Changing the political culture of Sri Lanka : Advice for the Voters and the Voted
Posted on October 6th, 2014

Shenali D Waduge

Democracy is meant to enable the citizens of the country to elect representatives of their choice and have the country led according to their choice. Supreme power is meant to be vested in the people and those elected to power are merely agents of the people. These fancy notions are good for the books. In reality the citizens have become the servants and the politicians/their spouses/families function like emperors. When the fundamentals of anything is forgotten or ignored trouble begins. The country becomes like a volcano – a time bomb waiting to explode. Essentially the fault lines need to be looked at

  1. Change the culture of voting for jumping politicians: If the politicians are unwilling to bring legislation to stop politicians from jumping from one party to the other, the people must identity all the kangaroos in Sri Lanka’s political scene and desist from voting for them. Currently there are rumors of Government and Government supporting politicians planning and bargaining to join the Opposition which thinks that the Uva election equates to an Island-wide victory in 2015 while other former leaders are relying on astrologers to bring them to power. The question that voters need to ask is how logical it is for them to vote for the same inefficient, corrupt, devoid of ethics people who are doing the leapfrog just to seal their comfortable future? How well will the Opposition be able to run the country with the same set of unproductive characters who in Government have done nothing they can boast of? The public should not vote for any politician even at municipality, provincial or other levels who have a habit from jumping from one party to the other for their own selfish reasons. Today, taking the present Government it is not difficult to see that they are mostly those that jumped from the opposition and the chances of them jumping back is very obvious. The Opposition should not become a training centre for kangaroos!
  1. Change the culture of voting for politicians bargaining with the identity of the country: No politician, voted in for a term has any moral right to change the cultural ethos or identity of the country. Whatever secular arguments are brought forward what cannot change is the fact that this country was built up by the rule of over 180 Sinhala Buddhist kings. The over 2500 history was forcibly changed by the arrival of colonial rulers who invaded and occupied the nation and with the sword in one hand and the Bible in the other attempted to viciously change the Buddhist identity of the country. Politicians cannot change history and history cannot change because it suits the whims and fancies and opportunism of politicians. The country’s Buddhist identity cannot and should not be bargained with simply because they find themselves cornered by countries promoting a different faith in line with their expansionist imperialism. Nevertheless, the current dissatisfaction amongst the majority populace who comprise over 70% of the population is primarily because politicians have chosen to not only bargain with the identity but have compromised the Buddhist cultural heritage and even the Buddhist landscape. When voters eventually also make up 70% of the same majority are the politicians so foolish to ignore this fact and pretend that speeches and a surprise visit to their electorates will make the people forget the realities that take place around then? When churches, madrassas, mosques, born again centres are springing up like mushrooms with the blessings of politicians will the majority voter watch these incursions take place for long? Is the answer to allow and then remove these structures when objections are made? Should it not be better to create a law to ensure such structures do not take place according to whims and palming of hands so that trouble is not created for reactions to occur? Is this request too difficult for politicians to understand or comprehend?
  1. Change the culture of selecting politicians: Take all the politicians in Sri Lanka – Opposition and Government count and see how many are qualified? How many have only O/L, how many have A/L, how many have a university qualification or even a professional qualification? How many who are not qualified have performed and provided a service to the public? How many who are qualified have functioned as ‘konda pana nethi’ leaders? How many of them are tied to nefarious characters which they have created and cannot do without? Is this the type of leaders that the public want to continue to vote for and thereafter complain until the next election but vote again for them because they offer some personal favour to each? Should the public not insist on a criteria for the political parties to follow in selecting and if political parties do not honor their word the public should desist from voting for them. How many voters are guilty of voting for people not thinking of whether they are suitable national leaders but because they will offer some personal benefit to them?
  1. Change the culture of caste/class vote: whether we like to admit or not a good bloc of votes is secured by virtue of caste and class and the voters will never vote outside this terrain. It is part problem as to why rogue characters essentially end up in Parliament or in other leadership roles. People have yet to shirk themselves of voting for people who stand for righteousness and good probably because there are very few or hardly any to take as example. Thus, people end up voting for the same odd lot of people and this is determined by the class/caste that they belong to. Notice how political parties are shrewd enough to place as nominees party nominees to areas where their caste/class prevails knowing the dynamics of how they will vote.
  1. Change the political culture of becoming victims of astrologers: Anyone who knew President Premadasa would have been privy to the manner in which he became a victim of astrologers. Taking their advice, following it to the core there is nothing he would not have done that he was asked to do. None of them predicted or told him that he would be blown to smithereens or that the country would light crackers in celebration. Astrology should be a guide, it should not dictate political judgement and override political wisdom.
  1. Change the culture of forgetting one’s past: Again a mistake made by most people ascending is to forget their past, forget their roots and pretending to be what they are not. No sooner they rise and enter politics or become politically connected the examples of how people have forgotten their roots and their beginning are ample and with the inferiority complex coupled with the ultra ego of their new role they become enemies within themselves and nightmares for the general public as well. Their families add to the torment and suffering of those entering their bad books.
  1. Equality does not mean equal culture : A mistake most often made is to think that equality and rights implies the whole landscape and cultural identity of the country to take a ‘multicultural’ look. However, what needs to be said is that no country with a civilizational history will ever want to or ever plan to change that cultural landscape or identity though it would grant to the minorities rights equal to the rest of the citizens. Legal rights and fundamental rights cannot be used to change the cultural and identity of the country as it is happening now. Simply put, the Buddhist identity cannot be changed to look like a secular ‘multicultural’ landscape whereby traditionally ONLY Buddhist sites have now become ‘multicultural’ sites ex: Sri Pada was an ONLY Buddhist site, today it is being claimed by all and the Government ends up changing historical facts to incorporate these new incursions. Islamic nations are not multicultural, they are neither secular nor provide non-Muslims equal rights as that of their own, Christian countries also ensure that while freedom for faiths to practice is given the Christian dimension of their countries is not changed. The later day religions cannot dictate to the majority religion that was the State religion followed by 180 kings. Thus, politicians have no right to put Buddhism in par with other later day religions and expect Buddhism to take second place as other religions that conflict with Buddha’s teachings use the power of money to buy over politicians, advisors and others. This is why of late we see a calamity has arisen even in countries like Britain because some MPs have acted no different to our own by allowing their personal whims to take over what the British identity does not want to give up. This is what happens when fundamentals of leadership and the fundamentals of what is expected of elected politicians is compromised.
  1. Change the culture of selecting advisors: Advisors are important entities. They are people who are often in the background providing inputs to help make key decisions. What happens when unqualified politicians select unworthy advisors? What happens when qualified politicians are manipulated by influential advisors? We can safely say that there are enough of examples we can give to showcase how some advisors and consultants have completely ruined Sri Lanka’s image globally and even locally. Some of these handpicked people are not even citizens, they will do the damage and take the next flight when they realize their leader is going to fall. The line of advisors and consultants awaiting to flee are many. Leaders especially the unqualified must learn to take advise, and advisors must learn to give advice not to please the leader but to brief him on what is the fact, only then can the leader be able to take a decision taking into consideration the pros and cons. We have enough of ‘yes’ men/women who are leading the country astray. Peoples should be able to call a spade a spade – diplomacy needs to be redefined. Diplomacy is not saying or taking actions just because it will displease another or because the other party is unlikely to give special handouts as a result of telling the truth! How many konda pani nethi leaders do we have?
  1. Change the culture of corruption: Let us be frank – it is not only politicians, not only the public sector that are corrupt. We can give scores of examples of private sector including the Golden Key/Kotelawala’s as examples of corrupt at its height. From the peon to the Secretary corruption prevails. It has become ingrained into society to such an extent that it is hard to find anyone who is not corrupt, who cannot be swayed by money and who is honest, stands for integrity and has the highest of moral standards. We need to create such a society and just blaming politicians is unlikely to change the culture. People must say no to corruption. It must be practiced from home and taken to the workplace and it must prevail to such an extent that the corrupt person feels ashamed and on his own desists from corrupt ways. As things stands with the majority of people being corrupt it is the honest person who is made to feel small, who is isolated and who is cornered as a result of his good ways. A good person is unlikely to get promotions, his career path will be stalled because people do not want honest people around them as their dirty secrets will come out!
  1. Changing the culture of copying: When a country with a proud heritage as ours why is it that our leaders try to match up to lifestyles, cultures and behaviors of others? Why have our leaders not given prominence to our heroes and promoted them while instead they take pains to promote heroes of other nations and cultures? When we try to imitate, copy what is not ours we either overdo it or make fools of ourselves and we see that in ample measure in how some of our leaders behave. A good lesson for both politician and the general public.

These are just a handful of reasons that contribute to the present political landscape and inadvertently helps add to the decline in good people entering leadership roles or being accepted for leadership role. We end up eternally voting for the same bad eggs as they rotate themselves from one party to the other.

Is this how we are to move forward is a question that both politicians and the general public need to ask themselves. Both are essentially guilty of helping the other in their corrupt ways. The handful of good people get cornered or are never given any role and even if they are they soon end up a headache within the system and novel ways are created to oust them!

In deciding who to vote for, questions that must always be on the minds of the voter is

  • Will he/she betray the nation, its identity, its values/culture/heritage and even the people for personal gain?
  • Will he/she be a mere puppet, a stooge of foreign powers?
  • Will he/she sell national assets, state welfare and fall prey to foreign dictates?
  • Will he/she sacrifice and compromise the hard won war victory and forsake all that the armed forces has achieved?

Such a person should not receive anyone’s vote.

17 Responses to “Changing the political culture of Sri Lanka : Advice for the Voters and the Voted”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Number One
    But the number one essential fault line is the corruption and consequently, the selection of politician who is willing to tackle this systemic corruption that has already crippled social well-being and economic growth in Sri Lanka. The politician should be willing to create a solid legal framework to fight the corruption that has run rampant both in politics and in the state structures that provide basic services to ordinary people. The new laws include the creation of a National Anti-Corruption Bureau with investigatory powers to centralise the bribery commissioner’s offices that currently have the task to investigate and prosecute corruption, but too often fail to make it functional. Politicians will also have to publish asset declarations and any conflicts of interest. When these new laws are adopted and implemented it will greatly reduce the opportunities for corruption of those with political power. This law will make it possible to prosecute and seek the return of assets stolen by former politicians.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Maha-isthri-Pala Sirisena is corrupt to the bone.
    D.Moo Jara Rat Naya is a Kudu king PM
    Sinhala Buddhist Patriotic Maha Raja going to Vatican to worship an ignorant old man.
    Police are so corrupt that they are in charge of crimes

    There is no Sri Lanka to even rescue thanks to MaaHindaa

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:



  4. Nimal Fernando Says:


    Thank you for saying it like it is, Mr Wijesinghe. With a surfeit of gutless wonders among the
    ‘people’s representatives’, this is the unhappy reality of Mother Lanka.

    It is in this context, more than any other, that the BBS draws its strength. Simply put, the BBS
    speaks for the majority … for majority rights, while preserving the rights of all minorities
    under a sovereign Constitution.

    Last time I checked, this was the essence of democracy, as Shenali D Waduge notes in
    yet another laudably analytical piece …

    Despite the adverse publicity the organisation gets, and all the learned discussions among
    political pundits, the BBS will prevail by standing up for the rights of the majority in an
    overwhelmingly Buddhist nation.

    Will anyone else join me in the Amen corner? …

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    The choices before us are



  6. douglas Says:

    The “gradual deterioration” of the “QUALITY” of people entering Politics and taking over the Governing of the country took place with the “REQUIREMENT” to have “Unlimited Resources” to stage an “Election Campaign” to get elected. It is an admitted fact that the “Educated or the Professionals” did not have or could not afford to come forward and stage an “election campaign” at today’s “estimated cost”. So we have seen how the “educated and the professionals” getting “PUSHED” out of the arena and the people who have and could disburse “UNLIMITED RESOURCES” are nominated by the political parties to contest for seats in the Legislature and the Provincial Elections. Also the political parties heavily depend on these “wealthy” class to finance the campaign irrespective of their suitability on account of academic achievements. We saw this in full display at the recently concluded Uva Provincial Council election campaign. We saw how not even consumer goods were distributed, but also undergarments such “brassieres” marked with candidates preferential numbers were distributed even to the temples. That is the lowest level an election campaign could be brought down and make it also the costliest. So how can you expect the “educated class” who do not amass wealth like that but dependent on their wage could come forward to carry on an election campaign to get elected.

    So the most urgent and the appropriate thing to dis is to “Bring in Legislation to limit the expenditure of election campaign” and make each and every candidate to declare their assets and liabilities before accepting to contest at an election. After contesting and winning or getting rejected each and every candidate who stood in election must be required by law to file a statement of accounts of their campaign expenses and how they got their funds. This must be done by the Political Parties too. If anyone fails to do so, he/she elected must be unseated and all such people and the Political Parties must be prosecuted and punished appropriately.

    This CANCER must be attacked and remedied soon. That is the initial step of attracting the “EDUCATED” to the political field. The next must be a “CODE OF ETHICS” (this must include “behavior and conduct”; malpractices; corruption; nepotism etc) for all those elected and an “Independent Ethics Commissioner” must be appointed to hear and give rulings on the complained behavior of sitting members. If anyone is “deemed”to have violated such “code of ethics” he/she must be immediately unseated and fresh elections be held to elect a member for the vacancy.

    Next “DO AWAY” with this “Pension Scheme”. Until a member completes at least three consecutive years of being elected in elections, NO ONE must be awarded a PENSION or retiring benefits. This joke must be done away with soon.

    The above are some of the “Anti-biotic” injections that must be administered soon and without fail to “revive” this ailing patient – Sri Lanka and its Politics. Let us start with the most urgent and follow up.

  7. Nimal Fernando Says:

    I pray that all the “Anti-biotic” remedies recommended by douglas
    come to pass in Mother Lanka.


  8. Dilrook Says:

    Going back to the first-past-the-post electorate based election system will resolve most of the ills. It allows ordinary people to contest elections as the means required to contest an electorate is far less than contesting the entire district. The preference vote war will be gone. Politicians who cross the well will not be elected by the people as they will not get nominations.

    The chaotic PR system and the 13A criminalised Lankan politics.

  9. aloy Says:

    I understand your point very well. But the person to do that has to come from the existing system and I do not see such a person in the horizon. Now is the time to discover one. How can we do it?.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Let me direct a few questions to the critics of the GOSL led by MR, vociferously criticizing and slinging volumes of mud at the present government of Sri Lanka.

    In which period of Sri Lanka, have we had a corruption-free government that was not criticized by its political opponents? When?

    In which part of the world are governments completely free-of corruption? UK, US, Norway and India perhaps? Don’t make me laugh, for I can quote Chapter and Verse to the contrary. Watergate in the US, and Tamilgate in Norway comes to mind.

    In world history, were there any governments that were not accused of corruption, and worse, by the opposition?

    Abraham Lincoln’s US Govt during the US Civil War that restored the integrity of the nation and freed the slaves was viewed as a tyrannical govt in its day by many and Lincoln demonized as the devil incarnate, Churchill’s UK Govt during World War II that saved Britain from the Nazis, but was kicked out in a landslide immediately afterwards, Theodore Roosevelt’s US Govt that freed the US economy from monopoly control was demonized by business as a dictatorship and accused of violating the Constitution, Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu now sits in prison for enriching herself in office while the Gandhi’s were accused of nepotism and extra-official governance by Sonia Gandhi, the Senayake-Kothalawala UNP govts that ushered independence to Sri Lanka was ousted disastrously by the SLFP championing the common man’s aspirations, Barack Obama’s present US government that extended healthcare to all Americans is accused of bungling US foreign policy, and presiding over corruption in the Internal Revenue Service. Need I go on to list more …?

    Which of these governments has not been demonized and roundly accused of corruption and assorted crimes by the political opposition? The answer is clear: NONE!

    The difference that exists between those instances in world history and the current situation in Sri Lanka, is that there are powerful foreign forces today funding and orchestrating the destabilization of popularly elected governments in various parts of the world, INCLUDING SRI LANKA, who hire full time propagandists to achieve their ends, using the internet, the world wide web, and smartphone based social media tools widely available today.

    We saw these strategies at work in the Arab Spring revolutions, in Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, that working through presumably “concerned internet democrats” undermined and displaced established governments, pitted various segments peoples in those countries against each other, created social chaos where there was none, and are now WAILING WORLDWIDE like innocent bystanders about the anarchy they themselves seeded and planted in those nations turning them into conflict-ridden anarchies.

    Today, millions of their citizens have died as a result, and have been reduced to poverty, homelessness and refugee status. Not too long ago, before the MR’s UPFA govt took matters in hand, Sri Lanka was in the SAME SOUP, with complete lawlessness, bombs going off killing people at will, and foreign governments and NGOs demonizing the GOSL and advocating the disintegration of our Motherland into communal fiefdoms. We have to understand, that TOLERANCE of these self-serving voices advocating “human rights” and “democracy” for terrorists and anti-national forces, was primarily responsible for our failure to solve the problems of Sri Lanka. Divesting ourselves of that slavish brainwashed mindset was central to our deliverance from the grip of anarchy. Never again should we as a people fall into that trap.

    The same process that created that chaos is now being attempted to undermine Sri Lanka, with political activists in the pay of foreign paymasters frequenting the social media in the guise of “genuine citizens” voicing “genuine complaints” against the Govt of Sri Lanka.

    In the recent past, major newspapers, NGOs and individuals have been bought like cattle and paraded about voicing a litany of complaints, and creating conflict where there were none before. New organizations, NGOs and brand new commenters are springing magically, and after establishing their “bona fides” as “true patriots” for a few months, get to work assiduously to deliver on their anti-national assignments with their paymasters.

    As the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka grow closer, expect these anti-national voices carefully voicing their disagreements now, to become QUITE FRANTIC in delivering shotgun blasts against the MR-led GOSL.

    I strongly urge those who visit LankaWeb, and read the posts and the comments that appear here, to be aware that a phalanx of political agents in the pay of foreign paymasters, local politicians in Sri Lanka, and members of the Eelamist Tamil Diaspora, are now at work attempting to capture the debate at LankaWeb, overwhelming the established posture of LankaWeb as a patriotic website committed to fostering Sri Lanka’s independence, sovereignty, and its rapid development to become the New Wonder of Asia in the near future.

  11. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Dear Ananda-USA
    For god’s sake stop pampering corrupt politicians. You can’t justify corruption by claiming that everyone does it. Presently Corruption is running rampant both in politics and in the state structures already crippling social well-being and economic growth in Sri Lanka. It is now more important than ever before for the future prosperity of Sri Lanka, because we are investing billions of dollars of borrowed money for development projects. If we lose even 10% of that as bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement , then extended payback period will make the investment useless and wasteful Politicians of both sides of the parliament in Sri Lanka are very reluctant to introduce new legislation because of people like you who are not willing to take it serious.

  12. Nanda Says:

    The definition of a PATRIOT is: A PERSON WHO UNCONDITIONALLY UPHOLDS THE UNITARY SINHELA BUDDHIST IDENTITY OF SRI LANKA. – great definition by a non- Sinhala great while Sinhalas are still lost in the dark.

    Let me repeat my Sinhala poem elsewhere again for the benefit of the people who can think straight , with an approximate English Translation. Surely I cannot be branded “phalanx of political agents in the pay of foreign paymasters” for showing the nakedness.

    මහ රජතුමා හෙලුවැල්ලෙන් වඩින විටේ
    මෝඩයො අගයනව එඇඳුම අපේ රටේ
    එතුමගෙ හෙලුව පෙන්නාදී මගේ තොටේ
    නොබියව බලය පෙන්නව් සිහලුන් ගෙ කටේ

    When the great king parades nude ( to the North )
    Fools cheer on the glamour of his cloth
    Show the power of your Sinhala mouth
    By pointing out to the king the naked truth

  13. Ananda-USA Says:


    You said “You can’t justify corruption by claiming that everyone does it.”

    Please Stop misinterpreting what I stated and twisting my words.

    Corruption was not invented in Sri Lanka, nor does not exist only in Sri Lanka. Given that corruption exists in every country, we must then ask to what extent does corruption exist and did it exist in the past as well under previous governments, is the government in power the sole cause of it, is the government responsible for all occurrences of corruption, does that government have absolute control to prevent and eradicate it, is the government heading in that direction to eradicate corruption, and finally given that corruption takes place in every society under every government, considering everything relevant, is the government a force for good benefiting the vast majority of people, or it is a force of evil that is not best interest of the vast majority of people? The answers to these questions will determine the fate of the government in the minds of most reasonable people, but they will budge one iota the mind set of those determined to topple the government at all costs for their own reasons.

    I do not condone corruption, but corruption exists in every society and affects every government in every country … that was my FIRST point.

    My SECOND point was that despite those imperfections, many of those governments in world history including those I listed in my previous comment … have overwhelmingly worked to benefit their people, and achieved great things in the best interest of their citizens. And, so it is with the MR/UPFA government of Sri Lanka.

    Another PROOF OF WHAT I SAY HERE will come in the upcoming Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka when the people of Sri Lanka will deliver their judgement in their own self interest, and MR ONCE AGAIN wins by an OVERWHELMING LANDSLIDE despite all of the Machiavellian strategies being enacted by Sri Lanka’s die-hard enemies to achieve regime change in Sri Lanka and restore the anarchy of the recent past.

  14. Dilrook Says:

    As NeelaMahaYoda pointed out, corruption and wastage on projects run with borrowed money have a double impact on the economy. In addition to the usual ills of corruption, the borrowed money and interest must be repaid. As some of it is not invested (pocketed), this portion will not earn a sufficient return to repay the loan and interest. It makes servicing debt extremely difficult and we have no way of escaping the debt trap we are in.

    In 2010 our foreign assets rose to a historical high of $10 billion but within months it collapsed. Now we are again borrowing to finance the trade deficit. It is a great fiscal and monetary policy catastrophe. Instead of awarding various concessions, the government should have retired some loans with this money. Then there is an enduring benefit of interest saving every year.

    As 90% of borrowed money went to the north and the east where tax revenue has not risen comparatively and no benefit to Sinhalese and Muslims (85% of the population), there is not enough returns for the nation to repay the loans and interests. Corruption in mismanaging borrowed funds will worsen the situation. As I pointed this out in an article about a year ago in response to CA Chandraprema, the economic outlook of Sri Lanka is very bleak. War cannot be blamed as fiscal management during the war was much better contrary to anti-war activists back then.

    On a longer term, there is another associated problem called the middle income trap. The nation cannot remain in the middle income range for long as it runs the risk of economic stagnation and collapse. For it to move forward, money wasted in debt servicing and corruption must drastically reduce.

    The real danger of this economic gloom is the powerful and rich LTTE Diaspora will be able to easily manipulate Sri Lanka with their money power.

  15. Dilrook Says:


    That is the exact question I asked minister Patali Ranawaka a few weeks ago. His answer was the nation needs a structural and attitudinal change. It is not a good answer.

    People and small parties like JHU and NFF (who will be the kingmakers in 2015) should extend conditional support to candidates at an election upon their agreement to demands. These demand must include what people want, particularly the neglected Sinhala community.

    Although he rejected these pressure tactics then, I’m glad JHU has decided recently to come up with demands for supporting election candidates following the NFF.

    If concrete action is taken before the election and further action is likely after the election, these parties can support the candidate who agrees. More than that, there is nothing that can be done in a democratic country.

  16. Nanda Says:

    on the 6th Oct he made this talk. Is it talk only ? “”

  17. aloy Says:

    I was listening to a talk by Hon. Patali about an hour ago on Norochchalai. According to him the turbines installed there are too big for SL. He does not put any blame on the supplier for the defects in the machines. He is telling that the machines are too big for shutting downs and restarting according to the fluctuations of the load during 24hr period. If that s the case why not keep the plants running continuously and conserve water in reservoir by shutting down the hydro turbines. It appears to me he is trying to find an escape route for himself and his boss and put the blame on the technocrats who ever took the decision to build the plants as they are now.
    Please listen to the interview by Harsha De Silva.

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