By Gamini Dullewe –
Misnomers and Half-truths are floated a plenty by the JVP and their allies, to discredit and disgrace the past Govts, for the failures encountered today in our Political Spectrum. The JVP has taken over the place of the former Leftist Parties and are pointing their fingers at the Past govts, claiming they have failed to deliver for the last 73 years of Governance after Independence, not mentioning the fact that they were more than responsible for the carnage and destruction of Public Property to the tune of Billions of Rupees worth, by burning Transformers, Tea Factories, Trains, Buses, Govt. Buildings and killing many an innocent bread winners of the working class for defying JVP Orders of Work stoppages. The present Leadership of the JVP, Anura Kumara Dissanayake et al were no innocent Infants then in ’88, ’89, not to understand what the atrocities the JVP committed then, although today the JVP leadership profess to be the only Saviours of the public and the country, parading as Paragons of Virtue, pleading with the public to repost the Public trust in them. What an Irony? as some of the average Intelligent in society also echo the same sentiments, believing that we have enjoyed the current standards of living of all, from Independence itself and those who governed before, has done nothing or contributed to elevate living standards of the general public that we enjoy today with better clothing instead of Kerosene smelling garments, with better housing, with better transport, with better Hospital and Health facilities, compared to what the Public of this country had from Independence to 1977.
Sri Lanka at the time of Independence, our Economy was essentially an Agricultural Economy, dependent on the main crop exports of Tea, Rubber, Coconut and Spices. The majority of society over 80% were the poor, while the Rich constituted around a 10% and the rest were the Middle Classes. The poor then were Quality Poor as all had a vocation and belonged to the Kamkaru (Labour) class depicted in the Panchamaha Balavegaya that Bandaranaike grouped this society to Sangha, Weda, Guru, Govi Kamkaru. But later with the birth of a Shanty Culture, the country pursuing Socialist Policies, bred a new Dhugi Class, (Abject Poverty), whereas earlier all lived in houses of wattle and Daub, although small with a minimum of two rooms to preserve the family privacy and tradition, that disappeared later with the springing up of Shanties in the cities, where the whole family were huddled together, in one single small shanty of 12’ by 12’, leading to all vices, crime and corruption that sprung up later, creeping in to every nook and corner of the Social Fabric, where some of the current Politicians hail from. In that former society after Independence, it is not all who owned a Modern house, a Refrigerator, a telephone, a Vehicle, Household Electrical Appliances and to dress better like today, where most in society today are privileged to be the proud owners now of many an item that were considered as Luxuries then. Many of the facilities enjoyed by all, were only enjoyed by the Rich in society then and today they are no longer considered as Luxuries, because most are necessities to many in society. Then how can one say, nothing has been done for the last 73 years since Independence? See the number of Billionaires the country has produced from ’77 judging by the number of New Vehicles on the road, each valued easily over a few millions, including the finances of Politicians who have robbed, who began with nothing then, but today are the wealthiest in the country. Therefore, to say that nothing has been achieved for the last 73 years is a Misnomer.
The first UNP Govt. was represented by all communities and had the cream of the society, where most spent their own money to do public service and not as a means to earn money. Then our Public Service had a Bureaucracy second to none in the world, consisting of all communities, the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims, the Burghers and the Malays. Thanks to Political expediency of Banda’s Sinhala Only Policy, drove the entire lot and their families out of this country, only to be replaced by the mediocrity products of Free Education. Lo and behold! Our Public Service began to nose dive after that to the current lot, who are boot lickers of the establishment for perks and position with no shame whatsoever. That is why today we have a Servile Judiciary, a Servile Police Force and an unprecedented Crime and Corruption wave sweeping over the Nation.
Soon after Independence our main concern was to become self-sufficient in our rice requirement, because during the time of the British, Rice was imported and marketed here at a low price, that it was cheaper to buy rice in the market than to cultivate because it cost more. Further bulk of our foreign earnings was spent on the import of rice, our staple diet as bread consumption in the country then had not caught up at that time. Bread consumption became popular long after Independence where free Wheat Flour was gifted to the Govt. under PL 480 under the Colombo Plan in ’52. The free wheat flour received, was sold to the public that helped the govt. to draw revenue to meet other expenditure. It was believed that this gift of Wheat Flour was the excess produced in America that was dumped in the sea to keep the world prices stabilized. The irony is once the entire country got hooked to the consumption of Wheat Flour, the PL 480 ceased and from then on we had to buy the wheat flour in the Open Market. This impact was cushioned to an extent due to the timely action of DS Senanayake opening Colonies of Settlement for land less, in the North Central Province where thousands of poor landless families have been settled, that this Farming Community today, stands as the Backbone of the Rice Producers. This programme too would have been derailed by the Leftists then who vehemently protested, that the UNP govt. was exposing the Poor people to the Malaria Epidemic prevalent then. The govt. also launched an Anti-Malaria campaign to suppress and control Malaria and eventually as we see today we have succeeded in our endeavor. This is how the early UNP govts tried to alleviate poverty in the country, by handing over land to the landless poor, mind you not to the rich, an extent of five acres of prepared land for Paddy Cultivation, a three-acre plot of Highland with a two roomed house and a Co-Operative Store in each area for all settlers to buy their provisions to be set off with their produce.
Quite contrary to this system of Poverty alleviation programme of the UNP, Banda’s SLFP govt of ’56 adopted a completely different approach. The UNP was branded as a Capitalist Party and boasted that their SLFP/MEP Coalition Govt. of ’56, was only for the Poor in this country and not for the Rich. Bandas and Gundas Policy was to take property from the well to do, the Rich and distribute them among the Poor. Some poor thought and supported that they too could become rich without having to work for it, with what was doled out by the govt. They brought in Land Reform and limited Private Holdings to 50 acres, resulting in destroying the Countries Economy. Introduced a Rent Act and limited house ownership that stopped the growth of housing in the country where newly married had to stay put in their parental houses due to non-availability of houses for rent. The aim of their govt. was to wipe out the gap between the Haves and the Havenots to make a ‘one class society’, where all are equal, as have nots. They did away with the 1st class, 2nd class in the Railway and made it common 3rd Class for all. Little they knew that a big slice of Railway Revenue was lost and the subsequent Govts had to get the Govt. Treasury to sustain the loss making Railway Dept. They went on a Nationalizing spree and all the new Govt. Corporations and Departments were filled with majority Party supporters. The endless strikes in most of these govt bodies and the Private Sector Companies, virtually killed the Country’s Economy with hardly any development, slowing down the growth of the country’s Economy and today these same people are questioning why the Country has not developed? The only significant Development the country had seen, like the Mahaweli that provided much needed irrigation for the Farmer Community and the generation of Electric power, to supply electricity to the remotest of villages. FTZs and Garment Factories that provided Employment in large numbers for the Poor in this country. Then shelter for thousands of Poor families under the Gam Udawa Housing Programme and High Rise Housing for Shanty Dwellers in the city and Large Scale Condos for middle income and the rich in society, to modernize and improve Housing in the country, were all done by the UNP govts not only for the rich or the Poor in society, but for all in society as it should be.
Who Blundered And Sabotaged Our Development?
Our Development was sabotaged by our own Leftists and Socialist Politicians from ’56, including the JVP that wreaked havoc in the country from ’71, who are pointing their fingers at others now, as responsible. Strikes and work stoppages in the Post-Independence era, commenced with the Port Hartal in ’53 soon after receiving Independence. Here, I do not put past the Singaporeans who were employed at our Go Downs at the Port as Wharf Clerks, who would have instigated the operation, along with supporting our Leftist Politicians involved in the Hartal. Tao, who put up the World Trade Centre in the Fort, also had been a Wharf Clerk here, before we were granted Independence. The end result was that we lost a promising shipping business to Singapore, thanks to Strike Action staged by the Leftists of this country. After the ’53 Port Hartal there had been many a Strike Launched with the new Trade Unions formed, affiliated to Leftist Political Parties, at the drop of a hat and the Leftist Politicians were responsible without doubt of instigating the Strikers. Strikes became common and a daily occurrence, even under the Socialist regimes of SWRD Bandaranaike. Strikes became endemic in the country, that Mrs. B contesting the July Elections of ’60, after the Jan ’60 elections were won by the UNP, she went around the country lamenting that it was NM that was responsible for killing her husband, metaphorically. From every Political platform Mrs. B claimed that, ‘Mage Samiya Nomara, Maruwe, NM’. Ironically at the ’70 hustings, she formed a coalition govt. with the same Leftists, whom she accused earlier of having killed her husband. The United Front govt led by Mrs. B’s SLFP was also supported by the JVP after the country was offered Two Measures of Rice free, by even brining from the moon. One of the first acts that Mrs. B committed soon after being elected in ’70, was to release the JVP leadership including Rohana Wijewera, who were incarcerated by the previous UNP regime of ’65 to ‘70, claiming that the UNP had locked up innocent infants, whose scent of milk had not left their mouths. These were the same innocent infants of the JVP, who launched a Bloody attack on the Establishment even before one year passed in ‘71.
It is this same JVP that crippled many a Factory in the Free Trade Zones by instigating the Trade Unions to Strike for higher wage demands. All these workers who struck work, to cripple the county’s economy were quite content with the salary, when they sought employment, to join those very Companies to secure jobs. Some Companies like the Tobacco Company, Ansell Lanka and some others that closed down and moved out of this country, had the best of welfare facilities for the workers, but yet they struck work, demanding for more and more. Therefore, Is it any wonder why Foreign Investment, fight shy of establishing Factories here in this country? Long and short of the story is that none of the Leftists or the JVP who are anti Capitalists, like to see the country develop and the people living better, because then they cannot spread their archaic dogmas for these Leftists to come to power by the ballot. Therefore, for Communism or Socialism to thrive, there has to be poverty in society.
In order to put this country right, first we must introduce a Hire and Fire Policy for all Workers in the country, Keeping Trade Union action out. Trade Union action was good in the days where this Market Economy began, where slave labour was the Order of the day. Today all Workers know their rights and these Trade Unions are a ruse for the Trade Union Leaders and Organizers a way of living on the sweat and blood of the workers. A case in point is the CWC where the benefits that accrued to the Estate Labour is minimal over the years, compared to the Fortunes of an Empire built for the Thondaman family is stupendous. These Trade Union Leaders always upset the work forces making mostly unreasonable demands, like reinstatement of individuals found guilty of theft or insubordination and never educate the workers of their duty, that the workers ought to perform. Today, no Employer would want to get rid of a Good Employee. A Hire and Fire Policy will not only improve the Organization, but will benefit both the Employer and the Employee of their mutual commitments for a common goal of Success leaving Politics and Politicians out. It is vitally important to maintain Discipline at work places to uphold Law and Order in the country, if meaningful development is to ensue. I earnestly hope the people have learnt lessons for the last 73 years, not to be duped now with Half Truths.