten times the magnitude that chased away the two brothers a few months ago will ensure the independence of institutions such as the public service, judiciary, police etc. and will usher in political and economic stability with all major external lending organisations fully supporting the change. The resplendent isle, the pearl of the Indian Ocean a land of plenty will then become a reality. Do think about it.

*Prof (Emeritus) Lasantha Pethiyagoda

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    I think Aragalaya set an example that our people can nevertheless agree for a single goal if all would support without being biased to any race, religion or whatever other barriers.

    I am tired of our country today. Seeing an increase in beggars on the street, it is similar to the level of Riodejenoro. They seized power and destroyed it so that no one could easily reverse it. At the beginning of Gota’s government, the issue based on the reduction of taxes was the stupidest act ever done by a head of state. The other stupidest act was the hasty decision on the fertilizer ban. Agricultural experts warned not once but dozens of times. None of them were taken seriously.

    • 2
      1

      “An inferiority complex vis-a-viz an imagined “westernized elitism and culture” or the “Colombo 7 culture”. And this has its roots in the hidden historical trauma of a millennia of defeat and subjugation, first at the hands of Dravidian invaders and later European colonizers.”
      So, even the committed aragalist Lasantha P. can’t let go of the “Dravidian invaders” gonibilla. And some expect the minorities to join wholeheartedly in the Aragalaya?
      The fact is, there is no Aragalaya right now, just a bunch of nihilistic adventurists bent on disruption. Here is an accurate description from Wednesday’s “Island” editorial :
      “Aragalaya, which came into being as a leaderless socio-political movement with a broad agenda ended up being a vehicle for some political parties, and the extra-parliamentary Opposition with anarchical tendencies. It would not have become a single-issue political campaign and collapsed if a robust social movement had developed to underpin it. Social reforms are a prerequisite for the success of any campaign to cleanse politics. They must go hand in hand. Unfortunately, even those who are capable of social mobilisation and bringing about a radical change in people’s thinking have chosen to wallow in divisive politics.”

      • 0
        0

        OC
        what is positive about the Aragalaya is the sincerity of the participants. That was why many who had doubts about its ability to deliver social transformation held back on criticism of its serious drawbacks including the foreign funded NGO hands calling the shots on several key issues and deliberate depoliticizing of the campaign.
        Most stopped with the question ‘what after Gota is sent home’. There was no answer because each interest group that had a stake in the Aragalaya had its own secret agenda. Things started to fall apart after Mahinda went home.
        (to continue)

        • 0
          0

          OC
          The Aragalya’s inability to work as a well-motivated whole comprising diverse interests became clear when what was perceived as victory was in sight.
          The massive gathering that marched on to the President’s house and the Secretariat did not have a common goal or programme. Things just happened the way a few thought fit. However, sense prevailed to the extent that there was no serious vandalism at those locations, despite the trespass and misuse of facilities. Acts of arson and murder elsewhere were signs of danger. Settling alight RW’s home was no sign of political wisdom.
          Those who hailed spontaneity and glorified every reckless action now find it hard to accept that those who who were behind making a ‘tea party’ of what was hoped to be revolution had other plans.
          Aragalaya as imagined (rather than conceived, as there was no concept whatsoever) by many was doomed and the ouster of MR accelerated the process.
          Where I disagree with you, OC is about the prospects for the residue of the Aragalaya, the militants.
          In my view, they will use the name for what it is worth, but it will not be another GFG mobilization. It will be grassroots movement with more unseen than seen. I hope that it will define its politics in a way that will unite the many against the few.

          • 1
            0

            SJ,
            I am curious about “Auntie Jean”, the unlikely mascot of the IUSF.
            It would be a tragedy if she is just being used as a target for police violence, an useful martyr.

            • 0
              0

              It is not a straightforward game.
              The police do as they are told in these matters.
              She may be a true friend or someone who could mean trouble for the IUSF.
              I will not speculate when one can at best keep fingers crossed.

    • 2
      0

      1/
      Dear LP,
” It would require a radical social and cultural change in the people, under the guidance of a committed and tolerant new political class made up of the Aragalaya activists..”
–
Anyone with common sense, not just me, would have to agree with you on this. This is the final hurdle to victory. It is not an easy task, because the cultural changes to be made in this country is a mamooth task. Including local graduates do not care much about the reasons and facts of anything.
.
If a religious monk holding the title of “professor” becomes the “chief priest” of a powerful temple, whatever he preaches, he can easily distort the mood of his followers. Those who keep visiting the temples dont care anything but nod their heads to the very nature, mercy cows would do.
.
That is because the highest respect society gives to the “Sanga Dress”.Kotuwe Hamudurwo is unedcuated monk, but he could twist the mindset of masses shortly before last election, in favour of Rajaapkshe criminals.
SANGA UNIFORM is like a flaming rod of iron, terrifying almost anyone who does not allow its vicinity because the myth created by MAHAWANSA for some reasons is similar to those medieval time fairy tales.
–
That is why I believe that society needs to be rebuilt more than anything else.
      tbc
      .

      • 2
        0

        2/
        That should be the basis of all varous other revolutional changes. If the average citizen stays as they are today, everything he or she does will not be the same.
        Social media in general can work faster than we think. However, it is also valid for unconfirmed new spreads.
        However, I now realize that it is another selfish lucrative job field that is not economically powerful enough in Sri Lanka or similar countries. For example, many YouTube video makers in Sri Lanka spread many other “sorcery, mantras and various myth-based ideas” primarily to get their “likes” for their selfish and gossipy videos. It has obviously been the number one job for some artists and illiterates like Sudatha Thilakasiri: other than that artists like “Suda Creation” are making the current political mess their gold mine. Unfortunately, this is not considered by the entire audience.

        Main question:
        How can that radical socio-cultural change be made in the same ignorant but stupid people?

        Mainstream media should be differentiated from pocket-filling media and social media should be pro-people.

        tbc

  • 2
    1

    Dear Lasantha,
    .
    I’m fine with your suggestion for the short term; and given my age, my concerns can’t go beyond that.
    .
    However, I can’t help but worry about what’s going to happen after that. I have heard of something called “an-archaism” that people were fascinated with in the 19th Century. Is that what you’re looking forward to; a total lack of formal government?
    .
    It is because I worry about the long term that I gave this,
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD201OQwsFI
    .
    and other such, here:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ranilnomics-learning-nothing-forgetting-everything/
    .
    But can you find such dangers in what AKD says here?
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=299QkKzUjYQ
    .
    I approve of AKD; I can’t listen carefully to everything; I know my limits, and I trust this man.
    .

  • 2
    0

    LP, what you call political monsters are jobless and only know to rob to live in luxury. For this situation, the aragalaya changes demands for citizens to live without lack is the only honest solution

  • 3
    0

    “A genuine “System Change” would never come through with a parliamentary election.”
    It is absolutely true that it is impossible to bring genuine system change through the existing political parties or political leaders or parliament . However, Sri Lanka cannot stand alone with such system change ignoring the fact none of the leading political powers such as USA, China, Russia, India, West. For corruption is widespread in our neighboring countries and other low income countries. Our people are still not matured enough to understand the necessity of system change. For example, if police man stop you and say have violated the law and I have t fine even though if you have not violated law, you immediately give him Rs. 100 or Rs. 500 inside your licence to manage that situation. This is our system and we have not changed. It is not only for policeman but also for President. A telephone call from President can change the decision of the Judge within day. The difficulty is to where to start and where to finish. It is not about changes in the books, it should be at the heart.

    • 4
      1

      Yes! Aragalaya is the only solution.

      What all others propose is piecemeal solutions. Economic recovery is only one aspect of the problems facing our country today.

      It is only the manifestation of the failure of the present systems.

      Economic recovery is not possible when all other related sub- systems remain as they are.It will only be a half-baked solution.

      Elections will no change anything. If at all it will change persons and be cosmetic . Only an aragalaya with total system change could be panacea for all the ills. .

      Be ready for a total change for all our problems.

    • 2
      2

      A
      Are you in the country?
      You are out of touch.
      There is very little that 100 rupees can do with a cop these days.
      As for the complaints, It is as the Buddha suggested to the woman who wanted him to bring back her child to life: “Get me a handful of sesame seeds from a home that has not had a death”.
      Find me a ‘democracy’ free of corruption.

  • 5
    1

    Excellent article. Thanks.

  • 8
    0

    LP shares my utter contempt for the current bunch of SL politicians. Politics is a dirty game worldwide but in developed countries, it is more about power & prestige than sheer corruption. Until now, in UK, generous political donors & supporters usually expected a peerage, not necessarily lucrative contracts, but the recent political turmoil has revealed the dirty side of British politics. It appears that Liz Truss, who came from nowhere to challenge the most suitable candidate, Sunak, was elected PM after deals with backbenches for cabinet positions. Despite some support for Sunak, he is largely identified as a millionaire Indian who made it good in UK, something the hardcore Tories dislike, & blame him for the downfall of Boris J., a joker but the typical poster boy for the English Tories. Until now, a failed PM retires gracefully (Truss is entitled to an annual pension of £115k for the rest of her life for being the PM for 44 days) but Boris is making a comeback, the only other person to do so was his idol, Churchill.
    Cont

  • 5
    0

    Cont.

    Truss followed GR with the same borrowing policies, cutting tax (ultimately benefitting the rich) & had a host of lobbyists (consisting of climate denials, tax ‘reformists’. etc) just like the ‘viyathmaga intellectuals’. The end result was same as in SL but UK being the 7th biggest economy, was able to weather it. More importantly, Truss lasted only 44 days, unlike GR, & its the end of her political career while the Rajapakses still rule. Therefore, Aragalaya needs to continue until we have a new set of politicians with integrity in Parliament.

    • 3
      1

      I agree with Lasantha in that our parliamentary / Presidential system, elections, democrazy, constipation ( constitution), current politicians or political parties will NEVER EVER bring the change that we need to survive. I am not sure whether Aragalaya is the answer (if not this then it may have to be the next). In coming years “with the current system / people/ party in place, we still may discuss amendment 30 31 , 32 etc etc, by then in much dire situation.

    • 1
      0

      Dear Raj-UK,
      .
      There are two comments in which you have told us about the prospects for electing an acceptable Prime minister for the UK.
      .
      Well, a few hours ago, Rishi Sunak’s victory was announced. I have not yet seen this news being broken on CT yet.
      .

      Before Rishi’s victory was sealed, I analysed why Rishi had to be elected TODAY, the 24th, and not on the 28th. See the Reply to the “Top Comment” by RogerWilco to this YouTube by Professor Tim Wilson:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmm0T_aKJZQ&lc=Ugz7QVnwZz1IdVytkzV4AaABAg
      .
      How sound do you think my reasoning is?

  • 0
    0

    Why The Aragalaya Is The Only Solution For Sri Lanka

    People did not vote to make the country bankrupt they parlimentarians achivment for the country is drowned and front of the world it is beggaer can any wera the tie and the coat and begging the to globally.

    the people wants good future to the children.

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