14 June, 2024


A Case For Moratoria 

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Many, including the writer, depend heavily on the News Programmes on television, for updates on what happens around us. We cannot but be astonished by the overwhelming content of the sensational and trivial, smothering all that is even mildly comforting. Members of the governing elite complain that their achievements are ignored while the failures are highlighted. There is some justification for this lament. But the media must depend on popular demand for their existence. It is up to the Government to use their vast resources to provide viewers with the “truth”.

As it is, we are fed a diet of Ceremonies, Strikes and Demonstrations, Road accidents, and Crimes with almost nothing of importance and stimulating value. This is amidst a looming financial crisis. Are we fiddling while our Rome burns? Leaving aside the unimpressive claims of Governmental excellence, it is alarming to note an unconcern for the repeated and informed warnings. A few dogs may bark but the wasteful caravan moves along. Calls for public sacrifice when profligacy and indulgence is evident among the privileged few, will not draw a positive response. “Do as I say, not what I do” is counterfeit currency. Are we (actually the Government) serious? We have to believe that they really are. Experience suggests that they may not be.

Surprises and shocks await us by the day. Is it not time (may already be too late) for a determined effort, beginning from the top, to stop this hemorrhage? I am tickled by the monotony with which sundry visitors to the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Malwatte and Asgiriya are repetitively pictured, offering fruit baskets and Atapirikaras to the Mahanayakas. Some of these synthetic Upasakayas – whose deserved place is in Bogambara – should explain how camera crews are always at hand. Distressingly, it seems that the contagion has infected Service Chiefs and appointee s to positions of importance. Have these people no more useful duties to perform? Does it not prick their consciences to waste public funds, paid time and official vehicles to secure their places in heaven? Do they think that the Gods who they seek to placate cannot see through their synthetic piety? Should not the Mahanayakas be spared their time to engage in study and meditation, which are the very reasons for their abandoning lay life? How come that the genuflection before their particular symbols or deities are less on public display by adherents of our other faiths? Is this part of the business of “according the principal place to Buddhism”? The piety writ on their faces as they slyly glance at their camera crews is hilarious! It is about as sincere as the way they dip their heads or place their palms together in salutation to the corpse, which must “regret its inability to thank them individually”. What brings their camera crews along to record their master’s display of most assuredly spontaneous grief! (Reminds me of the guy who said “I make it a point to attend as many funerals as I can, to ensure that they will attend mine”)! It used to be also said that one could hire (for a fee) teams of such “Profession wailers” who would then provide a 24-hour coverage.

The on-going political circus, has provide some mirth but has encouraged the realization that this country can do as well without “governance” as it has done with. How can one endure, without protest, the heavily self-serving antics of our representatives as they trundle between “official residences” expensively renovated and well equipped, in posh cars, provided them at taxpayers cost to help them return to their sinecures. Add to that, the numerous other perks supposedly to help them to do “Political work” in their electorates. while denying estate labour in their clamour for a minimum daily wage of Rs. 1,000/= which is one hundredth of the monthly “electoral service” allowance of their representatives, numbering 225 (and likely to increase further)? The local government members, (universally faulted as a monumental waste) planned to be doubled from 4,000 to 8,000. This against, revelations of a shortage of Teachers, Doctors and Engineers to provide essential services. Anger is visibly building up and is alarmingly displayed by farmers and housewives, threatening ghastly action against those who show their commitment only to garner votes. I find it curious that many seem to think that all ills arise from the postponement of elections of one sort or another. Hardly anyone deals with the accompanying costs of many millions that will be incurred in an exercise, whose return to investment has amply proved to be deficient. If elections are indicators of democracy, the last regime would be one of the most successful exponents of the system.

To me, the most alarming consequence of the cavalier negligence, might encourage actions where there will be no winners. Already there is a breakdown of discipline. More elections, will not assuage the anger of the people – in fact there is a chance that they would increase it.

A preposterous excuse for the lack of a quorum at Parliamentary sittings or of empty front-benches, that this is due to many members (sometimes in dozens) being abroad or many matters of importance postponed “Until the Minister returns from abroad”) do no good. Added to this, the scandal of Car Permits, could be akin to stoking an already raging fire! An obvious remedy is for Parliament getting an adequate number of utility vehicles – to be loaned, cash free and upkeep, drivers and fuel being provided by the State, for the duration of a member’s term. Even if the vehicles return in a totally derelict state, it would be worth the while – avoiding the totally corrupt method that now prevails.

All of this, and more, justifies the heading of this piece. There is no means left than to indulge in cynicism however repugnant.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    My dear Upe

    On Monday I saw Medagoda Thero going begging bowl for cash for Weerawanse in Kohuwela junction. Buggar picked a substantia sum. some even offered Thero fruits they got a bashing from the Thero in utmost filth

  • 3

    It was reported in the Daily Telegraph of UK that Her Majesty’s advisers have advised the Queen “Madam next time if you meet him (MY3) ask for gloves before shaking hands with the brute; because he is a so bad guy”

  • 3

    Unfortunately we are in the stage when the GoSL changes hands only between teams of elites. The money lenders exploit this and the insensitivity of the elites to this life in debt, has become the norm.
    Dr Upatissa Pethiyagoda suggests “A Case For Moratoria”.
    Highly unlikely to happen but if it does, it will at best give a temporary relief.
    We have but one option, which is to compel the elites to show sensitivity to impending fall off the Failed-State-Cliff. We must thank ‘the freedom of expression’ we have at the moment.

  • 2

    What is the solution. Even the Constitution amendments 1-19 are FRAUDs. On the otherh and IMF and WORLD Bank have not stopped destroying Sri lanka. Sri lankan politicians are part of that. Even the opposition politicians do not talk about those probably they are scared of the death by some unknwon assasin. Sri lankan voters have no escape. Party constitutions are Monopoly. Politicians give nominations to candidates. but they ask us to elect good representatives. What is the solution. I think both JVP and LTTE tried it. For them even the new train engine or the train is a reason for a new celebration to talk about. there is a dsigusting competition to admit children to “GOOD SCHOOLS”. tjhat means Politicians whether it is from the last govt or this govt did not increase the no of A grade schools. Now they use the admission date as something to celebrate. It looks the corruption and injustice is at the level of the end of Roman kingdom. Every conceivable injustice and criminal or fradulent thing happen.

  • 3

    Ranil Wicramasinghe is a LIAR who even told lies to Mahanayake theros.

  • 2

    Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda:
    You discussed, financial crisis, media bias, Buddhist clergy, corrupt politicians. You suggest moratorium on what and how that could address the issues permanently?

  • 4

    Dr Pethiyagoda has highlighted our parlous state of affairs.

    The last two governments, the cabinets that served, and the politicians were simply ‘unfit for purpose’. Party political leaders have contributed to our downfall by nominating sub-standard candidates, and tolerating an infestation of thugs, crooks, scammers and yes-men.

    Scams galore, and an unashamed culture of self-serving has been the result.

    The decent ordinary Sri Lankan has been let down, and the national treasury has been sucked dry. We live day to day on the remittances of house maids, and other Sri Lankans forced to serve the economies of other countries capable of rewarding them better.

    Our skilled and talented Sri Lankans, continue to abandon their homeland exasperated with the lack of opportunity. All they see around them is nepotism and graft. 70% of appointments to central and local government are made on the basis of who you support politically, rather than your capability to do the job.

    The grim outlook is that nothing will change. At least not until WE the People change those who manage our affairs.

  • 0

    In today’s context, Sri Lanka as a country became a failed nation. What has been said by Dr.Pethiyagoda is a truth nothing but the truth. Politicians of all political parties had spoiled and corrupted the state institutions and gone to the extent to poisoned the minds of the people to become politically biased to do anything constructive in to improve productivity. The result is most of the government institutions are running at a huge loss. This political culture should be stopped at any cost. As said by ‘Spring Koha’ , “70% of appointments to central and local government are made on the basis of who you support politically, rather than your capability to do the job” which is a sad state of affairs. Point is who will bell the cat. A country cannot prosper if the politicians behave in such a manner and no wonder the Sri Lankan currency continue to decline to ensure the suffering of the people.

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