SRI LANKA: New Year Wish List – 2011 

We hope that wishing for a happy new year in Sri Lanka is not just mere wishful thinking.

We wish:

1. That Rizana Nafeek, facing a death sentence in Saudi Arabia, will be released as soon as possible. This wish can become true only if the Sri Lankan government makes all the diplomatic efforts to seek pardon from His Royal Highness, the King of Saudi Arabia, and the family of the deceased child. The coming months will be for her crucial months, deciding her fate either way. We also wish a better deal for all migrant workers who are engaged in mostly tedious and difficult jobs in the Middle East and other countries with inadequate pay and hardly any protection.

2. We also wish that all unnecessary deaths be brought to an end by decisive actions by the government to strengthen the rule of law. The mysterious deaths heard from Jaffna these days is an indication of social conditions in which the normal controls for the protection of people from murder has been lost. The protection of life is the primary obligation of the state and this involves also the maintenance and improvement of healthcare for all. To not the sacrifice the life of the poor in the name of development should be a primary concern for the government and the society.

3. The greatest happiness of the greatest number of Sri Lankan people depends on the abdication of the excessive powers of the Executive President and that his status as Head of State should bring him no more privilege than available to heads of states of democratic countries such as the United States, France and other democratic countries that have a presidential system. Excessive power destroys social order and brings the public institutions to nothing. Above all, the Executive Presidency as it exists now has devoured and undermined the very principle of the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers. Judicial power has been reduced to a marginal and an insignificant level. The protection of individuals and the competing social interests depend on the restoration of the power of the judiciary to the same standard of democratic countries that respect independence of judiciary and separations of powers.

4. Sri Lanka is a country of low income earners. As such, untold increases of the prices of essential goods and essential services brings unhappiness for most of the families in Sri Lanka. Preventing such unhappiness should be a primary concern of the government and of all political parties.

5. Freedom and happiness always go together. The ordinary freedoms that people in democratic countries enjoy in participating in all social life, including political life, and the freedoms of the media and of publications, are essential to maintaining happiness within society. It is to be hoped that the government will not disturb such happiness and that all those who are deprived of freedoms, except due to legitimate reasons acceptable to a democratic society, be freed immediately. We hope that illegal arrest, illegal detention, unjust deprivation of bail and deprivation of fair trial will not be allowed to continue to disturb the happiness of the Sri Lankan people.

6. Torture practiced in all police stations everyday is a cause of unhappiness to many people throughout the country. Such practice of torture also creates intimidation and fear in a society. Fear destroys happiness. Every attempt must be made to end the indiscipline of the Sri Lankan policing system and the major illness of this system, which is known as politicization.

7. The happiness of children is the test of the happiness of any society. Providing adequate facilities for the education of all children should remain a primary goal of governance and also of development.

We hope the New Year will be a happier one than the years that have passed by. The war has ended but happiness has not returned to the people. We particularly express our concern for people in the north and east who have faced the brunt of all the difficulties of war and its aftermath. We also remember the displaced persons and all the persons who have been deprived of the protection of law.