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President: After you chase us away, why elect us again?

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People: After we chase you away, why come again as candidates?

by Rajan Philips

We are into political education by way of presidential questions and answers. The President is asking the questions and the rest of us are free to provide answers as commoner than commonest of people. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa doesn’t see the point in people re-electing the same politicians whom they have defeated before. He is, therefore, according to a Daily Mirror headline news story, urging voters “to look for new people without electing the same set of people.” He is asking the people not to elect the current opposition parties to be government again because they were a failure in office and were defeated in the elections. He goes further, “Even if myself or the ministers in my government don’t meet your expectations, don’t elect the same set of people. Look for new people. This system has to change.” Then some candour, “I don’t know how it could be done but that is the reality.” And finally, the punchline, “Once you chase us away, again you elect us. What’s the point in that ?”

In an interesting coincidence, President Rajapaksa’s quondam military colleague and current MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka also made an observation last week that “people do not see the SJB as a party which is capable of running a government though they have got fed up with the present government,” and that “around 50 percent of those who supported and voted for SLPP are frustrated today.” Two contrasting political observations from two former military men. The President makes no mention of the dejection in the SLPP ranks, but is asking the voters to “look for new people if they have grown disenchanted with him. The Field Marshal, on the other hand, is not asking the voters to “look for new people,” but he is telling the SJB and Sajith Premadasa that they have to “woo the dejected SLPP members at the grass roots level,” to reinforce the SJB as an alternative contender.

The short answer to the President’s questions is that defeated politicians are not going away after they are defeated. They keep returning. They nominate themselves to be candidates again and the people are presented with the same poor choices. The fault is not with the people, Mr. President, but with the entrenched political system – politicians, political parties and the process of nominating candidates from the topmost presidential slot to the lowliest Pradeshiya Sabha membership. The President should redirect the question to his own party, the SLPP, even though he is still not a member of that party or any party. And he should redirect it to his own family, and ask, “Once the people have chased us away, why are we standing for re-election? “I don’t know how it could be done but that is the reality,” the President acknowledged.

How it can be done

It is not at all difficult to know how it can be done. Just tell his extended family that they have been in politics for over 50 years and in power for over 15 years. It is time to stand down and make way for “new people”. So, don’t contest the next set of elections – from the local government to the president of the Republic. With this simple instruction, the President could change the whole system, and the reality, in one stroke. Once the Rajapaksas voluntarily stand down, Ranil Wickremesinghe and his entourage, and everyone else who have overstayed their welcome span in politics, will have no excuse but to follow suit. Sri Lanka would have been transformed. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be hailed as a hero and revered in retirement. Whether the retirement is going to be in Colombo or California, it will make no difference.

There are other more structural (if he wouldn’t mind the jargon) ways of doing it. The simplest would be to bar all elected officials from running for a third consecutive term. So, every elected official can serve two consecutive terms and will have to take a break in the next election, but will not be prevented from running again after the break. That will replenish all elected offices every two years, without preventing experienced politicians returning to service after a break.

He could quite immediately put an end to defeated candidates entering parliament abusing the National List system. He could sponsor and implement new rules for National List nominations: make defeated candidates ineligible for National List placements; set firm candidate criteria for National List nominations – say 60% to be female nominees, and requirements for socially, territorially and professionally diverse representation. As well no individual should be eligible to serve more than two terms in total as a National List MP.

Here are questions that the people may want to ask the President. Will he provide for such term limits and criteria for nominating candidates in the new Constitution? Will he facilitate legislation to make the candidate nomination process in all political parties to be open, transparent and include objectively-positive criteria for nomination as candidates? Will these changes be considered in the working of the OCOL (One Country, One Law) Task Force under the leadership of one of Sri Lanka’s most erudite forensic minds? There’s more. What is the point in presidents pardoning criminals, convicted by courts? What is the point in appointing people put away by the courts as Chairmen of statutory bodies and task forces? What is the point, if any, in the Attorney General pre-emptively protecting people who might be put away by courts, by withdrawing indictments?

The President seems to have given up on the highly touted ‘Gama samaga Pilisandara’ (Conversation with the Village) approach and is now making statements and firing questions from public forums. He is addressing the people of Sri Lanka even from far flung forums – at the UN (New York) and at COP26 (Glasgow). In Glasgow, President Rajapaksa tried to show off as his government’s achievements what are in fact controversial actions on the environmental front. Whoever who is advising the President made him miss an opportunity to join forces with Sri Lanka’s South Asian neighbours like Bangladesh, Maldives and Pakistan to push for global support for economically challenged countries undertaking adaptation measures against immediate effects of climate change – unseasonal and heavy rains, floods, drought, heat, wildfires and rising sea level.

Instead, the President took to boasting that his “Government took firm steps to reduce imports of chemical fertilizer, and strongly encourage organic agriculture.” Then he underwhelmed: “Although this action has been broadly appreciated, it has also met with some criticism and resistance. In addition to chemical fertilizer lobby groups, this resistance has come from farmers who have grown accustomed to overusing fertilizer as an easy means of increasing yields. This is particularly unfortunate considering Sri Lanka’s rich agricultural heritage.” This is quite a characterization of the plight of the country’s farmers devastated by the government’s most ill-advised and sudden switch to organic agriculture. Not to mention the soaring food prices and the scare food scarcity. As for Sri Lanka’s rich agricultural heritage, it is useful to keep in mind ancient agricultural heritage cannot feed the 21st century population of even tens of millions in small countries like Sri Lanka.

Parliament & Courts to the rescue

We have no way of knowing what prompted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to shift gears from Gama samaga Pilisandara to the Socratic method of posing probing questions. But it is not difficult to see that the next national elections are already on his mind. He is getting resigned to the possibility that the next one will not be as smooth as the last one. It could be worse. People may not like him and his ministers. He seems equanimous about not being elected. But he is more concerned that people should not elect the opposition parties to be elected to form the next government. He is asking the voters, “look for new people.” ‘New’ as in anyone who is not at all associated with the present government and the last government. Does that mean the Rajapaksa scions are ruled out? That will be really going new.

It tells you something that someone like President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, with no previous background in politics, should be thinking about the next election which is still more than half the term away. The bigger question for the people now is to how to get through life in the next year or two, and what help can they expect from the government and the President. The President telling the voters to “look for new people,” might suggest that he is subliminally giving up on himself. Where will the people then turn to? In the current system of government, with the country collapsing under weight of presidential failure, the people can as a first resort turn for help to the two branches of state, namely, the legislature and the courts. Put another way, it is up to these two branches of the state to rescue the nation. But are they up to it?

In the last few months, the courts have become the last bastion of sanity. Hopefully, they would stay that way for ever and ever. However, while courts can be bold and valiant, they can only step in to reverse bad decisions of the government often after the fact and after much damage has been done. They cannot pro-actively direct a government on matters of policy and execution. That role falls on the shoulders of parliament that includes all of cabinet except its head. The question for parliament, and all its MPS, is whether over the next three years the current parliament can stop being a rubber stamp for the executive. Not so much as a counter to the executive branch, but to contain its excesses and guide its actions. It is a tall ask of the current parliament. But the alternatives to the country are grimmer and worse.

To be clear, parliament cannot perform this containment role with its traditional government/opposition divide. And this divide has not been bridged in any meaningful way even after 40 years of executive presidency. Parliament has not evolved to be compatible with the presidential system in the manner of the US Congress and its system of Committees. That such an evolution would take place in Sri Lanka was certainly the ‘technical’ expectation of President Jayewardene, the architect of the presidential parliamentary system. We learn that from AJ Wilson’s monograph on Sri Lanka’s Gaullist Constitution.

But politically JRJ did everything to scuttle any prospect of a cross-party alliance emerging in parliament to counterbalance the executive presidency. Against his own expectations, the first Executive President began the tradition of subordinating parliament to the executive. He initiated and facilitated the unseemly practice of getting crossovers from opposition to become government ministers. MPs would crossover from the opposition to government to become ministers without losing their opposition party membership (thanks to a misguided Supreme Court ruling in the 20th century). There are no crossovers now mainly because the government has a super majority and doesn’t need any new turncoats.

At the same time, there are ‘eruptions’ within the government and the question is whether there can be alignments between the erupting government MPs and the lackluster opposition MPs on specific issues that are now critical to the country and the people. The idea of alignments on real issues is not to bring down the government as in the old parliamentary system, but to establish a counterbalance to the misfiring executive presidency. In the current situation, the onus might be on those government MPs and Ministers who assembled at Solis Hall as People’s Council, to establish a parliamentary council with cross-party participation and assert the constitutional right of the legislature to counterbalance the executive. As I said, it is a tall ask. The alternatives are worse.



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Decolonising education and critical thinking

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IN BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASKS (1952), FRANTZ FANON, the political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique, showed the importance of native language for the colonised to gain independence, decolonise knowledge and come out of their subordination.

By Darshi Thoradeniya

I would like to throw out some ideas on the importance of critical thinking in higher education especially in relation to history teaching by expanding the profound thoughts on decolonising education, expressed by Harshana Rambukwella, earlier in this column.

Just as educational institutions served to colonise subjects in colonial settings, the decolonising project also started through education. In the discipline of history, for instance, we constantly attempt to decolonise knowledge that has been created about the past and create new knowledge about the past through critical inquiry. In other words, critical inquiry is the tool that is used to decolonise knowledge. Thus, these two elements – decolonising knowledge and critical thinking – need to be linked in our discussions of higher education in post-colonial settings like Sri Lanka.

As Louis Althusser (1918-1990) argued, educational institutions are ideological state apparatuses used to promote and reinforce the ideology of the dominant classes. Through the national curriculum, government and private schools, in Sri Lanka, carry out this task meticulously. However, universities do not have a national curriculum; instead they have a subject benchmark statement that needs to be conceded to. Humanities and social sciences curricula are designed to generate critical engagement with key concepts, theories, texts and events. Thus, the school curriculum is unlearnt and critical thinking learnt at the university.

Critical thinking can take different forms according to the field of inquiry, but being able to question existing taken for granted knowledge is a crucial aspect of critical thinking. It is when knowledge is problematised by asking questions, such as who produced the knowledge, for whom it was produced, and by analyzing what sources were drawn upon to create the knowledge, do we become aware of the colonial mindset that we have developed and nurtured over the years through the school curriculum.

This is best illustrated through the way we teach and learn history in schools and perhaps even in some universities. Within the school curriculum, history is taught with an overwhelming emphasis on Sinhala Buddhist culture as if it is a pure, untainted culture sustained over 2500 years. This ideology is put forward mainly through uncritical engagement with sources. Mahawamsa (the great chronicle) is a key primary source that has shaped the history of Sri Lanka. At school level, we are not taught to question the intentions of the author, the sources analysed nor the audience for which the Mahawamsa was written. Sinhalese Buddhist culture became the dominant ideology with the involvement of colonial administrators, such as Alexander Johnston – the Chief Justice of Ceylon from 1811 to 1819 – who played an influential role in the translation of the Mahawamsa to English in the early 1800s. By neglecting these questions, we overlook the fact that this island has been situated in the trade route between the West and the East since the 12th century, and the possibilities of other narratives of ethnicity that could emerge by virtue of its location. Such possibilities are unfortunately not explored in schools because of lacking critical engagement on the historiography of Sri Lanka.

History writing in the colonies was essentially a production of colonial masters, hence a production of colonial knowledge. These histories were written by European travellers, missionaries, officials and administrators of trading companies, such as the Dutch East India Company or the British East India Company. Renowned Indian historian Romila Thapar charts how 19th century utilitarian and nationalist ideas in Europe influenced the Scottish economist and political theorist James Mill making him interpret Indian civilisation as static, leading him to divide Indian history into three sections – Hindu civilisation, Muslim civilisation and the British period – in his work History of British India (1817). The static character of Indian society with its despotic rulers became accepted as “truth” in Indian history as British colonial administrators were mandated to read the text before taking up duties in colonial India. The idea of oriental despotism would also justify the introduction of the British legal and administrative system to India. This colonial historiography remained unchallenged until decolonisation of knowledge took place in mid-20th century India.

When looking at the historiography of Ceylon, we can see many parallels with Indian historiography. Colonial administrators, such as Emerson Tennant and Codrington wrote a somewhat linear, continuous history of Ceylon emphasizing a Sinhalese Buddhist narrative centered on the kingdoms of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Kurunegala, Gampola and Kotte. By the 1970s, a group of Marxist historians started applying critical inquiry to the discipline of history and actively decolonising historical knowledge.

In Black Skin, White Masks (1952), Frantz Fanon, the political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique, showed the importance of native language for the colonised to gain independence, decolonise knowledge and come out of their subordination. He believed that human imagination could only be truly expressed through native language and could never be accomplished through the language of the colonial master. Taking this language argument further, Palestinian American public intellectual Edward Said showed in his seminal work Orientalism (1978), how Eurocentric prejudices shaped peoples’ imagination of the Orient (i.e., the Middle East and Asia) as barbaric, backward and traditional, and how such understandings were ultimately bestowed the status of scientific knowledge.

Similar decolonising experiences and projects can be traced in Latin American and African settings. Latin American cultural anthropologist Walter Mignolo believes that formal educational institutions established by the colonisers must be dismantled in order to decolonise the mindset of the people. Otherwise, people’s imaginations are trapped within the knowledge that is produced by these institutions. If people are to freely imagine and experience epistemic knowledge, they should be free from formal boundaries.

The faculties of humanities and social sciences in state universities have a gigantic task in hand. How should we further the project of decolonisation? A first step might be to start teaching Sinhala, Tamil and English languages to all humanities and social sciences undergraduates to facilitate understanding the indigenous cultures in which a specific knowledge is produced. At present, history writing mainly takes place within bilingual settings, and very rarely in trilingual settings, because very few historians are trilingual in Sri Lanka. The inability to comprehend the third language (i.e., Sinhala or Tamil) limits the historian from understanding the mentality of the so called ‘other’.

If we do not know the ‘other’ colonial subject, how are we to write a history of Sri Lanka? Not knowing the other’s language means we can only produce knowledge about one particular segment of society. Historians conversant in Sinhala and English end up servicing the hegemonic discourse (i.e., Sinhala Buddhist ideology), while historians conversant in Tamil and English end up creating an alternative narrative that is very unlikely to reach main stream historiography. There lies a fundamental problem that we need to address in decolonising university education. One suggestion in this regard would be to initiate exchange programmes between departments of national universities so that undergraduates as well as staff will be able to engage with the decolonising project in a holistic manner.

(Darshi Thoradeniya is a Senior Lecturer attached to the Department of History at the University of Colombo.)

Kuppi is a politics and pedagogy happening on the margins of the lecture hall that parodies, subverts, and simultaneously reaffirms social hierarchies.

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Australian antics and Djokovic’s disgrace!

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By Dr Upul Wijayawardhana

It was a drama like no other! It is rarely that one and all involved in a saga ends up being a loser and that is exactly what happened with the ‘Australian Open’ fiasco. Novak Djokovic, his family, Tennis Australia, The Government of Victoria, Federal Government of Australia, the Serbian President and even the media have exposed chinks in their armour! Perhaps, the only people delighted would be our politicians who could now claim, justifiably, that incompetence is a trait shared by their ilk in the developing world, too!

Many, especially youngsters, would look up to sports stars for inspiration. Though many sports are no longer what they used to be, having undergone an unholy metamorphosis to be businesses, still a greater degree of honesty is expected of sports stars than from politicians. After all, sportsmanship is a term often used to express fair and generous behaviour. Considering all this, perhaps, the bulk of the blame should go to Novak Djokovic, the number one male tennis player who could have created history, had he won the Australian Open by being the Male Tennis player with the most ‘Grand Slams’. Perhaps, in his overenthusiasm to achieve this, he attempted to find ways to compete without being vaccinated for Covid. But it failed, and the 11-day drama was finally over when he was deported on Sunday evening.

In a way, it is very unfortunate that Djokovic had to make that sacrifice for the sake of a strong-held belief of his. Though he has not been directly involved in any anti-vaccination campaigns, his refusal to have the Covid-19 vaccine had been made use of by anti-vaxxers on social media. At the very beginning of the epidemic, he got into trouble by organising a tournament in Serbia, where a number of players, including himself, got infected. Though there were rumours that he was not taking vaccines due to medical contraindications, it is very likely the actual reason is his going by the opinion expressed by some specialists that infection gives better immunity than vaccination.

Though Djokovic’s vaccination status had been shrouded in secrecy for a long time, what transpired during this fiasco confirmed that he was not vaccinated and that there were no medical contraindications for vaccination. Whatever your beliefs or however important you are, one is still bound by rules and regulations. Australia is among the countries that imposed the strictest controls during the pandemic. In fact, many Australian citizens were stuck in many countries unable to return home, some for over a year. Even now, only dual vaccinated are allowed entry. If Djokovic had wished to stick to his principles, he should have done the honourable thing by staying out of the tournament, which is what some other players did.

It is surprising that Djokovic was given a medical exemption to enter Australia by two different independent health panels––one commissioned by Tennis Australia, the other by the state government of Victoria––after testing positive for coronavirus in mid-December, given that the rules are otherwise. Perhaps, they were more concerned about the success of the Australian Open tournament and were willing to bend rules! It is even more surprising that the Federal Government did not question this as immigration is not a function devolved to state governments. The moment Djokovic announced on Twitter that he would be attending, there was a hostile public reaction which may be the reason why Djokovic was detained on arrival but what followed could easily have been avoided had the Immigration Minister taken pre-emptive action. Whether the state government and the federal government being run by two different parties had any bearing on these actions is a moot point.

Djokovic made a false declaration that he had not been to any other country recently in spite of clear evidence to the contrary but later blamed his team for making the error. Surely, he should know that the responsibility is his, once he signs any form! When he had the infection in mid-December, rather than isolating himself, which even anti-vaxxers would do, he attended a number of indoor public events. And his explanation; he did not want to inconvenience the French TV team there to interview him. Serbian President overlooked all this, to blame Australia!

The state judge reversed his visa cancellation citing procedural issues. A BBC report exaggerated this by stating that the judge had allowed him to play in the Australian Open! Although the Immigration Minister could have taken immediate action, he chose not to do so, taking a number of days to cancel the visa on ‘Health and good order grounds. To hear Djokovic’s appeal the federal high court sat on a Sunday, just like our courts being kept open to grant bail to MPs! The three judges unanimously rejected his appeal, the Chief Justice stating that the court ruling was based on the legality of the Minister’s decision, not on whether it was the right decision to make. Interestingly, BBC implied that Djokovic’s efforts would reach fruition!

Perhaps, the federal government was forced to act by the injudicious press conference held, after the success of the first appeal, by Djokovic’s family in Belgrade, wherein they attempted to portray him as a poster-boy for choice. It had a disastrous ending by the family terminating the press conference when journalists questioned why Djokovic had attended functions soon after testing positive! After the deportation, Djokovic’s father has called it an assassination, of all things, failing to realise that he was hampering the chances of reversal of the three-year entry ban to Australia, Djokovic was facing! Serbian political leaders hitting out hard, calling it scandalous treatment was not very diplomatic, and did not help Djokovic.

The lesson we can learn, except that politicians play politics wherever they are, is that federated states have their own problems, as illustrated by this sad, winnerless episode.

There were varying shades of reactions to this saga. Perhaps, the words of wisdom came from Rafael Nada, who said, “He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences”

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Historic task—a non-racist and human security ideology

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By Jehan Perera

The media has reported that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be announcing a new policy on national reconciliation in his address to Parliament at this inaugural session following prorogation last month. Apart from bringing peace of mind and comfort to those bereaved by the three decades long war, the central issue of national reconciliation is to find an equitable solution to the ethnic and religious conflicts that have plagued the country since the dawn of independence more than seven decades ago.   The focus now needs to be on the development of the country and its economy rather than to support any parochial or ethnic cause and continue with the divisive politics of the past. It is only by this that the country can get back on its feet, and as many countries which had done so following traumatic events.  President Rajapaksa was elected by a large majority with this hope in mind.

Indeed, it is unlikely that any other President could have faced the multiple crises the present government has got the country into and remained with its 2/3 majority intact, as it has done so far.  The recent announcement of the SLFP, headed by former President Maithripala Sirisena, that it would remain within the government alliance, while criticising it from within, is an indicator of the government’s stability.  This follows the similar declaration by the three leading cabinet ministers from the 11 party alliance of small parties within the government, who have filed cases in the courts against the government.  They too have said they would remain within the government and continue to challenge its decisions that they deem to be incorrect.

There are two key reasons why the government has a measure of stability despite the deteriorating economic situation that is impacting severely on the wellbeing of the majority of people.  The first is the pragmatic calculation of the government leadership that it is better to have its critics within the government than out of it.  It seemed possible that the sacking of Minister Susil Premjayantha for being overly critical of the government would be the start of a purge of internal critics of the government that could cause an unravelling.  But so far it is only Minister Premjayantha, who has had to pay the price for his independence.  This has been explained by the fact that the former minister was a member of the ruling party itself, unlike the other critics who belong to other parties.

SECOND STRENGTH

Due to the multiple perspectives within the government, and which represent the diversity of the government alliance, it has been able to reach out to the widest possible swathe of society.  At the same time, it is able to woo diverse sections of the international community, including the three big international formations that hold the key to the country’s economic progress.  These are China, India and the Western countries. China is continuing to provide economic resources on a large scale along with India.  Both of these big powers seek to improve their position of influence on Sri Lanka and ensure a physical presence in the country which is being granted. Dealing with China has been the easiest, as it only seeks to gain more economic and physical assets within the country to ensure its permanent presence.

Dealing with India and the Western countries is more challenging as they require political concessions as well. In the case of India it is a political solution to the ethnic conflict which involved power-sharing with the minority Tamil community.  In the case of the Western countries it is progress in terms of protecting human rights.  With Sri Lanka being a country of interest to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, this means that its human rights record is scrutinised every three months.  The forthcoming session in late February, which continues through March, will be especially important.  The Sri Lankan government is expected to present a written report on its progress in terms of issues of accountability, truth seeking, reparations and institutional reform.  The response of the majority of countries at the UNHRC can have a significant impact as it would influence the European Union’s pending decision on whether or not to suspend its GSP Plus tariff privilege which is a source of support to the Sri Lankan economy.

In this regard, it will be necessary for the government to rein in its champions of ethnic nationalism and national security that give emphasis to the perspective of the ethnic majority community alone.  This is going to be the great challenge as the second strength of the government is its ideology of ethnic majority nationalism and national security which it invokes at frequent intervals, and especially when it faces challenges.  These help to keep the ethnic majority’s loyalty to the government. But they alienate the minorities and also those sections of the international community who are concerned with human rights. The country remains deeply traumatised by three decades of internal war, in which acts of terrorism could strike anywhere, a separate Tamil state led by the LTTE was a short distance away and the centre itself was at risk of being taken over violently by the JVP.  These crises led to extreme measures that have left indelible scars and memories on the people that are easy to reinvoke.

BOTCHED ATTEMPTS

The botched attempt to explode a bomb in All Saints Church in Colombo and the botched police investigation into it have given the impression of a created event that has been questioned by the Catholic Church.  The bomb discovery, in which the Catholic priests did more to uncover evidence than the police, served to divert attention from the 1,000, day commemoration by the church of the 2019 Easter bombings, which killed over 280 persons, set the stage for conflict between Catholics and Muslims and reinforced the need for national security, and racists, to take the centre stage of national politics. On that occasion, as on this, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, played a crucial role in preventing an escalation of the crisis and in calling for the truth behind the bombings to be known. Like the prophets in the biblical tradition, he is increasingly powerful in speaking truth to the rulers, even truths they do not wish to hear.

Events such as the Easter bombing, and now this latest incident, give the impression of security failure that is detrimental to the country’s internal communal harmony and to the international image of the country as a peaceful and secure one for both investment and tourism. Sri Lanka is yet to emerge from the thrall of nationalist politics, and its falsehoods and violence, where political leaders make deliberate and purposeful use of communal differences to win votes and come to power.  They have succeeded time and again in this dastardly practice, but with it the country has failed to reach its full potential time and again.  The costs have been unbearable, whether in terms of lives lost, properties destroyed and economic growth stymied.  Sri Lanka has one of the largest standing armies in the world, with the number of its military personnel being five times larger than that of Australia, though the populations of both countries are about the same.  This means economic resources being taken away from development purposes.

The historic task for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the government is to make a shift away from a mindset that emphasises the interests of the ethnic majority and national security being the preserve of the security forces to a new mindset that includes the ethnic minority and sees human security and wellbeing as the country’s need. The Sri Lankan state needs to consider all its people as citizens with equal rights, and not as ethnic majorities and ethnic minorities to be treated differently.  And it needs to give priority to human security and wellbeing where gas cylinders do not explode and people have food and education at affordable prices. Both religious leaders and political leaders need to come up with an ideology of the wellbeing of all in which solutions that are beneficial to all are found, where basic needs of all are met, and there is no divide and rule, which is a recipe for long term failure.

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