By Ranil Senanayake –
While commending the editorial of the 5th ‘Goaded by Greed’ (the Island 5th May 23) which very rightly points to the actors of this malaise that has become the cancer of our nation, it is also useful for us to recognize the facilitators of this malaise. One is the shadowy ‘permanent government’ or the bureaucrats. It is these people who stay as the government whatever the results of the elections are. The politicians come and go with the vote, but the bureaucrat stays on whatever the vote. This would not have been a problem, in fact the original intent behind the bureaucracy was to have an informed cadre of efficient people to support the working of the government. At one time, when adhering to social norms this was effective. The administration was independent of the politicians and operated as a meritocracy, where good public performance was rewarded by rising in the ranks. The system was controlled by a set of regulations termed the Administrative Regulations (AR) and Financial Regulations (FR). It worked well, until the politicians decided that to enter into the arena and ensured that the most important act to rise in the ranks or be transferred to a position of their choosing, was blind subservience to the I political masters. In an environment where the politicians are often poorly educated thugs or have despicable backgrounds, where often they could not even operate a simple bank account, the bureaucrat becomes the kingmaker. All of a sudden the politician begins opening accounts overseas, begins collecting ‘discreet’ commissions and other bribes that a invisible to the public. Who is the person responsible for this amazing transformation? the bureaucrat! Who, in participating in the graft and corruption now becomes a kleptocrat. Today this nation does not have an effective bureaucracy, it has morphed into a corrupt kleptocracy that is facilitating the looting of a nation.
The other facilitator of this national malaise, especially in a Buddhist are the monks. At a time when ‘development’ means mindless consumption to enable the financial institutions to roll money over. When ‘greed’ was extolled as a virtue, economic growth as the goal and demonising of ‘others’ as political power. Knowing three root kleshas: Moha (delusion, confusion), Raga (greed), and Dvesha (hate). Knowing that this process was the very thing that the Buddha (and all other spiritual teachers) and warned against. How is it that our monks have not uttered a word about consumerist consumption as ‘development’? As one quip stated “just give one a Mercedes and all will be well “! Tragically this is what we have had to witness these many years. Is this what our monkhood has descended to? Where are the voices admonishing us against greed, hate and delusion? Where is the questioning of the kleptocracy that this now governing us? It seems that not only are we goaded by greed but we are also governed by greed. Does the cow-towing of the senior monks to corrupt politicians mean that they have relinquished their moral authority? If so, we are indeed on a dismal path.
All this is unfolding before a crisis of planetary proportions that our so-called leaders seems to have no idea of. They did participate in the linking of national development to fossil fuels, which began in earnest in the 1970’s. When to government made a public statement that: “No oil means no development, and less oil, less development. It is oil that keeps the wheels of development moving” as a Sri Lankan Government communiqué 1979”. In the knowledge that fossil fuels are the primary reason for Climate Change and knowing what a vulnerable position Sri Lanka could be in through implementing this policy, the statement should be considered a shameful surrender of our nation to the fossil industry.
And now, when we are called upon the face the consequences of our actions in promoting climate change. When we need to respond urgently to the oncoming changes, the best response seems to be ‘appoint another consultant’. Unless we, the people of this national confront the corrupt political cabal and their supporting kleptocrats, we will become their cattle, goaded by their greed.