Uphill Battles in Sri Lanka: One Year after Gota’s Trapdoor Exit

As we reflect upon the one-year anniversary of the ousting of the sitting President by unarmed protestors, it is evident that political upheaval, economic challenges, and rampant corruption have left the nation grappling with dwindling hope and an exodus of professionals.

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People wait to visit the president's house after demonstrators entered the building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 11, 2022. Photo: REUTERS


Undoubtedly, the initial protests and the determination displayed by those who stood against the government were noteworthy. It was a true people’s uprising, but unfortunately, it was later exploited by opportunistic politicians such as the JVP, pseudo-Marxists, separatist sympathizers, and hypocritical NGOs. Consequently, the entire protest took a violent turn, driven by revenge and reactionary forces, leading to loss of life, injuries, and humiliation. Common sense gave way to raw emotions, and the lack of cohesive political ideologies and strategies allowed a handful of opportunists to hijack the public movement. A year has passed, and while the surface may seem calm, the clouds of uncertainty are gathering once again. The island’s economic sovereignty has been crippled and is now being manipulated by external forces, while a select few families seek to regain control of the centre.

Today, Sri Lanka is commemorating one year since the elected President’s unexpected departure, exiting through the trapdoor, and the subsequent ascension of the national list Member of Parliament, who was initially appointed as the Prime Minister and later assumed the role of President. The protests that once occupied and inflicted damage on various public properties have ceased, and the extensive queues for fuel, gas, and power outages that compelled people to leave their homes are no longer visible in the city. While we can acknowledge some level of “improvement,” the current leader has demonstrated adeptness in crisis management.

However, some of his close associates continue to demonstrate that their intention is not to govern the country but to plunder it as much as possible. A member of parliament who was recently caught in a gold smuggling case was reportedly rescued by a close associate of the President, according to the media. Unfortunately, neither the alleged robber nor the “short-sized” politician, who was vehemently rejected by the ordinary folks in the election, are facing any consequences. Justice seems to be buried in their courtyards. This is a dire situation! If the President truly wants to change the country for the better, he must get rid of these thieves without giving them an opportunity to collect funds for future elections.

As a country, we are facing a grim reality. Professionals are leaving the nation day by day, and the country is losing its expertise. Neither the political leadership nor any social movements have formulated any plans to retain industrial experts or encourage them to return after a certain period. From universities to public hospitals, Sri Lanka is facing an unimaginable crisis due to shortages of required professionals, with many positions being filled with politically appointed individuals. In a recent editorial in one of the weekly newspapers in Colombo, it was noted that, according to data maintained by the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB), 122,000 Sri Lankans left the country for work in 2021. This number increased to 311,000 last year. In the first five months of 2023, the same number of foreign job seekers (122,000) as in the entire year of 2021, had already left. Officials admit that these figures may be understating the reality, as many people leaving for jobs in the Middle East and other parts of Asia do so on tourist visas and are not registered with the SLFEB. The loss includes skilled workers and professionals. Do you require any further details to comprehend the plight faced by this nation today?

It has been a year since the individual, who placed more trust in a lady soothsayer than in his own principles and rationality, made an abrupt exit through the trapdoor. However, there are still numerous areas that require collective attention, free from the taint of dirty politics that jeopardizes the lives of ordinary citizens and the nation. Our local and foreign debt has surpassed 81 billion US dollars, posing a profoundly significant challenge that cannot be resolved through divine intervention or miraculous solutions. Do you still believe that those hollow men in Parliament will be the saviours of this nation? We find ourselves in a state of limbo, with a misguided group of individuals who are detached from reality, exploiting social unrest to further their own self-serving ambitions while determining the fate of the country. These individuals demonstrate a complete absence of shame or conscience. Simultaneously, we, the people, lack the courage to stand up, instead being driven by irrational and uncontrollable emotions that consistently undermine common sense.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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