By Muhammed Fazl –
Not in this isle of ours and not in our lifetime, at least as per our cowardice upbringing. We have seen it all… the levels of corruption, winning wars at great human costs, abuse of the judiciary/law enforcement institutions, state sponsored killings & disappearances and the not-so-suited-for-times constitution being exploited among others. And every government in power has been complicit or directly involved since the time of independence.
Where we stand today as a nation, questions about the definition or the importance of ‘Independence’ needs to be raised. A day is being celebrated every year with military parades (as if the independence was gained militarily) and by masquerading the false sense of nationalism and pride. To begin with, do we really have reasons to celebrate? Are we really free from ‘slavery’? Or the developments in Britain at that time or their construction of roads and infrastructure in Ceylon were not suitable for the Sinhala majority who were content with their indigenous ‘buffalo cart’ mentality? Or was it really an independence in its sense or did the reign just change hands from the ‘white man’ to end up in the hands of a murderous and a thieving clan? And the lesser mortals we are, are we not enslaved from expressing our views freely or from standing up for what is right in a country where the ruling elite boasts of ‘independence’?
Bitter it may sound, had it still been a British colony, this country would have made great strides in development, rule of law and human values. Dying traditions and cultural practices that were copied from different communities are being revived desperately to maintain a hollow sense of nationalism, and for the sake of wooing the ignorant voter belonging to the majority community in times of elections. Even the Buddhist philosophy has become just a ritual and a fashionable one at that. It has also become a common practice for politicians and their corrupt henchmen/businessmen to use equally conniving Buddhist monks to showcase their ‘piety’ to the public through public media and on political platforms.
In a country where Buddhism is ‘considered very sacred’ to its adherents, even though only a few actually practices its teachings, politician’s exploitation of racism and the weaknesses of the ignorant majority for political gains does not seem to bring about just rulers either. But the educated segment of the society and the future generation seems to be paying the ultimate price for blind decisions of the villager/ignorant voter and also for reasons of sheer numbers. And that too as if the misled lot benefits from their stupidity.
Failure to hold government officials accountable for multi-million Rupee corrupt deals, murder and abuse of power, directly reflects on the governments in power. Even opposition members in parliament are quite content being able just to enter the parliament and for being able to enjoy its privileges.
The toothless to date international community has been no consolation either. Archaic constitution and the inability or the lethargy of the self-serving politicians/masses to change it to suit the times has also contributed to the current state in the country. Even an impeachment motion in the parliament against the current leadership will not see light of day due to blood ties. The military too has been suppressed and it is no secret that it is being run with an iron fist by the Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Rules have changed. I mean it has ceased to exist. It is futile for opposition activists/politicians to play the same old game wasting billions for fame and power when edicts of upholders of justice and enforcers of law are skewed heavily in favor of the ruling class, before, at the time and aftermath of elections. Democracy becomes a failure when choices and aspirations of voters are not represented in the legislature. Democracy becomes a failure when popularity supersedes competence. And sure as hell, democracy fails when elected lawmakers are not held accountable for their wrongdoings. So what recourse do we the hapless masses have?
This article may appear as if it is the first call or shot for an alternative method of governance, and I wouldn’t blame the reader should he/she chooses to ‘read between the lines’. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a patriotic and a right-thinking military officer takes matters into his own hands in salvaging what is left of the country and possibly taking it into greater heights. The task may look impossible given Mr. Gotabaya’s bribing of top rung in the military for loyalty and for their silence. While intentions behind top foreign/government postings for the retired likes of Mr. Sandagiri, Mr. Shavantha, Mr. Donald, Mr. Balasuriya, Mr. Kannangara etc., (all of whom were tainted heavily with multi-million USD corruption deals and or human rights violations) need not be surprising anymore to the seekers of truth and justice, I believe the wealth and the luxurious lifestyles of the current top rung of all military forces and the police force need to be looked in to and exposed.
While it is my personal belief that no officer in any of the Sri Lankan armed forces deserves to be called a ‘hero’ or a ‘man of honor’, I fervently hope, at least in the near future a ‘star’ will rise within the military establishments to ‘guide’ this blessed country of ours from turmoil into a just one and towards prosperity.
*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on email@example.com and through FB (Fazl Muhammed Nizar)