True patriots should assist Govt | Sunday Observer

True patriots should assist Govt

26 February, 2023

Most developed and developing countries have adopted Parliamentary democracy as their form of governance and we also follow the same system even before we became an independent nation in 1948.

But indeed there are minor differences in some countries with regard to the formation whilst the core framework remains the same. Democracy is not an original English word but a combination of two Greek terms. Demos and Crathos which means “people’s rule”. These two Greek terms have formed the English word Democracy.

Democracy is defined as “a Government of the people by the people for the people”. In a democratic form of Government there are two main integral parts – the ruling party and the Opposition party. In Sri Lanka, except for a few occasions, the ruling party had always been an alliance while the Opposition functioned as a Joint Opposition (JO) at times and a divided Opposition in some other times based on the nature of the policies, principles and program of work of the ruling party.

In a pure democracy, the Opposition is expected to maintain certain norms, political ethics and conventional practices in discharging their duties as a vibrant Opposition. These are not written laws in the Constitution but solemn practices followed by good democracies all over the world.

When a country is threatened by a disaster either natural or man- made, the duty of the Opposition is to support the Government to overcome the problem to establish a peaceful environment which had happened in the past.

Second World War

During the Second World War Prime Minister of Great Britain Sir Winston Churchill had to face immense challenges and difficulties in fighting the war. The Opposition Leader in England then, Clement Attlee gave his unstinted cooperation to Churchill to win the war, displaying his commitment to democracy. It should be noted that Churchill was defeated at the subsequent General Election (GE) and Attlee became the Prime Minister. He was a former Principal of the London School of Economics (LSE).

1971 insurgency

When the stability of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Government was threatened by the JVP terrorists in 1971, the then Opposition Leader J. R. Jayewardene gave his unconditional support to Bandaranaike to defeat the islandwide terrorism which lasted for a few days causing heavy damage to public and private properties. Killings, destruction and vandalism by the terrorists were halted within a few days and they were apprehended by the Security Forces.

The commitment of the Opposition Leader Jayewardene for democracy was appreciated by everybody irrespective of party politics at that time.

During the latter period of President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s regime some areas of the coastal belt were washed away and a huge destruction of lives and properties occurred in the country due to the violent tsunami waves on December 26, 2004.

At that hour of need the then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe along with some other Party Leaders gave a solemn pledge to the President to help the country in the rehabilitation process proving his commitment to democracy.

Opposition leader Wickremesinghe gave his fullest co-operation to President Kumaratunga for her post-tsunami rehabilitation efforts.

When Mahinda Rajapaksa became the President in 2005, Wickremesinghe as the Opposition Leader clearly said Parliament that they would not make any objections to the Government within the first two years and the Opposition activities will begin if they fail to deliver the goods. These are the sublime qualities of true democrats.

Sri Lanka experienced the gloomiest period since Independence during 2022 due to the wrong economic policies and mismanagement of all vital sectors. After a lengthy constitutional process that followed the departure of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Parliamentarian and the Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected President by a majority of Parliamentarians. The Opposition Leader and two other political stalwarts had refused to accept the challenge earlier.

Soon after assuming power as the 8th Executive President, Wickremesinghe extended an open invitation to the main Opposition Leader and all other Party Leaders to join the Government and help rebuild the economy at least for a short period until the economy is stabilised.

At a time when the country has plunged into a dire crisis, it is the duty of true patriots to put aside their political differences temporarily and assist the Government to tide over the catastrophic situation.

The Maha Sangha and other religious leaders also requested all Opposition parties in Parliament to extend their support to President Wickremesinghe as he boldly accepted the challenge of steering the country at this most crucial time.

A few months have already passed with the advent of the new President and it is very unlikely that any of the Opposition parties will support the valiant effort of the new President to salvage the economy.


Instead they find fault with whatever measures taken by the Government to stabilise the economy. Their political behaviour was quite evident in the protest campaign conducted last November. The purported JO clearly showed the entire nation the degree of opportunism and self-centeredness and how badly they are suffering from power hunger.

There, the agreements among the political parties, trade unions and other organisations were blatantly violated and their ugly infighting exposed the intention of the party leaders who try to pose themselves as paragons of virtue before the public.

Due to the prompt and accurate steps taken by the Wickremesinghe Government, any neutral observer can see that there is a marginal improvement in the extremely dire situation that prevailed over six to eight months ago. The severe shortages of fuel, LP gas, infant milk powder and shortages of many other day-to-day essential commodities and long power cuts have been decreased to fairly manageable levels. The country is slowly coming out of the imminent danger of total collapse.

Under these circumstances, only political opportunists and hypocrites can complain that President Wickremesinghe has not made any amendment or improvement in the country. No one can expect any person to perform wonders with the precarious economic situation that the country is placed in, but it is quite evident that President Wickremesinghe has inculcated a positive sense of hope for Sri Lanka through some of his recent actions.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed the nation opening the new Parliamentary session recently and presented his program of work.

However, the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and some other groups boycotted Parliament, clearly exhibiting their political hypocrisy and the degree of commitment they possess over Parliamentary democracy.

There are also a few trade unions affiliated to extremist political parties whose main purpose is not to win their rights but to be eternally engaged in disrupting the country’s economic progress. These bankrupt political parties are well aware that if the incumbent President’s far-sighted program becomes a reality then they will not have any glimpse of hope in the country’s political arena. This was the regular practice in the past too but now they have intensified their protests and demonstrations with blessings of their respective party leaders.

Religious leaders

It is very sad to see some religious leaders instead of helping the country to recover from the crisis instigating the public to revolt against the Government on certain issues which are not even relevant to them.

These religious leaders are also connected to political parties in some way and try to obstruct the country’s slow recovery. Some of them do not understand that they violate the fundamental principles of Buddhism by instigating the public against the Government.

Our Opposition politicians and their cronies knowingly or unknowingly disregard the potential damage caused to the country as long as it helps their personal political agendas. We see some politicians complain to the United Nations (UN) and other foreign missions over trivial issues without knowing the negative repercussions in the long run.

At a time when there are signs of recovery in sectors such as tourism, exports and expatriate remittances, community harmony and a peaceful social environment are extremely important to win the support of the international community.

Every right-thinking unbiased observer is of the opinion that political hypocrisy should be eliminated totally to recover from this economic crisis.