By Nishthar Idroos –
In the book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, its author John W Whitehead states “This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls. When the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution, then you no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Defamed, besmirched and vilified leaders of front-running political parties did put a brave face and completed their respective campaigns. They had nominated huge lists for the recently concluded local government election. Winners and losers now determined. If the past is something to go by winners rather than working hard for the wellbeing of the people maybe, just maybe putting into motion more personal agendas such as when to acquire the next plot of land, car, give a child in marriage etc. This kind of public cynicism is not just pregnant but rampant in the country and for good reason too.
In bygone eras, I am going back a couple of centuries and essentially in conservative society’s violation of social taboos were dealt sternly and severely. Consumption of alcohol for example – punishment was primarily meted on those who did not partake. Their crime not preventing. Hence they received a greater portion of the punishment. The Yahapalana government came to power with much fanfare. Many promises were made. Its sanctimonious legacy now unraveling. Corruption, nepotism, cronyism, inefficiency, incompetence and an absolute failure to deliver on its promises. People had meted out a resounding punishment at the local government election.
Hoorey Hora is more or less a general exclamation of disgust of the people to every thief who senselessly robbed people’s money to sustain a future campaign among other things. Democracy it seems is the process of plundering from the ruled to better the position of the rulers.
The pohottuwa bloomed not because water beneath had been purified. It still reeks to high heavens. The elephants and many hands entrusted to do the cleaning process ended up polluting, befouling and defiling the water too. The masses preferred to put with the known and pre-existent stink than the treacherous sync.
The January 8 victory was a mandate amongst others to prosecute the so called horu. This never happened. Openly flouting the mandate the country witnessed more of the same. This was a personal affront on the revolutionary Buddhist monk The Venerable Sobitha Thero – A true and sincere hero. The late Thero single-handedly championed the struggle with pure intentions. A true frontline combatant against corruption and autocracy.
Usually the electoral revamping is purpose driven. Elections by their very nature bring a promise of democratic accountability – allowing voters to sanction retrospectively politicians who fail to deliver good performance, and to proactively choose candidates they believe will perform best. In Sri Lanka it seems people are not all that blessed. It’s removing a bunch of thieves and replacing with another. Elections also serve as instruments to punish the corrupt or prevent from taking office. In Sri Lanka our leaders have kept the back door opened just for this reason. The establishment relishes the idea of hurling shit at the very hand that cast the vote.
In contemporary history Sri Lanka can learn from Brazil and Italy as for action against corruption. In Brazil too corruption exists at all levels. Top echelons of political power to the smallest municipality, just like in Sri Lanka. A new political paradigm founded on the principle of justice for all is supposedly cleaning up Brazil. Operation “Car Wash” is an ongoing criminal investigation carried against money laundering and expanded to cover allegations of corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras. Thousands of warrants have been issued for search and seizure.
In Italy the new Anti-Corruption Laws were ratified 2012. This new law imports new concepts and instruments into the Italian legal system for the prevention of crime of corruption. This law expands the definition of the crime of corruption, increases penalties and strengthens requirements for transparency and disclosure within the public sector.
Sri Lanka’s case is daunting and formidable. It has to attract investment, create employment and extend cost of living solace to its people. Running gargantuan deficits and national debt is certainly not the right way forward to attract investors. In fact this is the best panacea to drive away investors.
Sri Lanka’s Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe says that the country is currently facing a massive debt crisis as a result of the incorrect policy decisions taken by government officials in the past 10 years.
During a recent press briefing he said that if someone asks him ‘what is the total of the country’s debt today’, even he would not know what to say as debt management in the public sector has gone from bad to worse within the past decade.
Angels are not about to descend upon Sri Lanka and take over the political leadership. Sri Lankans atleast at this moment in history do not have much of a choice but to put up with the horu and remain Optimistic.
Optimism is generally accepted as a preferred way of being along with hope.