By Gamini Dullewe –
Why I have been supportive of the UNP from the beginning, because it is the UNP, if you look back that has done something solid to uplift the poor masses in this country. They started with opening the Colonization schemes allocating 5 acres of prepared paddy land 3 acres of highland with a two bedroom house, a Co-operative for the settlers to buy their provisions to be settled from their crop. Now these lands were offered to thousands of families who constituted the poor in the country and not the rich. The Leftists then ridiculed the project saying that the poor were being sacrificed to Malaria. However thousands of families from, Gampaha district and the South were settled. Three acres of highland were given for the expanding families to build more houses when the family expanded. These Colonies that were opened at Galoya, Amapara, kagama, Illachchiya, Maha Illachchiya, Dewahoowe, Polonnaruwe, Anuradhapura, to name some of the settlements.
Now you see how the UNP took action to develop the lot of the poor in this country. Maithripala Sirisena and a whole lot of wealthy families in these Colonies today stand as testimony for the UNP effort. Then came ’56 and the country started to divide, ethnically and politically, with the Language issues and the Religious issues, where the Buddhist Clergy got involved with Governance. First they turned their guns at the Tamils saying they were favoured by the British and the Sinhalese Buddhist should be given their lost place. Then they turned their guns on the Western Educated Sinhalese, Tamils, Burghers, Malays and got rid of all the respectable, educated people. Here started the exodus. They started drumming that the SLFP led Govt was of the poor and for the poor only. That SLFP govt did not stand for the Capitalist, the Rich of this country and they were not considered as citizens of this country. In fact the main Political slogan of the SLFP was to wipe out the Capitalists from the country. They promised to make a classless society, by taking from the rich and distributing among the poor to make all equal. The poor thereafter got in to the habit of waiting for hand outs from the govt and their demands started to intensify resulting in continuous Strikes propped by the Leftist forces.
The SLFP govt started to Nationalise most Private ventures that were profit making and started employing there party stooges in place, where most had no proper qualification or the ability thus ending as liabilities on the Treasury. Then with the Vernacular Education started to churn half baked mediocrity to replace posts in the Govt sector, where the Western Educated had vacated and had migrated. The early Bureaucracy we had, that was second to none, soon found with the new hands were unable to cope with the workload. The entire system started to break down. It was only then, that no govt that came to power thereafter could implement any Policy or System effectively in the country, due to this Mediocrity. The SLFP boasted that they had emancipated the poor, whereas it was the British that emancipated the poor vassals under a Feudal System by providing an English Education to become Professionals and Academics in society. It is these educated that the National minded Patriots got rid of by forcing them out of the country. The loss was irreparable. The SLFP led Coalition Govt took the country down the Economic precipice with their Socialist Policies that brought the whole country to penury. It is for this reason that the SLFP led coalition was thrown out lock stock and barrel in 1977 by the very poor in the country.
Anyway by this time all the poor politicians of the SLFP who entered to do politics, with their party catchers had by then amassed sufficient wealth and standing in society. Corruption first was introduced during this SLFP led rule. They little understood that a country’s Economic Prosperity depended on the number of Rich in the country and not measured by the number of the poor. Then in 1977 the UNP getting a 5/6 th majority in Parliament opened the closed door Economy and did away with all travel restrictions. The Open Economy was supported by the Accelerated Mahaweli Development to provide the required Electric Power. Although many shouted and criticized the Open Economy then, today you see that everyone has benefited, from the poor to the rich, from the Capitalist to the Leftist. The new Super Markets, new Housing, New Apartments, New world class Private Hospitals, newer vehicles, new roadways all have added to the splendour of the country.
In ’56 only the affluent was able to own a vehicle, a telephone, a refrigerator, a wrist watch or Radio. Today almost every house hold has these amenities as they are no longer luxuries. The living standards have improved without a doubt. There is still work to be done for housing for the poor in the country, which I presume will be delivered, if we have uninterrupted governance without leg pulling. Sadly some of the UNP elected after ’77 also started to become corrupt making money like their counterparts in the SLFP. Today corruption has become endemic not only among the Politicians but well within the Civil Society as well. Most Professional and Academics are corrupt. The Judiciary is, or was corrupt and has started to turn around. The Police are corrupt yet. Although many point the finger at Ranil Wickremesinghe, that he is corrupt with the Bond scam, he is not on the same league as the rest. There is no evidence that he has personally benefited from the Bond Scam unlike the Tsunami Funds. There is fair accusation for him not taking action against the known Corrupt and the murderous in the country. My sentiments are the same. But one has to understand it is easily said than done for us arm chair critiques to blame him. Ranil has to tread with absolute caution because one false move he will be history and the Junta will come back. October 26th 2018 was a good case in point. Considering the enormity of the task, and the current campaign of misinformation carried out against Ranil at the moment, Ranil has to exercise caution. That is why I still rely on him to deliver as there is no other formidable, credible person with experience, who will not rob as he does not have the need to fend a progeny. I trust you understand now that every individual has to place his trust and it is for reasons mentioned above, that I repose my trust in Ranil as we do not have an alternate person at the moment. As the saying goes the known devil is better than the unknown angels or any of the rest of the devils and crooks that will be disastrous.