23 May, 2024


Depressed, Amused, Flaggerbastard [sic] & Apprehensive 

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda

It would be a tired truism to say that our country is passing through one of the most trying periods since Independence, 75 years ago. All of us have (or should have) formulae to pull us out of this seemingly interminable rut. Waste, corruption, profligacy, poor planning, inefficiency, idiotic prioritization and many more stick out like many sore thumbs. Any worthwhile inquiry into such a palpably hopeless mess, would see a need to dump it and seek other options. Is this what the “Aragalaya” meant by a “System Change.”? Will this also be the precondition for the highly hyped IMF relief package? Whatever it may be, prudence would suggest a desperate need for soul-searching.

Local Government Elections

* It is ironic to see the public being conditioned to believe that somehow, this ritual will be the magic wand that will usher an “Era of Prosperity and Splendour”. Have we not heard this before? It is amusing to note that, the most important question whether a decade of their existence, has made any difference? The sole plausible justification was that they would promote the delivery of governance. The potholed roads, broken bridges, unoccupied public buildings, thefts and rape of forests, illegal sand mining and narcotic growing and peddling thrive. Nonetheless, Parliament doubled the number of these ineffective buffoons from 4,000 odd to 8,000? These are mere “Schools for Scoundrels,” where they hone their skills for greater things. Diyawanna awaits replenishments. One learns that some 80,000 hop0efuls are lined up to pillage our impoverished land.

Credibility deficit

* We no longer trust each other, least of all, the government (= politics). The generation that had integrity and honesty ingrained into their collective conscience, is disappearing, as is the nature of things. Clearly for one, to lie was unacceptable. This species is now heading towards extinction. Where else in the World, would a Head of State be called “A compulsive liar”? May even be a “Congenital” one. Under such circumstances, gossip and the “Social Media” thrive. Who can truly blame them? 

* Most major religions taboo dishonesty. They extol the virtue of veracity in thought, speech and action. As a nation which wears religiosity on their sleeves, with no less than “Ministries” for Buddhist, Christian, Hindhu and Islamic Affairs, this is unpardonable hypocrisy. In this connection, divisive politics have no place in Culture, Religion and Sports. These are areas where choices are totally personal. No dirty fingers have business to claw into these sanctified precincts.  

Fun and games

* We learn that no less than 80,000 hopefuls, seek to selflessly “serve the Nation”. This is a commendable sacrifice. Some 300 odd (?)  parties are contesting. Ballot papers will be as long as Toilet- rolls. Part symbols are running short of options (Telephones, Compasses and Helicopters! ). On board telecommunication and guided flights will ensure safe journey.   

Party colours are archaic and out of the question. Horse dealing is guaranteed. Was it Lee Kuan Yew who said that “Elections in Ceylon, are an auctions of assets that they do not have”. How true, how wicked. The pantomime will confuse all but the minority of high IQ’s. High fun and a costly and great game.

* The “Maturity” myth. We are told that frequent changes means that our people are mature. I aver that no Party has ever “won” an election. It is only that their predecessors have so angered the people that they are kicked out. As somebody has remarked “Same lump of S….t – different flies”.  “Ung okkoma ekay, Malli”.

A dangerous precedent

* It is reported that a group of contending political parties have sought the intervention of other nations, canvassing through their Ambassadors, to thwart the patent efforts by the ruling party to postpone or avoid this impending election. Remember that we are a nation who expelled no less a person than the then British High Commissioner H.E Mr Gladstone, declaring him  “Persona non Grata”, for the mere reason that he entered a polling station!.Ambassadors are expected to not interfere in local politics. Surely Professor G.L. Peiris, as a former Foreign Minister and a Professor of Law, should have known this, and avoided being a prime signatory. Evidently Political integrity is an “Oxymoron” Let me hasten to state that I  do not mean to insult that venerated University by implying that any of their products are Morons.

Politics as the “Right to do Wrong”

* It is painfully evident that the local scene is proof of the above assertion. The disgraceful confusion between “Impunity” and “Immunity” is a reality. Examples abound. The unique scandal that a person convicted of murder and in Death Row, comes out to be sworn in as an “Honorable” MP, speaks volumes for the exercise of the franchise – the sole justification being that he won his seat. The next stage may be a “Presidential Pardon” or a “Nidoskota Nidahas” caper. My gosh.

The perils of a “Written Constitution

* No law or document can persist if it does not flow from a foundation of decency and ethics. Many countries have continued comfortably with no written Constitution and rather with one based on decent conventions and a recognition of and respect for individuals rights. Our cry for a written Constitution is, in my opinion a fake and negative. A document that has seen the need for some 23 Amendments in less than some 15 years, cannot inspire confidence. It has now become more like a Periodical Magazine than a document worthy of honour.

Why the apprehension?

* The crude, vulgar and beastly manner in which the “Aragalaya” members were attacked by armed men, pitted against reported slumbering protesters in the hours of darkness, when they are said to have pledged to disperse by early morning, was insensitive, indefensible, excessive and unnecessary. The fact that it came hours after Mr Ranil  Wickremesinghe assumed the Presidency to succeed Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his unlamented and unworthy predecessor, is possibly no coincidence. In any case, responsibility is firmly that of RW as Commander of the Armed Forces. This is an unhealthy start. Particularly so when he had perhaps hours earlier, expressed sympathy and understanding of this legitimate protest. Hypocrisy is thy name.

I see several points that do not portend well for the future of the current dispensation. The crucial respect for the uniform of the Police has vanished. This has grave implications which do not have to be elaborated. The public mood is not healthy, and virtually incendiary. Crowd control is now an open Street Brawl. Festering blisters may soon burst. 

While all this goes on, critical issues are neglected. I see huge problems revolving around population pressures, environmental hazards, untapped marine resources and aimless meandering. But these are issues that warrant dealing with separately.

All this adds up to Depression, Amusement, and apprehension. I am flabbergasted. As the saying goes, “Coming colour no good”. 

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Latest comments

  • 6

    Latest reports confirm the total degeneration of sinhala land BLACKBIRDING of sinhalas by other sinhalas sold as slaves to work in chinese factories. Take over by the chinese of sinhala land will facilitate this trade. No rights for minorities resulting in slaves status for sinhalas!

    • 3

      Oh, Gus, please!
      Some of us, “sinhalas“, are saying “mea culpa maxima“. Please don’t rub it in too hard!
      I feel terrible because I feel that I may have contributed by not making my protests sufficiently vociferous.
      Reading this fine article, sarcastic, wise, witty, and entertaining came as a pleasant relief, after reading the necessarily serious and heavy (but again, how amusing in places, before one comes to the inevitable typos at the end of this) Kumar David article:
      One has to think very hard before commenting on that.

  • 5

    UP, yes , depressed, amused, flabbergasted and apprehensive , terms that are used typically by physicians to describe the mental status. Result of 75 years seemingly interminable rut, waste, corruption, profligacy, inefficiency, poor planning , idiotic prioritization and many more sticks like a sore thumb .Any worth while inquiry into such a palpably hopeless mess would see a need to dump it and seek other options. Prudence suggest a desperate soul searching. Irony is that we still have so called intellectuals / oxymoron, who are compulsive (or is it congenital) deniers, enablers, stereotypes, conspiracy theorist insisting our conditioned public to continue with “same lump of S**t – different flies”.Some are overtly delusional to the extent casting doubts on LKY who said that ” politics in CEYLON is an auction of assets that they do not have”

    • 3

      After months of Aragalaya, some seems to have come out of their hibernation questioning “what is system change” ?? There aim is to condition the naive public to believe some how these failed rituals will be the magic wand , that will usher era of prosperity and splendor. Haven’t we heard enough of this before ???

      • 7

        Fortunately some like you (us) are still left who do not trust each other least of all government/ politics. The generation that had honesty and integrity grained into their collective conscience are disappearing as is the nature of things. Many have already left and rest are desperately seeking to leave administration / politics or their country it self for good. Most major religions taboo dishonesty. Whereas in Lanka, through out history, politics and religion have coexisted, like virulent parasites living in symbiotic environment sucking out the goodness of the nation.

      • 0

        Why the apprehension ??? See how our Lankan governments handle nonviolent protesters( genuinely suffering masses). An elected PM / MR organizes violence by getting bus loads of thugs to his official residence, and orders them to go out and attack the protesters. Then our newly elected President who appeared to sympathize before getting elected, orders armed men to attack protesters in a crude, vulgar and beastly manner. Yes, hypocrisy is thy name. The pressure keeps building, to the point I expect festering blisters to soon burst. Given our current situation this time around it gonna be violent, explosive, uncontrollable and put our recovery beyond reach. The elections should have been politically avoided in the first place, instead officially announcing and then Ranil playing his usual games are, similar to pouring high octane into blistering fire. He just gave an opportunity to his foes, (and their supporters), to combine in fighting the war against common enemy ( cause).

  • 2

    Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda,

    Your profile in one of your previous articles said you were a former Director of the CRI but there was no email to contact. I’ve emailed the CRI but haven’t received an answer.

    Please pardon me for asking this form you here and hope you won’t be offended.

    I was asked by a young couple doing voluntary work in Mozambique (the wife is a doctor and runs a clinic in a remote area; they want to generate some extra income to run the clinic by exporting chipped coconut husks) about excessive Sodium in coconut husks. Would you know the answer? It’s much appreciated if you can provide them an answer. Thanks.

    Here’s what they asked me,

    “We’re considering exporting some husk chips to South Africa but farmers are worried about excess of Sodium. Are you aware of that issue? Apparently Sri-Lankan husks doesn’t have that problem because of the washing by the monsoon.
    If Sodium is our main problem, do you think bathing the husks will help or you know a better option?”

    • 3

      So, nimal fernando has become a collector of email addresses!
      Actually, Upatissa and I are in touch with each other! It is healthy to have a good and cordial relationship with other humans, especially with those who are well-bred. Even when one disagrees with somebody, one can still appreciate honesty. See how respectful I am with a man whose political outlook I don’t agree with.
      I have quoted from his email where he appreciates my candour.
      nimal, I’ll tell you what. If Dr Pethiyagoda doesn’t see this request of yours (unlikely?) let me know. I’ll explain what a witty guy you are, obtain his permission, and then put you in touch with him. And it’s a worthy cause!
      No, this won’t be like the “leelagemalli” nightmare. This man has class! Like this:
      Panini Edirisinhe

  • 3

    A decent amount of revenue is flowing in from higher taxes. Even though some who never paid taxes whine at having to do so. The IMF bail out is coming with or without Chyna. That will finally lift the government’s credit worthiness. I hear at least one white elephant Sri Lankan Airlines is breaking even. The CEB now has cash to fire up the expensive gas and diesel plants while ADANI builds some renewable capacity. Tourism is definitely picking up. Hotel’s are busy and short staffed. Not all is well but things are a darn site better now than they were at the height of the crisis. Tea is slowly recovering its output and so are all the other export and domestic agricultural products. So why the doom and gloom? A non election finally bit the dust taking all the idiots that hoped to cash in and get elected become a laughing stock. This is just the beginning the best is yet to come. Running around feeling depressed and apprehensive reminds me of people who supported Sirima the idiot that nationalized just about everything and ran Sri Lanka into the dirt much to the elation of Singapore that capitalized on everything we threw away and vaulted over us. There will be elections eventually not to worry just now is not the time. The numbers also need reducing.

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