Protest march on Parliament, photo from Sunday Leader
Mahinda, having lobotomized and skull fucked the Constitution, was greeted by protests everywhere outside of Parliament, the only place it mattered. As such, these protestations were mere affectations, about as efficacious as herbs. Mahinda’s passage of the 18th amendment was foreshadowed for months if not a year. The UNP has been dropping MPs like they were hot since 2005. It was only a matter of time and the public protests are, like everything else, a mere symbolic display. It looks like democracy and smells like burning tires but it’s really not. It’s just part of the royal show.
Mahinda is now King of Sri Lanka, and a pretty good king. His brothers are regents and his son is heir to the throne. Instead of a cape and a diadem, however, his symbolic source of power is the election. An election he controls financially, perceptually (through the media), and physically (through the police) and an election whose conduct and results he now controls through the Elections Commission. Mahinda cheated before and he’ll cheat again and no one really cares. It looks like an election and it has real votes and stuff, but these are no more elections. It’s a symbolic ritual controlled by bureaucratic priests. Some opposition candidate is sacrificed so that the Rajapaksas may live forevermore.
Which is to say, the protests yesterday were a joke. The thing went down in Parliament, the protests were just a mere burp of disapproval. Not saying that protest is not a valid form of expression, indeed, with Mahinda’s gerrymolesting of the Constitution, it is now one of the few ways to actually change the government. It is just that protest should be the part of a broader movement which crosses its t’s and dots it’s i’s. Mahinda took a slow, deliberate path to getting what he wanted and it could have been stopped at any point if the opposition had anything to rally around. If there was some hope for the future.
Instead all there was Ranil Wickremesinghe, the losing candidate from the last 13 elections, standing for what? A transposition of his UNP dictatorship into power? A cease-fire with a dead terrorist group? Meh. The only guy who could have feasibly led a protest was the last Presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka who Mahinda put in jail. So there you have it. Game, set, match. The oppositions response was about as effective as sending a streaker across the court. It caught the cameras and the play quickly resumed. Mahinda then sent Mervyn Silva out afterwards for some light entertainment, and to prevent people from seriously processing the heavy shit that went down.