Home » SRI LANKA Heading towards becoming a failed state

SRI LANKA Heading towards becoming a failed state

Sri Lanka is wrought with political unrest stemming from rising prices, and unemploymentAccording to professor Oliver A. Illeperuma,The rupee is crumbling and ordinary citizens are taxed to the hilt

Sri Lanka is in great danger of becoming a failed state if nothing is done. A failed state is one that has lost both effectiveness and legitimacy. Effectiveness means the capability to carry out state functions such as providing security. Legitimacy means the support of important groups of the population. According to J Goldstone, there are five possible pathways to state failure:

1. Escalation of communal group (ethnic or religious) conflicts. Examples: Sri Lanka, Syria, Somalia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Liberia, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan

2. State predation (corrupt or crony corralling of resources at the expense of other groups). Examples: Sri Lanka, Russian Federation, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, Philippines, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, South Africa, North Korea, Saudi Arabia

3. Regional or guerrilla rebellion. Examples: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey, Congo, Colombia, Vietnam

4. Democratic collapse (leading to civil war or coup d’état). Examples: Nigeria, Madagascar, Nepal

5. Succession or reform crisis in authoritarian states. Examples: Indonesia under Suharto, Iran under the Shah, the Soviet Union under Gorbachev
The failed state’ label is inherently political, and based primarily on Western perceptions of Western security and interests.  When a state fails, it takes time to rebuild the trust of the people.

The following factors are used to ascertain the status of a country.

Mounting demographic pressures and tribal, ethnic and/or religious conflicts.
Massive internal and external displacement of refugees, creating severe humanitarian emergencies.
Widespread vengeance-seeking group grievances.
Chronic and sustained human flight.

Widespread corruption
High economic inequality
Uneven economic development along group lines.
Severe economic decline.

Delegitimization of the state.
Deterioration of public services.
Suspension or arbitrary application of law; widespread human rights abuses.
Security forces operating as a “state within a state” often with impunity.
Rise of factionalized elites.
Intervention of external political agents and foreign states.

 In the 2019 Index, , South Sudan ranked number one, Somalia number two, and Yemen number three. Finland is currently the most stable and sustainable country in the list out of 178 countries. Sri Lanka ranks 50th, after Togo and before Papua New Guinea.
A failed state has several attributes. Common indicators include a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.
Failed states can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty.  One can understand where Sri Lanka is heading towards.

Some observers have justified France’s intervention in Mali on the grounds of humanitarianism, internal stability, and French national security. Critics of these justifications have pointed out the potential humanitarian and security risks posed by the intervention. Both sides of this debate have focused on immediate concerns like the potential for a humanitarian emergency, or the recent history of foreign involvement in the region such as the intervention in Libya. Professor Mark LeVine, however, considers this intervention in wider historical context, arguing that the Malian crisis is not only blowback from the intervention in Libya, but also from colonial policies and French support for North African dictatorships. Levine contends that western policies have combined “to produce maximum chaos,” and concludes that the intervention in Mali may also have a destabilizing effect.

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in late December 1979 by troops from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union intervened in support of the Afghan communist government in its conflict with anti-communist Muslim guerrillas during the Afghan War(1978–92) and remained in Afghanistan until mid-February 1989. The United States invasion of Afghanistan occurred after the September 11 attacks in late 2001,supported by close US allies. 
USSR and US’ invasions of the country that truly caused the conditions preventing Afghanistan’s economy, social standards, and governance from improving since the 1970s. And despite US troops’ upcoming withdrawal, there are little reasons to be optimistic about the future of Afghanistan. Two big powers were partly responsible for AFGHANISTAN becoming a failed state.

Sri Lanka is wrought with political unrest stemming from rising prices, and unemployment. Government mismanagement and rampant corruption continue to diminish economic opportunities. Organized political parties are failing to respond to the needs of the people, continuously showing selfish attitudes and creating a vacuum.Global and regional interferences. High economic inequality, Uneven economic development,Severe economic decline. Deterioration of public services.Suspension or arbitrary application of law,Intervention of external political agents and foreign states.Two Heads in the Government, the president and prime minister fighting each other at the expense of country and her citizens. Easter Sunday bombings which killed more than 250 innocent civilians including 40 foreigners devastating the entire country is a classic example. People of the country are in anger and have lost confidence and faith in both president and prime minister.Therefore it can be factually argued that Sri Lanka is beginning to show all the signs of a failed state.

The corruption is defined as the misuse of public power for private benefits as per The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Denmark and New Zealand are perceived as the least corrupt countries in the world, ranking consistently high among international financial transparency, while the most perceived corrupt country in the world is Somalia, ranking at 9 out of 100 since 2017. Sri Lanka ranked 89.


The first bond scam, perpetrated 50 days after the last presidential election, is the mother of all problems for the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government. The new administration never really recovered from the unprecedented treasury bond scam, though President Sirisena went out of his way to protect the interests of the UNP, for about a year.

According to veteran banker and public activist Rusiripala Tennekoon, “The unprecedented two events which took place in February 2015, one by moving the Central Bank to the Prime Minister’s ministerial responsibility and second by appointing a non- citizen, Arjuna Mahendran as the Governor of the Central Bank on 27th Feb 2015, were crucial factors in the sordid story which unfolded. Mr Tennekoon drew the attention of the audience to another three dramatic, but calculated key issues, which were directly connected to the plot.

According to professor Oliver A. Illeperuma,The rupee is crumbling and ordinary citizens are taxed to the hilt in consumer goods, fuel and services. At the same time, what is squeezed from the common man is supporting expenses for the kith and kin of powerful politicians for sojourns abroad. The presidential entourage to New York last year is a case in point where 63 people joined the bandwagon for merry making in New York. Prime minister too, not to be outdone, has ordered 2 luxury bullet proof vehicles for Rs.590 million rupees according to the JVP leader Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Is this where the hard earned money of the common man go as taxes? 
It was not an open secret that Corruption was rampant during the previous regime where massive amounts of money went into politicians on useless grandiose projects. People voted for the Yahapalana Government hoping that such colossal wastages would not happen with the new Government. I wish to reiterate the Government failure and corruption in his own worlds, “ However, people have been duped again with a worse den of thieves hell bent to rob the people of this country. 
We have a democratic government where the people elect their representatives to the parliament. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as “a form of government of the people, by the people and for the people”. This expression has to be changed for Sri Lanka as “a form of government of some people, by some people for some people”. Let us consider the pathetic situation of our present Government. In 2016, parliament approved Rs. 1.6 billion to import luxury vehicles for ministers and deputy ministers, some costing over Rs. 70 million. One media spokesman had the audacity to say that they need better vehicles to travel to their electorates while they were still using luxury benzes, BMWs for such travel. Is this what the people expect out of the parliament? Selling of MP tax-free car permit is obviously a measure introduced by the successive corrupt governments that abused the people’s sovereignty to facilitate the MPs to defraud the public funds. This is the hard fact acknowledged by the Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake himself in his maiden budget speech delivered in the Parliament on 20th Nov 2015, where he revealed that the government incurs over 40 billions of revenue loss due to the abuse of these tax-free permits. A single day’s parliamentary sittings cost the Sri Lanka’s tax payer around Rs. 4.6 million and yet, when important policy decisions are taken only a handful of members are present. 
Although, we boast of our literacy rate, in my personal opinion is that majority of our voters are not intelligent to select qualified and suitable personnel with character to the parliament.If the majority of the voters are intelligent how can drug lords, actors and actresses who have no education, no feelings to the sufferings of the common man go to the parliament. How can 94 members of parliament without GCE Ordinary Level sit in parliament? In other countries such as Finland, there are only 11 ministers and Holland has only 14 ministers. Yet their economies are booming and the citizens are happy.

As of June 2019, president sirisena has made 31 foreign trips. One visit to China, Pakistan, Maldives, Japan, Malta, France, Vatican City, Germany, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, Australia, Bangladesh, Qatar, South Korea, Iran, Tajikistan. Two visits to United Kingdom. Three visits to Thailand and United States. Four visits to India.There are few leading questions to be raised. One is that how many personnel were accompanied for each visit and who are they? Two, how much public money has been spent on each trip and each one of them? Interestingly,with respect to His Excellency the president and his untiring efforts, Sri Lanka is heading towards a failed state.

How many presidential commission of inquiries were held by president? What really happened to them? How much public money spent on each? What actions taken against culprits? These are the basic questions asked by general public. Majority feel that appointing presidential commission of inquiries are fake and well directed dramas. Public have completely lost confidence in these inquiries and the person who appoints commissions. No person with common sense willing to believe these fake inquiries.

In the context of the political corruption cesspit, Sri Lanka has fallen into, this adage quite deservingly applies to its’ people too, who despite repeated advice continue to mourn after getting deceived regularly by sending a different set of political actors at each election to represent them based on idle promises.
While many of us may not be governance specialists; we can however equally relate to the impacts of good and bad governance. It needs no rocket science for ordinary citizenry to realize that good governance (GG) in Sri Lanka is still a distant dream. 

It is desirable and appropriate at this hour of need to mention some of the public opinions about Sri Lankan politicians.
Opinion one -When one would consider the tasks fulfilled by these men on the list above, they are no worth even to be offered bullock carts … these are tax payers funds, for what purpose, the state maintain these men even by offering the kind of cruisers for their transport. Had the rulers been that pragmatic, they could have used the previous vehicles after being repaired… today the roads are well enough for drivers to drive without any problems. That is the fact.Any country with lower annual income levels, first ever income bringing mean has been sending innocent women to slave in Middle east, but these men to abuse the state funds this way, is no means acceptable.
There are countries, that use their vehicle pools again and again, decades long. Today depending on maintenance, life time of vehicles are very good.
What we need is proper vehicle repair sites. These are state properties. We don’t need to buy new vehicles abusing the funds that could well be used for the benefit of masses that would not even have 2 $ a day for their living. Authorities, please rethink.. we call this a Buddhist nation but to abuse own folks and their resources to give sophisticated life styles to abusive politicians should be banned.
Opinion Two- Sri Lanka has Failed Politicians who are crooks, liars , thieves and criminals., and the populace with an average IQ of 79 goes along or is dragged along. Agitate, agitate and agitate.Both the leaders, the president and prime minister have lost public confidence.

Above explanations and examples are more than enough to logically prove the corruptions, misuse of authority along with public funds result in ineffectiveness and inefficiency of president, prime minister and cabinet preparing the country towards a failed state. No further details or factual are required to suggest that the current leadership and the government has failed and they are slowly but surely heading toward a failed state. Only way forward and people in this country should awaken from their deep sleep and think of a better country for their children and grandchildren by forcing the government to hold election in order to select educated, patriotic,qualified and suitable candidates to the parliament to pull the country before it ends up as a failed state.

(The writer is the former security forces commander ( Wanni), The Competent Authority for Internally Displaced Personnel in North,The Colonel Commandant of the Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment, world top ten in National Defence Studies ( China), A Doctor in Economics and the Architect of Wanni Bogaswewa settlement with 36 years of Active Military Service. Presently working as International writer and International Researcher.


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