By Dhanuka Dickwella
” when people are collectively influenced by the time period in which they were born ,these influences tend to bond people across the whole generation, forming a large social group”
In this day and age we see a whole generation of youngsters from all walks of life making strides of changes in the entirety of Sri Lanka’s social structure . They call themselves the Wrong generation to mess with. So there is a popular attribute in our society for these young people as ” the wrong generation “.
It sprung into action with the ongoing economic woes in Sri Lanka. The attempt by the ruling government to quell the movement only helped it spread & become strong & resilient. A super majority of the society recognize them as their own voice & the support for them is growing at a rate. Yet there are groups who see them as a hostile, destructive force & believe that they are in fact a wrong Generation that is working day in day out to ruin the country’s social fabric. Let’s look at the essence of their demands .
They are demanding a different class of politicians. Well what’s wrong with the current breed ? The ones in the parliament are not even suitable to get a government job let alone to uphold the people’s constitutional power as elected parliamentary members. The requirement to be educated,declaration of assets & to present audited accounts could only create responsible & accountable leaders. Rejecting nepotism will open the doors for grassroot level leaders to enter national politics. That will bring creativity & innovation to politics which have been missing forever.
They are demanding a constitutional change. What is wrong with the 20th amendment the SLPP brought with their 2/3 majority. The 20th amendment transferred the powers wrested upon the parliament to the executive president. This allows a single person to decide the fate of 22 million instead of a group of politicians with various different opinions. Doesn’t sound very democratic by any means.The 19th amendment which empowered the judiciary & independent institutions to uphold the rule of law & justice was abolished by the 20th . The president got the right to appoint judges to various courts & there were no independent commissions to oversee the Police and public administration. All those institutions which should have been independent of influence were subjected to direct influence of the president. Arguably there were certain shortcomings with the 19th amendment . Yet it served as a bulwark against any abuse of power . The checks & balances between the executive, legislative & judiciary were established to a great extent . The 20th amendment was the final nail on the very existence of democracy. The Suggestion of repealing the 20th Amendment and bringing in the new 21st Amendment sounds bad ? Be your own judge.
Economic reforms is another demand. They are suggesting a relief budget which in turn will help millions of affected citizens. We are in the worst economic crisis recorded in the history of Sri Lanka .Thousands have lost jobs, certain industries completely wiped out , no basic commodities, constant power outages, sky rocketed inflation have become the new norm. Life is not just difficult for everyone irrespective of their social class but has become a struggle of survival. There is no room for a development budget any longer. The maneuverability should be to give breathing space for people. Find a way forward to give a lifeline for the most affected & prop the industries that could help relive the FX crisis. Hence their demand is for the whole country & it surely is very timely.
There is a calling for an interim government. The SLPP government has lost its credibility & failed the people. The current political instability has a resounding impact on our debt restructuring, relief loans or any help from the international community. Therefore a stable, inclusive & responsible government has to be formed. It must be limited in numbers, should be for an agreed upon time frame & must work exclusively to take the country out of the economic mess.There are provisions in the constitution to form such a body & only the political will of different parties has to be found. Such a demand must be heard by all the current parliamentarians irrespective of their vested political objectives.
Fair and Independent Elections is one of the 8 Demands made. Sri Lanka has managed to hold such elections for the last couple of decades. Not that the elections are completely without incidents. But people have managed to vote incumbent governments, presidents out even while they were holding office. The common violation we could record however is the government in power trying to use the government resource for their own advantage. Consequent governments have used the government owned media for a bias & exclusive one sided coverage to carry forward their propaganda. Every political party has done this. There must be ways & means to control this abuse. I hope the revolutionary youngsters would give enough thought for this.
The Right to life which is the Fundamental Rights of all citizens. It is no secret that Sri Lankans do have a relatively different view with regards to Right to life. This could be a consequence of the 30 year long war that saw tens of thousands of people killed,maimed & disappeared. There have been many occasions where extrajudicial killings have been carried out. Our society’s view on the forced disappearance of a criminal is rather approving. The notion of evil people must be eliminated could be surprising for many non Sri Lankans. But a societry realing from a brutal war, youth uprising, state terror , ethnic clashes could have seen too many things to be less considerate for life. But the kids of the 90s, 2000 & after have not seen anything that disturbing except for the unfortuane Eatser bombing. Besides, Right to life is the very basic of humanity & must be upheld at all costs.
Transparent surveillance of all crimes that have been committed financially and otherwise. The corruption of our society is unbelievably high. Tens of millions of taxpayer money has been defrauded by politicians , public servants , businessmen with affiliations to politicians. A number of such accused were acquitted without a charge that were highly criticized by the general public. Whether the alleged criminals were left scot-free due to technical errors in their court cases or were done with undue political influence would be not known. Well known journalists were murdered in broad daylight & some were assulted. Brining the masterminds of those to justice will give our society an opportunity to heal the old scars. Besides what is wrong with reclaiming the looted public funds.
Out of all the demands, the one that calls for “President Gotabaya Rajapaksa must resign” seems to be the bone of contraction between the ruling elites & the youngsters. This is a political demand & they have recognized the current president as the person responsible for most of the mess we are in. This is a debatable argument. However any attempt to make the president leave his post will have to be done within the parameters of the constitution. Whether or not this could be achieved with the current balance of power in the parliament is doubtful. The president seems to be holding fort with a strong legal argument. The only way out would be to have more parliamentarians supporting a motion against the presidents. The only way to achieve this would be an up & coming election. The youth at Aragalaya ( Galle Face protest movement ) could field their own candidates & could try to convince the public to vote them into office. They have not faced an election & I could guarantee you that no election would be a cakewalk. What seems trending, popular or the most spoken might not be the ground reality. Beides the JVP will see this new formation as a threat to their popularity as an alternative to the current political parties. Getting a majority could be a challenge but this seems to be the way around to the current impasse.
What’s reverberating throughout the country is a voice against the lost & shattered dreams. This generation has been deprived of what they could achieve. Their future has been destroyed, their potential ignored. They are not against the religion but against the religious personalities manipulating the system for the benefit of a few. They are not against any community but against the attempt to divide the communities for political gains. They are not against the majority but against the selfish few. Their request is for everyone to think beyond the traditional party lines, religious lines & ethnic lines. They want the Sri Lankans to recognize that the prevailing political system & their leaders are the ones wronged the entire nation but not to discredit them as a wrong generation. They are the generation that holds the key to our future. Their approach has been a peaceful demand so far. They refuse violence & believe in discussions. If their voices are not heard , their demands not met there is a high possibility that they might turn into a totally Wrong generation. It is time the adults take responsibility & act !!!