By Upatissa Pethiyagoda –
I find it a supreme irony that while our nation (and perhaps the World) is battling with existential needs, our politicians are engaged (indeed obsessed) with the desire for electing a Parliament. The Commissioner of Elections has estimated that the cost would be some 2.4 billion. Our Nation is in dire financial trouble, and faces great threat, if we are unable to honour our loan obligations. Massive requirements for meeting costs of long delayed and basic needs for water (irrigation, CKDU control), Environment related issues (erosion, deforestation, Dengue), Drug Addiction, Crime, Corruption, Poor schools, Ill-equipped Hospitals, Inadequate Power supplies and many, many more.
Widespread theft (including the Central Bank, EPF, NSB, MP’s Duty Free Car Permits etc.). But do we care? Why don’t us people do something about this Bloody Circus? Let me be among the first, but not the last, to declare my disgust. I have done so in several of my “Opinion” pieces. I am driven to do so for many reasons, as my conscience pricks with a hopeless anger at the price which all of us get this charade of “democracy”. Our poor fools devour this crap unthinkingly, enabling a poor quality to move to an exalted, unmerited bunch of privileges. I have grave doubts that a further round will help to dispatch the criminals into their deserved place (Jumper Suits and all) but just short of suggesting that the newly acquired ropes (at obviously enormous cost) and newly recruited Hangmen (of whom, I heard that one has retired, because he was bored with inaction) may help.
Please do not think that I consider all Politicians as rotten. There have been, and are, and will be persons of stature, integrity, competence, well read, decent and truly “Honourable” gentlemen and ladies. But sadly, they are still too few. Some may even become like the majority and learn, practice and join the heap. As the proverb has it “When a fish begins to rot, it starts at the Head” As most poltikkas consider themselves as Heads, the suspect field diminishes. As a stray thought, just as flocks, (sheep) herds (cows), packs (Jackals), and shoals (fish) denote collective nouns for their species, how many know that the collective noun for Parliaments is (believe it or not) “Baboon”. So we have a herd of sheep but a baboon of Parliaments!
But to return to my earlier point, why don’t the miniscule number of admirable MP’s not see that their “Honour” is not sullied by those many who are “integrity- challenged” ? Is it a matter of indifference, fear, timidity or an easy conscience? While faulting them for going along with the less virtuous, may they be reminded that “Those who lie with dogs, will awaken with fleas”.
I have resolutely held that governance cannot be entrusted to the likes of incompetent know-alls. It is only persons who have proven successful in their chosen professions, merit selection for managing the affairs of State. The majority who have come through the political ladder – District Councils, Provincial Councils as their sole qualifications for political office, are unlikely to excel. These symbols of Decentralization have really become “Schools for Scoundrels”
To me, it is plain rubbish to talk about “Experience” being the pre-requisite for success in politics. Contrarily, politics remains one profession where “Experience” is of negative value. President JRJ justified a huge increase of his Presidential fortunes, while doing little to alleviate the conditions of the Public Servants, with the celebrated justification that “the President” was just one while the Public Service was a million!”.
He should also be held principally responsible for obscene increases of allowances for Parliamentarians. It was possibly a sinister move by a “Sly Fox” to secure support. The dishonest assertion was that increasing their income will deter them from robbing the Public Purse. What this actually did was not to reduce venality, but rather whet the appetite of an already hungry but over-fed mob.
Was it Ronald Reagan who said that “Politics is said to be the second oldest profession. The longer that I have been in it, do I see how closely it resembles the first!” Someone also said that politicians, like babies’ nappies should be changed frequently, for much the same reason.
HL Mencken is quoted as having said “Democracy is a system where the combined folly of the many somehow transforms into the wisdom of a chosen few.” This through a franchise which itself is seriously flawed.