Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

What is the Samagi Balawegaya

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

For the past few weeks I have been asking people to join the Samagi Youth Corp, and rightly so many of them have asked me what exactly is the Samagi and what are the goals of the Samagi Youth.

I am taking this time to write a brief summary of what the Samagi is and how the youth corp will operate.

The Samagi Balawegaya (Force for Unity) is a coalition of civil society activists, trade unions, media groups, politicians and individuals who are concerned about and are dedicated to working towards a sustainable and all-inclusive future for Sri Lanka. The Samagi as a whole has agreed upon the ten principles detailed below: 


Abolishing Executive Presidency 


Strengthening of Good Governance by re-installing the 17th Amendment to the constitution and removal of the obstructionist clauses under 18th Amendment


Affirming a united Sri Lankan identity by conserving the rights of every ethnic group in Sri Lanka’s diversity.


Strengthening of Parliamentary democracy by repealing “Manaapaya” system


Right to Information and Freedom Expression and Freedom


Re-affirming Rule of Law and Independence of Judiciary


Controlling Cost of Living and Implementing anti-corruption laws


Preservation and Strengthening of Universal Education and Healthcare benefits


Reducing the poverty and implementing a truly people-centric development plan for the country


Implementation of LLRC Recommendations

These ten principles will form the backbone of the Samagi as we continue to push the current government towards the change that the people of Sri Lanka are asking for.

What is the Samagi Youth Corp?

The Samagi Youth Corp is an arm of the Samagi that will work alongside the youth of this country who are committed to ensuring a future that we all agree upon. The main aim of the Youth corp is to demand from the government the necessary assistance in helping them build a future that is not only prosperous but also sustainable. 

Politics and politicians have, for too long, been allowed to sneak past the voters with the outdated populist methods. As the youth it is now our turn to take a step forward and start asking the hard questions and once again force the politicians to return to the role of being the representatives of the people. 

Asking the questions alone will not be enough, the Samagi youth will take upon itself the lead role. As we expand through the provinces, the corp will form a consensus among their peers over issues that our generation will be forced to inherit. The tough questions must be asked both of ourselves and the government. The traditional image of the role of the youth in society must be re-evaluated. 

While the demands are made of the government, we the youth must be prepared to work towards achieving the future that we want. 

The Samagi Youth Corp is throwing out an open invitation to all those who are interested to join up.


Political Dynasties

“Political Dynasties”, a term that is as old as politics. For the ancient civilisations their rulers were concerned with maintaining their legacy, the crown would be passed from parent to child to ensure the family name continues on down the ages.

In today’s political spectrum the idea of dynasties is not too far away (especially in Asia). Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh all pay homage to the idea of a political heritage being carried forward through their leaders. For me, the question that comes to mind is why do we (the voters) continue to decide who will lead us depending on their last name?

In Sri Lanka if you belong to the Wijewardena or the Bandaranaike family you are immediately accepted into the inner politics of the country, whether you take off from there is dependent on your actions but certainly the name will give you that stepping stone. Similarly in India the Nehru-Gandhi family name continues to rule the country, despite its people (and much of the rest of the world) claiming that they are the world’s largest democracy. The Bhutto’s in Pakistan have played prominent roles in shaping their political culture, while in Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina comes from a family of political leaders.

When the Western World talk’s about “Political Dynasties” they refer to them as “misappropriation of power”, an example being the Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il and now Kim Jong-Un succession of power in North Korea. However, for America a family succession in politics is no alien idea with the Kennedy’s and Bush’s being examples (and to a lesser extent the Clintons).

So now that we have determined that “Political Dynasties” are no regional phenomenon, we can look at answering why they are so prevalent around the world. When Sri Lanka achieved independence in 1948 the voters connected this feat to D.S. Senanayake (our first Prime Minister). So naturally, when his son came into politics the people flocked to his side, expecting him to carry out the same work his father did (whether or not he did I will leave up to you to decide). From that point onwards the country was open to the idea of politics being carried forward by the family name.

S.W.R.D Bandaranaike started yet another political legacy in the country when his wife, daughter and son all took to politics (like him both his wife and daughter went on to lead the country). Similarly, as the Senanayake’s before him, his contribution to politics in the founding of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party gave himself a legacy that the people wanted to see continued through his family.

Similar such stories can be shared with the rest of the political families seen throughout the world, but the real reason that these dynasties continue (as I see it) is that the voters hold strong to the notion of not letting the past go. The success of the initial politician has always led to their family continuing on with automatic support of the people. Perhaps the voters feel that their descendants can continue the work they started, or perhaps it is simply a yearning to return to what their parents (or husbands) had done in the past.

A friend told me that this is not so in the UK, their political circles do not see such a trend. I disagree with this remark. In the UK, unlike many other nations, they have retained their monarchy. With this age old tradition of family succession already in place, the people’s yearning to cling on to the idea of “passing the torch down the line” has not been transferred to their politics. The Royal Family may not hold any political power of note, but they are in a public enough position to satisfy this quota.

“Political Dynasties” are, to me at least, not Democracy’s finest moments. The voters choose with their heart rather than mind. While prevalent in Asia it has certainly not died out elsewhere in the world. Whether it will in the future remains to be seen.

I have certainly rambled on in this post, but after discussing this topic till 5 am on a Saturday morning with friends I felt like an outside perspective was needed.