Protesters are terrorists to the nation - Gamunu | Daily News

Protesters are terrorists to the nation - Gamunu

We need a protest movement to save state assets – Prof. Gunaruwan:

People are asking for a “system change.” The question is how to achieve it? Is it through reforms or a continuous struggle? Considering the dire economic situation in the country, one has to be careful about the ways and means to achieve this. Will the protests scuttle the development of the country? The Daily News spoke to a cross section of the people who are concerned about the current situation.

 


Ven. Professor Kumburugamuwe Vajira Thera, was of the opinion that this is not the correct time for protests.

“We cannot deny the fact that there are problems in the country. This is the case everywhere in the world. I feel that we need to find solutions without protesting. This is our duty. The economy in Sri Lanka is in bad shape. I feel that we must all unite and work together and rebuild our economy. By continuing these protests we will fall further into the abyss. That is what I feel. Some political parties are trying to exploit the present situation to achieve their own political agendas.”

 


Former Dean and Professor, University of Technology Jamaica, Attorney-at-Law, Prathiba Mahanamahewa, voiced his concern about our Motherland.

“At the moment discussions are going on with the IMF to restructure our loans. Therefore, it is necessary to have stability in the country. If anyone has done economic crimes or corporate crimes, there is no doubt that action should be taken against them. It should be done in a systematic way. The government has taken certain measures to address these issues. If protests are happening continuously, the Motherland cannot bear that. I am not calling these protests ‘unnecessary’. But if they continue then what will be the outcome? The international forum must look at Sri Lanka positively. Many countries are willing to help us. We have to generate confidence. For that, political stability is of fundamental importance.”

 


Program Director Women and Media Collective, Dr. Sepali Kottegoda felt that the protests drew attention to the problems we face today.

“The economy has been de-stabilized already by the policies that have been followed over the last several years. What the protests did was to bring that into public space and to draw attention to the fact that remedial action had to be taken. Those accountable must be made to respond. I do not think it had any de-stabilizing impact on the economy. I think the economists and the policymakers must understand that the protests were in response to the already de-stabilized economic conditions. I think the authorities must not engage in this kind of aggressive action against protesters.”

 


Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association President Gemunu Wijeratne thought that these protests are manoeuvred by inimical foreign elements.

“I call these protests a terrorism. Not many have understood this. Everyone knows that the economy has been badly affected. Protesters are terrorists to the already collapsed nation. I believe this is international terrorism. This is being controlled by certain parties in Europe. There are terrorism agencies in Sri Lanka. Where do these protesters get the money from? These days we know that many people are pointing fingers at politicians calling them dishonest. Right now I am writing a book about the Aragalaya. I even believe that certain political parties in Sri Lanka are funded by certain parties in Europe. So this needs to be investigated. I call this an economic war. I feel that there is a hidden agenda here. What is our intelligence doing?”

 


Retired Senior DIG and Commandante of STF, Nimal Lewke felt it is vital that the leadership wins over the people.

“The actions of the people will affect the normal progress of a country. If the system is not working properly, it will really affect the economy. Ours being a developing country, so for us to move forward, we have to have democracy in this country. Even during the war, as STF officers, our top priority was to protect the people. The most important thing is to win the confidence of the people. Without the confidence of the people no country will prosper. When it comes to the economy, people should be comfortable. Without their support, without their contribution to the economy, the economy will not progress. So if people protest, that will affect the smooth functioning of the society. Society is the responsibility of the government. That is where you win the confidence of the people. So giving the protesters an explanation is an important task. The message to the people of this country is important. When you give them a positive message they will be with you. Without that we just cannot progress. We also need the support of the international community. So to win the support of the international community you need a stable government. You need a stable leadership. The leadership must win the confidence of the people in this country. When this happens the international community will give assistance to develop.”

 


Department of Economics, Colombo University, Professor Lalithasiri Gunaruwan,

“We need a protest movement to save state assets. If there is no protest, Sri Lanka will have no assets to save for the future. The government is blaming the protest movement and discrediting the State institutions for the present economic crisis. State institutions are blamed for inefficiency and corruption, and thereby the government is trying to sell state institutions. First you have to identify the root cause of the problem - as a country, we are living beyond means. That has to be rectified. If there is no protest movement, the country will be sold out.”

 


Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said that the right message needs to be sent out to the public as well as the international community at large.

“I think the protests send out a message that what the government is doing is not acceptable to the people at large. The government and the people have to make some hard and difficult decisions to get the country back on track as far as the economy is concerned. So what we need is a government that can talk to the people, convince them and persuade them that they need to make certain sacrifices if things are going to get better. So, yes there might be a destabilizing effect, but on the other hand you cannot deny the right of the people of the country to make their voices heard. If there are demonstrations in the streets, perhaps tourists might not think it is a safe place to come to. Likewise, investors too want the rule of law and they want stability. So they too might think twice.”

 


Author and Writer, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara, felt that protests do more harm than good.

“These protests really do not make much sense to me. I feel that there are political parties behind these protests. These protests are inane to me. It does more harm than good. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has offered an alternative. If that does not work out, then there must be another alternative. We will have to wait and see. If there are protests without presenting an alternative, that will be a political trap.”

 


Retired Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando, felt that peace is needed for tourism to thrive and to generate confidence to attract foreign remittances.

“There are two areas we need to consider when we think of our economy. Number one is Tourism. As long as there is peace, tourists will come to this country. We are a service-oriented country. We have a manufacturing industry, but it is very limited. The second source is foreign remittances. The Opposition says that ‘the people over there don’t send remittances. They are making use of illegal methods to send the money.” Why? We have to stabilize the economy and generate confidence. We are suffering. The middle class is suffering. Our economy was badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the recovery became very difficult. Yesterday I went down South which used to be a very popular tourist destination. Now there is no tourism there. People are suffering. We have to make sure that there is peace in this country to attract tourism.”


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