Home Contact Us  

Sri Lanka - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4871, 10 May 2015

Dateline Colombo

Finding a Path to True Democracy in Sri Lanka
Asanga Abeyagoonasekera
Executive Director, LKIIRSS, Sri Lanka

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.” Abraham Lincoln.

Through historical narratives and human experiences mankind witnesses the shift from the power of one individual to a wider representational body. As colonial empires imposed draconian rules, it became impossible to govern the natives as the public believed in strengthening the representative system for their economic freedom and further political rights. Sri Lanka experienced historical political achievement with the passing of the 19th Amendment with a parliamentary majority. Such political progress will cut down the centralised power of the executive and moved towards the Prime minister and Parliament. At the memorial oration at the four-time Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku noted that Senanayake, seeing it as early as 1972, was aware of the consequences of transferring a significant power to one person, thus objecting to the executive presidency.

Former presidents promised but failed to deliver. Incumbent Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena factors in Sri Lankan political history as a leader who strengthened local democratic institutions at the expense of his own power, a first in post-independence Sri Lankan politics. It is our opportunity to strengthen independent institutions and depoliticise them. The Bribery Commission, a place which should be equal to all citizens without political interference will have a massive local and global impact on our nation to improve the Corruption Perception Index. Tackling political corruption among all politicians should be done without any interference as the urban councilors, provincial councilors, members of parliament or former heads of state are all representatives who represent us; there shouldn't be a difference in the process. Equality as a clause engraved in our constitution leaves the author questioning as to why the commissioner was summoned by the speaker. We should ask as to who must be summoned in an event of the speaker having an allegation.

For the 19th amendment to function smoothly, Sri Lanka requires representatives with the highest standards within a functional meritocracy in the State system. A majority of elected members lack basic education, a criteria that has to be looked at in the modern day world, unlike the past. The next parliamentary elections should bring in more statesman-like people who could contribute for the economic prosperity and to create a decent political culture. This could be done by the powerful ballot only and if this change is done we are looking at a brighter Sri Lanka; else it will be a repeat of the past.

A significant strength of our nation was taken away by the three-decade war. Recently, over a session at the Harvard Kennedy School, this author emphasised the grievous political loss to the country in the assassination of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvan, Lalith Athulathmudali both Harvard scholars, Lakshman Kadirgamar, President R. Premadasa and many other leaders. These carefully planned assassinations weakened our State. It's time we strengthen our governance structure by bringing the right people for the top jobs.

We will face many more challenges in the coming months and years specially after ending insurgency and terrorism, especially to deal with the many clusters of the LTTE core group still in operation. To bring them to the reconciliation process to give up their idea of the Tamil Eelam will be challenging. The Tamil National Alliance should support the government’s reconciliation process and ensure other groups could engage with us.

A fault in the local decision-making at the policy level is its lack of consideration of research input from think tanks and research material, leading ad hoc decisions. Research input should be a priority and we should develop our research capability as a nation. National think tanks and others should welcome public opinion and ideas before policy decisions are implemented in the parliament.

It is important to consider the foreign migration of our talented youth to Australia, the US and many developed nations. A talented youth force is a necessity for nation-building. They need to be engaged in this important moment in time. It is important to look at mechanisms to attract expat Sri Lankan professionals back to our country, reverse the brain drain, like in India.

The 150th death anniversary of one of the greatest leaders through time, President Abraham Lincoln, was commemorated over the last month. President Lincoln ended a bloody civil war, which claimed over 600,000 lives, and ended slavery, while uniting a nation to ensure freedom for all. Resultantly, a greater nation emerged. We could draws lessons from Lincoln’s political will for our present day constitutional reform. As John Kerry said in his brilliant remarks during his recent visit to Sri Lanka, “…what my country discovered to our own anguish during our civil war there were no true victors only victims. You saw, I trust, that it is obvious the value of ending wars in a way that builds foundation for the peace to follow.”

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Sri Lanka: The New Regime and the Revolution

Changing Political Horizons in Sri Lanka?

The Geopolitics of Floating Bases and the New World Order

Monuments Over Mortality?

Sri Lanka: Leveraging the Politics of Geography

The Forgotten Professions: The Plight of a Nation

Crisis and Foresight Analysis

Steering Co-operation Across Oceans

Sri Lanka: National Interests in a Globalised World

Re-building Sri Lanka: An Island at a Crossroads

Forecast 2017: Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Foreign Policy: Diaspora and Lobbying

Securing Sri Lanka's National Interests

Understanding our “Blindspot” to Make Peacebuilding Comprehensive

Oceans of (Dis)trust

Death and Democracy

The Island and the Mainland: Impact of Fisheries on Indo-Lanka Relations

New Delhi-Tamil Nadu Relations and India’s Sri Lanka Policy

Remembering Tagore in Turbulent Times

Politics of Promise: Between Sirisena and Rajapaksa

Conflict to Co-existence: Debating Heritage and Homogenisation

Forecast 2016: A Roadmap for Sri Lanka

China Prepares for a Modern War

Riot and Responsibility: Governance in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and the World: Terrorism and Effective Reconciliation

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February  March
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.