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Sri Lanka: Who Can Free Us To Make Our Own Choice?

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By Nilantha Ilangamuwa *

The following article is based on a media interview given by the author recently

Well… Elections are not new for us. In fact most of elections were turned into a type of carnival where supporters of the each parties enjoy their political blindness out of the social disorder which was deliberately created by neo-feudalistic clan in the Island nation. This is an entertaining tragic drama of distorted political culture.

What I find very interesting is that despite holding more elections in Sri Lanka we are losing more space to enjoy basic norms of the democracy. In other words, more elections mean less democracy. Therefore the election has become a tool of the ruler to ensure his power. It is not merely a real exercise of the legitimacy and the desire of the people in this country but rather distorted democracy. Most of the time people who have rights to change the power become rats in a laboratory. But this time, there is a different mood in general.

It is clear the majority of people are asking for a government which can ensure the basic rights of the people. Sri Lanka needs the new political culture which can enable the basic ethics of politics.

What we have very often ignoring here is what has happened to the main opposition in Sri Lankan politics. True, there are many political parties, but the real role of the opposition was played by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) also known as the Tamil Tigers. At least since mid-70S to 2009 the Tigers played the very role of the opposition in this country. But Tamil Tigers were vanquished in 2009 therefore the main frame of the politics has been broken while creating a vacuum. Unfortunately, none of political parties were able to read this correctly for necessary replacement. So the vacuum is still prevailing. This vacuum gifted the President to do his wish list such as 18th amendment to the constitution and further demolish the independence of state institutions.

True, now there is an anger and deep revolt against the President and his art of politics. But, I have certain fear that this golden opportunity to re-engineer the social order and the nation may be lost over the superficial political debate the country is engaged at the moment. Also, the role playing by the neighbourhoods is very important.

After 10 years later, President Rajapaksa is facing the similar kind of deadly problem what the late-LTTE leadership faced decade ago over the LTTE’s eastern commander. However, the crisis facing by the President Rajapaksa is much deeper than the LTTE as an isolated militant group on the ground faced at that time.

The general secretary of the SLFP and a political architect of the winning the war, Maithripala Sirisena have come forward to contest against the President. It was a result of one of smartest political games played in recent years in Sri Lanka by the opposition parties as well as the former President Mrs. Bandaranayake also radical groups in the government. It has thundered not only the President’s politics but also dreams over his kith and kin.

Maithripala who narrowly escaped twice in the LTTE human bombs, is well aware of the political tricks of the President. Therefore the President has entered the real game for the first time in this election after 2005.

Once again there is no surprise here. Those most of politicians who are greedy in power and wealth are facing the same scenario. There is a larger group within the government and most of Sinhalese political parties who strongly believe they must get rid of Rajapaksa by defeating him democratically to secure their own political space. Otherwise not only the country in general but also role of those politicians is in danger.

True. The country has passed five years of ending the long term civil war. This period is more than enough to people to think and support to create the system they want. Most of the people within the so called majority have chance to regain their political liberty. But I’m doubt about the other communities as most of them are still living with old wounds of savage schism.

After decade of time, the public has general acceptance the incumbent president is unable to achieve what the people need. Also his political theme like, “Tamil Diaspora”, “Western Conspiracy”, “Patriotism” and so forth created the laughing factory. In fact, three key players of the government including his two brothers are US citizens. So, he is not capable of making new political themes other than misusing the state resources. The situation in the country is similar to what Marcos faced in the Philippines in his last years.

Meanwhile, the Common Candidate is ready to issue his election manifesto tomorrow (December 19). It has to address not only the crisis we faced but also the solutions to the social disorder. His manifesto may not be the panacea but it should be a new dawn of the political culture in the country. Then the people will decides.

True; most of people are aware, and they do disagree what is going on in this country. But who can free them to make their own choice.

* Nilantha Ilangamuwa edits the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily newspaper, and he also an editor of the Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives, bi-monthly print magazine. He is the author of the just released non-fictions, “Nagna Balaya” (The Naked Power), in Sinhalese and “The Conflation”, in English. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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