OUSTED Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa(pix) and family members must redeem themselves and return all the wealth amassed corruptly to the Sri Lanka government. They should ask for forgiveness from the Sri Lankan masses, to end the violence of people burning their properties.

The street protests are loud and clear: Stop all the hurt to people and economic rape of the nation.

Sri Lankans blame the Rajapaksa dynasty for the economic meltdown that has left the country with only around US$50 million (RM219 million) in reserves, stalling most imports and leading to massive shortages of fuel, cooking gas and other essentials.

An online petition, titled “Save Sri Lanka”, was to be forwarded to the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, attributing Sri Lanka’s present plight to bad economic decision-making, poor fiscal planning and management as well as rampant corruption by politicians and government officials.

There is widespread anger against the Rajapaksa family. The time has come for Sri Lanka to establish mechanisms to recover the country’s stolen assets and proceeds accumulated through corruption.

Sri Lanka has been grappling with its worst economic crisis since independence more than 70 years ago. The country faces a bleak prospect with the collapse of the rule of law, making Rajapaksa an absolute dictator and establishing kleptocracy as a norm.

Everything that is evolving in Sri Lanka results from a corrupt government, perpetuated by the Rajapaksa family leadership that has infringed the law to hold on to the reins of power, consolidating their positions.

Today, Sri Lankans are determined to be resilient and to throw the government out. Unfortunately, they are facing the challenges and realities of failures of their leaders.

They are now engulfed in darkness, but Sri Lanka will finally see the light when the dust settles, riots stop and president Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is ousted.

Sri Lanka finds itself in an unprecedented situation. It so happens that the beleaguered president is now running a one-man show. People power has ousted his brother Mahinda, who was part of the 73-year-old government.

Protests in the capital city of Colombo have grown in size and spread across the country. Nationwide, the Sri Lankan psyche has changed. Sri Lankans are furious because the cost of living has become unaffordable.

The island nation has been involved in a long-drawn war with the Tamil Tigers in the northern part of the island, where there has been indiscriminate bombings.

Gotabhaya was then former defence chief, who crushed the Tamil rebels in a bloody civil war, which ended 13 years ago.

It is opined by Tamil leaders and others worldwide that the riots in Sri Lanka maybe karmic. The Rajapaksas triggered the Sri Lankan Civil war, which killed over 200,000 Tamil civilians.

For over 73 years, the Rajapaksas and other leaders manipulated the laws, cheated and stole elections to stay in power. How long will Sri Lankans remain silent?

Their economic problems are because its foreign currency reserves have run dry. The country is heavily reliant on imports but can no longer afford to pay for staple food and fuel.

The government blames the Covid-19 pandemic, which killed Sri Lanka’s tourist trade – one of its biggest foreign currency earners.

Through street protests, Sri Lankans are creating a wave of change for a better future.
Sri Lanka is blessed with a wealth of natural resources and talent, but corruption has become part and parcel of daily life.

Nepotism of the Rajapaksa family members can be seen, with eight top vital positions of the Cabinet and government held by them. People power is now forcing Gotabhaya to step down, but the task is a long and winding road.

It is a message for future leaders to lead a fair and balanced, non-corrupt government. Future leaders must champion the cause against corruption and leave a legacy for the nation to prosper.

In the circle of life, we reap what we sow.
Sri Lanka’s new leaders have to put the house in order. We hope the people’s voices will not be silenced.

No Sri Lankan deserves a government that makes them live in fear, uncertainty, poverty, with weakened democratic institutions and systemic racism.

M. Krishnamoorthy is a freelance journalist and has been a local producer for CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Australian TV networks. He has also freelanced for The New York Times, TIME, The Sydney Morning Herald, and worked full time for The Star and New Straits Times for 25 years. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com