A bullish regime’s inability to perceive dissent By Ravi Nagahawatte

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Picture shows opposition parliamentarians staging a protest against the present Government’s attempts to suppress dissent (Picture AFP) 

 As a result protesting citizens have to choose the hardest methods to drive some sense into the heads of lawmakers 

Associate Director of the National Fertilizer Secretariate Wimal Kumara Kaththriaarachchi the state has allocated fertilizer for 67,000 hectares of paddy cultivation

But the regime is conveniently turning a blind eye to the possible loss of income amounting to Euro 2.3 million if the country doesn’t improve its failing human rights record and loses the GSP plus facility

Bimal Rathnayake speaking to a leading Sinhala weekend newspaper highlighted that the regime is using this act to silence its critics who are active on social media. He also underscored that the government was breaching existing laws, destroying democracy and arousing nationalistic feelings in the minds of the people

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said in parliament that the regime has in the process of arresting protesters taken in an international figure such as Stalin. Wickremesinghe by saying so gave a clear message to the regime which is not to mess with known and established professionals in the country

Voices of dissent are growing in the country. The latest individuals to take to the streets were the undergraduates of Rajarata University. They were protesting against the bill presented to parliament to privatise the Kotalawala Defence Academy. These undergraduates affirm that parents would have to spend more than Rs 10 million for children’s university education if the bill is passed.

The others who are protesting against some of the government’s thinking and decision making are farmers and health service workers. When the farmers started protesting against not being able to purchase fertilizer due the state’s plan to introduce carbonic fertilizer the regime now wants give some financial aid to them. This has been the issue with this government and past regimes; they do things and start thinking afterwards. As a result protesting citizens have to choose the hardest methods to drive some sense into the heads of lawmakers.

The farmers from Rajarata complain that the change from chemical fertilizer to carbonic fertilizer must be done gradually. They also point out that by using chemical fertilizer farmers were able to produce a harvest between 120-140 bushels and that this produce might not be possible if a switch is made to carbonic fertilizer. However, the government paints a rosy picture and according to Associate Director of the National Fertilizer Secretariate Wimal Kumara Kathriaarachchi the state has allocated fertilizer for 67,000 hectares of paddy cultivation. 92 % of that fertilizer has been already released to farmer cooperatives. But the outcome of all that is that a bag of fertilizer that was sold for Rs 1500 is now available at Rs 3000 in the black market.

The government wants to restrict imports, which is a good. But there is this military mentality of the rulers making them want to do things in a mighty hurry. The other complaint against the regime is that heads of state enterprises mostly comprise ex-military personnel who don’t intend taking advice from professionals.

Recently we saw Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith calling a press conference and protesting against a proposed LNG Power Plant that is to come up at Muthurajawela. The Cardinal has warned of possible adverse social and ecological impacts if the project gets the greenlight. The Cardinal has warned that the country belongs to the people and that the rulers should not act as if they own the country.

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime has not shown a liking to work with the blessings of the Buddhist clergy who have clout. Given the lofty position Buddhism enjoys in the country, thanks to the constitution, it’s not a good idea for a regime to isolate itself from the heads of the Buddha Sasana.

Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda, the President of the State Services Nurses’ Association, is backing health workers these days to strike again if the government doesn’t give into their demands. Their earlier protests were strengthened through the involvement of three nurses’ unions which are demanding promotions among other needs. In the history of Sri Lanka Buddhist priest have backed many struggles by laymen and most of the time such efforts have proved fruitful because of the clout that the saffron robe carries

The regime is also hunting its detractors by using the ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’. JVP’s National Organizer and the Party’s Political Committee member Bimal Rathnayake speaking to a leading Sinhala weekend newspaper highlighted that the regime is using this act to silence its critics who are active on social media. He also underscored that the government was breaching existing laws, destroying democracy and arousing nationalistic feelings in the minds of the people.

Critics also point out that the government is also on a drive to halt most imports to the country. As a result the government is hellbent on restricting imports and bringing in of nonessential items. Hence the government will restrict the import of items such as mobile phones, televisions, fridges, electronic items and perfumes. If one studies this list carefully two things are clear. One is that this regime considers communication tools such as mobile phones and televisions a threat. The other fact is that all items in this list appeal to youth hence old senior citizens who run the country might have lost interest in such products. However much the regime boasts of taking the country forward the old passive ways of veteran lawmakers surface when the chips are down and a failed system is exposed. The government wants to retain money circulating in the country by limiting imports. But it is conveniently turning a blind eye to the possible loss of income amounting to Euro 2.3 million if the country doesn’t improve its failing human rights record and loses the GSP plus facility.

In the context of violating human rights the present regime has already come under severe criticism from European bodies and the international community. Just the other day Ceylon Teachers’ Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin along with 30 others was arrested in Colombo for protesting against a bill to privatise a defence establishment which offers degree programmes. UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said in parliament that the regime has in the process of arresting protesters taken in an international figure such as Stalin. Wickremesinghe by saying so gave a clear message to the regime which is not to mess with known and established professionals in the country. Also mention must be made of Consumer Rights Activist Asela Sampath who was arrested after the authorities maintained that he had made adverse comments regarding a certain COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out. He was later given bail thanks to the efforts of Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa dispatching a legal team to Sampath’s assistance.

A ruthless regime powered by ex and present military personnel will make people get used to a command. Such a regime would never tolerate opinion and the voice of dissent. But one thing that this regime is quite incapable of understanding is that the hungry and starving man can be the lethal weapon in the next revolution against the state. For the government’s bad luck such people form the majority in a group of 69 lakh voters who voted for a change of regime.

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Disclaimer: A bullish regime’s inability to perceive dissent By Ravi Nagahawatte - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view

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