Former Minister and Parliamentarian Mangala Samara-weera yesterday spearheaded the launch of an apolitical movement called ‘Radical Centre’ by a group of multifaceted multi-ethnic youth calling themselves as true patriots.
The middle path or ‘Radical Centre’ is based on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and justice as the four pillared-foundation for a just, caring and prosperous society. It draws inspiration from liberal democratic principles.
Radical Centre is a platform of moderation providing the silent majority to oppose and fight authoritarianism, racism and all other forms of extremism actively and vigorously.
It provides an engaging forum where all Sri Lankans can discover their common humanity going beyond the boundaries of race, creed and caste.
The launch coincided with the 38th anniversary of the 1983 Black July ethnic clashes, considered to be the one of the darkest days in Sri Lanka’s history.
Flanked by professional, entrepreneurial and multi-ethnic youth at the ‘Freedom Hub’ at Darley Road – Colombo 9, Mangala said all right-thinking people across Sri Lanka must break their silence and unite to protect democracy and lead the country to an inclusive socioeconomic growth trajectory.
“The tyranny of the few can only be defeated if the silent majority – the true patriots – come forward for the greater good of the people and the country,” he added.
Mangala said at the time of gaining independence in 1948, the country was considered one of the most developed in Asia.
“But, as many countries in the world today, including those that were considered poorer than Sri Lanka back then, are moving towards an era of Bitcoin-BlockChain-NFT-Artificial intelligence, we have fallen into bankruptcy. We are becoming a failed State isolated from the world,” the former Finance Minister said.
He also listed a host of economic issues such as the debt challenge, foreign reserve crisis, negative or low growth, fertiliser and food crisis amidst the COVID pandemic.
“Sri Lanka has fallen into this state today because of decades of politics through the sale of false patriotism, the voters who were continuously deceived by these so-called patriots and an Opposition that interfered with the Government’s attempts to do what is right in the name of patriotism. In fact, everyone else involved in governance, including myself, is to some extent responsible for the current situation,” admitted Mangala.
“Today it is said everywhere that ‘Sir has failed’. But it is not President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has really failed today. It is the religious, majoritarian and outdated socialist ideologies he represents that has failed. Today, it is the Government that promised a solitary Sinhala Government that has failed.
“Who has failed today is the present Opposition which has gone beyond ‘Sir’ in proposing an ideology containing racism and majoritarianism as a solution. What has failed today is the socialist mentality based on religiosity and narrow racism that has fascinated the voters of this country since 1965. Not only ‘Sir’, ‘Sa’ has failed as well,” charged Mangala.
He said what Sri Lanka needs today is an alternative, not a substitute.
“If we are to better this country’s future and to lay the foundation for a future where the youth of today can live freely let us now identify exactly what true patriotism is. As true patriots, let us discuss how to take the country forward economically and politically.
“Moreover, let’s free ourselves from the ‘frog in the well’ mentality and plan how to conquer the world for the sake of the children of our country. Let us talk not only about the development, security and sovereignty of our country, but also about the appearance of the country that our children will inherit in the future,” he said.
Stressing that now is the time to discuss how Sri Lanka can move forward hand-in-hand with the world without being isolated from it, Mangala said Sri Lanka must begin this conversation, not tomorrow, not next year, not at the next elections.
“We must begin this conversation today, right at this moment without avoiding it any further,” he said.
It was pointed out that today those with different ideologies are attempting to create alliances based solely on anti-Rajapaksa sentiments. However, what is really needed is an alternative based on policies and plans, not a substitute based merely on opposition.
“That option must be a patriotic one, not limited to one race, religion, caste, party, group or family. At this critical juncture, our country needs an alternative ideology based on democracy, freedom, brotherhood and unity based on justice and the rule of law. We need an ideology that protects the environment, plants and animals too. Let us now move towards a true patriotic ideology based on liberal democracy,” he said.
He said the Freedom Hub, where the Radical Centre is located, is active as a centre for all those who want to radically advocate the middle path or liberal democracy.
“We invite all true patriots to join us through social media,” Mangala appealed, adding: “This difficult situation is the moment when we as true patriots must truly stand strong.”