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Why Sri Lanka needs a People’s Council

The legal community, most of them, accepted the Aragalaya and stood by it when the police began the current suppression.


Why does Sri Lanka need a People’s Council (PC)? Isn’t the parliament a PC? This question must be answered first. The answer was given by the Aragalaya (the Sinhalese word for struggle which is used to describe the protest movement). On 9 July, the people by coming to Colombo, proved that their needs, hopes, and future are no more represented in the parliament. The parliament is completely on a different selfish wavelength with its members only talking about themselves, their perks and safety and their ministerial portfolios. The parliament is irrelevant to the people, who need a Council that truly represents them. The Rajapaksa regime was rejected and chased away by the people because of its irrelevancy, corruption, and utter failure to safeguard the country from bankruptcy and total economic collapse. But tragically, the constitution installed again the same regime with a Rajapaksa proxy in Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The people have rejected the present government, too. It is irrelevant to them just like the previous one. As a remedy they have decided to form an alternative parliament called the People’s Council or the ‘Mahajana Sabhawa’. This is a temporary measure, till a general election will give the country a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and relevant to the people. People have realised, finally, that in an authentic democracy each and every person in the country is sovereign, independent and free with all power and authority for governance, inalienably residing in each citizen. It is his right as well as his duty. The Aragalaya brought that good news to the people and educated the country. The incompatibility between the parliament and the people seriously began after the 1970s. It ended with the total ruin of the country and bankruptcy. There was corruption to some degree in all the governments before the seventies, but the rot really began to infect the system after the seventies.

The Rajapaksas took corruption to unthinkable heights. The whole system was one big rotten infection stinking to high heavens. That is why the Aragalaya wanted not only to oust the president but change the system. Aragalaya managed to oust the Rajapaksas, but the system remained unchanged. Aragalaya not only will but should continue and seek the system change. And we hope to do it at the next hustings. In the meantime, the vision of the Aragalaya needs to be kept alive with proper organisation and representation. The PC is the outcome, an extension of the Aragalaya. The vision of the Aragalaya was the liberation of this country from the grip of a rotten, violent, corrupt system, created and fully activated by the Rajapaksa family, their crooked cronies, their dishonest judges and their slavish administrative officials. It is the vision of an honest, accountable, transparent and people focused governance. They practiced it at the Galle Face Gotagogama.

At the Galle Face Green race, religion, gender and every dividing opinion and philosophy were discarded. All violence was eschewed. What a happy village GotaGoGama was! It was a village of joy, peace, unity and fraternity. When they found millions of rupees in the presidential mansion, they counted it carefully and handed it over to the police thereby making the GotaGoGama the model for the whole country. The PC is for keeping this vision alive. The Aragalaya challenged the conscience of every person in this country. It is interesting to see the different reactions to it. It certainly was a challenge to the Rajapaksas who could not face it, and quickly retreated. Wickremesinghe, the present president, without a mandate from the people, appointed by 134 MPs, at first praised it promising to give it all support, and when he became President turned against it with vehemence, and began an allout violent suppression of it. For the legislators the Aragalaya was a challenge they did not want and preferred to treat it as no issue.

They preferred their rotten system to an alternative clean and honest system. The legal community, most of them, accepted the Aragalaya and stood by it when the police began the current suppression. Even the judges, to a certain extent, made independent decisions. Most of the leaders of all religions showed their cooperation with their continued presence at the GotaGoGama. Practically, all the other professions were sympathetic to the Aragalaya youth and their demands. The people voted for the Aragalaya with their feet on the 9th of July. Everyone has to take a stand vis- à-vis the Aragalaya. Either you are for it or against it. Because it is a felt need and a national issue you cannot ignore. You have to choose between fraternity and enmity, unity and division, honesty and corruption, common good and self-aggrandizement. The Aragalaya forces you to decide whether you are men or mice. This is the soul and the gist of the message Aragalaya wanted to communicate to the powers that be, and the people at large. The PC will preserve this message and keep the Aragalaya flame burning. The Aragalaya will not and cannot stop. The rotten system will and must be discarded.