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Monday, November 30, 2020

Go to the polls & vote for a fair, respectful, equal and inclusive Sri Lanka – Voice for Democracy

Image from the protests against October 2018 constitutional coup in, Sri Lanka.

Media Release – Appeal – Sri Lanka General Elections 2020.

For any country to be truly successful it must adopt a system of governance that generates sustainable well-being for all.

In Sri Lanka, our political landscape has got to change in such a way that it will ensure progress to the benefit of all in a sustainable way. The upcoming General Elections on 5 August gives us a chance, yet again, to elect our representatives to make decisions on our behalf to shape the future of the country for the greater good of all.

A misguided pursuit of growth which is based on increasing debt, under the governance of a president with demonstrated autocratic tendencies, will be harmful for the creation of a just society.
Let us take a look at the bigger picture and learn from the mistakes of the past.

The present caretaker government is afraid of ‘checks and balances’, transparency, and accountability. And so, it is engaged in a calculated and misleading campaign that only an authoritarian rule would ensure security and economic development for Sri Lanka. It is openly asking people to give them two thirds majority to repeal the 19 th Amendment to the Constitution.

This is bound to cause several, serious and irreversible setbacks to the country:

 End of participatory democracy and rule of law
 Erosion of Separation of Powers between legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government
 Executive President undermining and intervening the Parliamentary powers
 Denial of constructive political discourse and debate on matters of public importance
 Disregard to the principles of tolerance, equality, and mutual respect for multi-ethnic society
 Undue militarisation of civil administrations
 Media muzzling and suppression of free speech

If the prediction of a comfortable victory for the Rajapaksas’ government were to become a reality, the politics of Presidential Task Forces replacing civilian-led policymaking will become common, nepotism will return, sale of vast national assets to foreign interests will continue, and the country will plunge into more and more debt that our future generations will struggle for years to pay back.

According to ‘Legatum Prosperity Index’, the most prosperous countries in the world were able to become so due to the freedom they offer their citizens, the quality of their healthcare system, social tolerance between their peoples, and economic inclusiveness – the very things that are bound to be scarce should the present regime were to be re-elected to govern.

Furthermore, whichever party comes to power, no government will be able to reverse the devastating economic impacts caused by COVID-19 for many more years. The worldwide pandemic has plunged even the most advanced countries to such a vulnerable state that delivering election promises is beyond most. Failure of the government to bring down the cost of living as promised at the presidential elections, and the failure to control the price of rice and other commodities, are examples of how the election promises dished out presently would suffer the same fate. Whilst maintaining the funding for the armed services, the government has cut down on welfare spending, education, and health services at the behest of international lending organizations, and chances are that it will not hesitate to suppress any public protests against cost of living and other issues by violent means as had been done in the Free Trade Zone and Rathupaswala.

Also, international assistance to developing nations has always been subject to respect for rule of law, control of corruption and how well the countries serve their populations. In our multi-ethnic country there is the ever-pressing National Question of power-sharing with the Tamils and increasingly deteriorating relations with the Muslims – for which solutions must be found in all honesty and soon. So, it is every citizen’s duty to do their part in establishing a lasting good governance.

Reject parties whose candidates are cowed into silence against their conscience, and instead put your trust in democracy and strong institutions that will lead the way for more peaceful and prosperous society, even in the most challenging times ahead. Therefore, we urge all eligible voters from all corners of the country to go to the polls, cast your votes with utmost care to a party or a group whose candidates you believe are committed to making Sri Lanka fair, and provide opportunities for all its peoples to flourish with respect, equity and inclusivity.

Prosperity and quality life will follow suit.

VOICE FOR DEMOCRACY

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