Public need to be vigilant about militarisation: SJB

Thursday, 21 January 2021 01:41 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • MP Bakeer Markar warns Govt. sweeping aside experienced public sector officials to make way for military appointments 
  • Charges efforts targeted at reducing due process and promoting blind followers 
  • Warns civil spaces being eroded will have serious future consequences 
  • Questions basis for proposing universal conscription 

By Asiri Fernando

Samagi Jana Balawegaya Parliamentarian Imthiaz Bakeer Markar at the media briefing yesterday


The Government is resorting to stripping away powers from elected officials and specialists in the civil service and appointing serving and retired military officers to fill their roles in an attempt to create a system of ‘Yes Men’ and not to improve efficiency and discipline, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Imthiaz Bakeer Markar alleged yesterday. 

Speaking at a press conference held at the Opposition Leader’s office, Bakeer Markar warned the public to be vigilant about the militarisation by the Government. 

“Today in the civil service, the Foreign Service and the administrative services, qualified and experienced personnel have been brushed aside and replaced by retired military officers. Even elected public officials are being turned into a rubber stamp for the Government today. The Parliament is being turned into a rubber stamp. Policies are being formulated by appointed persons with little input from the elected policymakers,” Bakeer Markar said.

The veteran politician questioned where the Government intended to take the country towards such a system and urged the public to be vigilant. “The Government is appointing ‘Yes Men’ to head ministries. Where is this Government trying to take us? The public need to be awake to this and be vigilant,” he urged. 

Bakeer Markar questioned why a Government minister was proposing to legislate compulsory military training for every citizen over the age of 18. “According to reports, the Minister claims that there is ‘absolutely no discipline in the country’, pointing to a number road accident-related deaths of young motorists. On what basis was this assumption made, was there a study carried out? What is the scientific rationale behind this assumption?” 

The Opposition parliamentarian pointed out that a large number of organisations and services such as Scouting, Girls Guides, Cadetting and Clubs already exists in schools to enhance discipline in pupils. “I believe that a valid solution to the problem is aiding these clubs and activities rather than forcing a military training on the children,” he added.

“Have this been discussed with the Education Ministry or with the Ministry of Youth Affairs? A majority of past and present military leaders and Police officers were products of cadetting at school and being part of the scouting movement. They learned to be disciplined in school and there are a number of other organisations at the school level that teaches leadership to students. Why not support the existing mechanism?” Bakeer Markar stressed. 

“This is the icing on the cake, what the Government wants is to create obedience, to create a slave mindset that enables them to control the public. They want a ‘Yes Sir’ ‘Right Sir’ population that doesn›t challenge them and follows orders obediently,” Bakeer Markar charged. 

He also said as a responsible Opposition, the SJB has decided to allocate 25% of nominations to youth and women when facing elections in the future. 

“We need to get more youth involved in the decision-making process and give them the space needed to contribute,” he said, recalling that following two youth-led insurrections in the past, recommendations were made to improve opportunities for youth, to improve employment opportunities and to mitigate social injustice which pushed youth towards the use of violence. 

“Without addressing those root causes of youth unrest, what we can see the Government trying to do is to create a community which will be obedient to the Government›s agenda and say Yes Sir,” the Opposition MP said.