By Rusiripala Tennakoon –
This is a question raised by many who aspire a change for the good. And by those who feel enough is enough. But will this expectation be a reality? Let us examine the Pros and Cons.
I wish to refer to a renowned playwright and a theatre director from Norway who lived between 1828 and 1906, called Henrik Ibsen, came to be known as “the father of realism”. He produced many literary masterpieces. A film which was an adaptation of Ibsen’s play “an enemy of the people” became very popular mainly because of its highly social theme.
Many issues addressed in his original play by IBSEN appear to be highly relevant to us in today’s context. Matters he dealt with covered a wide spectrum of the society as delineated in the following quote,…. “such as environmental issues (versus economic interest), professional responsibilities (of experts in policy debates) and, last but not the least, the moral dilemmas and tensions involved in whistleblowing”-unquote.
The few lines quoted below from his original play will indicate how relevant his thinking has been to what we experience today in the politics here.
Quote….. “The majority never has right on its side. Never I say! That is one of the social lies that a free, thinking man is bound to rebel against. Who makes up the majority in any given country? Is it the Wise men or the fools? I think we must agree that the fools are in a terrible, overwhelming majority, all the wide world over.”
With these thoughts in the background let us take a quick look at the circumstances related to the forthcoming General Elections.
Status encircling the General election round the corner gives forth to several issues intermingled with a number of factors impossible to be evaluated with any certainty. The entire election process has turned into a battle field of the likes who have been dominating the arena over a period of time. This has caused an invoked anathema in the new comers who would otherwise have desired to take the plunge of entering into politics.
Consensus and expressions of concern that were much in vogue, such as the need to replace the entire lot of the sitting 225 MPs, has now vaporized into thin air. Same bunch, (some have decomposed and disintegrated, some gone into allied groups and certain others formed into new coalitions) have entered the fray. With heavy splits in the once strong UNP and integration of diverse elements in the Pohottuwa, the current scenario has become a complete hotchpotch beyond any comprehension.
Expectations of the voters to end up with a clean political culture are thus extending beyond reach. Old wine is being served in new bottles. The dawning of a new era of actual good governance- the fervour of adding new values to energize the dormant political process, all seem to be fleeing through the back door. Expanding horizons of hope towards a change for the better, has added to the growing disappointment.
Some of the questionable placements of various characters to high positions that require excelling competencies, have become shockingly frustrating, giving an impression of a reverse direction march towards a repeat performance of a sordid bygone era, that the people desired to end. In this state of affairs when the IBSEN’s hypothesis quoted above is applied, the most natural reaction of the free thinking eligible is to withdraw and abstain.
In this country according to the prevailing sequence of events, unless one could be a man driven by a fantasy for breaking the ice in the river to go swimming, no one can enter politics outside the established system. Hobson’s choice would be either to join the band wagon overcoming the repugnance or to keep quiet and be away from it all.
However, there is still hope for alternate possible choices, which can be extracted from the present state of things. But one has to collect, scrutinize, and appraise facts from the present situation. There appears to be some kind of divergence continually increasing in the opinions among the ruling block about a need to introduce a new façade to their outlook. They are also under pressure to yield to public pressure. The extent to which this idea will be pushed forward is unknown yet to be surmised.
We saw this in several instances during the current short spell of governance. Firstly, the choice of a Cabinet became highly problematic. Precarious and rather hilarious claims from those aspiring ministries including some seniors appeared as public statements. Country enjoyed seeing how these personalities eat the humble pie!
Certain questionable appointments to highly controversial places Eg. Board of SriLankan Airlines became the subject of public discussion. Sudden changes and re-appointments soon followed adding to the confusion.
Several Ministers were found to be taken aback, even now, about the choice of personnel to head various institutions coming under their purview. The selections were left to a body supposed to do independent evaluations however, comprising of persons considered undesirable by the many, and so criticized by some. Ministers continue to harbor their dissatisfaction for failing to have their own choices.
In a more realistic sense some of these doings and happenings seem to be consequential to the weak power base. In a short lived Government without a majority of its’ own such manifestations become unavoidable. Nevertheless, avoiding of glaring accusations such as accommodation of family members to generate a bad name or reputation for being unfair should have been considered more seriously.
The choice of some ministerial portfolios too appeared to be due to the same handicap situation. The prop up support of the different constituent party groups required to survive being the prime consideration. All these point towards one conclusion specially breeding among the not so fluent or analytical. That is the consternation, are we back to square one with the same bunch?
Now this brings a factor to be focused seriously by the Abstinent. The time ahead is too short for them to grow up to a power to form a government. But they should not forget that there is a significant sector/stratum in the society who yearn to see the prevalence of value even under desperate situations. Green parties have started very small but due to their catalytic effect in many countries they have become a formidable force to be reckoned with. This is a good example.
Last Presidential election saw the emergence of many new comers in the arena with a spirit of prophecy. It was a pity that they were too divided into smaller groups. Among them there were some who had a candid expectation to contribute to the life of the country. If we consider it to be only a show of emergence of such elements, forgetting the harvest, this is the ideal time for many of them to come TOGETHER with a common understanding to effectively take a course of action by participating in the Election process to promote and achieve a reasonable representation in the legislature of the country. A genuine interest in this direction displayed by a group of persons with integrity, capacity to positively contribute and above all a clean unblemished corrupt free background would most certainly receive the due acknowledgement of a fair section of the society, unbiased voters committed to see the realization of the purpose of an action.
The need to maintain the Independence nature of the group will ensure the unification of like- minded personalities who would strive for something the people demand in the interest of the country.
“We have to learn by other’s mistakes- while they go by their own”