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Sri Lanka - New Government fails to Keep its Promise to Adopt Good


‘’........... the minority vote came unconditionally to him, and what is more, the common
opposition was careful to studiously avoid any reference whatsoever to the demands of the
minorities let alone be seen to be promising anything to them, so as to ensure that
sufficient numbers of the majority deserted Rajapaksa. All that the minorities are left with
after the 2015 presidential election is the goodwill and decency of the new President and
his government to treat them with some sort of respect, and when and if possible, to
address their political and constitutional problems. Can this be even remotely regarded as
an argument that the presidency ensures the protection of minority interests?’’ - THE
Welikala, 20 January 2015,

‘'The absence of a structured dialogue on issues of devolution, governance and

reform between of ethnic communities and political parties had compounded
challenges facing moderates. This is of course not a situation that is conducive to
reconciliation and peace-building…..’’
- H.M.G.S.Palihakkara(Governor, Northern Province) addressing Ceylon Chamber of
Commerce, 25 June 2015,

‘’It was distressing to see in parliament what should have gone through with absolute
consensus as an opportunity for democracy had to be negotiated in a process that in
my view, undermined some of the opportunities for Constitution making. ….’’ – The
19th Amendment and the future of Sri Lanka, *Savitri Goonesekere, 26
June 2015,
of-sri-lanka/ (*Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Colombo)

''Until our circumstances radically change with the emergence of political leaders
guided by ethics and not by self-interest, it will not be possible for us to come into an
era of civility in politics.'' - The Inevitability of the Banana Republic, Prof Sasanka
Perera(Prof of Sociology,), 29 August 2015,

''..... ever since the end of the war in 2009 in Sri Lanka, the ideology of the ruling
regime reinforced ideas of Sinhala majoritarian supremacy and the suppression of
minorities. .... the war was the result of historical failures in state-building, .... the Sri
Lankan state has an undeniable responsibility to respond to these instances of
human rights violations. ........ Without acknowledging our past wrongdoing we will be
unable to move forward as a country and society. '' - Don’t Re-Traumatise The War-
Traumatised: Dons, 1 October 2015,

'’Seven years after the end of the war segregation of the military from the civilian
relevant to peace time is what needs to happen in the Northern and Eastern
provinces’’ –
Sampur Incident Highlights Need For Better Governance In North & East, Jehan
Perera, Chairman, National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, 30 May 2016,

‘’the government has already begun to lose the loyalty of its ‘natural’ domestic
constituency, the democratic civil society movement …… While seeking new allies,
President or the Prime Minister should not ignore the broad coalition that made
possible the regime change of January 2015. Nor should they turn their back on the
reform agenda for good governance, democracy, and peace building. Now it is time
for them to take some serious steps towards course correction. Revisiting the
January 2015 reform agenda will certainly be helpful.’’ – Prof Jayadeva Uyangoda,
15 June 2016,

'' …....... While seeking new allies, President or the Prime Minister should not
ignore the broad coalition that made possible the regime change of January 2015.
Nor should they turn their back on the reform agenda for good governance,
democracy, and peace building. Now it is time for them to take some serious steps
towards course correction. Revisiting the January 2015 reform agenda will certainly
be helpful'' - Sri Lanka in Global Affairs: The Journey Since January 2015, Prof J.
Uyangoda, (retired Professor of Politics, University of Colombo) ,13 June

''My reality check does not offer any reason for those committed to the theme of this
seminar to be jubilant. Nor is it a reason to be complacent. Their efforts need to be
redoubled. Their short term efforts should be aimed at re-energizing the political
leadership of this government to revisit their reform promises made early last year, to
re-commit themselves to that reform agenda, to critically review the progress
achieved and setbacks suffered so far, and begin a course correction initiative and
then work hard to fulfill a promise that has a t
ruly historical significance…..'' - Post-War Reconciliation in Sri Lanka:- A Reality
Check, Prof Jayadeva Uyangoda(recently retired Prof of Political Science, University
of Colombo), 15 July 2016,

''Even if our current government doesn’t have time to clean the entirety of the
Augean stables, and God knows they haven’t helped that endeavour with
their monumental procrastination, they can, at least, make a start on that Herculean
task even at this late date'' - Good Governance: Matters of Urgency, Emil van der
Poorten, 9 October 2016,

''After just one and half years in office, the Yahapalana(Good

Governance) government is in a crisis of sorts. It is not a crisis about the
government’s stability. Actually, the joint opposition led by former President Mahinda
Rajapaksa is in disarray and there is no immediate threat to the government from
within or outside parliament. The crisis is marked by the increasing and continuing
alienation of the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe administration from its political support
bases. The fact that the leaders of the government don’t seem to care is pushing it
into a crisis of legitimacy as well. ................... '' - Sri Lanka: From Good Governance
to Inept Governance, Jayadeva Uyangoda,

‘’The Friday Forum has called for several reforms to be made in the police service
and reflection on the process of demilitarisation in the wake of the shooting of two
university students in Jaffna.’’ - Friday Forum urges reforms in police service,
reflection on demilitarisation after Jaffna shooting, 12 November

''A particular segment of the country was decisively committed to defeat the
Rajapaksa regime and replace it with the present regime of Good Governance. This
segment was motivated not by party politics or personal gain, but by genuine
concern for the common good of the country, and threw their full weight into it.
Nevertheless, the members of this social segment are now rather puzzled to witness
the present course of the Good Governance regime. They are in a state of confusion
and disappointment and wonder whether they have been cheated by the two leaders
of the Good Governance regime. In terms of political consciousness, this segment of
people can be described as the most advanced, informed section of Sri
Lanka’s social hierarchy. If this segment is discouraged and become apathetic,
invariably, it might have an adverse impact not only on the present, but also on the
future of the country. .........'' - Victor Ivan(political analyst), 17 Nov

''……….... National Unity Government was elected on a liberal platform that

promised political, economic and social reforms. That platform has yet to be
implemented. Indeed, it is being jeopardised by the combined action and inaction of
those in power. ...………'' - Ten Years: On populism and counterfeit democracy,
Jayantha Dhanapala (former UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament), 2
December 2016,

''Regimes come and go; but democratic defences should stay strong in order to
protect the kind of political goals that are worth fighting for.'' - *Yahapalanaya in Sri
Lanka: Remains of the Day, Prof Jayadeva Uyangoda, 5 December
day/ (*Yahapalanaya is Sinhalese term for Good Governance)

''This is literally a reflection tempered by hope, frustration and anger enmeshed in

a pervasive sense of anxiety, which seems to suggest that grand dreams in our land
have very little capacity for realization.'' - The curse of the obstinate patriarch,
06.01.2017, Prof Sasanka Perera,
''.................. If Mahinda Rajapaksa’s New Year wish comes true, it will happen not
because of his
virtues, but because of the weaknesses and failures of his two main opponents.'' -
Tisaranee Gunasekara, 8 Jan 2017,
regressive-second-year/ ''If Sirisena were to unequivocally reiterate his commitment
to abolish the executive presidency, uncertainty around constitution making will
Come on Mr President, what’s holding you
back?'' - Many Irons in The Fire; President Sirisena Is The Enigma, Kumar
David(retired academic

and social activist), 29 Jan


''............. The next few months will be a crucial test of whether Sirisena and
Wickremesinghe are serious about their reform and reconciliation promises. If so,
they will need to put party interests at least partly to the side and take the
political risks needed to persuade their parliamentarians and the Sinhala public to
make the changes that can finally put Sri Lanka on the path to a just and
lasting peace.'' - Sri Lanka's Transition to Nowhere, Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka analyst
for International Crisis Group, 30 Jan 2017,

''This is an open letter submission to the leaders of National Movement for Social
Justice (NMSJ) initiated by late Most Reverend Maduluwawe Sobhitha, Purawesi
Balaya and Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA), who were the
shining stars that organized a collective, that became a peoples movement and gave
rise to the power booster force behind the Yahapanaya commitment based political
movement, which managed to achieve a regime change in 2015, previously thought
impossible by most citizens. ............ The NMSJ, Purawesi BALAYA and
FUTA will need to retrace the path and build again, a strong civil society collective
led (facilitated by a network alliance with the traditional media and social media and
establishing effective communication platform), Peoples Movement to enforce the
Social Contract.'' -
Yahapālana Catalysts Must Not Betray Peoples’ Movement, Chandra Jayaratne
(a member of Friday Forum, a group of eminent citizens of Sri Lanka), 1 February

''......... The law setting up this mechanism(re Missing Persons) was passed last year
in Parliament but has yet to be gazetted. This is reported to be on account of
resistance to it by the defence authorities who fear that it will be used against them in
war crimes trials'' - Constitutional Reform to the Fore Again, Jehan Perera(Chairman,
National Peace Council of Sri Lanka), 6 Feb

The Good Governance Government should not ignore Sri Lanka’s slipping down on
the World Rule of Law Index , 6 Feb 2017,

Constitutional tensions and Mixed Messages, 11 Feb 2017,

‘’…………. Since independence, political leaders in Sri Lanka have always played
more towards the
SinhalaBuddhist gallery and failed to act as national leaders of all communities. This
has become bane for Sri Lanka. The earlier Sri Lanka realises this conundrum, the
better for the people and their future progeny.’’ - Macron’s Win Against Populism:
Lessons Beyond France, Lukman Harees,
12 May 2017,

‘’The Sri Lankan government should immediately repudiate statements by the

country’s justice
minister threatening to disbar a prominent lawyer for speaking out against attacks on
minorities. ……..’’ - Sri Lanka: Minister Threatens Defender of Minority Rights, 19
June 2017,
defender-minority-rights .

’’The first is reconciliation. People want to see peace among ethnic groups in this
country which
went through a thirty-year war. That is the bottom line. There must be some
consensus on that. The government can’t really avoid that responsibility which is a
major issue in the country at the moment.’’ - Sri Lanka out of viable political options,
Prof Siri Gamage, 1 July 2017,
hettige/ (Retired Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Colombo)

Sri Lanka’s deepening political crisis: Not losing an opportunity to lose another
opportunity, *Jayadeva Uyangoda, 2 July

Sri Lanka’s current political impasse: Some additional thoughts, *Jayadeva

Uyangoda, 4 July 2017,
political-impasse-some-additional-thoughts/ *Retired Prof of Political
Science(University of Colombo)

‘’Maithri-Ranil Combo that was elected in successive elections, Presidential and

Parliamentary, has already wasted two and half years’’ – Rajapaksas Inc. vs. Maithri-
Ranil Combo Or Corruption vs. Yahapalanaya; The Jury Still Out, Vishwamitra, 5
July 2017,
Has the Govt. anti-corruption drive stalled again? –EDITORIAL, 11 July

Dangerous gamble: Shielding Rajapaksas from investigations, Ranga Jayasuriya, 11

July 2017,

‘'This government has been in office for two years, and its agenda seems
increasingly disconnected from the hopes and expectations of those who elected it to
office on the promise of good governance ........... '' - Government Abuses Power, JO
Acts As Spoilers Of The Nation: Friday Forum, 16 August

‘'............ A new constitution has been mandated by the people and law makers must
give it the highest priority. Any attempt to subvert this process for cheap political gain
by those elected by the people, cannot and must not be tolerated. We urge the
Prime Minister and members of the Steering Committee to ensure that the
draft constitutional proposals are put before the Constitutional Assembly within the
next three months at least, and are also made available to the public’’- New
constitution a must, Friday Forum, 22 August 2017,

‘’Amnesty International is disappointed by the lack of progress, and in some cases

backsliding, on the important commitments reflected in resolution 30/1 regarding:
enforced disappearances; truth, justice and reparation; protection of religious and
ethnic minorities and human rights defenders; and the repeal of the Prevention of

’’................ This is just one of virtually hundred such cases which have either been
denied justice or where the victims have waited so long that a conviction by itself,
fails to bring any relief or redress systemic problems. It is time that the Bar
Association directs its collective mind to policy reforms that correct such pervasive
failures of justice rather than titling windmills at blathering politicians who talk of
corrupt judges and lawyers.'' - Tilting windmills at blathering politicians is no answer
to rule of law failures, Kishali Pinto Jayawardena, 10 September

‘’The level of public disenchantment with the government has been on the rise due
to its failure to deliver on its election promises in other areas too. It is not only in the
area of the economy that the government has been
underperforming. ……’’ - Significance of Vision 2025 goes Beyond
Economic Development, National Peace Council, 11 September

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka appeals to the President to enact The
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearances Bill, 28 September 2017,

‘’Thus two and a half years without Mahinda remains as much ‘Rajapaksa’ as it was
before. And that for me is the most that can be written here on how the Sinhala
factor with Mahinda remains unchallenged yet. And it would remain so with no
alternatives discussed for a plural and a secular society, democracy remaining
procedural and not functional.’’– Rajapakse, a Sinhala Selfie, a book by Kusal
Perera, September 2017

‘’Access to a dissident website that often publishes articles critical of Sri Lanka's
government has been blocked in the country, the portal's administrators said
Thursday, as activists expressed alarm over deteriorating press freedom on
the island. The popular London-based Lanka E News became inaccessible in the
country on Thursday, a day after publishing an expose alleging graft within the office
of President Maithripala Sirisena in the procurement of state vehicles’’ - Dissident
website 'blocked' in Sri Lanka - AFP, 9 Nov 2017,

‘’………… The government’s lack of talent to advance an intellectually appealing

slogan, or
formulation, that can effectively capture the positive politics of constitutional reform
also comes at a time when the ‘yahapalanaya’ government has lost its claims to
ethical governance. The government leaders have obviously forgotten the fact that it
was an ethical moment in Sri Lankan politics that enabled the Yahapalanaya
coalition to dislodge President Rajapaksa’s rule in January 2015. That normative
moment has not only disappeared; the government leaders have forced it to
disappear. It is very difficult to imagine a democratic state reform project being
successfully carried out by a regime which has lost its ethical and normative
- The Constitutional Conundrum, Jayadeva Uyangoda, 15 November 2017,

‘’Certainly the signs of the establishment resisting the pressure of people

-power for change in the January 2015 vote for a new Executive President of Sri
Lanka were evidenced very early on in that year itself. As this tug-of-war went back
and forth in the years that followed, it was during the past year that battle lines
solidified and a once inspiring impetus for reform lost its way in the darkness
of disillusionment.’’ - 2018 should not bring us saviours, presidential or otherwise,
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, 31/12/2017,
’The Sri Lankan government has failed to fulfill its pledge to abolish the abusive
Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). …….’’ - Sri Lanka, repeal draconian security law,
Human Rights Watch, 29 Jan 2018,

‘’…… Sri Lankan citizens today, who have been failed by many other leaders,
deserve to have least one leading state functionary to abide by political ethics, law,
and the constitution. ……’’ - A Plea for Sanity at a time for Uncertainty, Jayadeva
Uyangoda, 17 Feb 2018,

'’One serious political question that emerges from Sri Lanka’s current political
impasse is the following: why has a reformist democratic regime, with domestic
popular support as well as international backing, begun to run out of its political
energies, and political options, so early and is facing disintegration half
away? ……………… Sri Lanka’s citizens’ right to publicly criticize their government
and its leaders even on legitimate grounds is not going to last long. That democratic
window runs the risk of being closed, sooner than later. Why not exercise that
freedom of expression for the common good of all before it is extinguished?– Reform
Resistance in Sri Lankan Politics, Jayadeva Uyangoda(Emeritus Professor of
Politics), 27 Mar 2018,

·People were forced back to the ‘Homben Yana’ syndrome

·IN-power is innocent as lily-white, OUT-power is darker than the devil himself!
·electing a President to rule us for another six years would be a most daunting task for
the voters
· SL struggled to find answers to the ever-multiplying woes its leadership brought upon
its suffering masses- Hobson’s choice or “Homben Yana”
Choice? Elmo Jayawardena, 5 April 2018,

‘’If January 2015 was about the possibility of the impossible, the subsequent trajectory
of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration constitutes a morality tale on the
impossibility of the possible. After a promising start, the government fell into the trap
of recurrence and busied itself with repeating Rajapaksa mistakes in every sphere. Its
conduct has alienated the uncommitted voters, disheartened the committed
supporters and opened the door for a Rajapaksa return.’’ – Beyond No Confidence
Motion, Is Sanity Possible? Tisaranee Gunasekara, 8 April

‘’…….yet another revised version of the Counter-Terror Act (CTA) has been hurriedly
‘leaked’ this week apparently due to a looming deadline of the European Union (EU)
with which the Government is negotiating on the preferential trade facility.……...
Overall, there needs to be a radical re-thinking of Sri Lanka’s law reform process.
Oversight committees by parliamentarians dominated by political agendas cannot
replace the primary duty of the Government to place its draft legislation before the
people for independent scrutiny.’’ - Parliamentary oversight committees cannot
replace public scrutiny, 9 April

''....... The current political conjuncture is characterised by growing economic

hardships, a government unwilling to stand up to extremists, and an opposition ready
to use anti-minority hysteria to regain power. If these three conditions remain
unchanged, the March 2018 anti-Muslim attacks in Kandy will be the beginning of a
new cycle of violence and possibly counter-violence. In Sri Lanka, the past is once
again set to defeat the future.' - Sri Lankan Muslims: the new ‘others’? Tisaranee
Gunasekara, 23 April 2018,

‘’In the chaotic merry-go-round characterizing the drafting of Sri Lanka’s proposed
Counter-Terror Act (CTA), the periodic surfacing of one version followed by another
has given rise to unexpected horrors. Each time that a new draft emerges or should
I rather say, is ‘extracted’ with great pain out of a process gripped by skullduggery
and secrecy, its devious drafters conceive new and ingenious ways to confound
scrutiny …..…......The draft reeks of bad faith and is extraordinarily
contradictory. ..... a suspect’s right of immediate access to legal counsel upon
arrest continues to be hedged around by qualifications rendering it meaningless. ......
In sum, the contents of that amendment and the revised CTA draft appear to be an
uncomfortable exercise in ‘lies and deception.’ ..... As repeated ad nauseam in these
column spaces, both these amendments should have been publicized by the
Government of Sri Lanka and extensively subjected to detailed independent scrutiny.
But the converse takes place.........'' - Skullduggery, secrecy and the counter-terror
draft act, 30 April 2017,

'................This article seeks to dissect the anatomy and physiology of our recent
political, social and constitutional history and the difficulties in achieving a true Sri
Lankan nation and nation state – even 70 years after independence. It is hoped that
all communities/nations in the country will make an effort to live harmoniously
together in our common island home. Even if we cannot achieve a true nation state,
at least efforts should be made to salvage a ‘state nation’ wherein all our people can
live together in peace and equality. Since the latter seems to be our only hope, it is
time to think of the constitutional means by which this could be
achieved.'' - Democracy, Nationalism and the Nation State, with Reference to Sri
Lanka, 5 May 2018,

‘’……… How to work out a new theory and practice of democracy with relative
detachment from corrupt political parties and the corrupt professional political class?
This is a new challenge for the 21st century political theory and philosophy world
over. Sri Lanka is only one, small, case study. Finally, it is not unwise to make the
argument that the coalition of the autocrats is the lesser of the two evils, because
democracy has ways to deal with it, resist it, and even defeat it. But not the coalition
of the corrupt. It corrupts democracy to its core and smashes its ethical-normative
backbone. Once corrupted, democracy runs the risk of becoming a slavish servant of
the corrupt and autocratic alike.’’ - Coalitions of the Evil, Jayadeva Uyangoda, 3 June

‘’………. The greatest challenge for Sri Lanka now is to liberate our people from the
oppression of the past and create resilient and democratic structures for a peaceful
future that does not repeat the mistakes of the past. It is a challenge that must be
grasped by our political leaders before it is too late.’’- The Subversion Of Our
Democratic Political Spaces & What It Means For Sri Lanka’s Future, Dayapala
Thiranagama, 4 June 2018,

'In retrospect, one of the greatest missed opportunities of the now doomed Sirisena-
Wickremesinghe Unity Government was its failure to grab Sri Lanka’s legal system
by its ears (metaphorically speaking), cleanse the Bench of corrupt and politically
compromised judges against whom files were stacked up aplenty and demonstrate
the power of criminal justice reforms for human rights abuses and corruption to all
citizens alike through the length and breadth of the country. .................'' - That
powerful reconciliation strategy which Sri Lanka missed, Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena,
10 June 2018,

''Providing organizational leadership to these scattered core groups of Sri Lanka’s

democratic social movements is perhaps the immediate task of the more active and
resourceful civil society groups. They have one year ahead before the next
presidential election to mobilize a new social movement of democratic defence and
resistance in Sri Lanka and then build a strong coalition of counter-veiling social
forces to any authoritarian political formation that has prioritized the replacement of
democracy in its Right-wing reform agenda.'' - Sri Lanka’s Democracy: Very critical
challenges ahead, Jayadeva Uyangoda, 19 August 2018,’s-democracy-very-critical-