One of the reactions to the earlier article, SRI LANKA: Defending the nation's internal security, is "What’s wrong? The military has come to stay." What is chilling is that it appears to be a frank statement happily proclaiming a fait accompli. Earlier generations of Sri Lankans used to proudly say that democracy had come to stay in their country. Not many seem to feel that way anymore. The late J.R Jayewardene seems to have made a correct prediction when he said that his constitution had come to stay.
That is how sad it is. The last article was on the Ministry of Defence having become the most important institution in the country, under only the Executive Presidency. In fact, the two positions are only formally different, and in real politics they are same. The reader has come to the conclusion that the military has come to stay. He has taken it all to mean the same thing.
He is not wrong. The national security state and what used to be called the military state are not very different. In a military state, someone with a military cap is on top. In the public security state, there may not be such visible signs of military uniforms. Aspects of democratic façade may still be there, mocking at the citizenry at large.
What is important is the reality -- the reality of the loss of liberties, the loss of opportunities for people, and the loss of the right to a decent income.
It is this last aspect that is the ultimate reason for the transformation into a public security state. To deprive the right to strive for a decent income. No wonder one Minister said that Rs. 2,500, that is about US $20 per month is enough for persons "to live without dying". The ideal state of affairs is "to live without dying", the kind of state in which slaves were kept alive. Even the talk about a decent income for all has disappeared from the political parlance.
Not to have the right to liberties, right to opportunities and the right to a decent income is what the national security state is all about. It is for that reason that the Defence Ministry has been given the pride of place as against all other public institutions. Is that what has come to stay?