By Kasun Kamaladasa –
When I first started to write to Colombo telegraph I thought I will never write an article which includes politicians directly. The main reason being Sri Lanka lacks unbiased political analysts and historians to get a fool proof picture and hence without doing immense amount of research on the subject it would be difficult to do justice to such an article. Secondly people are stuck within their own narratives with conspiracy theories and completely blinded to the faults of their “faith” (Political Party). But here I am today with no better choice.
This is a plea to protect freedoms of this country and not to sell your independence out of fear because of a few failed and irresponsible individuals. This is a plea to try to think clearly and seek long term goals within and after this chaos. This is a plea to start building trust as professionals so Sri Lankans have some place to turn instead of turning towards fake heroes and politicians when the next storm hits.
There is no excuse for anyone in the political hierarchy including the prime minister to evade blame to this situation, though it is argued that he has not been not informed. A country is not a school playground where a presidents and prime ministers’ personal relationship should in anyway matter to any decision making, may it be national security or otherwise. If there were laws prohibiting and preventing action the public should have been informed and necessary laws implemented with the help of relevant people so that action could be taken instead of providing excuses.
Even after the bomb blast I had some hope that the government would disclose what really happened and why such a disaster was not contained, if not possible to avoid. But instead I got a bunch of ministers laughing and accusing whoever was not present. I was even more disappointed that the health minister of the country, to whom I had a certain respect due to all that he achieved in the past few years against all odds, had no idea how to act appropriately or at least acknowledge the failings of those who should have been responsible.
The president of course has been irrelevant to Sri Lanka for several years now, all his speeches and acts just being gallery shows. His thirst for blood was reflected by bringing back death sentence cowardly as much as any terrorist who would try to take away another life. His superstitions far beyond the average Sri Lankan fool who buys trinkets for protection and the president’s attention to Sri Lankan problems limited to Facebook posts and news headlines.
When we open Facebook we see opportunistic politicians advertising their presidency, (sponsored by whom I do not know) and people who would benefit from their rise sharing false hope claiming that if they were here this would have never happened. Yet there were more than 6 suicide bombings when they were in power and had military checkpoints every 2 km, more shootings including a shooting that killed inmates in a prison (a place that was already guarded by armed forces) and even worse, individuals targeted and killed. They were unable to find any culprits who carried out these excesses. Most importantly they too were informed of this recent intelligence with regards to the suicide attacks on churches, yet waited like everyone else and denied of knowing anything afterwards.
But this collective failure of authorities in this event is just the tip of the iceberg of failing Sri Lankan politicians.
Religious hate groups are in the rise again and are more convinced that they were right to spread hatred and more people seem to be supporting its movement than ever before. They assume if the hatred was spread more and if people had the power to kill or drive away others, who they deemed unsuitable (with their primitive tribal logic) that they would have been saved from this tragedy.
The police that has without a doubt have been tax payer sponsored henchmen of politicians for decades who seems to be only able to arrest couples kissing in beaches or parks. They were hunting wild goose chase and collecting points for president’s reelection with a drug war spectacle (police restructuring, reeducating and rebranding has been turned downed for many years and updating laws ignored for decades because people involved fear change.)
To add a little positivity to this article I must say I am grateful that the Army of Sri Lanka, for all these years I have known them, have been unbiased to most political and religious squabbles to a greater extent. They were able to distinguish between lawful and unlawful soldiers/officers most of the time (and take necessary action) even though most politicians and general public were unable to see beyond petty political slogans. They have done their utmost to defend our country peacefully even in our darkest hours (at least in recent history). I am also grateful for all the religious leaders who in these trying times try to keep their flock from acts of revenge and hatred. This has been far effective than weapons against the terrorist ideology instead of feeding into the fear and breeding a whole new generation of different terrorists.
Beyond the extremism and Terror induced thinking.
The problem that these bombs blast showed us however, are more troubling than the extremist killing hundreds of people. Because like in many domains in the government (I am not talking about political parties) this was a complete disrespect to professional advice, opinion and factual data. This kind of disrespect has been happening all over government, with government having little to zero interventions to solve problems for decades now. Instead of professionals, or otherwise experienced/learned individuals and people who are legally responsible for actions, all governments have been listening to the opinions of religious figures, unions, politically appointed regulators (who have shown no responsibility for their actions) and self-proclaimed prophets.
It is sad that other situations are not given the same attention like a bomb blast that kills hundreds but every single crisis is a matter of human life, for those people effected. Just like a bomb blast leads to certain death these also leads to death but in a much slower rate.
Warning for the future and current state of government management.
There are many professional organizations, individuals and NGOs that have issued detailed documentation, some with research and others with theoretical data requesting further research and action, before it is too late.
- Lack of drinking water (we will worry only when several hundred people die of thirst),
- Failing agriculture (we spend millions trying to save our long lost agriculture without embracing new technologies for political favor leaving farmers in debt or without enough profits, at times leaving them to die)
- Sustainable electricity (without which people also may die in hospitals),
Completely ignored mental health issues and lack of professionals and institutes (the ones we have are mostly non-evidence based),
- Lack of trust in health care system (50% sick people seek treatment from witchdoctors and fait healers),
- Dysfunctional school and education system (ragging, mental abuse and illegal punishments have led to so many suicides and much more people living in hiding and in pain),
Having no proper disaster management (with no institute that is able to communicate disasters to people, that has the peoples’ trust, that can lead multiple ministries in a common path when it is really needed.)
- Corruption (Some politicians have even claimed we need it to thrive)
Drug problem (Solution has been fear mongering education with zero tolerance/understanding and wasting security budget to put on political spectacles)
- Rape, Abuse, Marriage Laws (Solution has been to shut eyes, ears and mouth.. till a child gets raped and we unfortunately get to know in media and then try to find someone to blame closing the chapter)
- Workers’ rights (No proper minimum wages at least according to education, working hours and job type… that has led many people to work as three wheel drivers instead of working for institutes, solutions suggested had been simply banning three wheelers)
- Trash problem (zero trash bins and garbage disposals in cities… solution has been giving private supermarket outlets the responsibility of sorting trash… If anyone is going to argue trash doesn’t kill people… It did)
- University education (I can’t comment on all sectors but in health sector it has become a disaster with every student group adopting a cutthroat strategies trying to be better not by working hard but by depriving others of opportunity, mostly because all action is taken due to political reasons never with research and unbiased understanding… even some professors who shout out in media have become political pawns sadly… unaware of the lives they destroy.)
I could go on but the problem here is that none of these problems have been given proven, rational, long lasting or dynamic solutions…. and the problem isn’t just because of politicians, it is all kinds of selfish, uneducated or incapable (even with degrees and doctorates) people who want short term gains at the expense of others.
Who can we trust?
Politicians have throughout the decades made us lose trust in everything so we will run and hide under their sarong or saree in a crisis. While they spend millions in ad campaigns looking like heroes and blaming everyone else, they have not spent enough to make trust worthy professional institutes and systems that will remain functional beyond their time of power, the only lasting things they make are buildings with their names on them, like 11th century kings.
Although most of Sri Lankan health care development is funded by NGOs and International organizations that genuinely want to help people of all colors and races, most Sri Lankans talk with hate about NGOs, not even knowing how and what or even why they hate them.
Although education and research is done mostly by private organizations and individuals, political movements have always blindsided us and pushed us towards accepting a corrupt and dysfunctional government system that refuses to improve and change.
Although most diseases were cured and life quality improved by Western Medicine, especially over the past 30 years, reducing mortality rates of mothers and infants almost to 99%, political (unions included) and religious conspiracy theories are driving us away from them. Building a false belief in political groups that claim to save us from poisonous milk, disease spreading drugs and job stealing free ambulances cause failure, when the truth is actually in ability of the hierarchy to act objectively. This loss of trust of course is further built on the belief that faith healers who have god’s blessing or ancient lost knowledge could be a better alternative. I was waiting to see how a faith healer is going to treat a bomb blast victim but no ambulance was redirected from NHSL or Ragama to a faith healer even though we have dozens of them in Sri Lanka.
Although universities are supposed to produce educated people who can think freely or even at least have free thinking people as teachers and professors, we in Sri Lanka instead have professors with scientific backgrounds, who get their scientific information from god or religious texts and university students who get information from Facebook posts and their union propaganda page just like our president.
Although the police was supposed to act against all criminals they are compelled to ignore religious places and political groups.
So, no Sri Lankan can be blamed for not trusting the system and believing in their own narratives.
Politicians are irrelevant.
The current President of the United States of America is a bigger fool than our honorable President. He too does not listen to CIA, FBI and his own security service, since he seems to be paranoid about plots to overthrow him or find himself guilty for crimes he did not commit. He learns about the country from News broadcasts and not from intelligence reports. He has managed to give security clearance to incompetent people who have not proven themselves worthy of such positions. He claims to be a follower of god and wants to make rules according to a fictional book.
Yet the country remains relatively stable because of systems that have been put in place by many people before him.
Time of dire need for professionalism in Sri Lanka
None of past government actions or inactions were by politicians alone. Fooled or knowingly professionals were always involved in these actions or inactions. Instead of providing objective stances they took sides of which ever politician provided them with most benefits. Without admitting their shortcomings and failures they sought political refuge among crooks.
With time we lost the trust in them…. Lots of people don’t trust doctors anymore because of trade union actions, no sane person trusts the police to uphold the law against politicians and religious institutes, we lost the trust of central bank, we have lost trust in schools and are spending millions on private education trying to teach children what school does not, we have lost trust in all professions because they continuously fail at sustaining their integrity.
It has come to a time where we have to stand against all political groups that provide sugar coated answers and ask us to believe in politicians, instead of objective data. We should start appreciating people who spend their entire lives fighting against politicians to build fool proof systems. Because a country is not run by a single person, not by a single family nor a single party or a single religion. A successful country needs to have millions of people who can actively contribute without bending the knee to every scoundrel that offers them a toffee.