18th Amendment, Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

What are we waiting for?

There is no doubt that the proposed constitutional amendment is merely a means of consolidating the dynastic ambitions of the Rajapakses. And clearly, the largest opposition, the UNP is quietly imploding and incapable of fulfilling its responsibilities and it is futile to hope that the amendment will be defeated in parliament. At this moment, probably the most crucial moment in Sri Lanka’s contemporary history, the Leader of the Opposition is out of the country on a ‘private visit’! This surely underscores his utter lack of concern for the good of this country, his political ineptitude and his callousness. Certainly, we cannot look to him for inspiration. Mahinda Rajapakse could not have asked for a better Leader of the Opposition. And Rauf Hakeem’s pathetic defence of his capitulation, that he was facing ‘reality’ and taking a ‘pragmatic political decision’ seems to reflect the views of the majority of politicians in this country who have defended this amendment or worse still stayed silent.

If we do not express our collective anger at this moment, then we have no right to criticise or condemn any action the Rajapakse government takes in the future. If we are silent on this occasion, then all our analysis, discussions, debates and pontifications mean nothing. This is not the time to prevaricate or to look for perfect solutions; we must show our opposition to this most outrageous of moves by the Rajapakse dynasty.

The only public demonstration against the amendments are being organised by the JVP and six petitioners are challenging the amendment in courts. All these efforts need our support urgently. It may not reverse the progress of the Rajapakse juggernaut at this moment – but it is imperative that both the Rajapakse dynasty and the unprincipled politicians supporting it (including those who refuse to air their opinions) realise at the very least that the citizens of this country are not totally apathetic.

You may have never participated in a demonstration before; you may have never publicly protested before; you may have political and personal grievances against those who are leading the protests on the proposed amendment: but if you have felt any concern about the directions in which our country is being dragged by the Rajapakses; if you have felt an iota of doubt about the state of democracy in this country; if you feel and fear the levels of oppression and lack of rule of law in our society – you have to make your voice heard now. It doesn’t matter if it comes to nothing. This is not the moment to hesitate. If you fail to do so, future generations who may have to pay with their blood, to fight for what you refused to fight for today, will never forgive you.