Gaining Democracy And Losing Reliefs

by Wimalanath Weerarathne

Lasantha Wickrematunge

Civilians are the main driving force behind all the victories of the present government. Some of the civilians are representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Their main intention is not fighting to gain the economic benefits but to establish democracy in the country. During the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime, the media also had issues of safeguarding human rights, the rule of law, and the media freedom.

All these could be seen as issues not related with the general public. A manager of a private bank in Kandy questioned as to the point of writings again and again against the then Chief Justice, Sarath N.Silva, by former Editor-In-Chief of Ravaya Victor Ivan. Unfortunately, a learned individual such as this bank manager has not understood the importance of an independent and impartial judiciary. This is the exact condition of the country. The public never questioned the relevance of fighting to win the democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.


Civilian achievements

All the civil activists were badly crushed by the Rajapaksa regime People were utterly oppressed by the overwhelming power and the capricious authority of the Rajapaksa regime. They were nearly trying in banning and curtailing all the websites. It is one of the extreme ways a government to curb the freedom of the civilians. In the Rajapaksa-Gotabhaya regime, the penalty for those who raise their voices against them was death.

They issued death warrants on Roshen Chamika, Anthony Fernando, five students in Trincomalee in 2006, relief workers as well as for journalists. The founder of The Sunday Leader, Editor-in-Chief, Lasantha Wickrematunga was brutally murdered with a captive bolt pistol which was much more ruthless manner than simply shooting him dead.

This hazardous situation of the Rajapaksa regime became a headache for both Sri Lankan citizens as well as for international community. The international community imposed a range of sanctions against the Rajapaksa government to obstruct the capricious deeds of the government, and the government also took steps in controlling the impact of the sanctions. However, organizations for civil rights and the media stood against the government. A courageous small sector of the population succeeded at last in defeating the Rajapaksa regime.

Many people now protect the government after its inception. Those who benefit from the government guard the government unconditionally. We have similar experiences during the Rajapaksa regime. Eventually, those who genuinely supported Rajapaksa, started to separate themselves from the fold when they see that they can gain more benefits if they join the new government.

When compared to the number of supporters in the Rajapaksa’s first victory in 2005, a very few are supporting him the aftermath of the victory of the present government. Those who openly delivered high talks during the time of the establishment of the Yahapalana government were in the side of the Rajapaksa at that time. Some never spoke as they were afraid of raising their voices against the Rajapaksas.

But today, activists openly criticize the present government for justifiable reasons. Nonetheless, they have gained nothing so far. Thus, by giving some privileges that democracy essentially should establish, the government thinks that they have completed all the promises that they made to the public who fought for the victory of the government.

Now anyone can realise by the way that the government acts that they are not afraid of civil society. It is true that the Yahapalana government has expanded the democratic space in Sri Lanka. A person who has threatened the President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he would shoot them in the head also has been released. Therefore, none can deny the fact that their request to replace freedom has been gained by civil society activists to a certain extent.


Public left high and dry

The general public has gained democracy to some extent. But they are subtly crushed and sandwiched by the increasing prices of goods. People encounter a lot of troubles because of increasing Value Added Tax (VAT), and they are utterly helpless once they receive electricity bills at the end of the month. Although civil activists pelted the first stone against the Rajapaksa regime, their power and authority was inadequate to stand against the Rajapaksa regime. Therefore, they received the support of the general public. However, when the civil activists gained their much awaited democracy, the general public lost their reliefs that enable them to live. This has become the most important issue at present.

Since the democracy is bestowed upon the social activists, they have no issue with skyrocketing prices of goods. They are trendily with the government since they are bestowed with what they asked for. Against this backdrop, the new government avoided passing laws in parliament that support in granting sufficient relief to the private sector. They have only increased payments of the government sector.


Robbers at large

The activists and the general public expected from the new government that they would punish the corrupt of the former government. But it is clear now that the new government will not take steps to punish the thieves of the former government. Hilarious stories such as ‘Basil is in and out’ are in the media reports now. The Presidential Commission which is there to investigate large scale crimes has not showed any difference from the achievement of the commission established by the past regime.

Against this backdrop, we could think in two ways. One is that no one in the Rajapaksa regime has robed, and the other way is that the government intentionally does cover the misdeeds of the Rajapaksa regime.

We are, therefore, sorry for the plight of individuals who tried their level best to establish the present government. There are two main factors that the government thinks of when they carry out investigations into the activities of the people in question of the previous government.

One is to carry out unbiased investigations and punish the wrongdoers. The other is to order the wrongdoers to pay the amount of public money that they have misappropriated. This attempt will open up new ways the government to repay the debts.

The other is to control the corrupt in the present government by letting them realise by the act of the government itself that there are strict laws for catching wrongdoers. Corruption could not be eradicated totally. Still, civil social activists have not stressed on the agreement that the stakeholders of this government made to them in the campaigns towards the presidential and general election they will punish the corrupt before resorting to do every other task.


Write unceasingly

The media has a great responsibility in questioning the much debated situation in the country. They must criticize the government and force them to get away from obstructing democracy.

However, they must support the government in finding a solution for the present issues rather than helping the previous government to regain the power. The government should be able to accept all those criticisms. However, the government should know about the critics before accepting their criticisms.

Meanwhile, the government needs to check why the individuals who worked hard to establish the government now step back and criticize the government. It is true that the people who worked hard to establish the government have rights to pinpoint the government they elected is they are on the wrong track. However, State leaders should remember how they reached those positions.

After the establishment of the democratic electoral system, no one has bestowed the kingship to someone considering his or her generation. Leaders come into power because of the courageous battle of the public. Therefore, it is up to the leaders to think twice before taking weapons in to their hands against the critics of the government.


Mediocre leaders?

Our present leaders never even try to exceed the achievement of the past leaders of the country. All are trying their level best to become general leaders. According to a certain radio channel, there was no impediment to President Maithripala Sirisena to contest the presidential election for the second time.

Perhaps the editor who decided to publish this issue as news is out of his mind or else he has no idea of the Constitution or at least of the 19th Amendment.

Because the Constitution clearly mentions that an incumbent President could contest the second time without any hindrance. There is no need of telling that the President Sirisena could contest for the second time for the presidential election. However, the President himself indicated that he never intends to contest for the second time, it is another story. Somehow the President now needs to break self-hindrance that he set on his own. It is difficult to solve and settle all the questions of this country within a period of five years. Against his backdrop, contesting for the second time is legitimate and constitutional.

Here, we can see that the President has taken off his opportunity of exceeding the mediocre leader by taking the leadership of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).  Therefore, he can contest the presidential election for the second time as a leader with no bonds.

He has already lost the opportunity of becoming a popular leader since he has taken the leadership of the party. He can easily be in presidency for 10 years if he takes steps to solve numerous issues in the country along with the Prime Minister as soon as possible. Civil society activists and the general public will be much interested in knowing the President’s stand on this issue.


2 Comments for “Gaining Democracy And Losing Reliefs”

  1. missyou

    the whole world still miss this great chief editor Lasantha.

  2. Kalu albert

    All governments are the same. However UPFA government is the party with less blood it their hands. Why dont you write about thousands of burning bodies on the streets and Butalanda.

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