Editorial, Ceylon Today: A lot like the old year?
As the sun rises over a new dawn, bringing with it a promise of change, reality keeps chipping in, reminding us of the surfeit of reasons why it is difficult to look forward to 2013 with any degree of hope. Needless to say, most of these despairing reasons stem from the fact that the New Year could well look a lot like the old year.
2012, as we all know, has been a pretty much forgettable one on various fronts. Internationally, it had us hanging our head in shame as the ghosts of the famed war victory continue to haunt us, primarily because of the government’s dismal failure at accountability and the refusal to move forward beyond triumphalism. Economically, we’ve seen puerile policies drag the country from one morass to another, sending the cost of living shooting beyond the stratosphere, making mere existence a costly affair and every single one of us a debtor. Politically, we’ve been routinely deceived by promises and betrayed by our representatives in Parliament, who in the guise of looking after our interests have been helping promulgate authoritarianism, drop kicking democratic principles, our rights and our freedoms. Capping it all, we’ve also seen attempts to subjugate the Judiciary in the pretext of safeguarding the sovereignty of the people and the Chief Justice hauled before a Parliamentary Select Committee.
All this has helped paint an unhappy 2012 where the rule of law was in abeyance , democracy remained only a veneer, budgets were designed to help a few, religious intolerance was encouraged and a sense of triumphalism permeated through every action, making every year the year the war was won, and every Tamil, the vanquished over and over again.
A new year brings with it fresh hopes… for change, for things to be different… for a better tomorrow. And we do buy into the sense of optimism that things will indeed change and search for that panacea that will put this country back on track. But how do we do that when the fundamentals are flawed?
We certainly do not wish for the coming year be like the year we’ve just bade adieu to. We don’t want to feel the deep insecurity, the powerlessness; the sense of betrayal; the suppression of freedoms, the rights. What we wish for in 2013 is security, stability and a certainty that our democratic rights are intact.
But can we wish for such things for as long as we have rule of one man instead of the rule of law; a Judiciary in conflict with the Legislature and might soon end up under the control of the Executive President; a dysfunctional police system due to heavy politicization and public institutions controlled by the Executive.
Can we hope for a better 2013, when nothing has been done to: undo the factors that contribute to the present state of widespread murder, kidnapping, forced disappearances, rape and brutal crimes; to stop the speared of the trade of illicit drugs which takes place with the sponsorship of powerful politicians and some State agencies; to restore the capacity of the police to investigate crimes competently by removing the political obstructions of the their work; to remove special powers to such agencies as Special Task Force (STF) and bring such institutions under the control of the higher command of the police; to bring all provinces under civilian police control and remove the military from performing civilian police functions; to create the possibility of equality of all before law, irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity, and thereby make democracy a possibility again in Sri Lanka; to end intimidation and harassment of journalists, removing all obstacles to freedom of expression and publication, and thus ensuring people’s right to information; to ensure protection to women, particularly by preventing sexual harassment when using public transport services, by ensuring the proper handling of complaints relating to domestic violence and rape, and ensuring equality before the law in all aspects of life; and to ensure the rights of minorities by de-militarizing the North and East.
These are the reasaons why we find it difficult to look forward to 2013 with any degree of hope