Transport and logistics professor at University of Moratuwa, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, and former president of Colombo Theological Seminary

“Disruptions are not always unproductive as long as they turn us towards the order that God intended. Though such disruptions are painful, God can, in his infinite mercy, grant a nation healing not just economically but spiritually, as well as politically.”

Long before protestors hit the streets in March to call for the resignation of then president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Amal Kumarage, a transport and logistics professor at the University of Moratuwa, was already publicly voicing his opinions on citizen responsibility.

A familiar byline on the public-interest website Colombo Telegraph, which is run by exiled Sri Lankan journalists, back in 2018 Kumarage called for the need to see past impassioned political allegiances in the clear face of a nation that struggles with “debt, corruption and worse still keeps getting divided along language, racial, religious and now possibly along values and ethics—a symptom of failure of keeping a country together.”

Citizens could not then shirk responsibility after voting in a less-than-capable government, but rather, the “dismantling of the checks and balances of governance rests with us”—the very people ”who have elected them.”

His conclusion: “We should be able to identify and reject the lies, the conspiracy, the greed, the grab and the hold to power to generate values in public opinion around us. On that alone can we rest Sri Lanka’s future.”

On a personal front, Kumarage has taken this said citizen responsibility seriously over the span of his prolific career, serving his countrypeople through his expertise in transport planning, policy implementation, and research.

With his knowledge and experience in one of the most important economic indicators of a country, he has published papers from as early as 2014 (The Real Cost of Highway Development—Who Has Got the Numbers Right?in The Sunday Times) to expose the corrupt practices catalyzing poor investment decisions on highways and roads and enormous financial drain. These issues came to a head this year when fuel prices skyrocketed with inflation and petroleum eventually ran out.

“This is where Christians need to be natural in our calling,” said Kumarage when asked how he was standing up for justice and righteousness toward effective change in Sri Lanka. “In recent years the church has played a much more biblical role in healing the many wounds of the nation.”

On-the-ground humanitarian work is biblical, he says. But the church must also be at work where structural injustice is happening and where, he believes, “prayer and persistence should prevail.”

“As the country looks forward to a ‘system change,’ as the protestors called it, the new expectation—especially of the youth—gives all of us a new opportunity to redeem many areas of corruption, injustice, waste, and neglect all around us, be it in our professions, public services, businesses, or churches.”