By Gamini Dullewe –
Reading the comments for the previous article Paradise Lost, it was observed that some were under the misconception that since there was inequality in society, there was no paradise for the majority as alleged, in this country. Incidentally, Inequality is not only peculiar to Sri Lanka, but is prevalent in all societies. Inequality is more apparent in the tropical countries as Sri Lanka, more than the Western countries that are snow bound where Nature has designed the basics for mankind. In the snow bound countries tenements as ours are not possible to survive winter, without heating. Besides the citizenry also cannot be ill clad, sans foot wear for the same reason. Hence in those societies the basics in society for all to be dressed similar and live in some form of housing with heating regulates uniformity, unlike ours where shacks and rags are common place as nature provides and allows so, highlighting inequality.
Inequality and the need to distribute the wealth, has been a major concern for most societies in the 20th century and some countries ventured to wipe out inequality, adopting Socialism and Communism. Two such countries Russia and China today has created Neo-Capitalism in it’s worst form in those countries, by those very individuals whose hearts bled for the poor, after taking over the reins to liberate the poor. However poverty in both countries remains to be addressed although much is boasted today, having the largest number of millionaires and booming economies, where the women folk of the former is practising the oldest profession in most countries including ours and large volumes of menial labour seen at work sites on projects undertaken by the latter in a few projects as in Sri Lanka at the moment. In ours also at that time although we had a wider segment of poor, they were quality poor who had a house to live in and a vocation to fall back on. The poor then in the country, soon after Independence was not unemployed, starving or homeless. The poor then, were given a free Education and a free Health Service and Public transport was subsidised Ceylon then being a welfare state. Further the landless were given a few acres of paddy land, a couple of acres of highland with a house built and a Co-operative system to make their purchases to be paid back from their harvest, in the vast extents of Colonies opened in the entire NCP, where tens of thousands of family units were settled. These were the Poverty alleviation schemes adopted then, without any song and dance, as done today for Janasaviya, Samurdhi or Divinaguma. It was with such facilities offered to the poor in this country that a few Left oriented, Western educated Capitalists as S.A. Wickremasinghe, Colvin R De Silva, Pieter Kennuman, N.M. Perera et al were trying to woo the masses with comradeship, to take the reins of governance of the country, but the poor did not reciprocate with their vote other than in the electorates they represented. It was then, that with their participation they organised the first Hartal in the Port in ’53. This was at a time, when the Port workers were provided individual housing down Bloemendhal Road, which are still in existence and a subsidised lunch. Yet they crippled the Port and continued with strikes in every govt. department for long years to ruin the country and the economy. As a result of the Hartal in the Port, we lost the bulk of the Shipping business and Singapore stood to gain.
While I was working I had the occasion to meet Mr. Tao who built the Twin Towers in the Fort called the World Trade Centre. He told me how he was amongst a few other Singaporeans working in the Wharfs in Colombo prior to Sri Lanka gaining Independence. What immediately struck me was whether Singapore had a hand in destabilising our Port then to their advantage. This is only my presumption and I cannot help but think so, as when one sees the level of intrigue prevalent even today by powerful countries against smaller and weaker Nations. A cursory glance at events here including the JVP uprising, the 30 year LTTE war, how it was ended under thirty months and the present lukewarm approaches to the powers in governance, destroying Democracy are all indicative of such intrigue.
It was the British through Education that emancipated the ordinary masses in this country to become Professionals and Academics to create the new elite in the Sri Lankan society, who were otherwise were mere vassals in the former Feudal system that prevailed in the country. The elite base was further widened by the govt. of the day, by opening Central Colleges and the inclusion of Iriyagolles, Malalasekaras, Kularatnes et al. None of the forefathers of the Sri Lankan elite then were British, but natives of this land. They all climbed the social ladder through hard work and with an education irrespective to which community or religious group they belonged to. Therefore the elite then consisted of the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and any other Sri Lankan. Religion was no criteria. The rich in society had acquired their wealth over a few generations as there was no easy Drug money, Gun Money or Commissions on deals as today, to become rich overnight or simply within the span of a few years. The work force of the country consisted of all communities and religions. Had we retained this system and allowed all the people who were forced to leave this country to remain, we certainly would have been spared of the misery experienced and this country still would have served us as the PARADISE for all of us to live comfortably with pride. However this was not to be and we were overtaken by a set of Opportunists and Humbugs, parading as Patriots, clamouring for Swabasha and a due place for Buddhism, where even the founder Lord Buddha never clamoured for such position during his day, when there were so many other faiths and beliefs in practise then. These new born again Buddhists, both the laity and the clergy are totally responsible for the degeneration of this once noble Philosophy that served solace to mankind. The Buddhist Priests then were held in high esteem in society, unlike the Humbugs of today seen being baton charged and beaten at demonstrations by the very same State powers who Christened them, running for life with umbrellas and their robes tucked. Today Buddhist Priests are accused of Rape, Molestations, Thuggery, Armed robbery and even Murder. The funny thing is they commit all this villainy and still have the audacity to seek State protection, where the scum of Politicians are willing to, as seen today with the notorious Bodu Bala Sena, a disgrace to all Buddhists in this country. It is no wonder when Sir John wanted to send them back to the Temple with their backs tarred, it was opportunists as Banda who brought them to the political platform, ridiculing Sir John then. The consequences of such political expediency are glaring at this society today. So the rot, started to set in this country with the onset of SWRD Bandaranayake giving leadership to the destructive, corrupt and the murderous. Education was switched to the vernacular with the promise to do so in just 24 hours. First an efficient Bureaucracy was replaced with a mediocrity, qualified in Swabasha. Capitalism was a dirty word that only suited the Rapacious West. Therefore the Politicians promised to bring down the Capitalists in society with limitations on property, houses and wealth, to make all equal. Some of the poor, naturally thought that once the wealth of the rich was distributed amongst the have nots, that all would end up as haves. Let alone the poor achieving a better quality life, certainly the Poor Politicians, who shouted loudest to bring the Capitalists down, became better Capitalists than the rich of yore whom they brought down. The Socialist policies of the day, created a class of ‘Dughi’, abject poverty in society that had ‘Govi’ and ‘Kamkaru’ to represent the poor in society before. The Socialists never understood that the strength of a country’s economy is not gauged by the number of beggars in the country but by the number of rich in that society, because one beggar cannot help another beggar.
Thereafter with a mediocrity as Govt. Servants compared to the former, was made worse making them subservient to the Politicians by the ’72 Constitution, where it started to plummet down in every sphere, in discipline, Law and Order, while corruption, bribery, lethargy and inefficiency became the order of the day. This new breed of Public Servants started pandering the Politicians for position and promotions. Therefore is it surprising to see even today many of these Public Servants being servile to the Corrupt Politicians, thereby insulting the high positions they hold as Professionals and Academics. The only lot who benefited were the non pod Politicians of all hue and their catchers. Besides the Politicians who benefitted were, the Under World from the Shanties who earlier provided the muscle to all the Political Parties, but later some of them turned big time businessmen while some others took to Politics, to even lead this country. Today when one looks at the society it is not difficult to identify some of those who have had a meteoric rise, although some today may not know them, as to who they were fifty years ago.
If one were to assess the amount of money robbed by Politicians and their catchers of all governments to date from Independence, living lives of ultra luxury today, having fat bank balances both locally and outside, offspring with Foreign education and qualifications holding high positions, compared to what their families were fifty years ago, would easily add up to trillions upon trillions of rupees which could easily provide decent housing to all shanties numbering over four million, living in sub human conditions that have grown after the down trodden were promised a place in this resplendent isle, by their benefactors. Further imagine the money currently spent to maintain Rapists, Thugs, and Murderers as members of various Councils across the country, burdening the whole society with a high cost of living for what purpose, only they know. So is it any wonder that these uneducated Ruffians unable to do a proper job of work, has to kindle Patriotism, Nationalism and Religion to sow strife to remain in power.
It is in this context that as an alternate I proposed, even at this late stage for the society as a whole to benefit, for us to turn to someone from the present political firmament, rather than look for Diyasena (Ku) Marayas, who has lied and robbed this Nation. I well understand the ire of those who are inimical to my proposition of Ranil Wickremasinghe as the only alternate this society has, because there are still some waiting to climb the social ladder through short cuts, using Religion and Race as the Passport. Then there are the businesses as Maharajah & Co., Professionals and Academics seeking recognition, where Ranil was not willing to, but readily accommodated by the current corrupt leadership and most have been already discarded. It is also understandable the ire of all those who have already amassed wealth and position in order to shield themselves, as it would be difficult for them to survive in a future society with Law and Order. So what is it that irks, the anti RW to resent him so much? Is it because RW has not given leadership to FUTA and the Impeachment of the former CJ to topple MR? Does one in his senses really believe that even if Ranil did so, that MR will be toppled by now? The truth is if Ranil did so, many would have got hurt, killed and some would be behind bars today. Remember the SF saga? Leave Ranil out, why did not these Deshapremis come out and topple MR and freed SF? There is nothing to prevent them doing so? Besides it is not through Ranil Wickremasinghe’s vote that MR was elected. Ranil Wickremasinghe was branded as a traitor for signing the CFA, claiming that he handed one third of the land mass and two thirds of sea front to the Tamils the LTTE. When RW questioned, if it is so why VP helped MR and not RW to become President, none of these critics of Ranil has an answer. It must be remembered that it was Ranil Wickremasinghe who was responsible for ending confrontational politics in this country, which fact was confirmed by C.A. Chandraprema. Further it was Ranil Wickremasinghe again who prevented the violent element, from re-entering the UNP to continue the cult of violence as they did when in power. Today RW has instilled discipline in the UNP and have been taking pains to select a set of decent, educated individuals to carry the UNP and this country forward for the future generations. Therefore now it is the responsibility of the majority in this country, without blindly bashing Ranil Wickremasinghe, where most do so because others say so, but to realise the damage they cause each time they berate RW for no justifiable reason, but because they believe to be in vogue.