to-add

Is Sri Lanka drowning in responsibility?

Governments of all shades and colours came and went, with lengthy debates and legal challenges on fundamental rights-based issues thrashed out by the Supreme Court judgements on matters ranging from individual rights of citizens to the interpretation of the Constitution. None could deliver on promises to uplift the plight of the people, other than peripheral changes.

by Victor Cherubim

Sri Lanka is where our home lies. Home is where our heart is, is a adage for the many,not the few.

We have had a raw deal in our recent history, with one calamity after another putting our people on the threshold of endurance, if not tolerance. A sequence of events has kept Sri Lanka on the boil.



We had the tsunami on 26 December 2004 with 30,000 confirmed deaths, the 30 years war with over 90,000 killed, ended on 9 March 2009 and with a mountain of accumulated debt on international borrowing for infrastructure projects which were generally considered as misadventure. Then we had the massacre of the innocents on 21 April 2019 on Easter Sunday.Three Churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa and three luxury hotels in the commercial capital,Colombo, were the scene of suicide bombings claimed by jihadist terrorists. 259 people died including at least 45 foreign nationals and three Police officers and at least 500 more injured.

Governments of all shades and colours came and went, with lengthy debates and legal challenges on fundamental rights-based issues thrashed out by the Supreme Court judgements on matters ranging from individual rights of citizens to the interpretation of the Constitution. None could deliver on promises to uplift the plight of the people, other than peripheral changes.

Following the landslide victory of President Gothabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential elections on 17 November 2019, Parliament was dissolved on 2 March 2020 with the 16th Parliamentary elections to be held on 25 April 2020, which was further postponed to 20 June and still further put off till 5 August 2020, due the lockdown of the Corona virus pandemic.

The people of Sri Lanka are eagerly waiting with excitement to exercise their democratic right to elect the legislature as the national budget has not been presented during the past financial year with a Caretaker Government in office.

The power of the franchise

Sri Lanka's ruling Podujana Party on Sunday 12 July 2020 have called off their election rallies and delayed the reopening of the international Bandaranaike Colombo airport over a surge in the Coronavirus cases.

In a multi-ethnic,multi-lingual, and multi-religious society in Sri Lanka, with Buddhism as the foremost religion and Sinhala as the main language, there appear to be several issues at stake at this election,among which constructive power to the people is paramount.

Drowning under the weight of issues

At the recent UN Geneva Conference, Sri Lanka's Representative Dayani Mendis has stated as follows:

"A key challenge for democratic, rules-based societies lies in their ability to strike an equitable balance between competing human rights. Therefore, just as the rights to peaceful assembly and association are vital, it is equally important that they are exercised responsibly, in a manner that does not violate the rights of other persons or groups. It is this key consideration, which, in our view, underpins the restrictions on assembly/association in Articles 21 and 22 of the ICCPR, namely, "in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others". It is this same consideration that forms the basis for limitations to these rights under the Sri Lankan Constitution, including in the interests of ‘racial or religious harmony’ and ‘national economy’, particularly as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious developing nation".

A strong democratic system, not an autocratic system that would deliver a fairer future,peace and prosperity in Sri Lanka is the wish of the majority of the people of the country. Unbridled power of either the Executive, or Parliament or even the Judiciary together with control of bribery and corruption,drug dealing, self censoring of free speech or of the media, legislative interference of the judiciary functions,unfair persecution of minority communities,freedom of religion should never be allowed to rear its head in Sri Lanka.

This is a prerogative to prevent Sri Lanka not only drowning in responsibility, but also in overseas debt in the foreseeable future".

This assurance by the Government has to be taken as a guarantee and be monitored by all at the Parliamentary Election.

Can Sri Lanka be given a life raft?

There is without doubt a lifeline which Sri Lanka already has at the forthcoming Parliamentary election from preventing it drowning. The hope of the people of Sri Lanka is this historic duty to exercise their vote in a manner to keep the long term best interests of the country at heart. This will fundamentally shape our society,our economy, our future and the future of generations to follow, for years to come.

We cannot allow this opportunity to pass by without the exercise of the vote and many, if not all know it. It would be folly on our part to miss is opportunity of a lifetime to give the life-raft that Sri Lanka so urgently needs today.

Post a Comment

0 Comments