Nation before politics, the mantra for recovery - Prof. Rohan Gunaratna | Sunday Observer
“Continuity of protests will lead to economic chaos”

Nation before politics, the mantra for recovery - Prof. Rohan Gunaratna

22 May, 2022

Sri Lanka and its people can emerge stronger from this crisis if they learn from the lessons of the past and the present. The message to its leaders and the public is clear - place the country before party politics, Hon. Prof. Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and Senior Advisor to its Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Prof. Rohan Gunaratna told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

According to Prof. Gunaratna, nation before politics should be the mantra for recovery and progress. A bipartisan approach where the Government and the Parliamentary Opposition work together to address the challenges facing Sri Lanka is at the heart of recovery.

When the livelihoods of Sri Lankans are at stake including a million Sri Lankans who are likely to starve, it is not the time for confrontational politics. This is the time for the people to come together and address an apex challenge that is now a crisis. Unless the crisis is addressed collectively, it will lead to chaos and chaos will lead to catastrophe.

It is a message to the politicians and to the public. If the protests do not stop, tourism will end, investments will decline, and exports will take a severe beating. It is inevitable that the banking and financial system will entirely collapse and its recovery will take years.

The protests have sent a clear message to the Government and Opposition. Political leaders, the Government and the public have heard the message of the protesters clearly - the civilian protesters want change. They need transparency and accountability. At the same time, in a country where people lack discipline, the protests will inevitably lead to violence. The continuity of protests will achieve nothing except economic chaos and collapse, he said.

The main pillars of the Sri Lankan economy were crippled during the past three years. First, the Easter Sunday attacks on April 21, 2019 by Sri Lankan Muslim extremists and neglect of security crippled tourism. Second, with the Covid pandemic, expatriate worker remittances to Sri Lanka declined with their repatriation. Third, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the decline of tourism and increase in energy prices, the Sri Lankan economy became unsustainable.

To recover from the cascading effects of the Easter attack, Covid pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine in the backdrop of economic and financial mismanagement for decades, leaders in the Government and the Opposition as well as the public need to engage in intelligent decision making. Even though the main pillars of the country’s economy have been hit, we can still recover if we engage in good decision making not only at the top but at all levels, he added.