19 September, 2019

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A Strong President? Yes, By All Means

By Neville Fernando –

Neville Fernando M.D.

A candidate who has recently announced his candidacy for the above position has been touted as a ‘Strong Person’. It is believed that many people, including the Mahanayaka of Asgiriya, yearn for a ‘Strong President’.

In Sri Lanka a politician is regarded as a strong person based on power, money and a big show. If one looks a little deeper one would see that, this power is commonly derived from corruption, intimidation, imparting fear through terror tactics and even elimination of enemies. It is widely believed that, this particular ‘strong’ person has misappropriated, robbed and accumulated a vast amount of money from the government, essentially from the people. Such ‘strong’ activities have contributed to precipitating the country into a disastrous economic predicament.

As for the big show, money for massive rallies and lavish campaign expenditure comes from inappropriately accumulated wealth, from vast numbers of supporters, both in government and the private sector who benefit from rewards and kickbacks.

The typical campaign methods used by this strong person and his ‘royal’ family are devious, cunning and illegal acts that hoodwink the masses. They cloak themselves in the nationalistic, Buddhist, Sinhala mantle and by inference, assume the status of saviours and protectors of the ‘Motherland’. They use the Buddhist clergy for photo ops, which broadcast to the masses that they are the most devout and committed Buddhists. Nothing can be further from the truth — they have committed the most atrocious crimes directly or though their acolytes.

They use their illegal money to most effectively rob the votes by resorting to a variety of methods. Such money buys mega advertisements and programs in the broadcast and print media. Private sector enterprises are pressured into ‘donating’ financial and material support by notifying them of consequences of non-cooperation. Massive public displays in the form of billboards, posters and displays are used as marketing techniques.

Bribing people to forfeit their independence in voting is another tactic. These bribes take the form of  ‘gifting’ of house construction material, clothes and other items. Typical such items are roofing sheets, cement, lavatory squatting pans, saris and so forth.

With a big hoopla, this strong person was introduced recently to the masses. The fantastic rhetoric and the spectacle created by the candidate, amounted to an aura of a messiah coming from heaven to save the country. What a display of lies, grand promises and whitewashing of the criminal past record! Unfortunately the average voter in Sri Lanka is mesmerized by the cult of personality thus created. 

One of the significant findings of a recent survey made by a group of interested citizens who interviewed a large sample of people in both urban and rural areas all over the country, and of all classes, was that 70 per cent of them are fed-up with the present politicians. They specifically mentioned the members of parliament, citing their lack of any qualifications, and recruitment purely on immoral political considerations.  

The voting public has been misled by grandiose promises, during the past 15 or so general elections. The result is that we are up to an 80 percent deeply indebted nation, we are almost the bottom-performing country in Asia and we have sold our country to various foreign interests.  Furthermore, the country is witnessing deep erosion in civilized behavior and morality.

What are the odds that such a ‘strong’ man will work hard, ethically and democratically to improve the lives these average voters? The track record of the party of this strong man is such that the ‘strength’ will be used solely for the furtherance of power and wealth for the family and its supporters, with crumbs and the denial of democratic freedoms for the large majority.

We need to go beyond this definition of strength. A country, especially country that has fallen to moral depths, does need a strong person to lead it, but it needs to be a moral and wholesome strength, not the strength of the wielders of guns and white vans. True strength comes from righteous and firm convictions. The strong person our country needs at this hour is a person that treads the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path: he or she should be a person who treads the path of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Glossed in our modern vocabulary, such a person of moral strength is a genuine democrat who believes in basic democratic rights for all citizens, and a person of modernity and urbanity thought and belonging.

Numbed into accepting a succession of inefficient and corrupt political leaders over the several decades, Sri Lankans find it hard to believe that a person that treads that noble path can emerge from the mire of our politics. 

They are right to believe so. It is indeed true that no such leader can emerge from the existing political mire.

But there is hope, because someone can emerge from outside that mire.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    0

    In Sri Lanka, we are criticizing the politicians for their involvement in corruption with IMPUNITY.
    Honestly, what will you do if given a chance to enter parliament in Sri Lanka?
    I will speak for myself. I will certainly join the rest and make money! I will do better than what others have done.
    I am criticizing the Parliamentarians only because of the golden opportunity they have to rob the country with impunity, which we as ordinary citizens do not have.
    So where is the fault? The fault is with the ‘system’ which provides the opportunity to steal with impunity.
    The politicians giving various excuses for public consumption, successfully have broken down all checks and balances, escaped any accountability and have cleverly obtained the liberty to do whatever that pleases them.
    Changing leaders to bring positive change and fortune is a fantasy. We should not totally depend on a ‘good leader’. We should have a method or a system that will identify and bring in good leaders and screen out bad and corrupt politicians. It is the good ‘system’ that modulates to bring good leaders and even bad people will change knowing they cannot survive in the ‘system’.
    We have to establish a system where accountability and checks and balances are ingrained.
    The single most important component that helps Parliamentarians to avoid accountability is their privilege to be on both sides of the fence. Legislature and administration should be two totally independent bodies. Ability to have a hand in both invites corruption. Remember a judge cannot be a policeman. The judge cannot be both a judge and a witness!
    The politicians can only pass laws and which are handed over to the ‘apex body’ of administration and it is they who are totally responsible (and not politicians) for the implementation of the law. This includes selection for employment, so politicians cannot select based on their political patronage.

    • 5
      0

      Continuing…….

      The criteria for selection is stipulated by the law and a properly constituted panel appointed by the administration is totally involved in selection. This includes heads of institutions and even chief justice done by a professional panel based on a point scheme. If any politicians get involved, then there is an element of obligation towards the politician and law and order breaks down.

      Certainly, people in administration too, are accountable and they are monitored by their respective professional councils.

      The politician’s long arm should never be allowed to reach through the administrative structure and instruct officers what they should do!

      Just bring these simple changes and see the wonders. Then only the ordinary people can do their job without the interference of corrupt politicians.

      At present, officers are forced against their own conscience to indulge in carrying out illegal work of politicians merely to save them from any threats, intimidation, and harassments from politicians who wield power. We all know how a former Chief Justice had requested the PM to allow him to continue as CJ and he will deliver the judgment or verdict what the politicians want. Fortunately, his request was not granted.

      Some food for thought.

    • 5
      0

      Shrikharan

      “I will certainly join the rest and make money! I will do better than what others have done.”

      I am sorry I cannot restrain Nimal Fernando forever.
      He wants to shoot/kill every Sri Lankan politician he can get hold of or come across. He wants to hang them by their b***s, then shoot them, .. until they are dead.

      • 5
        0

        All that is true except “until they are dead.” ……… I want to keep them barely alive as long as possible to prolong the agony; a quick death is an easy way out ……….. Native, You’re too kind! Compassion is not my strong suit.

        You’re such a male-chauvinist and have such a dismissive attitude towards Lankan pioneering gals poor Champa and Ramona ………… check out this gal Sister Rosetta Tharpe who pioneered Rock and Roll; especially the rock-guitar riffs/licks …… a trail-blazer …. now, would your fellow male-supremacists Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Erick Clapton, Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, ……… Jim Reeves :)) ……. ever admit they owe her a debt of gratitude?

        With your attitude would you’ve ever guessed that a gal started it all !

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gELe5Rj_tXU

    • 11
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      The Only Politician who walked out of the Premiership and ‘Temple Trees’, Poorer than when he came in, was Wijayananda Dahanayake! The Honest man from Galle!

      • 4
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        Hamlet reminds us {“The Only Politician who walked out of the Premiership and ‘Temple Trees’, Poorer than when he came in, was Wijayananda Dahanayake!…….”}
        The Premiership was thrust on him. The election he ‘lost’ was the fairest, near ideal democratic, Parliament election we ever had, will ever have.
        Daha, known for his quips and wit, was a Trotskyite, realised the folly of SWR D policies and quit politics.

      • 1
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        And probably Dudley Senanayake, although he was a weak politician.

      • 1
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        Family politics is gaining ground. Azad Sally in a speech mentions that Gota will be out at Nomination time when MR The Great Sinhala Leader (!) will plant Shirani backed by his Sinhala intelligentsia cohorts & B.Clergy, with him taking over as Executive PM in this Agenda – the limits of SL Family Politics, and that is very necessary
        at this juncture to call off all Court Cases against this Family – claiming it is the desire of the voting people – SB Voters!!!!!

  • 3
    2

    I think more candidates will come forward. We have to select the best candidate who would protect the country’s interests and not one who gives priority to his own interests. SLPP is not a new honest and non corrupt alternative. It is the same old politicians just because of their personal interests made this party. Another important thing is to the SLFP leader who says it is her ancestral property which is not available for building another dynasty.

  • 4
    0

    We need a Strong Prime Minister, Not a President of any Description!

  • 5
    0

    This article is a reply for Laksiri. questioning Lanka,s “reasonable democratic system” or is it a SHAM???? A big thank to you and Anushka Khandagama for enlightening the real facts behind ” Strong Leader”and “National security’, the catch words of rogue politicians which are repeated again and again by racist followers with intentions to hoodwink the public, as in past, ( before major elections.)

  • 7
    0

    Very true. The group opposing the present corrupt political candidates should form a single platform and field Nagananda Kodithuwakku as the single independent candidate as his strategy can definitely bring about the change the citizens of this country is anticipating. Breaking into fractions will cause the opposition weaker.

  • 9
    0

    Neville,
    Thanks for this good initiative to open the doors for a more riteous an enlightened leader for the country. As we both know and agree, such a leader exists, but need to be exposed adequately in order to enable him to get the necessary votes to get the job. We will use the period from now on to get that reach. Suren

  • 3
    0

    Neville,
    Thanks for this good initiative to open the doors for a more riteous an enlightened leader for the country. As we both know and agree, such a leader exists, but need to be exposed adequately in order to enable him to get the necessary votes to get the job. We will use the period from now on to get that reach. This is incidentally my first and only response to your article. Suren

  • 1
    2

    Neville,
    It is sad to see a gutless recommendation of someone “outside the mire”! But, what about the age old saying, “The beauty of a lotus remains the same even if it blossoms in a mire”? At the same time, didn’t we witnessed many times in the world history how leaders like Lenin, Mao, Castro, etc who claimed to have magic formula to form egalitarian societies with free of corruption ended up systems with worse than before? If Neville has NKD in his mind, how could he & the JVP achieve a socio-economic miracle when NM, Colvin, Phillip, etc, the “most brightest” of Marxists SL ever utterly failed?

    Utopian ideas look good on paper but in the real world, they are not very different from day dreams. What else can be said about already failed Marxism?

  • 13
    0

    Mr.Fernand:

    I take it you are a Doctor of Medicine and after reading your article I was going to say only ” if Sri Lanka had a majority of people like you” . But I have held back because you like so many others have never admitted the following. The supposed Strong Mans CV wont be complete without adding the word CRIMINAL. But this amounts to an OMMISSION. I am looking for an ADMISSION from the majority that you as rulers have caused so much suffering and you have to take the blame. Without an admission we cannot move on. I certainly wont reconcile without such an admission until those who are guilty of mass murder are punished.
    He is a Criminal because he is a mass murderer. and that is something the Nation is not prepared to accept you included as it is missing in your vocabulary.
    He is a Coward not a Strong Man. He is standing for Presidency because he thinks that will give him Immunity from Prosecution especially in the US but he is living in a dream world.
    Just remember what happed to Slobodan Milosevich. He was whiskd away in the middle of Night put on the plane by his own generals.
    He will be a Lame Duck President and Sri Lanka will be sddled with a man for the next 5 years unable to engage with the Western World.
    Next door lies the biggest threat. India recently annexed Kashmir.

    • 2
      0

      Agree with most of what you have stated but Kashmir is irrelevant.

  • 13
    1

    May God protect Sri Lanka from any corrupt politicians like Goata..
    He will wipe out freedom.
    He will send journalists into jail.
    He will introduce white van culture
    He will become dictators
    He introduce kings into Sri Lanka as it was old days.
    Mahinda will be next king
    Mahinda Wife and children Become princesses and princes.

    • 2
      0

      If there was a god he would have protected not just Sri Lanka but many other countries. Voters have to do their duty by having an open mind to get rid of corruption.

  • 4
    0

    very true nevillebut as hegel i think said the time brings forth the man
    unfortunately not in sri lanka

  • 7
    0

    Our politicians do not have the Morals to be leaders. That is the real problem. We have to teach Moral Science, which was a subject in the curriculum during 1950s .
    Our people do not know simple morality- do not know right from wrong. We have to teach morality before we teach religion.

    • 2
      1

      Exactly. I belong to a different generation and our generation never had an opportunity to learn this subject and instead we were taught religion. As we all know some religions have commercialized to a non return stage.

  • 4
    0

    Sri Lankan President has enough power to take strong actions against corruption and crime…..what is lacking is guts!

  • 7
    0

    People are fed up with political parties and their politicians. The have proofed they a not capable enough to serve the country. So time has come to new politicians who are have broader knowledge on real development of our country.We need new people who are not exploited. If we think differently we will get different result. If you vote for same party and same people you will not get different result. Think twice and out of the box.

  • 0
    0

    Comment by D.P………!
    An According to his line of thinking that Lenin ,Mao and Castro are failures of history.
    By in fact JVP was terrorist out-fit that it was quite obvious such party been failure of was that necessitate of History .
    Indeed Dr (double) NM, Dr Wikrmasinghe and Philips Gunawaradana of Old Left has by that after betrayed of People has their lost confidence after 1964!
    Their ( old left) destine was a natural political phenomenon.

    But R.Premadasa was of President of that UNP was an accountability of killed of that one and only leader of JVP “Attnayake” ails ” Rohana” or that original name of
    “PND” Wijeweera in Kanata Cemetery at heart of Colombo in November 13th 1989.
    By and large that team of blessing of that collective decision taken by UNP hard core leaders of R.Premadasa jointly by JRJ, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalthi Athltmudly ,Ranjan Wijerartana and Ranil Wickramasinghe of future success of UNP leaders has approved that physically eliminated of JVP leader at that time just vital interest of survival of Ruling party of UNP.

    The UNP under that JRJ was preach by politics of “Dharamista” well known ; it was similar to that current regime of UNP Wickrasinghe Ranil….advocated of by that cockiness of “GOOD GOVERNANCE”! And publicizing by cock sureness of that “Rule of Law”. Therefor by leaders of 15/1/8 caucuses of that Wicks..R ,MS and CBK which regime came power by that change an initiated by USA backing in 2015 Jan 8th .
    That would be UNP had been practices of Eight Fold Path of teaching of Buddhism by since 1977.

  • 0
    0

    Since the establishment of the “Yahapalanaya” Government and Governance, the PEOPLE started to cry in silence for a “CHANGE” and that has now developed and engulfed the whole society to a flame of “CHANGE”. This NEED created distinctive two camps: (1) “We do as we are” and (2) “We do differently”. The camp “No 1” is maned by the present Governing and the past governed elite with the support of a “Bureaucracy” who rushed to make life of plenty while the sun shines. The camp “No 2” is maned by the so called “patriots” who desire a change to get rid of the notion “we do as we are” and usher in prosperity and happiness. The widely felt and accepted opinion of the PEOPLE is : “We do need a CHANGE”. In that perspective, camp “No 2”. must take the lead. But, what has happened and still happening in that camp is, in my opinion “Disheartening” and “Disgusting”. I only see a massive “DOG FIGHT” has broken out . Instead of UNITY in PURPOSE, a “FIGHT” has broken out on the basis “Who, the “PERSON” who must take the LEAD”. Instead of “WE”, “I” has taken precedence and unfortunately the PEOPLE are left without an alternative, resulting a “TILT” towards “We give up and do as we are”. The “DOG FIGHT” broken out in camp “No 2” is slowly eroding the hopes of the PEOPLE to find an answer to “Do we settle for the country as it is, OR do we work for the country as it SHOULD be”. Camp “No 2”, please, please, put your act TOGETHER in UNITY of the PURPOSE and start work on the basis : “THE COUNTRY AS IT SHOULD BE”. If not, we will not be able to PREVENT, camp “No 1” taking over once more and “DO AS WE ARE”. If that happens, camp “No 1” , you are TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE and CONDEMNABLE.

  • 2
    0

    In the second paragraph Dr Neville Fernando describes a ‘Strong President’ as we have been manipulated to accept/visualise. We, layLankans, have been as Neville concludes {“……Numbed into accepting a succession of inefficient and corrupt political leaders over the several decades,..”}
    Please be assured Sir. We have had enough. We will change it.

  • 6
    0

    Dear Doctor Neville Fernando
    Thanks for a very objectively written article. You have touched all the vital points that puts the reader in touch with reality.
    We need to tell ourselves the truth and stop being gullible. We should let rational thinking help us decide what is good for us.
    Any right thinking citizen should take these facts into account without blindly following the illusion of the character Gota-baya.
    Baya is an integral part of his name by the way.
    If we know what is good for us, we should stamp out Rajapaksa bastards from politics permanently.
    They are a disease.
    They exploit the unsuspecting common man who uses his heart and sentiment to decide on everything.

  • 5
    0

    The Sri Lankan Public know exactly what is required.
    The SriLankan Public know who the canidates are
    And the Sri Lnakan Public Know to evaluate the risks and opportunities
    in the choice they make.

    Don’t underestimate the intallectual capacity of the Long Suffering Public.

    They will vote appropriately and act appropriately.

    You cannot fool all the people all the time.

  • 2
    0

    Very well said. Bensen

  • 1
    0

    Family politics is gaining ground. Azad Sally in a speech mentions that Gota will be out at Nomination time when MR The Great Sinhala Leader (!) will plant Shirani backed by his Sinhala intelligentsia cohorts & B.Clergy, with him taking over as Executive PM in this Agenda – the limits of SL Family Politics, and that is very necessary
    at this juncture to call off all Court Cases against this Family – claiming it is the desire of the voting people – SB Voters!!!!!

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