By Hema Senanayake –
The Citizens’ Power (Purawasi Balaya) is an organization of artistes, academics and civil society activists. They will be holding a public rally on December 02nd at Hyde Park in Colombo. Among speakers there will be Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, Common Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, TNA National List Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, Democratic Party Leader and former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, Mano Ganeshan of the Democratic Peoples’ Front and a host of other academics and activists. I felt writing something brief about a good citizen.
A good citizen is a patriot. As Theodore Roosevelt defined that patriotism means to stand by the country; it does not mean to stand by the president; it is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country; it is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country; in either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.
By this definition, in this moment of history one might feel that it is unpatriotic not to oppose the President as he fails in his duty to stand by the country and its democratic values and laws by enacting 18th amendment to the constitution.
As one of former U.S. presidents intimated you are a good citizen if you do your job well. If you love your children you are a good citizen. If you feel that you want to raise your children good, you are a good citizen. If you love your parents and take care of them when needed, then you are a good citizen. If you feel happy when our cricketers do well in the World Cup and other matches you are a good citizen. If you feel proud when our scientists do well here and abroad you are a good citizen. If you are concerned with environment, you are a good citizen. If you feel bad when injustices are done to others, you are a good citizen. Put all these traits together then you become a wonderfully good citizen. Still you have one more thing to do in order to be a good citizen. That is to participate actively and wisely in the electoral process. It is your civic duty. In other words you should willingly and enthusiastically exercise your citizen’s power, the power of franchise.
You are so good and you feel that you would not have to go before a court of law in your life time and hence you concern little about the judicial system. That is okay. Still, if you felt disgusted about the way that this government removed the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake from the Supreme Court, then you are a good citizen.
You might not be a journalist. Perhaps you have no relative in that profession or you are not associating any one of them closely. But if you feel disgusted when newspaper editors were killed or assaulted or kidnapped and tortured or when they are labeled as LTTE sympathizers without substantiating allegations, then you are a good citizen.
You might or might not have that much regard for the Ministers and MPs of the government. But if you feel worrisome when the president says that he has “files” of those who crossed over to the opposition, then you are a good citizen. And if you feel that the president fails in his duty to stand by the country’s democratic values by keeping secret “files”, then you are a good citizen.
If you felt relieved when the country got rid of LTTE menace, you are a good citizen. If you felt grateful towards the political leaders and military for establishing peace in the country you are a good citizen. If you felt you are humiliated when General Sarath Fonseka was put into jail by an unlawful Military Court, you are a good citizen. If you feel disappointed with the political leaders who put him in jail, then you are a good citizen even though you feared to come out for his rescue.
If you feel happy when the country’s infrastructure is shaping up, you are a good citizen. But if you feel disgusted about the rampant corruptions that are associated with infrastructure projects, then you are a good citizen.
Perhaps you might go or you might have gone after a politician to get job or help. But, still if you feel embarrassed for having to do so, due to a desperate predicament, then you are still a good citizen.
Recently, the whole country saw a worker of Road Development Authority (RDA) was pasting election propaganda posters of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A Journalist captured the seen and showed it in the TV. The worker told the journalist that he had to do it in fear of losing his job if he didn’t do it. If you happened to paste posters or to do something else, in fear of losing your job yet be unhappy about it by your heart, then you are a good citizen. By this measure the poor RDA worker is a good citizen. Also, if you feel bad about the plight of the RDA worker he is in and about the system that put him in that situation, then you are a good citizen.
The official residence of the president is not the place to conduct a “progress review” of universities. Federation of University Teachers Association released a press statement opposing it as it was not proper to have such an event when a presidential election has already been declared. Some academics have already insisted that they would not participate. However if an academic had to go in fear of losing his or her job or any other repercussions but feel bad for having to attend it, still he or she is a good citizen. Also if you feel bad about the abuse of their innocence, then you too are a good citizen.
Also, if you curiously wondered when Ranil says that UNP would take its share and give others their share, then you are a good citizen.
Millions of millions of good citizens might be waiting to take care of this government when comes the January 08th of 2015. That is citizens’ power. Any future government should know that good citizens’ hearts beat in the same way as it is happening now; Citizens’ Power should ensure that Maithri and Ranil should know about it with certainty.