Urgent Call to Sri Lanka’s Mainstream Political Parties

Request for immediate publishing of National Socio-economic Recovery Programme of the party for social discourse

2 mins read
Workers work at a construction site in Port City Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 27, 2024. (Xinhua/Xu Qin)

With elections, possibly the Presidential election first, followed by a parliamentary election thereafter, we see mainstream political parties focusing on elections, heavily criticizing previous governments they were also part of at different times in different alliances. It is ironic, therefore, that the whole focus of all Opposition parties is on “corruption and economic crisis” with no mention of their responsibility for any of them. They also have only vague deviations from the IMF Programme pursued by the President Wickramasinghe-led government. Shared perception nevertheless in both the government and the Opposition is that the IMF remains the sole saviour at this moment, while the crisis is not merely economic.

Social implications of the 40-year and more free-market economy that turned “citizens into consumers” in a non-functioning “procedural democracy” have left this society in a complex tragedy. Browsing through police statistical records of the past decade will tell you all shades of crimes are fast increasing in a failing State. From murder, extortions, drug peddling, rape of women, rape of underage girls, sexual exploitations, and physical abuse of children, these crimes have been continuously increasing. Added to this are the number of pending Court cases, counting 1.1 million in 2023, and prisons overcrowding by 232 percent.

Economic crisis apart, there are major issues that need immediate solutions with education, health, public transport, and rural life also demanding serious, far-reaching reforms. We are not aware of what solutions political leaders offer to people who are now tired of listening to criticisms but need solutions to their deep-rooted problems. We need to stress, as political party leaders, you have the responsibility of explaining to the people what your party programme is to qualify to be elected to government.

Your party programme the people need to discuss is certainly not the traditional “election manifesto” all political parties distribute during election time. People need to have a clearly spelt out holistic “national recovery programme” well in advance of elections, for discussion. We insist your party programme should include without ambiguity:

A definition of “national development” and accordingly what your political party means by social development of a nation.

A clear review of the ongoing IMF Programme, and if you intend amending it, your proposed provisions that should be presented at elections for a People’s mandate in their draft form.

With “Independent Commissions” proving wholly incapable of establishing independent State agencies, your programme to make them independent, efficient, and corruption-free State agencies.

Reforms to re-establish the Police Department as a “civil department” totally devoid of any attachments and responsibilities regarding State security.

Your proposals to democratise society in establishing a functional, participatory democracy, including the still denied fundamental rights of nearly 2 million private sector workers though ensured under Article 14.1(d) of the Constitution.

Reforms in educational, health, public commuting, and rural agriculture sectors your party proposes with a futuristic outlook.

Your position on establishing a civil administration in N-E, on land disputes, disarming armed groups, and power devolution for democracy as recommended in the LLRC Final Report.

We believe a programme that covers all the above issues and areas should be published by your party, endorsed by your party-affiliated organisations without waiting for elections to be declared officially. Professional associations, trade unions, agriculture and fisheries sector organisations, civil society, and community organisations need time to discourse on it and make their comments public as to how the programme would serve their needs.

While thanking you in advance, we believe your response would be positive and within two weeks from today, the 24th of June (2024).

Yours sincerely,

Kusal Perera – Political critic & commentator; Hureegama Jayasena; Emeritus Prof. Ajith Abeysekera; Chandrasena Maliyadde – Rtd. Director General Ministry of Policy Planning & Implementation; Asanka Senadeera – Social Activist; Gayani Gomes – Project designer, women’s affairs; Parakrama Niriella – Award-winning director stage drama, telefilms, and cinema; Anton Marcus – FTZ & General Services Employees’ Union Joint Secretary; Manjula Basnayake – Chief news editor of YouTube channel “NewsCentre”; Tilani Mahamalage – Stage actress; Krishanthi Mangalika – FTZ & General Services Employees’ Union President; K.S. Rathnavale – Senior Attorney & Human Rights campaigner; Visakha Tilekeratne – Independent activist; Emeritus Prof. Kamal Bandara

SLG Syndication

SLG Syndication is committed to aggregating excerpts from news published by international news agencies and key insights on contemporary issues published by think tanks. Our aim is to facilitate the expansion of its reach while giving due credit to the original source.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog