The Opposition – Part II: Democracy?
Posted on February 7th, 2011


ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Many people around the world hail democracy as a great form of government, at least the best we as a species have come up with so far. I am one of them. With democracy being of paramount importance, not just for the one-man one-vote which so empowers all citizens, but also because of the personal freedoms and rights which are derived from this form of government, there are many who aim to ensure no attacks are made against democracy or democratic institutions.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ However, there are many meddlers who, ignoring the deterioration of freedoms in their own countries, distract themselves from their dilapidated realities by casting their know-it-all eyes across the world, scouring for ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-failed statesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-corrupt regimes.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ When they hear even the slightest murmurings about a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-lack of freedomƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ or a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-persecutionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ or unreasonable ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-aspirationsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ being unmet, these meddlers activate, and a massive media pressure is brought to bear on the unsuspecting government of the particular country concerned.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A circus of NGOs, journalists and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-human rightsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ activists shine a devious light upon the country, and it is labelled as a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-failed stateƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-brutal dictatorship.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ These ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-failed statesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ tend, conveniently enough, to be, more often than not, those countries which are both developing and pursuing an independent, non-aligned foreign policy; countries which are fighting foreign sponsored terrorism within their borders, countries with nationalistic leaderships.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ So Sri Lanka will be a target for the interventionist brigade (epitomized by the racist, neo-colonialist Manchester Guardian readers), but never a puppet despotism like, say, Egypt. Hilariously, even Hollywood actors are now getting involved, George Clooney in Sudan being a notable idiot, in a new political craze which is apparently the natural follow-on from adopting African babies.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The left wing of the developed nations now advocate a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-liberal imperialismƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-humanitarian interventionismƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ as they prefer to call it, but all these words mean the same thing, imperialism-lite: the same empires as before, just enforced through economic oppression rather than at the barrel of a gun.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the Sri Lankan setting, the most vociferous with calls for democracy and a halt to the alleged erosion of this is the UNP and other ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-oppositionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ groups. The UNP tends to focus on the grievances of the business elite and increasingly, and somewhat worryingly, on the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-aspirationsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-sufferingsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of the minorities.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The UNP, along with the international media, loves to call them ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-ethnic minoritiesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ when this is not the correct term. Sure, the Tamils and Muslims form a minority in terms of population, but that has only to do with who was here first ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the Sinhalese Buddhists built this country millennia ago, and the rest arrived much later by the facilitation of foreign powers. But they in themselves do not form an ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-ethnicƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ minority because there are plenty more of them where they originally came from. Muslims number in the billions, and Tamils number in the tens of millions, mostly within their homeland in south India. The only real ethnic minority of Sri Lanka are the Veddas.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ I say that the UNP fixation with their minority ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-brethrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ is worrying because it shows an audacious, bordering on criminal, lack of respect for the rights, dignity, aspirations, grievances and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” real ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” sufferings of the Sinhalese, principally the Sinhalese Buddhists.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Grand Old PartyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s grand-standing about ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-human rights,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-war crimes,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ or the arrest of a dotty tinpot General really is a failure of the main opposition in its duty and responsibility to the people of this country. The Sinhalese people who form the largest vote-block and who have suffered, in one way or another, for the best part of 500 years under the machinations of the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-minoritiesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and their foreign enablers, should be the UNPƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s priority.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There are already plenty of parties which claim to represent the views of the demographical minorities, such as the TNA and other ethno-centric organizations (press, unions, NGOs) all of which should be banned as soon as possible (as per the Singaporean model ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” it seems to have worked wonders there!). As in other, developed, countries the minorities should realize that their only hopes for greater political power is through taking part in secular, non-denominational, democratic parties, and thereby assimilating into and integrating with the culture and traditions of Sri Lanka, which naturally is the Sinhalese Buddhist culture. It is all fine to celebrate Thai Pongal and Eid, but celebrate also Poya and Sinhala New Year. When in Sri Lanka, do as the Sinhalese do.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Then we have the JVP, the Marxist terrorists, who love to moan about any measure which might actually improve Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s productivity. The fact that they report Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s working practices to the International Labor Organization (ILO) is scandalous ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” many workers around the world would think they had reached heaven if they benefitted from the same working conditions and labour rights as those found in Sri Lanka. Heck, just ask the Sri Lankans who go to work like slaves in the Middle East how great their conditions are over there, even if they donƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t get nails and other foreign objects hammered into them. Tell me, did the JVP or UNP lodge any complaint with the governments ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” I mean, dictatorships ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” of Saudi Arabia and Jordan for these atrocities?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Most importantly, none of the opposition groups have the right to utter even a single word of protest against the Sri Lankan government when it comes to economic matters because their actions ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” either through aiding and abetting Tamil terrorism, the ruination of state enterprises or their sale at bargain basement prices to profiteering cronies in the case of the UNP; or through acts of industrial strikes and domestic terrorism in the case of the JVP ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” have brought great destruction to Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s economy and international image.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Everybody in the country is now, apparently, focused on economic development. This is indeed a vital step in improving our country and its standing in the world. We must go from basket case to bread basket, from laughing stock to booming stock market, from land of idleness to land of ideas! To achieve this, we need an economic development plan, with key targets which can be reached within a timeframe which is useful and electorally acceptable ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” for the SLFP this means major projects being completed and showing real benefits to the masses by the time of the next election.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ At the next election the people must be able to answer the question ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Are you really better off now than you were five years ago?ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ with a resounding ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Yes!ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ if the current government wants to stay in power for the long run, and if the people want to avoid any resumption of terrorism and threats to our national sovereignty and integrity. For, in five yearsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ time, people will not be thankful for the eradication of terrorism in 2009 if they arenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t able to feed themselves or provide the chance of a bright future for their children.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ So, how do we go about formulating this economic plan? Why not look to our neighbours, many of whom have surged far ahead of us in the 30 or more years since terrorism and instability began to blight our country? Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and further afield Taiwan and South Korea have all shown us that rising from almost nothing to developed ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” or near enough developed ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” status can be achieved within a generation.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ And therein lies the problem. In all of these countries, rigid control of political, media and financial institutions were present during their development. There was nominal democracy in Singapore, but in fact it was a one-party state, while South Korea was an outright military dictatorship. Three critical newspapers were shut down in the space of just one year in Singapore, and the Suharto regime of Indonesia didnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t really like to hear dissenting views. Human rights were trashed in some of these nations, and in others (again Singapore) labour strikes were banned. People were kicked out of prime lands and not compensated. Power and wealth was concentrated in a minority elite. Sound familiar?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This is not to say that Sri Lanka should follow the same path. It is just useful to highlight that all the now rich countries of southeast Asia, much vaunted by the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-opposition,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ werenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t exactly flourishing beacons of personal or media freedom in the period when they achieved economic growth. SingaporeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s former president Lee Kuan Yew recently admitted a well-known fact, that he locked up innocent people without trial and suppressed others, but says it was necessary for development (and also for his continued rule over the country, how coincidental!). Similarly in Europe ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Britain, France and Germany became rich under the iron grip of tyrannical absolute monarchies, and only later did democracy come.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Perhaps Sri Lanka could be a pioneer in achieving rapid economic growth with a cacophony of democratic voices all trying to pursue power by stymieing growth and cheating gullible people out of their votes with false promises. Or perhaps not.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Poor countries need a strong government to make the decisions and changes which are needed to achieve economic growth and national strength (military, economic and political). This is the first step to development. In the above named countries, this realization led to the autocracies of the late 20th century. Far from denouncing these regimes, most people in those countries today hail them as necessary evils.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ However, unlike our neighbours, Sri Lanka has a long tradition of democracy and we have strong institutions which act as powerful checks and balances against an over-arching state. Finally, and most importantly, we have a literate, open-minded population who are wise, and wonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t stand for any old rubbish ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a quality which is lacking in the populations of certain other ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-bastionsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of democracy. They will not accept nepotism or tyranny, and have shown this with the wipe-outs which they have inflicted on previous governments of both parties, which went from absolute majorities to tiny rumps after just one election.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ MahindaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s parliamentary majority, gained against all constitutional odds, has achieved the first step, that of political stability, which in practice means something close to political domination. Seen in the light of regional examples however, we are far from heading to a dictatorship. And, as the Egyptian example showed, and as our own recent political history has shown, people (especially Sri Lankans) will not stand for dictatorship.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ My message is simple: for development, we need a strong government, but one which respects individual citizens, and that is what we have now. Hysterical political parties or media outlets who do not have the nationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s best interests at heart and seek to destabilize the government must be found and neutralized. In no way am I saying that the opposition in Sri Lanka should be silenced, but a reduction in their volume would definitely help!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This essay can also be found at

One Response to “The Opposition – Part II: Democracy?”

  1. ranjit Says:

    I like your simple message. The government must be strict with these opposition traitors who give false information to the world to distabilize the country. From the day this current President took power in 2005 they were using all kinds of methods to bring him down but the population showed them that they were wrong and the President was right by giving their valuable vote in both elections to give him overwhelming victory. President should take action soon to erradicate corruptions in every section of our lives and also take firm action on those who were instigate violence around the country even if they are powerful and bring them to justice. No pardon for wrong doers or traitors. We sacrificed a lot to come to this stage and the freedom should be preserved at any cost. Should not allow any bad guys to roam in our streets, to hold violent unneccessary protests, violence in schools and in Universities etc. When this Government has the Majority in the Parliament they should take advantage of it and get rid of old rules and regulations and make new as per the new century we are in.

    Any blind person can see the diffrence between then and now except Ranil and his band of blind mice. GL elections is the best way to show these traitors that they are not welcome in this forward march of the President to take our country to be the LIGHT OF ASIA. Without helping the flood victims or any victim in any kind these traitors blame the Government for everything as this was done by President itself. We have to get rid of these Garbage collectors sooner the better from our political carnival and get some new political tribe who loves our Motherland as opposition who will cooperate with the Government and helps us to build a prosperous beautiful land with the blessings of Lord Buddha.

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