A presidential election at the height of the tourist season? An interview with Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

For me this election is very crucial for a number of reasons.

From the fifties onwards this kind of boisterous formal democratic functions – all beautiful and all – has been growing unlike in India in the subcontinent which has been committed to institutions and processes of parliamentary democracy. Now this has got a battering over the years. I think this is probably the greatest threat, because what you have got is a dynastic project and State capture by the family headed by a populist authoritarian figure underpinned by his personal popularity – probably the most popular politician at one level. Now under the Rajapaksa regime there is no space for civil society. Rights are irrelevant at best, subversive at worst, transformed into what we called the text book East Asian model. For the first time in our history we have a military which is a major actor in politics as well as the economy. ‘It’s the Military Incorporated’.

This is new to Sri Lanka. We have had this democratic tradition since 1931 and we were the first non-white colony to have universal franchise.

Read the full interview with Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu published in The Sunday Island newspaper here or download PDF of it here.