Home > Politics > …and so the protests must begin

…and so the protests must begin

The 8th of September 2010 many people are referring to as ‘black Wednesday’ or the day Democracy dies in Sri Lanka. Before I dwell on why people must protest it is worth taking a moment to reflect on what the Democratic system in Sri Lanka means. Due to our colonial past Sri Lanka, from 1833 to the present day, has experienced numerous governmental and administrative reforms. From a 49 member legislative council back in 1833 we have grown to a 225 member parliament. Yet somewhere in those 177 years the idea of Democracy has been lost on both the public and politicians.

With 225 members of Parliament voted in every 6 years the question arises as to what is the duty of a member of parliament? The member of parliament is looked to represent the interests of the district he or she has been voted in from. Yet it is appearing more and more clearer that this is not how the MPs of Sri Lanka operate any more. In place of attending to the interests of their electorate the parliamentarians are now looking to do all that will ensure they can remain in power. The opposition party has lost steady ground in the political scene in Sri Lanka and sadly that can now be seen with the numerous members supporting the controversial 18th amendment and by doing so going against the wishes of the electoral that voted them in.

What does the opposition MPs supporting the 18th amendment mean for the people of Sri Lanka? For over 10months the supporters of the opposition have strived to bring their party back to power in hope that they would see a change at the top. They opposed the methods and plans that the government had, yet this does not necessarily mean that they supported the opposition. I should re address them not as supporters of the opposition but rather opposition to the government. This is not the way politics should be conducted in any country. A political party cannot be voted in on the back of opposition rather than support, if this was to happen then the voters would be faced with a situation which the people of Sri Lanka are faced with now. When the 18th amendment was put forward and the parties prepared themselves to vote on it the opposition amongst the populace grew. However almost in contrast to the growing voice of opposition from the public the politicians began to fall in line with supporting the amendment. Was this is a result of gross negligence on the part of the politician in listening to his electorate or was it the mistake of the people themselves? Looking at it in relations to the past few months it would seem that this is more the result of the voters failing to demand enough from their MPs.

When the Presidential and government elections took place at the beginning of the year many voters who opposed the incumbent president and ruling government took to throw their support behind the opposition. In return the opposition threw up candidates who should never have been there in the first place. Instead of the voters making it known that this was an insult to them they blindly voted for these people. They failed to stop and question why they should be given the vote, or what they would do once voted in. Because of this lack of examination of the candidates we are now faced with the situation of having to watch those that we voted in do the opposite of what have wanted from them.

Today the JVP took the streets and marched to Parliament, they took the support that government has claimed to have and thrown it right back at them. The question now arises is this the time to look to politicians or is it finally the time for the people to take to the streets and show that they have had enough of the politicians ignoring them. On several occasions I received text messages asking me to attend a ‘candlelit vigil’ on the 8th in the evening. I vented my frustration at this claiming that this was not the way a protest should be carried out. I still stand firmly opposing believing that a more pro-active effort must be pursued. Yet a friend pointed out that it is not up to me to drag down someone else’s efforts when they too are looking to draw attention to the same issues that we all oppose. I will not personally support a vigil as I feel there is far more pro-active methods of protesting yet I have now come to realise not everyone is capable of the same thing.

Yet regardless of the manner of protest it is now the time that the people really take to the streets and show their displeasure not just at the ruling party but also at the MPs that they voted in to carry forth their views.

Will these be the scenes in Sri Lanka soon?

Is this what is needed?

Categories: Politics
  1. Prashanth
    September 9, 2010 at 3:15 am

    While I agree that the people must take a stand. Violence always begets violence. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. Non-violent protest worked for Martin Luther King, it worked for Gandhi, it can work for Sri Lanka. Frustration at injustice must never turn into bitterness, hatred or anger – lest we become what we protest against.

    • September 9, 2010 at 3:22 am

      Taking to the street and protesting in a more active manner would not be considered violent. Unfortunately in today’s Colombo society standing on the sidewalk holding a candle has lost any meaning. Those who do often go for that hour and it turns into a social gathering. I was just urging people that they must take a more pro-active approach the JVP led a march of thousands to the parliament they were peaceful but at the same time forceful

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