Colombo Telegraph

Let’s PhilippOpine 

By Nishthar Idroos

Nishthar Idroos

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena made a historic visit to the Philippines. A five-day state visit that’s supposed undertake negotiations with his counterpart President Rodrigo Duterte. The two leaders to hold bilateral talks on areas of mutual interest, including political, economic, cultural and people-to-people engagement. This is certainly a historic visit. President Sirisena’s visit to Manila is the first by a Sri Lankan president serving as both head of state and government.

Like in any foreign visit by respective leaders nations learn from each other. President Maithripala it seems had shown a keen interest in the Philippines war on drugs. Its colorful President had done some awful things in controlling the drug menace. Since taking office in 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had carried out a ruthless “war on drugs” that led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos. Duterte and senior officials had apparently instigated and incited killings in a campaign that could amount to crimes against humanity. If this kind of draconian atrocities are unleashed in Sri Lanka many a parliamentarian would be netted hence it’s its unlikely such efforts will ever be carried out in Sri Lanka.

Officially the Republic of the Philippines an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: LuzonVisayas, and Mindanao. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest. Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

GDP and GDP per capita data are according to International Monetary Fund‘s October 2018 estimates: 

It’s the world’s 34th largest economy by nominal GDP according to the 2018 estimate of the International Monetary Fund‘s statistics. The 13th largest economy in Asia. The Philippines one of the emerging markets and is the fifth richest in Southeast Asia by GDP. The Philippines is primarily considered a newly industrialized country, which has an economy transitioning from one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing. 

Sri Lanka can take many a leaf from the Philippines. Despite corruption the Philippines had made major inroads in the economic front.  Sri Lanka as a nation yet to achieve the true and reputable political representation for its hard working people. 

Earlier we had the disfavor of being a country plagued with terrorism now its chronic, fortified corruption. A notable yet dubious gift of the Sri Lankan political fraternity is their ability to speak with fervour and supposed piety yet achieve sweet nothing. Its political landscape filled with a zillion able speakers and not many doers. You make a random change of TV channels in the evening and you’ll know what I am talking about. This is a startling malaise. A valid reason according to pundits why we haven’t realized our full potential.

Numbers consistent with the entrenched ethos of splits and formations of new political parties and coalitions, an irrepressible political phenomenon. We have more political parties and less political engagement. We have more ministers and less rational demarcation of ministries. A dysfunctional and wasteful democracy.  

Budding politicians of various hues aimlessly trying to woo the voter yet visibly impatient and ill-prepared. The typical rhetoric that comes out in their hilarious TV debates aims at two distinct trajectories, in support of the hybrid genre of survival politics and to the primordial absurdist theatre. Nations certainly weren’t built this way and they never will.

It’s nuanced political melodrama in the absence of power or to grab it. Precious executive hours dissipated and drained as an effort of smart deflection. This is how a typical day moves in Sri Lanka even in the country’s legislature. Exponents of the craft just keep multiplying. This is what has taken center stage especially in the last decade and is the cynosure of all eyes. 

People too have got an insatiable diet for drama. Strange ventriloquists have emerged in the last couple of decades to generate entertainment for the people. Those that speak from the depth of their throats, those who can combine and synthesize their nasal organs.  Also the rare and unique breed that can expand and contract their cheek bones with amazing regularity. Quite a menagerie out there for diversion and merriment.  With mild intoxicants by the side it’s a good pastime for the politically active.

We had derogatory words for Korea, lost the economic war to them long time ago. We had a pipe dream of becoming a Singapore not exactly knowing, understanding the kind of people they were and the  kind of metal their politicians were made of. Please someone don’t tell me that Singapore is an authoritarian regime. Its people did not ask for an overdose of democracy. They wanted prosperity, dignity, subjugation of corruption and the rule of law. They got more than what they asked for.

We continued are desire to be like Malaysia atleast a Vietnam? All of these countries marched forward with a vision and are top international players as figures in the above tabulation demonstrate. This includes the Philippine. We are still struggling to come up with a constitution acceptable for all. Also parochial politics and politicians stir passions to keep the supposed competition in demography, numbers of places of worship and many more diversions that essentially impedes and contributes towards instability.

As a people Sri Lankans were ready, they were ready long time ago but the political leadership failed and faltered and continue to do so.

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