By Sharmila Gamlath –
The Easter Sunday and subsequent bombings pushed our nation into a quagmire of terror after ten years of relative calm. The birth of a new era of terror, unprecedented in its ferocity and hatred, which claimed hundreds of innocent lives and caused injuries to many more, has left the entire world in a state of disbelief. First of all, may all these innocent men, women and children who departed this world due to these cruel acts of terror Rest in Peace, attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana, find Ultimate Happiness in Jannah or achieve Moksha in their Samaric journey, depending on their religious beliefs.
Nonetheless, upon expressing one’s heartfelt condolences to those affected by these brutal attacks, it is not uncommon for a person to next face a harsh reality check: ordinary citizens can do little else than offer their sympathy to those who were affected by these attacks, and wonder what lies ahead. The loss of agency that comes with being unsure if one’s family members would make it home safely in the evening, having to split up when using public transport in the hope that at least a part of the family would survive if a bomb happened to be planted in a bus or train or live in constant fear of being abducted and joining an expansive list of missing persons is not a path any Sri Lankan would want to walk down again.
Many hundreds of our nation’s innocent people paid with their lives for the power struggles that trickle from top to bottom within the government and between the ruling party and the opposition. Throughout history, we have been duped by swindlers again and again, the most recent one being the false promise of Yahapalana (good governance). Neither did the present regime instil good governance, nor did the country thrive economically under them. Worst of all, they failed in their fundamental responsibility of safeguarding the country. Terrorists simply capitalised on the government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the country’s security and their numerous other weaknesses created by the deep internal divisions, and trained without disturbance until they were ready to unleash pure terror on innocent civilians.
Well, Minister Rajitha Senaratne was quick to put a price on human lives—a million rupees as compensation for each life lost and between one hundred to four hundred thousand rupees to those injured, depending on the severity of their injuries. The President and Prime Minister did not hesitate to deny knowledge of the warnings while the Defence Secretary admitted that they were expecting attacks but not massive ones. Then, more recently, the Prime Minister asserted that there was no possibility of taking legal action against individuals who engage in acts of terrorism overseas. These are among the top responses from heartless and merciless politicians and their cronies that have absolutely appalled the general public and made the international community lose confidence completely in the Sri Lankan government.
The truth is that voters are repulsed by the good-for-nothing individuals they brought to power as they have proven to be mere leeches burdening them with taxes while neglecting their primary duty of safeguarding the country’s citizens. Prospects are bleak though, as those in opposition are equally, if not more, corrupt and selfish and there is no viable third option in sight. This leaves people in a deep dilemma for which there is no solution. Any regime that allowed home grown terrorism to thrive under its watch does not deserve to remain in power as they have proven their incapability to safeguard the citizens of the country. Of course, most leaders would step down in the face of such loss in credibility, but then again, Sri Lankan politicians are one of a kind.
The world is keen to know who the perpetrators and supporters of such extremist terror are. Furthermore, those responsible for this massive breach of the public’s security by withholding and distorting important intelligence information should also be punished. Unfortunately, the present government is too incompetent to round all of them up once and for all and put an end to this cancerous curse as they are too busy misleading the public and appeasing wicked politicians claiming to represent various voter groups. Given the extent of the loss of faith in the government, an independent investigation into these incidents by a group of non-partisan civilians is, in my opinion, the only way to bring all those responsible to justice. Of course, in the face of such a suggestion the opposition would scream bloody murder as they love bringing forth various conspiracy theories to supress important issues being probed. The one thing we need to remind ourselves is that they too, like their counterparts in power, only represent their own interests.
Our country is now in dire need of a new generation of educated, sensible, sensitive and wise politicians. Unfortunately, politics and these attributes do not go hand in hand in Sri Lanka, and the political dramas in recent years are only a reminder to people that power corrupts, while absolute power corrupts absolutely. So, as ordinary citizens, we are back to square one with a very raw deal indeed.
The time is ripe for a major shift in the public’s attitudes towards politicians. May this calamity be an ultimate warning to voters to shed our foolishness .The public should grow out of their outlook of servitude towards politicians and put them in their place. A good starting point would be to stop addressing them using expressions of reverence such as “Sir,” “Madam,” “Your Excellency” and “Your Honour.” There may be honourable people that deserve such respect, but those we elected to power, who fatten themselves on the blood money poor people pay in the form of taxes certainly do not. Politicians and their lengthy convoys should not be allowed to waste the valuable time of hard working citizens on the road. Furthermore, politicians should be forced to disclose their finances, given clear goals to achieve by way of a performance planning and review system at all levels of government—which we have too much of by the way—and held accountable to the people for their actions. Making the job of a politician as hard as possible to perform would hopefully deter gangsters and worthless idiots from vying for political power.
Instigating such attitudinal changes and taking the role of a voter much more seriously is a valuable way in which Sri Lankan citizens could pay homage to those who lost their lives, sustained injuries and have been left to face life without their loved ones now.