21 May, 2024

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How Long Can The People Be Fooled?

By Vipula Wanigasekera

Dr. Vipula Wanigasekera

Since gaining independence, Sri Lanka has navigated a turbulent political landscape, swinging between left and right-wing ideologies until the early ’90s. Since then, the nation has largely sought a middle path. The prolonged  war, spanning nearly three decades, hampered development and progress but benefitted a segment from the nature of war economy.

However, 2009 marked a turning point with the war’s end, heralding an era of peace and offering Sri Lanka a golden opportunity to ascend to the ranks of developed nations. Country missed the bus, not necessarily due to known reasons but also the refusal to accept the fact the universal law ‘no one wins in a war’ and ‘All must benefit from peace’. This is history now.

Future potential thereafter has been overshadowed by a myriad of challenges.

Mismanagement, greed, corruption, egoistic elitism, and an insatiable hunger for power have plagued the political landscape, defining the country’s current status quo. While these factors are well-documented, another critical element often escapes scrutiny in the rush: the caliber of many ministers and parliamentarians holding positions post-2020 elections.

The quality of leadership has been questioned on numerous occasions. One minister notoriously asked in an environmental meeting where the protection of mangroves was discussed, “Can we eat oxygen?”. Another, in response to a foreign currency shortage claimed, “A ship with a load of USD currency is on her way to Colombo harbor.” And another parliamentarian emphatically voiced  in the parliament that an  incoming Minister possessed “7 brains,” leaving many to use it today as fodder for humor.

Another ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ slogan is emerging, with various factions being cited as being instrumental from deviating from ‘original Buddhism’ including a group that claims ‘Jambudveepaya is Sri Lanka‘ meaning Sri Lanka is where Lord Buddha was born and lived.

War has started and the underpinning message is that that only one patriotic party can save the country from a foreign invasion poised to destroy Buddhism. While these tactics may have once swayed public opinion, can they still do so effectively?

Traditional approaches such as reducing prices, offering salary increases, or providing bottles of arrack and lunch packets during campaigns might seem like straightforward solutions to winning votes and they have  started already. However, their efficacy in the current climate is questionable.

Several factors contribute to this skepticism.

Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic down turn  brought immense suffering to the people, both health-wise and economically.

Secondly, Sri Lanka’s youth are increasingly IT-savvy and globally connected, making them more aware of the nation’s challenges and potential solutions.

Thirdly, women, often the backbone of families and communities, have borne the brunt of economic downturns and political instability. Their resilience and determination for a change cannot be underestimated, and their voices are becoming increasingly influential.

Fourthly, the extravagant lifestyles of some politicians, funded by taxpayers’ money, have not gone unnoticed by the public. This stark contrast between the rich and poor fuels resentment and mistrust, not because of the ‘haves’ hard-earned money, but due to their inability to declare where the money has come from.

An affluent politician was once seen in a photo in front of a house in a foreign country, obviously trying to show he owns it. Whether such a portrayal of image can garner support from the people now is questionable.

Lastly, the scarcity of politicians with clean records and the ability to understand and act on professional advice further erodes public confidence within the system now.

Therefore, as Sri Lanka approaches another election year, the stakes are high. Those at risk of losing power, and with it their privileged positions and access to resources, may resort to desperate measures, as observed in the past.

Majority is aware that it is crucial to address these challenges with diligence and foresight with awareness that  Sri Lanka would otherwise risk plunging into a dark abyss from which recovery may be exceedingly difficult if not impossible.

While age-old tactics of political manipulation and populism might yield short-term gains, they are unlikely to sustain in this election. The people of Sri Lanka are increasingly matured, informed, and discerning. Most demand accountability, transparency, and genuine progress.

The question remains: how long can the people be fooled? The answer lies in the collective will and determination of the Sri Lankan people to demand better, to hold their leaders accountable, and to work towards a brighter, more prosperous future for all which seems to be the common mind set of masses.

As they say, this is the last chance for the people of Sri Lanka to seek ‘change.’ The country needs statesmanship, not just leadership. Integrity should flow from the top down. This notion is surfacing in most household, while some politicians and their cronies tally their share of votes from stances like fake patriotism, alertness to protect Buddhism, and the offering of bottles of arrack and lunch packets during campaings.

*The write is former Diplomat, Head of Tourism Authority and Currently a Senior lecturer for ECU Perth and Meditation Teacher/Healing therapist

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Latest comments

  • 10
    8

    “How long the People can be fooled?”
    As long as the constitution consist of ” Special status to Buddhism.

  • 5
    6

    What is Buddhism- a Religion, Philosophy, or Just an opinion of life?

    • 2
      0

      Hello Kanapathy Varunan,
      It’s a Metaphysical Philosophy posing as a Religion 😎.
      Best regards

    • 0
      0

      kanapathy

      i think it is more like a philosophy of life because it does not mention god or to worship god.However bhuddhists are worshipping Lord Bhuddha though he never asked them to do that .So there is worship involved to back it as a religion too.Something inbetween a philosphy of life and religion,i believe.Lord Bhuddha is an avatar,a reincarntion.

  • 7
    5

    Dear Vipula,
    .
    Thanks for your article.

    To me it’s worth it many times, because the same social segments are ready to cheat again. Sri Lankans, largely puppets of astrology and mythology, may dont understand “once bitten twice shy”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT8L2_WTYEI
    ..
    Both young and old become easy victims of targeting by political thugs. Media fraudsters continue their usual job for their selfish gains.

    This happened in 2019 and will happen in 2024, if an eleciton would be held soon, outcome will be the same.
    .
    Scammers hired by various hidden forces are beginning to say that “people have now changed their minds like never before”: This is similar ” our people are intelligent”, repeated by RAJAPASKSE thakkadiyas.

    If the OPINION polls show that people’s awareness of voting has not improved greatly, then I think the election should not be held. It will be a huge waste of funds of the people.

    As usual, fraudulent politicians do not share their views directly and are not honest in front of the people.
    .
    As long as people’s awareness does not improve greatly, it will remain a bark and a tree. Look at how many people will get locked up this evening, just like people in Lanka do not have astrology at home. It is not enough to question why the country is falling so deep even if everything is done by astrology.

  • 8
    0

    Its not a case of people being fooled, its just that the average voter is stupid & self serving politicians have taken advantage of this fact. We have ministers who endorsed a magic portion as a remedy for COVID, given to a carpenter in his sleep by a divine power & folks queued up to buy it. The same Minister pledged to sacrifice herself by jumping into the sea to save the nation from a pandemic, only to change her mind & poured holy water into rivers instead, yet, this stupid backward woman continues to serve as a Minister. Then there are thugs, petty thieves, drug dealers & even convicted murderers who have been voted in or allowed to be nominated to Parliament. A much hyped military strategist, who, in fact, deserted his military career to seek greener pastures abroad, was assumed to be a tough, no nonsense go getter & voted in as President, turned out to be a dumb yob without even common sense who surrounded him self with bum suckers & allowed to be taken up the garden path. Not learning from past mistakes, voters seem to have the same faith now in a bunch of all sorts who have yet to publish their strategy in the form of an election manifesto.

  • 3
    5

    VW might be one of the few Singhalese who understands the current SL situation well. But I have seen educated Sinhala professionals have NOT changed their mind-set of SUPREMACY of the Sinhala Buddhists.
    If SL really WANTS to come out of the very bottom of the pit, they should produce a NEW CONSTITUTION as early as possible. Where is the DRAFT constitution that has been in the making? Diaspora of SL are still hoping the best

  • 4
    6

    2009 marked a turning point with the war’s end, heralding an era of peace and offering Sri Lanka a golden opportunity to ascend to the ranks of developed nations.
    Different people give different interpretations to that event of 2009. The above is that of Vipula Wanigasekera. There are others who take that same view. I don’t.
    End of war does not necessarily lead to end of hostility. It is the end of the REASON for a war that leads to end of hostility.
    .
    Mismanagement, greed, corruption, egoistic elitism, and an insatiable hunger for power have plagued the political landscape.
    The above is the view of Vipula Wanigasekera. He believes that the political landscape has been plagued by all of the reasons he has lined up. But he is quite on the reason for the appearance and prevalence of those situations.
    He has to remain quiet because the reason for the appearance of those situations hinges on the very REASON that had been highlighted by me, – the REASON for the war has not ended.

    • 4
      4

      Nathan,
      You’re being unfair on the guy. He goes on to say “Country missed the bus, not necessarily due to known reasons but also the refusal to accept the fact the universal law ‘no one wins in a war’ and ‘All must benefit from peace’.”
      He could have phrased it in a better way, but his English isn’t quite up to your standard.

  • 4
    2

    in the west some people can be fooled all the time.In sri lanka all the people are fooled all the time.

  • 2
    1

    Let us say that four persons are coming forward as candidates to contest in the presidential elections. One is a Scoundrel, one is a Blackguard, one is a Lunatic and the other is an Idiot. For whom should we cast our vote?

    • 4
      0

      the idiot of course as long as he listens to wise men.If he does not, end up like prabha.

    • 2
      2

      This is the biggest problem we all have. Everybody says that the public is responsible for all the problems because we keep electing the scoundrels every time forgetting that we have no way of saying that we don’t want any of them.

      We must be given the option to say “NONE OF THEM” at every election.

    • 2
      0

      I forgot to mention another important category.
      That is “A person who protects criminals.”
      That was a monumental omission.

      • 1
        0

        capt morgan

        then ranil is out.The fight is between AKD and sajit.Whom to vote for?

    • 2
      0

      Hello Captain,
      Don’t vote, put them all in Prison or Institutions, the President before Ranil (according to many Sri Lankans) was a combination of all the above and people voted for him. What you do after is your choice.
      Best regards

  • 4
    3

    we will forever be fooled.

    Please watch the video below

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOuYVVefRas

    Buddah never asked to do any kind of the rituals such as ANOINTING OIL on the animals.

    HIRU TV Channel has recruited tele drama actors for self-expressions. These so-called teledrama actors and actresses are sold at low prices in srilanak today. They have been instrumental in creating false public opinion in this country.
    .
    In the same video I was surprised to see Naleen Jayatissa, an influential man of NPP. And there is baby Namal.

  • 4
    2

    “Integrity should flow from the top down.”
    .
    Could not have said it better.

  • 3
    4

    ” how long can the people be fooled?”

    The people were fooled by the UNP for many years, followed by CBK who nearly gave 33% of the country to terrorists. The people elected the correct people to end the war, now again they are looking for alternatives to address economic grievances. Keeping in mind, the path of development for every country is unique. A country like Japan or South Korea can develop quickly with ethnically homogeneous populations where everyone toes the line and works like an automaton. Sri Lanka is somewhat different, it has to deal with minorities.

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