Political Mayhem Ceylon Today 25.02.2017
English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, George Orwell expressed his views on social injustice and tyranny in 1948, as follows: "The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears, and it was their final, most essential command!" Sometimes one wonders whether such statements congruently fit into our current political climate!
The word 'politics', derived from the Greek term Politika, relates to the affairs and activities, as regards a country is concerned, where decisions are made and executed for the benefit of a society on a methodical process. It means a particular group will get elected from the populace as 'politicians' to execute the division of power and resources within that society.
What has happened to this country, from the time she gained independence from the colonial rule, is rather pathetic. Rather than getting united as one nation and working for the benefit and welfare of her people, what has taken place is only segmentation of groups with various political views and hues, to seek power mainly, with selfish mindsets. This we proudly keep on bragging as 'Democracy.'
Over 69 long years, except a very few, our politicians have played the same game egocentrically. Although every successive leader has been proposing 'sugar-coated' concepts that 'Sri Lanka needs a new political culture’, yet nothing constructive has been adopted so far, except bribery and corruption.
Recently I watched an interesting TV interview with Vidura Wickremanayake and was appalled upon hearing how they 'had to sign a promissory note to remove the remains of Ratnasiri Wickremanayake when he expired after an illness' (The Presidential fund subsequently had reimbursed the payment.)
This goes to show to what a pathetic the situation this country has slipped into. After all, the late Ratnasiri Wickremanayake was a parliamentarian for 55 years; he was also the country's Prime Minister once and people cherished him as a gentleman more than a politician.
The voter detests a politician when he/she exhibits lack of honesty, sincerity and simplicity and when their conscience does not correspond with the rectitude of the people. S.W.R.D Bandaranaike, Philip Gunawardena, and M.D.H. Jayawardena have gone on record as eminent gentlemen-cum-politicians who dedicated their work for the masses by spending their own personal wealth by coming into politics. This was because their conscience was on par with the ordinary man's necessities. They were genuinely committed to accomplish an honest job for the improvement of the country and its people, but the current politics in this country is rather putrid and rancid, to say the least.
Why do people see politics as a travesty today when Sri Lanka adopts a free economic policy where anyone is able to dabble in business? This is simply because politicians have transformed it into a thriving industry and doors are open for sneaky schemers to enter politics and fiddle in business deals rather than being servants of the public. What is amazing is connivers claim they hail from business oriented family backgrounds when trapped, but the million-dollar question is why on earth do they enter politics?
Corruption aspect in the country is evidently clear by watching the number of politicians visiting the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) and other fraud commissions. Surely should there be any smoke without a fire? Or are they becoming political victims, as many offenders claim?
Sri Lankan politicians do not seem to have learnt anything at all from their past experiences. A former Minister of Education removed the subject of 'History' from the school curriculum. What more can be said about our political hierarchy when they intentionally deny the history of the country to the younger generation? In the same vein, some are currently engaged in debates over the ancient war between King Dutugemunu and Elara, and there has been a hue and cry to remove such historical records on the premise that it would improve Sanhidiyawa (new phrase coined for racial / religious harmony)!
Can regulations or removal of historical records improve Sanhidiyawa? Certainly not, but it is the human feeling that needs to restructure that emerges out of every human heart. It would, therefore, depend upon the authorities concerned to mould young minds from the nursery level.
Politicians generally are the luckiest creatures on earth. Sri Lankan parliamentarians are no exception, they in fact qualify for the Guinness Book of Records for drawing a full salary as MPs (with side businesses they engage in), perks such as free fuel, electricity, mobile phone allowances and free telephones, duty free car permits worth millions of rupees including security back-ups, free air travel on business class, increased allowances to attend parliamentary sessions with additional funeral/wedding grants and a full pension after five years of being an MP. The latter is an area where the public needs to protest about, either to reform MPs' pension scheme or compulsorily scrap it, to prove magnanimity of parliamentarians.
A major failure in our system is the parliamentarians' avoidance to disclose their assets to the Speaker in detail. The information records of politicians, their spouses, children or dependents, will help to investigate how and when excessive income and assets (if any) have been accumulated since becoming legislators. When there are discrepancies of a visible nature only the public begin to point fingers at them and condemn with criticisms such as "those who rode bicycles initially have begun flying in helicopters”.
According to the Sri Lankan law, a breach of the code for parliamentarians may result in confiscation of excess or undeclared property and its forfeiture to the government. Sadly, this aspect of the law, like many other statutes, appears to be neglected.
The attitudes of politics and politicians in this country need to change drastically before one could call it a just society. By the same token, should the children of VIPs and VVIPs take the law unto their own hands using their parents' political clout? It has to be either the parents' responsibility to reprimand such incorrigible broods, or in return off springs should learn how to behave in a decorous manner to uphold their parents' integrity. Unfortunately, neither of the two takes place in Sri Lanka. Instead, what we see are political cronies exercising more power than their own masters to make things worse