The Sunday Leader

Democracy Is Dead

Switch off the lights. Rend your hair. Don only white. It is time to go into mourning. An old and ailing relative — democracy, has died an inevitable death.  Dead at barely 60 years old though the abuse it suffered during its short life span made it appear much older.

Like the aunt who lingers on long after most of the family believe she is already dead, this week’s death was a quiet one, it was long expected, some would say even overdue. There was no shock, no sudden loss.

Democracy in this country wasn’t overthrown by a dictator,  nor shattered suddenly by the chaos of war and revolution. Instead it died a painful, slow death.   Strangled by corruption, stifled by authoritarianism and finally snuffed out by the disinterest and apathy of the general public.  And while it somehow lingered on despite being savaged by decades of war, riots, and attempted revolutions,  this week we finally saw democracy die in the hearts and minds of voters.

The turn out  for the 2010 general election stands as the lowest in history — only  50% of the country’s people made the effort to participate in the country’s political process; not enough to sustain democracy’s ebbing life force.  While some will criticise the voters’ apathy, in reality you can only marvel at the patience of a people who voted regularly for six decades.   At the devotion of a population who after years of false promises and disappointment continued to vote until finally a lack of credible candidates, tangible issues and the impossibility of effecting real change finally destroyed their interest in democracy.

Of course the truth is and always has been that  regardless of the final results of this election, thugs, cronies and criminals will continue to rule this country. And regardless of anyone’s vote the present  situation of lawlessness,  emergency rule and authoritarianism is guaranteed to continue. The election was never going to address this country’s fundamental issues. Its lack of law and order, its almost medieval levels of women’s representation, the broken education system.

None of these things were even on the agenda. With victory guaranteed  the most keenly fought battles in this year’s election took place within the ruling party, as the government’s heavy weight candidates fought openly over the spoils of certain UPFA victory; the 20 million vassals and serfs who no longer enjoy even the pretense of rights.

Instead of issues and achievements, candidates  struggled to display their closeness to the country’s centre of power.  We were treated to the unashamed sycophantism of  posters showing Wimal Weerawansa sharing breakfast with our leader and  Bandula Gunawardena daring to pass the  phone to the President.  Eventually  desperation for inter-party preference votes saw  government candidates desecrate Buddha statues and violate every section of the country’s election law  with impunity.

Seeing the ugliness of the government, the impotence of the opposition and the hypocrisy  of the institutions – police, courts, charged with safeguarding democracy the people were inevitably disgusted.   And at  a crucial moment in the country’s history they  chose to hide their faces from this mockery of the democratic process. They looked away  from the hideous posters, meaningless slogans and the futile opposition  and refused to make the effort to vote.

But while everyone looked away  democracy died a second death – that of the two thirds majority.  Figures indicate that the UPFA  will receive nearly two-thirds of the votes  cast.  And with this majority comes nothing less than absolute power. The ability to amend the constitution, the very basis of  the nation’s law. The checks and  balances that  are the key to democracy have disappeared.   And with the government in such a comfortable position the reforms that could  possibly have breathed new life into the islands democracy — the 17th Amendment, quotas for women, a Right to Information Act, will never materialise.

Democracy in Sri Lanka is beyond revival.   And in its place we now have just one party or more accurately, one  family.  And the country’s citizens have just one choice, either demonstrate their loyalty, obedience and gratitude to the ruling family or risk detention, death or worse the utter irrelevance of  powerlessness.

This is no longer a criticism or a warning,  it is simply reality. One chapter of the country’s history is now closed  – the flickering light of democracy has gone out.  The ailing opposition, the clapped out General, the toothless UNP will never be able to restore the people’s right to democracy.  Instead if it is ever to return, democracy in this country will have to be reborn. Instead of  being imposed by colonial masters it will have to take hold again in the hearts and minds of the people.

If nothing else this year’s low turn-out indicates dissatisfaction  with the current political system and perhaps  a longing for a process we can all believe in;  it is still possible that the country’s people still long for genuine democracy.  But until that hope manifests itself as a genuine grass roots movement for a return to a politics based on principles, representative politics and good governance we  have dark years of despotism ahead of us.

Democracy is dead. And today only thugs, cronies and sycophants  have reason to celebrate; the rest of us will be in mourning for a weak, flawed but comforting old friend.

61 Comments for “Democracy Is Dead”

  1. Psycho

    Democracy dead or journalist trying to kill it?

    • dont worry Sr Lanka is now member of worlds best democratic countries like Libya..Iran..China…N.Korea…and Myamar…dance for free liquor…

    • SK

      If UNP won .. The sunday leader editorial would have been ” DEMOCRACY IS ALIVE”.
      Fedrica, please come to terms that people have buried your master Ranil along with UNP.

      • Fairose

        SK and Psycho, six months from now you would agree with every word and sentence of this editorial unless you are also a sycophant on the government payroll.

    • A country full of idiots like Psycho, can not expect democracy.

    • saro

      To all psychos and sk’s; Before commenting or argueing on the topic first refer a dictionary to see what democracy means.
      F.Y.I.
      Dictionary (Chambers) meaning to DEMOCRACY

      (i) A form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people collectively and administered by them or by officers appointed by them ; the common people.
      (ii) A state of society characterized by recognition of equality of rights and privileges; political, social or legal equality

      A democratic party – one who adheres to or promotes democracy as a principle.

      Is there anything wrong what is said in the editorial? When it died is immaterial now, fact remains it is dead now for good!! The journalists cannot kill it anymore for it is dead and gone. As long as we have idiots voting for thugs and the like, democracy will never be born again.

  2. MURA

    SRI LANKA IS A WASTE OF TIME.

    SINHALESE ARE LAZY DICK HEADS

  3. Low turn out of this election indicates that: UNP supporters were/are dissatisfied with their leader and UPFA supporters were sure about their party of winning! Why are people SO confused? Or are they pretending to be stupid? Now, at least get the clue and search for a decent, intelligent leader with a back bone to bring the UNP back. No need to be cry babies because it is their own down fault!

  4. Chinthaka

    Democracy for common people is not dead.. Instead that term for most of the upper middle class fantacy drivens must have been dead with a government not entertaining their snobbish rights, but rural communities’.

    I’m sure most english speaking middle class people who were deprived of having a second home in addition to the current one, having a latest model car to the old one, having their frequent week end trips to hotels/safaris must be utterly disappointed, as the govt is working on uplifting poor, rural life styles than their own.

    Social class driven pathetic society in Colombo and its suburbs must be heavily depressed over elections results like this newspaper staff.

    But, it is A NEW LIFE given to majority of innocent suppressed people around the country, who are not part of eelam propagandalists.

    • PC

      Well said Chinthaka. You have hit the nail right on the head. Democracy is dead for those scoundrels with private agendas, but not for the masses of this country, who have shown it by casting a vote for the ruling party.

      • streetlamp

        The majority of Sri Lanka is rural. Yet only 50% voted. Ergo the rural masses themselves are dissatisfied with the politics of SL.
        I don’t disagree that the rural poor are being targeted by the govt. But that is not the point of the editorial.

        • PC

          It is the UNP that has lost votes significantly since the last election. The regular UNP voters have refrained from voting (or some have voted for the Kusalane). That doesn’t mean that the people of this country have lost confidence in the political system. It only means that the regular UNP voter has lost confidence in UNP.

        • Fairose

          According to some lunatics that the rural are going to fly in the sky under Rajapakse regime. Wake up you fools who are in a fools paradise. Learn to get real. Come and live in the real world. Look at the rampant misuse and abuse in the country and compare with any past government. Dont listen to the politician who try to make a day out of night.

        • streetlamp: If people are so dissatisfied they could have voted RanilW or Fonseka to power.

    • Yes of course democracy is dead , all this commentators must be bootlickers of MR Clan who appease thugs & Drug Barons.

    • Puran

      Democracy died because Mahinda stealed the presidency from Sarath Fonseka and people have no faith on the elections in Sri Lanka any more. Mahinda also knows this and therefore, he is going to goal face grounds to win the people.

  5. srilankan

    Democracy is not dead but buried alive! There is still time for some honest and straight-forward leader to pull it out of its grave. There is no point in mourning and wailing, and giving up hope altogether. When you trip and fall, you don’t just sit there and wait. No, you stand up and walk again.

  6. CheeLanka

    The man who was MOST responsible for this Death of Democracy was, and still is, Ranil Wickremasinghe, Serial Loser who still leads the UNP! There is NO HOPE for Sri Lanka as long as the curse of Ranil is there.

  7. kseneviratne

    please e-mail to above

  8. This writer is perfectly right.

  9. MotleyFOOL

    Was democracy alive in Sri Lanka under UNP (during JRJ) or anytime there after? If democracy is a much prized asset that the so called “civilized” world is obsessed with, then why would the West clamor to invest in China when the USA, year- after- year felicitates China as their most favoured nation in trade? Do you folks think that the people in the USA enjoy democracy? If so, this may be the reason why a US president is portrayed and acts as a Socialist because there are much admired virtues in going leftist or autocratic for political ideologues at time when democracy is impractical and becomes a stumbling block to get anything done that is beneficial to a country’s development. Take for example health care in the USA and the colossal waste, expense and the human capital that has been needlessly spent in trying to reform health care.

  10. R.M.B Senanayake

    It is not Democracy is which died. but freedom- freedom of expression, freedom of the media and the institutions necessary to uphold them like an independent judiciary. From the beginning democracy some would call it mass demcracy and freedom did not coexist. Freedom came first in England with the Magna Carta, Glorious Revolution etc. But democracy in the sense of universal suffrage came only in 1835. Democracy can be ushered by a law bit freedom has to be fought for and requires a struggle where even bloodshed will be spilt. MR has been undermining the Rule of Law and freedom in stages and now he can expedite the process. The people are not lovers of freedom but lovers of patronage from the state. The intellectual class consists of bootlickers and judges and offcials want to sell their independence for mess of pottage. So let us sing the requiem for liberty.

    • To RMB Senanayake
      Exactly correct this time i am with you, Truth must win eight er you are my enemy or ally.
      Yes the entire media is owned & manipulated by the ruling cohorts. dissent views are intimidated.

      • ranjit de mel

        mr.sheriff : you are really a intellectual and a academic.let us bring the jvp donkeys to power.

        • To Ranjit De Mel
          Yes Jvp may be donkeys to you, even MR appeased them to come to power in 2004.
          You are in Berlin enjoying sex life there, where you do not know local politics.

          To my knowledge JVP is the honest real patriotic party in Srilanka, you can differ with your views which we respect, but your
          political cohorts never give jvp a chance in the state media, even the private media is afraid of intimidation.

        • Psycho

          Are you jealous that Ranjit de Mel is enjoying sex life in Berlin?

          You old thambiya cant enjoy it brcudr your use by date is gone. On top of that you have only 3/4 th.

        • I dont reply to Psychos, because this blog will
          think i too from Angoda.

        • Psycho

          You have already replied.

          Shall I organise a van with some ropes so that they can tie you up an bring to Angoda to be with me, so that I can think of marrying you.

    • I feel sorry for you for you do not know our culture or history. You do not know what colonialists had done to our country. To put it in one sentence let me quote the Jubilee memorials of the Wesleyan Mission, South of Ceylon, published in 1864. It clearly shows the motives of the missionaries of the democracy perusing westerners. The missionaries wrote; “… were convinced that it was the intention of the missionaries to destroy Buddhism and place Christianity in its stead”. These are the people that come forward to teach us freedom and human rights. You are blind for you do not know they still follow those policies. And MR is the one that get us out of that trap.

      One other thing; when you write; write in plain English that we understand. Don’t confuse us by using jargon.

      • Hey Leela
        Those phrases you mentioned are all political slogans to win elections taught by
        the Pacha-Auda ( Wimal) nothing of those existed now &
        no trap of those.

        To safeguard Bhuddhism you want to curtail freedom of information & abuse Human Rights, & Crush the opposition Parties under the guise of Bhuddhism which century you are living, okay i will accept your argument if MR rejected all foreign loans & GSP Plus he should severe connection from
        all those conspiring to destabilise our country can you make him do it instead of big talk.

      • it is because of these misionary schools you write in english today and wear shirt and trouser…dont forget this.what the hell your dhamma school did to sinhalease except….sunday sil..monday kill (tamils)…????.

  11. Lankawatcher

    We will believe these results only if the Elections Commissioner can affirm, swear or show proof that the computer operators at his office did not have any influence or were subject to any coercion or threat by persons connected with the ruling UPFA to switch numbers and/or allocate votes to certain named candidates. This happened during the Presidential Election and we are certain it has happened again.
    If not, can people of the likes of Wimala Weerawansa and Namal Rajapakse (who is riding on his father’s name and fame) get the highest preferential votes in Colombo and Hambantota respectively? This was so manipulated to make WW the next premier of Sri Lanka and NR to take over in the near future. Furthermore, which right thinking human being would vote for Mervyn Silva who has left a trail of destruction and thuggery (i.e Rupavahini and Sirasa episodes; land grabs, threatening EC during the Presidential Election, etc.. etc.)
    As regards blaming the opposition for being weak, ask the EC whether he used his powers to make this and all other elections since MR became President in 2005 to be free and fair? NO, HE DID NOT. It is not the opposition that was weak, it was the Elections Commissioner. That is why; MR kept him on and on, till his plans bore fruit. Now the EC is to be kicked off to a foreign country with a perk as an ambassador so that he and his family can either laugh or cry over what he did or did not do!
    No point in blaming the opposition, who were literally ‘kept imprisoned’ through a ‘government media tsunami’, (newspapers, TV, bill boards, radio, posters, etc.) you name it, they had it all. The govt. propaganda were forced down the people’s throats and brainwashed to such an extent, that most people preferred to stay at home, not wanting to vote against their conscience.
    Was this a free and fair election? NO. Does these results show the actual votes cast by the people? NO.

    • mohandev

      where were you last evening? hiding under a bar sipping your joni walker from the ill gotten dollars? didnt you stupid listen to your never say die tikiri molle leader RW accepting the verdict of the people at least soberly unlike you

  12. mohandev

    SL editorial is a living proof that democracy is alive & kicking in SL contrary to your expectations & secret wish to be otherwise so that you can write & publish more lies being a true ‘rag’ sheet & your mudalali can fill his pocket bigger. For a moment even the editorial conveniently avoided blaming UNP for creating this cursed system solely for them to retain power at any cost by the master fox the worst dictator JRJ for fooling the ‘gon’ unpers to give 5/6 majority in 77

    • Lankawatcher

      Hey man, why are you wasting your time reading the ‘rag’ sheet? Do the lies, mud and garbage of the Sunday Observer and Daily Noose make you vomit? Your regime has throttled the free media so much so that there’s only a couple of newspapers and TV stations left for us to ascertain the truth. Very soon, even those few will breath their last with the rigged 2/3rd majority your regime has secured.

      • Tharindu

        Well … you need to read both “Sunday Observer” and “Sunday Leader” to get the both side of the story. The two sides being UPFA and UNP.

        “Do the lies, mud and garbage of the Sunday Observer and Daily Noose make you vomit?”

        Actually mud and garbage of SO, DN and SL .. put together makes me vomit …

    • PC

      Very true Mohandev. Tolerance to this type of articles and all these web postings that freely defame the elected leaders of the people alone is the best testimony to the level of democracy and the media freedom that prevails in the country, contrary to what the dollar and kroner khakhas want to portray. The SL readers, please understand the reality. The ordinary citizen of this country is distinctly different to you all. He loves this country, and supports this regimen.

      • saro

        Of course PC, they love the country and supports the regimen little knowing what’s in store for them in the future. They have swolled the bait, so nothing can be done. Like someone said before this ‘the people deserve the govt. they get’ so here we are!!

  13. MaPer

    Low voter turnout is due to the voters having no confidence in the electoral process as long as the present regime is in power. They may vote for the party of their choice (not the UPFA) – but invariably it will be that the UPFA won. Evidence is seen in that even in Colombo some of the politicians have requested recounts – each time there was a recount the result was always different. This is worse than the computer “jilmart”. The computer is fed after the count by the Elections Dept. If the counters cannot count correctly – the what. Now its the “counters’ jilmart”.

  14. [...] Editorial, The Sunday Leader, 11 April 2010 [...]

  15. Kadalay

    Democracy has always been alive since the Queen handed over the rope to the sons of the soil in 1948. Whats been dead for over 60 years is the will of the politicos to serve the people instead of serving themselves…

  16. mALIN Abeyatunge

    Only the journalists like you have killed democracy. Tap your conscience and ask whether you played an impartial role at this general election. No. You talk about the death of democracy becuase the turn out is less than 50%. Look at US elections when George W Bush was elected .Less than 50% voted. Obama around 57%. Does it mean that there is no democracy in US? I understand that the papers like you cannot digest the humiliation defeat of your favorite UNP.

    • Tharindu

      Well Said!

    • In the history of Srilanka this is the lowest turn out, analyse the reason instead of boot licking the west ( is your own slogan.)

      • Sheriff: The opposition should have sticked together as in the Presidential election. SF being arrested is no excuse because they could have put forward the other Sarath as the leader. After all it was his name that was in the vogue at the beginning.

        Never mind the split of the opposition, the JVP and co. should have mobilized the public to go to polling booths and vote for SF.

        My friend; Rajapakse is getting popular day by day. Why? All of my comments here ends with a note to that.

  17. Tharindu

    How did your paper come to the conclusion of “this year’s low turn-out indicates dissatisfaction with the current political system” ?
    Did you conduct a survey or something?
    Or is it just your “Opinion” like you admitted before ” unafraid etc etc … and not without an opinion”.
    Funny journalists .. talks about freedom of expression also …

  18. zahrans

    a turn-out of around 50% is pretty unusual considering a figure of around 70-75% is pretty much the norm in elections in sri lanka. i wouldn’t phrase it as a “dissatisfaction with the current political system” but a majority of people ARE sick and tired of this apparently continuous election cycle. (hopefully this being the last election for a very long time). holding elections just before the S&T new year doesn’t help either as most employees and emlployers are reluctant to take/give a holiday, preferring instead to save up their holiday(s) for the S&T new year.

  19. Srilankan from U.K.

    “A female party activist of the JVP backed Democratic National Alliance was allegedly abducted from her house and raped by UPFA supporters as she had given permission to put up a DNA office in an electorate in the southern province.

    The victim, a mother of two was abducted on the election day, raped and harassed before she had been dropped on the road side the same night.”

    Dear President, if this type of things going on in Srilanka just after the election and you ,your son and party supporters shouting ‘”Democracy” “Humanrights” is in Srilanka , are we fools to believe any “Humanrights” or Democracy”in this country under your government.?

    • Kalag

      Absolute rubbish! You are same kind of “U.K” resident who say that Jaffna is invaded by Singhalese. Army is raping the Tamils girls in Jaffna.
      Go and have a look to see how happy they are that war is over. They probably have to rebuild their lives after broken homes and lost relatives. Singhalese people have the same problem. You, expatriate Sri Lankans, have managed to ruin the name of our country and our govt. President has a tough job to repair that and improve the country’s economy. You people are hell bent to ruin that too. You are ok. You live in another world. But you like to play with the lives of unfortunate Sri Lankans back home.
      The day will come that Sri Lankan people at home make you all shut up.

      • Puran

        Kalag: You are very similar to Rupavahini and ITN which always wash the dirty clothes of Rajapaksha clan. It is well known in Sri Lanka that Rajapaksha’s goons raped the women who supported DNA in election night. Also, Rajapakshas are spreading venges all over the country. Sarath Fonseka is abducted by the government terrorist two months ago with out any proven charges. People like you always say whatever Rapaksha are doing is correct.

  20. Abdullah

    The Country is Ruled by An Egostic THUG,What do you Expect?There is a Time for all injustices as GOD,The Mighty ONE even gave a Time frame for PHAROH who claimed himself to be GOD and Currently on display as a Mummy for the mankind to derive a lesson for his utter arrogance

    • Abdullah: You are crazy. How dare you call our President an egoistic thug. I say; you are incensed by our President reaching consensus of the majority of the people of this country to pursue his policies. You can bark or pray if you like; but your God or the mighty one that you call will do nothing to him. I say again; you can pray or bray, he will pursue ‘Mahinda Chintana’ to the last letter.

  21. Ranil is mother/father of all loosers, as long as he is the leader of the UNP, all can forget that UNP will ever come to power. Ranil is a Poniah, he is worst than a woman, what leadership to him, his wife may be a better leader, its high time he take over the cooking at home & send his wife to parliament.

  22. VINTAGE VOTER

    WE HAD “DEMO-CRAZY” . ITS A CRAZY FORM OF RULE. IT IS A FORM OF DICTATORSHIP BROUGHT ABOUT BY MANIPULATION.AND A CORRUPT
    ELECTORAL SYSTEM ADMINISTERED BY “AN OLD IMPOTENT ELECTION COMMISSIONER” BASED ON THE PRESENT STATISTICS, IF THE PRESIDENT CLAIMS THAT THE COUNTRY IS WITH HIM,HE HAS LOST HIS SANITY.. NOT THAT HE HAD IT . THAT WAS THE REASON HE HAD THE BIGGEST CABINET OF MINISTERS IN THE WORLD,
    AND HUNDREDS OF “ADVISORS” HE WILL SOON BE IN GOOD COMPANY WITH MYANMAR, AND ZIMBABWE “” SUBA ANAGATHEYAK

  23. Cedric

    Democracy the patient was rushed to hospital in a serious but recoverable condition but died a few hours later after admission . Note. Doctor on duty was Ranil. Cause of death . Medical negligence.

  24. Karu

    It is interesting to see that we are talking about the democracy and argue whether it is dead or alive. I have been a senoir presiding officer (SPO) and subsequently a Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) in Sri Lankan Elections since 1977. The 1977 election seemed to be the best one out of the lot I have participated. The subsequent elections were vastly different. Thuggery and fruads were rampant. As civil officers all we could do was make journal entries and bring to notice of the Police. The ruling party at the time controlled the proceedings at polling booths as no polling agents from any other party were present. They were threatened to stay away. To me it is a joke that we are screaming now about democracy which was killed a good 20 years ago. If there is a person among you guys who had similar experinece like mine will understand what I am talking about.

    • Puran

      . Karu, you are comparing apples and oranges. Countries like in Sri Lanka it is very difficult to find very reasonable election. Even though the ruling party did corruptions in the elections, it would not effect to the final result when the people have a huge trend toward the opposition. But, in 2010 presidential election, for the first time Mahinda manipulated the results 100%. Officially SF won it and Mahinda stealed from SF by manipulation of the results. So, you can not compare 2010 election with previous elections. Therefore, people have no faith on the elections in Sri Lanka anymore and they did not vote for 2010 parliamentary election.

      • Psycho

        Puran, cry baby there are no apples and oranges in Sri Lanka OK?

        We have Kiri and Kekiri

        Shed your tears, spit your dummy but dont forget, only 5% of lankans are in your kekiri boat. Right?

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