By Sandya Salgado –
That illusive dream
It is three years since that euphoric day of change the country woke up to: the illusive ‘Yahapalana Dream’. A dream never to dream again, and a day never to experience again either. At least not in my lifetime, for sure.
The defeated sulked, the sceptics smirked and the victors rejoiced, while the majority of the country embarked on a journey of hope. The silent voter hoped against hope that the country would see a new era in the political landscape devoid of fear, mass scale corruption, rampant nepotism and cronyism, blind wastage of public funds and a clean-up of the rotten system that prevailed for a decade or more. Three years to date, the day Yahapalanaya was ushered in, the country breathed a whiff of freedom and sensed an ambience of good governance.
Those who dreamt of a better country placed their faith on an insignificant politician who came forward as the ‘common candidate’; only with convincing oratorical skills, he swore to usher in a clean state, while the many times defeated ‘wannabe’ Prime Minister put all his efforts behind a ‘now or never’ political ambition. The desperation to see a change from a rogue government was at the core of this drama, in which we all played our part in blind faith. It was undoubtedly an ‘anti-MR’ force more than a ‘pro-MS’ vote of confidence. Talk about being in the middle of a rock and a hard place!
Wake up call
Unfortunately, the rot started to set in very early in the day. Before we even realized the downfall, the old boys’ networks had kicked in, scams were hatched, deals were struck, offspring had sprung into motion and the old familiar political circus was back in town.
Three years into this nightmare, hardly any promises have been fulfilled. It is a ‘free – for – all and ‘nothing- happens- at- all’ kind of feeling all round. Lack of strategic communication from the government hasn’t helped the situation either.
Yes, now I accept we were a group of political suckers. Suckers who clung on to a quivering hope of a better run country with a better tomorrow for our children. Suckers who foolishly believed that politicians can in fact be a decent breed under different circumstances. Suckers who believed that good governance is finally possible. Sadly, a naïve and gullible majority has been truly duped!
The rudderless ship
We are told the economy is turning for the better. It’s unfortunate that the masses aren’t feeling it! The bureaucracy is at a standstill and no one knows what’s going on with the government institutions. There’s a gross lack of urgency and accountability at all levels. The country hasn’t seen any newsworthy FDI’s coming in for the lack of consistent policies and a pathetic ‘doing business’ climate that prevails. The kickbacks are climbing through the roofs while corruption is rampant in all quarters. No wonder development is stalling! The cities are dirty and the bill boards and cutouts have reappeared. Sadly no one seems to care. Politicians and the government officials are busy feathering their nests. The so called ‘engine of growth’ is frantically looking for greasing spots. The looters and the murderers of the last regime are being protected for political allegiance it seems. The Vision of the unity government seems to have turned into a Mission of clinging onto power at any cost.
Weather gods haven’t been too kind either to an already battered nation, punishing us with rains, floods, landslides and droughts as if to teach a lesson for misleading a trusting countrymen and women. Managing disasters doesn’t seem a priority for this government. It has always been the citizenry that has risen to the occasion each time. A coalition that came into power promising a rainbow nation seems often deaf and blind to ethnic unrest. Reconciliation seems to have gone into the backburner, with the North starting to simmer with its own post conflict challenges.
Ah, that unity!
A unity government is supposed to be ‘united’, not pull in different directions to suite their individual political agendas. Sadly this seems to be the modus operandi of the government which gets worse by the day. The President is ruling the country constantly looking over his shoulder to see who is going to stab him from the back, while the PM is busy strategizing his next political move. And we, the tricked citizens are wondering what our fate would truly be in this catastrophic state of affairs.
I shall do it again!
While regrets are many with the current status quo, there are none with the efforts put in to changing a regime that would have left the country worse off than today, for sure. In hindsight, that is my only solace.
Let’s not overlook the few positives
I try to focus on the few positives that I keep telling myself we must not forget. After all, we have freedom of expression without fear of the ‘white van’. Yes we can say we have democracy, although it’s taking the government hostage due to its lack of direction and leadership. The international image has been turned around by hundred and eighty degrees. The nineteenth amendment which paved the way for the many commissions, which may or may not function independently, and the RTI bill that was passed even though its true implementation is a question in my mind are the few achievements that I count as blessings. Noteworthy is the setting up of the FCID which has made a positive impact on the government servants fearing wrong actions, which sadly has also contributed to them not making any decisions at all due to their FCID phobia, which in turn has slowed down the government machinery in the most disastrous manner.
I for one have been trying to cling on to any kind of glimmer of hope, but find none; not in the economic upturn, cost of living, governance, policies, political commitment, a tangible vision for the country (yes, there is a 2025V somewhere!) or at least some faith and trust on those we voted into power. Sadly, we are being pulled into an abyss on a daily basis. I ask myself if we even have a choice now.
Maybe we do have a few choices in the offing, come next elections; a dead swan, a senile elephant, a shriveled up beetle leaf, a broken chair, a lifeless hand, a withering bud and a corroded bell. Alas, a ghost of a Gota beckons too. It’s truly a Hobson’s choice!
A trapped voter in this failing state has very little to hope for.
Despite all this, I believe there still remains a small window. A window of opportunity to make good the hopes and promises of a nation in waiting. A nation that put their lives on the line for a better tomorrow that promised a ‘Yahapalanaya’; a better governed country for all its people. That window is slowly closing however, and our hopes slowly fading with it.
A socially sensitive Sri Lankan who loves her country. She can be reached via email@example.com