Asia’s Oldest Democracy On The Brink

Sri Lanka is at peace and in trouble

On October 26th there was no vote, no election and no meeting of Parliament. The Sri Lankan President just decided to change the government overnight. And to what? This is what these greedy cretins would replace our constitutional democracy with:

Konstitution Of A Kleptocracy:

  1. The President can appoint any Prime Minister they like.
  2. That Prime Minister can take over the government before any vote in Parliament or vote by the people.
  3. That PM can use government resources (ie Ministries) to bribe MPs to betray their voters. Or just bribe them — foreign funds welcome.
  4. The state media, budget, and armed forces can be used to lie to, bribe or beat the people, apply as needed.

Seriously, for all the legal minutiae that Rajapaksa (the faux PM) supporters like to quote, these are their actions. This is the system of government they would give us. A Kleptocracy. A Republic of Thieves, propped up by the corrupt, trampling on the many.

The scary thing is that it might work. The Crime Minister has taken over most of the government and appointed a Crony Cabinet. He has enticed or bought over MPs with Ministries and/or cash. And the President keeps lying and delaying a meeting of Parliament to buy them more time to bribe and corrupt. They are literally strangling democracy before our eyes.

We have to stop them. Because our democracy is something precious.

Sri Lankans had universal franchise before the west. Our democracy survived multiple assassinations, two insurrections and a civil war. My grandfather walked to vote when people were threatening to cut off his hands. That we should lose it now, in the middle of peace and prosperity is maddening. We are better than this. But we have to wake up.

Right now Sri Lanka is occupied by an illegitimate government that no one voted for and that has no support in Parliament. Forget the legal, bureaucratic smokescreen — did you vote for this Prime Minister? Did your representative. If the answer is no then this government is not legitimate.

We have an illegitimate government right now and we have to stop it before this becomes the way we live. The President who we explicitly hired to protect our democracy is corrupting it, and we the people have to step out of our comfort zone and do something. Our media isn’t and the only bulwark against the collapse of Parliament is the integrity of our politicians which is, you know, terrifying.

This is a dark time for Sri Lanka and your children will ask where you were. There are still people protesting every day from 4:30 to 6:30 at the Liberty Roundabout. I’ll be there. I hope you’ll be there too.

This is not about who you support. This is about who we are, as Sri Lankans. Are we a democracy determined by votes and representation, or are we a kleptocracy, governed by bribery and theft?

I’ll give you the answer, because it’s obvious and it’s old. We’re a democracy and have been since the rest of the modern world was in short pants. Sri Lanka is Asia’s oldest democracy. Let us not be the shortest-lived.

Indi Samarajiva is a writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sign up for my newsletter at www.indi.ca, and you can reach me at indi@indi.ca.

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