Updated: Jun 18
On October 26th 2018, the President of Sri Lanka attempted to overthrow his Prime Minister through an unconstitutional coup d’etat, replacing him with the leader of the Opposition party. The country was caught dumbfounded at the arrogance of this move. We had just voted the opposition out in a landmark democratic election three years prior, without bloodshed as well. Three years later we were not as confident that the new government would live up to its promises but were largely buoyed by the fact that the country was turning the corner and that law, justice, equality and progress were all on the table.
Then the President made his illegal play to fracture the coalition government, mostly in retaliation to the coalition not supporting his bid for a second term. This was not only a desperate attempt at holding onto power but immensely naive as his new Prime Minister elect, the leader of the Opposition, was surely to make a move for the Presidency himself and dump the incumbent.
To the people, this was clearly foul play and we rallied against it. On December 17th 2018, the deposed Prime Minister staged a protest rally. Hundreds of people showed up to support not just he, but the unconstitutional manner in which he had been deposed. The first picture you see is that moment, at Galle Face - an iconic landmark of Colombo, flooded with people who rallied against injustice.
The Supreme Court would ultimately decide that the President had violated the constitution and reinstate the deposed Prime Minister. Shockingly, the President was allowed to remain in his position as well. Since that time, both parties have been engaged in a childish battle against each other to consolidate power in to their fiefdoms and deny critical information to each other so they may later finger point and cast blame.
It is this fracture that led us to the current crisis. It is now widely known that various bodies within the government and police we given advance warning of the Easter bombing attacks and chose to do nothing about it.
Six months later, Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka were rocked by the Easter massacre bombings perpetrated by an insidious militant group claiming to be backed by ISIS. That night no one came to the streets to protest as a curfew was declared. An eerily empty Galle Face (pictured second) was all that stood witness to this.
Even today, two sides of the coalition continue to deny any accountability while finger pointing at the other. Even the Opposition is stupefied at the sheer incompetence and petulance of this lot! As a country we have a lot of things to figure out, namely how we come together to protect ourselves against this new menace as well as the incompetence of our own leadership.
Sri Lanka is a country that relies heavily on tourism. The indiscriminate targeting of Sri Lankan's and tourists alike has left our most important industry on shaky ground. Being an owner of a hotel I see the immediate fall out due to cancellations on a massive scale. This is to be expected and we can't profit off people's fear. We are also responsible for our staff, who rely on us to pay their welfare and salaries. It is up to us, the business community, to maintain a business as usual face, and keep the confidence of our workers, our guests and our people.
These next few months will be hard. Especially for tourism areas in the East Coast, like Arugam Bay, who were gearing up for a strong start to the season. I can't talk for others but we have taken on many new staff in anticipation of a strong season. We can't just let them go.
We are a peace loving nation, and this crisis is not an endemic threat. It is the outside influence of global terrorism that attacked Sri Lanka. We will march on and have faith that a few morons with bombs can't derail the spirit and soul of this island. We can only hope that travelers also stand in solidarity with us and continue to visit Sri Lanka.