Planned reform for Sri Lanka to come out from the ongoing economic crisis should be applicable for military as well and there should be a downsizing in the island nation’s military, opposition legislator Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam told parliament.
On the final day of the interim budget debate, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress lawmaker said the government is maintaining a massively structured military even during ongoing economic crisis time in the former Northern war zone in Sri Lanka to “oppress the general public”.
“When talking about restructuring, there was no discussion about restructuring of the military. The military structure is so big that in the budget – 19 percent of the budget last time,” Ponnamabalam told the parliament on Friday (02).
“For education and health together, it (the total) did not come up to 10 percent. In this interim budget you have increased slightly for those areas. But for military also you have increased.”
Most Northern opposition legislators have raised concerns over heavy military presence in the region despite the end of a 26-year war in 2009 with the defeat of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a terrorist outfit which demanded an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils in Sri Lanka’s North and East.
Ponnambalam said, the government has allocated more money at a time when the rupee is depreciating and even there was no enemies seen in the country. Instead, he said, the money should have used for the general public.
“Our view is that, this interim budget fails miserably. It fails because this government, particularly the president needs the military. The government does not have public support. In fact, they need this government to go home. They want another mandate and an election.” he said.
Ponnambalam was one of the five members who voted against the budget at the end of two-day debate.
Ponnambalam said the government needs the military to oppress the people in order to sustain it because it doesn’t want to face the general public and respect democracy.
“This budget and the government policies in general at no point will look at the concerns of the people in the North and East,” he said.
“Because they require the military in some way to survive politically. And if they are to save politically, they need military to stifle democracy in the South, because that is the only way they can sustain their rule.”
“In that sense, again it is the North and East going to be the target through this.”