Posted on May 25th, 2018


When I visited Sri Lanka recently, I had an opportunity to talk with different people in the country and also talked to several Sri Lankans who are living in overseas.  The main opinion of the majority was Sri Lanka needs a partial dictatorship for efficient and clean administration as the majority of people in Sri Lanka has frustrated on the current democratic administration, which is corrupt and undemocratic without any difference in political parties.  The views of them clearly reflected that Sri Lanka is possibly a failed state where the Western style of democracy has unsuccessful to achieve political, economic and administrative objectives of people. The feeling of people in relation to economic, social and political imply that the leadership of Sri Lanka is impotent to give right leadership to overcome problems and many Western countries attempts to put hands to the political administration disregarding the democratic rights of citizens.

Since the beginning of Sinhala state in Sri Lanka with the administration of King Vijaya, different style of dictatorships had been exercised in the country according to the characteristics and behavioural patterns of Kings and Queens until the British administration commenced in 1798.  After the Sinhala Kingdom was acquired by the British rulers, the political administration was a partial dictatorship despite the impression of democracy of Westminster system. The foundation of democratic administration was made by Donormore reforms in 1932, which established a state council, elected representatives, adult franchise, ministerial responsibility for local people and many others. It was a partial democracy but when compared to previous administration, the reforms of the British rulers were remarkable for the beginning of a democratic state.

In the history, people of the country without any ethnic difference adapted to the dictatorship in political administration respecting to the reigns of royal administration. Historical evidence also confirms that mass community of the country preferred to the system existed in the dictatorship, which was less corrupt and attempted fulfil the aspiration of common people.  The general public of the country hasn’t had an idea about any other style of political philosophy as the dictatorship was dominating in the worldwide administration.

The exercise of democracy had been accomplished since the State Council initiated by Donomore Reforms and the exercise of power was scrutinized by the strict guidance of the British rule. When Sri Lanka gained political independence in 1948, the experience of practicing the democracy was limited to 20 years of learning on the process and whether such a short period of education on democracy was sufficient to maintain an efficient administration using the concept of the democratic rule should have considered by Sri Lankan as well as colonial leaders, before gaining independence.  Although the understanding of democratic principles was apparently exhibited factor, the country received the independence with a democratic style of government. Many historians were on opinion that Sri Lanka received independence in 1948 as India acquired such status. When consider the current public opinion of political administration it is quite correct to assume that the learning about democratic administration should have to considered before gaining the independence in 1948.

The impartial opinion on this matter is that people of the country haven’t had a good opportunity to learn about the democracy and its operational patterns.   The British democratic System displays that the country has no written constitution but traditions had developed throughout centuries and people learned well about democratic traditions and respect them.   The events and the practices of parliament in Sri Lanka obviously reflect that elected representatives have misunderstood the democracy and its values and how democracy should be applied in the parliament and in other institutions.  It also provides clear evidence that democratic representatives of the country have misused and misinterpreted the authority of the positions for personal advantages and there is no opportunity to the general public responding to undemocratic practices. The elections have become an open fraud. The official institutions supposed to scrutinize the role of elected representatives on behalf of the general public have politicized and people have no confidence in such institutions.  The current debate on the judiciary can give as an example.

Due to short experience, people of Sri Lanka has relegated the democracy to a very narrow field such as voting in elections for choosing representatives to the parliament and forming political parties to achieve this purpose. Is that the meaning of democratic administration?  It is obvious from current operational matters in Sri Lanka that people of the country has seriously misunderstood the meaning of democracy and on the basis of this petty understanding they attempt to apply the democracy in a narrow field in spite of the application requirement of the principle requires in a broader area such as policy making, policy implementation, and remedial management.

Since the 1932 political reforms, the serious misunderstanding and incorrect practice of the democracy could be identified as forming political parties based on misguided policies in the country. For example, several political parties at the beginning of the democratic system were formed on the ethnical and religious basis and they attempted to divide the nation to pieces using these illogical and wrong policies. Most probably such action was based on individual interests rather than integrating broader community aspirations into uniting the nation.  Under the dictatorship in the history, there were different ethnic and religious groups but no group wanted to divide the nation based on ethnical or religious differences.

The attitudes of Sri Lankans are highly influenced by the race and the religion resulting the race and the region assigning to the prime place of human life.  There is no argument that religions in the human history have contributed to developing well-disciplined cultures and values in the society.  However, ethnicity and religion should not go beyond human values and they should not be criteria for forming political parties in a democratic administration with a view to forming a government in a multi religious and ethnic society with an intention to divide the mass community.  In a democratic society, each and every one has rights and responsibilities towards the society. The nature of forming political parties in Sri Lanka based on races and religions reflects the disrespect to democratic values.  It is a mistake incurred in the so-called democratic rule and recorded wars and conflicts in the country after the political independence were directly or indirectly motivated by misguided attitudes.

The second bloomer of the democratic operation seems that aligning voters to political parties on the basis of nepotism and individualism and this situation promotes political candidate’ or political representative’s personal relationship to voters when electing them rather than considering the policies of the political parties, which are vital to the economic and social progress of the country. The delimitation of electorates since the general election of 1947 was considered the vicious aspects such as race, religion, caste and it clearly reveals that the democracy has been using to divide the society.  As a result of this blunder, leaders of political parties believe that they attract votes whether they do the right thing or wrong thing to people. The real democratic operations in Western countries imply that if the representatives were elected by people align to wrong way for personal advantages or they will go out of the democratic framework of administration, people will never elect such representatives again on the basis of personal relationship.

Many Dictionaries define democracy ‘as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives’.  When there are no differences in ethnic, religious or caste or any other in the political system, the rule of the majority is acceptable, when there are such differences exist, the rule of the majority may not be accepted as a democracy. The differences such as religious, race, cast and others tend to going against human values and it wouldn’t be the democracy.  This is a significant point that people need to understand applying the democratic rule. In fact, it was not educated to Sri Lankans before introduce the democratic system.

A concrete aspect of the democracy is that the system of government is based on its legitimacy of the participation of people.  When we look at the management of election in Sri Lanka since 1947, people could not be satisfied on the elected governments as well as the election administration.  The election process did not reflect the legitimacy of the participation of people.  According to my observation, all elections after 1970 had a serious question of legitimacy on the basis of participation of people in a democratic system and since 1947 election, bribery in different forms involved in the election process.

When democracy is operating without adhering to its fundamental principles, there is no doubt that people are deprive of confidence in the democratic system.  We can see that democracy is working at an acceptable level in many Western countries despite differences in ethnicity and religions in the society.  The major reason for the high-level confidence of people on democracy would be dependent on the clear understanding of the meaning and practice of democracy by administrators. Sri Lanka received a democratic rule without sufficient knowledge of it and since 1948 the behaviour of political administrators show that people of the country have misunderstood the democracy and its functional areas.

Democracy has different faces and the liberal democracy is the vital aspect of the modern world.  The Museum of Australian Democracy describes liberal democracy with four features.

  • A belief in the individual: Individual is believed to be moral and rational.
  • A belief in reason and progress: the growth and the development are the natural conditions of mankind and policies, the art of compromise.
  • A belief in society that consensual, the desire for order and cooperation, not disorder and conflict.
  • A belief in shared power, based on a suspicion concentrated power.

The concept of liberal democracy is appeared to be current expectation of ordinary people of Sri Lanka but the democratic institutions in the country such as parliament, courts, regional councils have failed or not ready to accept the concept with a view to practically delivering the concept, for the benefit of mass community. Now people have a feeling that democracy has failed in the country and what should be delivered in the democracy could be delivered by a partial dictatorship.  To depreciate the democratic values in Sri Lanka, the first condition of the liberal democracy that ‘individual is believed to be moral and rational’ has not properly applied in the country.  Many representatives elected to office were not subject to scrutinize whether they were moral and rational on the basis of candidates’ characteristics.  For this purpose, there needs enacting legislation, but they were not happened.  The current behaviour of many elected representatives indicate that they were not moral and rational people before election.

The growth and development are the expectation of people, despite the belief of people, elected representatives develop policies for own development disregarding people and the national revenue uses for own purposes such as salaries, benefits and others. It is clear that the natural conditions of mankind and policies, the art of compromise do not appear in the democratic system.  Building a consensual society with order and cooperation and shared power are complicated matters.

The other significant point, which should be essentially considered in relation to liberal democracy is that it is unreasonably involved in capitalism.  Liberal democracy tends to give liberty to accumulate wealth to rich at a cost of poor.  Sri Lanka consists of more than 40% population below the poverty line and in such a social condition, when liberal democracy allows accumulating wealth rich, then democracy will be undermined by poor.  Since 1956 we have been observing that how people attempted to distance from democracy aligning to Marxist socialism as the liberal democracy widely failed throughout the world to address the issues of poor.  Even in Sri Lanka, it appeared that ruling political parties failed to meet the request of poor.

The failure of democracy in Sri Lanka has been contributed by many factors since its inception.  As I early mentioned education about democracy through schools or practicing it in urban and rural level was the prime contributing factor for unsuccessful operation of democracy.


  1. Christie Says:

    Looks like you live in a Liberal Democratic Anglo sphere (at the monument) country.

    I am sure you are a Socialist ratbag living in such a country.

    Observe how the Socialist media tell the world lies about Sinhalese, calling them Sinhalese Chauvinists.

    The problem is Indian imperialism and Indian Colonial Parasites.

    We like in other British-Indian colonies were administered by Indian Colonial Parasites.

    Talking about Indian Supreme Court it is just a month ago it watered down Scheduled Caste Equal Rights Laws.

    What we need is the control of our destiny to be in the hands of the majority of the nation.

  2. Christie Says:

    “The delimitation of electorates since the general election of 1947 was considered the vicious aspects such as race, religion, caste….”

    Socialists financed by Indian Parasites could not form a government in 1947 elections.

    We should have expelled all Indian Parasites like what Idi Amin did in Uganda.

    India and Indian parasites got Banda and since the Sinhalese have been destroyed and Parasites have prospered more than they did under the British-Indian rule.

  3. nilwala Says:

    A strong central leadership that is conscious of the critical geographic location of the island has played at all times of history and especially in the current geopolitical lalndscape, is imperative if the island is not be fractured into ethnic territories.

    A few fundamental points missed by the author who takes the reader from Prince Vijaya to today in one sweeping sentence need to be addressed before going any further…….

    1) Sri Lanka has been besieged by invaders both from South Asia and the West, who wanted the island for their own exploitation and plunder. …from cycles of invasion by South Indian monarchs, to the Portuguese, Dutch and the British who sapped the island’s people of their unity, strength and resources.

    2) While ancient Sri Lanka had monarchs, they administered the island with Righteousness, and there was a system of administration that the British retained as they considered it to be one of the best encountered in their colonies.

    3) Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy had been a basis on which the governing principles were practised.

    4) There is a current attempt through heavily propagandized external influence to bring disrepute to the Buddhist religion and impose Judeo-Christian values into the Governing principles through NGOs. Much of this influence is through corruption where money is used to buy the necessary power to bring in a secular state in which Buddhism that has held a special place in culture and tradition will no longer be valid.

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