By R.A.Ratwatte –
The last time I left Sri Lanka for any length of time was after being witness to a particular ruthless and brutal massacre of Sinhala youth in the name of crushing an “insurrection”. It was done by a president who was more a “Doer” than a “Leader” (and mark my words there IS a difference) a “doer” who was out of his depth and resorted to the only recourse he knew which was eliminate at all costs or get the job “done.”
That particular self-imposed exile lasted for 7 years and resulted in a dual citizenship that was to prove invaluable. It ended with the expectation of a “civilized Government” and proper policy planning from a UNP Government lead by Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The shortsighted thinking of a Lady President and misguided advice taken by her, lead to the short-term demise of both this Government and the political life of the Lady herself. Since one cannot change one’s life plans and those of one’s dependents on the whims and fancies of a fickle executive president it was necessary to wait out the resulting chaos in the vain hope of a “light at the end of the tunnel”.
The advent to the executive presidency of the very type of person that its perpetrators’ (and I use this word after careful consideration) would consider the Anti-Christ or the person it was never designed to be bestowed upon, has resulted in this decision by me, to leave the Country once again.
JRJ with all his faults mystified me when he created this executive presidency. Did he expect to live forever, I wondered. For if anyone with a total disregard for the parliament and democracy (One has to admit that JRJ had SOME regard albeit a very small amount) and the usual Sri Lankan penchant for family bandyism became executive president under this constitution even my then infantile brain reasoned, all hell would break loose.
It has my friends! All hell in the form of ad hoc and badly thought out economic policies, spending with firm belief that the world will end with the Mayan calendar – with scant disregard for the balance of payments, corruption and commission taking like never before – we are told that 40 cents on every dollar that comes to this country is taken as commissions, the complete grid lock of an already moribund civil service unable to even conduct a grade 5 scholarship exam without allegations not to mention issue results for any form of public examination, almost total paralysis of the higher education system – a strike for 4 months and of course the unbearable cost of living.
All hell in the form of anyone with even a remote connection not to mention relationship to, what is now termed the first family, holding down top jobs without even a smidgeon of a qualification or if qualified, engineers running environment ministries and architects looking after Zoos with the national airline being run by a failed tea planter. So called captains of industry keeping silent and even compromising with and supporting (in the form of huge sponsorships) the activities of this clan and its siblings.
Sport has been turned into a political weapon and the result has been the frustration and a loss of interest shown by devoted fans. Television, the electronic media and the newspapers are run and dominated by the clan. Even respected television channels have been blackmailed into running regular programs vilifying the opposition and its leader.
A consistent brain drain combined with no retirement or succession plans in most major organizations has led to the “Indianization” of the top management in this Country. Look around you my friends how many plantation companies, Garment Industries and Telecom companies are run by Indian management! Look at the average age of the senior Lankans’ at the top of management, it Is WELL over the retirement age, even in the public quoted companies. As someone said no one gives up any position in this country even that of president of the local village funeral committee! Don’t blame the brain drain only on successive Governments. The blame should be shared by the Sri Lankan trait of never giving up a position of power and only promoting those who will not “threaten” the position of the boss.
Even the cricket match sponsorships are done by Indian firms aren’t they? The proposed Economic co-operation treaty with India will only have one sort of ending and let me assure you it wont be a fairytale ending for the Sri Lankans.
The current World Bank conditions imposed when lending money to this Country will ensure that the fuel prices have to go up again and the cost of electricity supply will have to be increased. There is little doubt that a water tax is on the way. Putting salvation for the fixed wage earner beyond the scope of even all the Gods’ combined.
If there was any possible salvation available in the form of credibility or even ability from any form of political opposition, one may have been tempted to stay and try to bring some order and direction back to this thrice blessed land. The leader of the opposition seems to be on an intellectual level that those around him cannot relate to. Could this be another result of the brain drain ?
Those of us who have travelled and lived abroad for any length of time are fully aware that Sri Lanka is a “land like no other ! Her salvation at least for the sake of the future generation, whose future has been mortgaged to the world bank, should be our prime objective.
It is a pity that the people are “so like others” and so many “good men” choose to remain silent and allow the vociferous scum who pass for politicians to continue to wreak havoc on their motherland.