By Nishthar Idroos –
I was listening to a characteristic filibuster delivered by current Leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and Member of Parliament honorable Anura Kumara Dissanayake recently in Parliament. Anyone with roots to Sri Lanka would have felt outraged at the declarations the MP was making. His speech revolving around injustice meted out to the people by way of taxation, inaccessibility to basic needs etc. Speech receiving rapt attention by fellow parliamentarians.
He was basically voicing the hypocrisy, dishonesty and mendacity of the Yahapalanaya government. Even the Prime Minister was not spared for accepting brand new luxury vehicles in the backdrop of masses being slapped with back to back tax increases.
Mangala Samaraweera the adorable Minister of Finance has stated that his forthcoming budget will be “important and interesting.“ It better be. True relief and succor very much need of the hour. It’s time Mangala the government unleashed true dividend of peace.
Asking people to tighten belts without legislators themselves setting an example or practicing austerity measures is downright hypocrisy. Dangling largesse in an election year is unmitigated dishonesty. Being sanctimonious about cost of living but continuing the status quo sans relief to the people is wholesale mendacity.
Establishment basking in this kind profligacy can only be marked as a callous self-inflicted rupture of the sacred covenant. Antithetical to all moral decency and democratic tenets. Pious platitudes will not go well down the throats of people nor is it an effective antidote against the rumblings of the esophagus.
Purchase of the compact Maruti, the most basic and affordable of vehicles increasingly becoming illusive for the ordinary Joe. Multiple limitations precluding the ordinary Joe from owning his car. It seems each time a plan is mooted to own one, closer to decision day a fortuitous fiscal disincentive either postpones it or destroys the joy. This must be really painful.
No such impediments for the Mercedes, BMW, Audi for our legislators. Maybe even a Maserati will not be out of reach for them. After all who can prevent a top VIP from getting one? I was of the opinion these kinds of things could only happen in the African continent and more specifically in Zimbabwe.
Speaking of which, the Zimbabwe Parliament arm-twisted their Finance minister Mthuli Ncube into raising budgetary allocation by 44% and demanded the latest 4×4 luxury vehicles. Parliament bid for $163 million in the 2019 budget, but was allocated $101 million. MPs across the political divide threatened to veto the budget after much haggling settlement was reached for $145 million.
A bitter taste of the era we are living in. They want their piece of flesh no matter what happens to the people. After all we get leaders deserving of our true character.
From the citizen’s viewpoint, this kind of thing constitutes a gross betrayal. A misuse of a nation’s wealth. While representative democracy is often poetically described as government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ but insensitive betrayal destroys confidence and in the whole so called democratic process which in essence is a farce in Sri Lanka.
The people of Sri Lanka endured a thirty year brutal war and in the process lost loved ones and wealth. They faced a gargantuan tsunami they devoured a sizable amount of human life and left a trail of destruction. Sri Lanka being an island in the Indian Ocean and in the path of monsoons has been affected by many natural hazards. Sri Lankans had their fair share of floods, fair share of droughts due to failure of monsoonal rain, fair share of landslides, lightning strikes, coastal erosion and effects of environmental pollution. Don’t these survivors deserve a great deal?
Sri Lankans as a nation went through and continue to go through a lot. By the way none of these affected a single politician or his extended families, in essence many benefited from it. Despite all if this when the teacher, farmer, budding entrepreneur wants raise his head and try to enjoy the basics of life tax impositions and other factors repel him, rejects him. Isn’t this injustice?
In a crass, heartless world it’s refreshing to cite an exemplary leadership of a unique man of a bygone era. A vibrant epoch in Islamic history. Meritable and people centered methodologies revolutionized, immortalized good governance. Umar bin Al-Khattaab second caliph of Islam. A coruscating star. Powerful, influential Muslim yet extremely pious and God conscious. Freely gave everyone their rights, was an epitome of justice. An inimitable leadership meticulously preserved to date and emulated studiously by many.
It’s the time of one of the worst famines. The leadership has all the basics regardless. True to his character he vowed that as long as the famine lasted he would eat only what was available to the ordinary folks. He refused to eat meat, ghee or butter during the period of famine. These were luxury items at that time. He would eat only the coarsest of food. As a consequence his color took a blacker hue. His stomach would rumble, and he would said: “O stomach you may rumble as much as you like, but as long as the famine persists I cannot allow you anything dainty”.
One day some ghee came to the market and his servant purchased the ghee for him. When Umar came to know of that he refused to have anything to do with such a luxury. So strict was Umar that during the period of famine he even refused to go near his wife. Such was his pre-occupation of the welfare of the people. At night he would move street to street to see for himself that all had been fed. Whenever any case of hardship came to his notice he would rush relief immediately. He would in most cases carry the relief goods on his own back. After taking his rounds, Umar would pray to God till late hours of the night.
Umar bin Khattaab considered the first Person in the History of Mankind to introduce the System of Welfare, Child benefits, Pensions, Old Citizens Benefits, Disability Benefits, and Jobless Allowances. The first Welfare Empire. The land coming under him at that time included Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon ,Egypt, and part of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
This was not an ordinary minister working. This was not a Prime Minister working and certainly not a President working but an Emperor, carrying sack after sack of wheat on his head and heading towards people who most needed it. May Allah be pleased with him.