4 July, 2022

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Sri Lankan Parliament: House Of The Blind

By Vishwamithra

Life is too precious to be a spectator sport. We are no longer merely fans, rooting for the winning team. We are the team. We are the grown-ups. Whatever you believe is true, now is the time to give your respectful, inquisitive, and compassionate self to it.” ~ Vicki Robin

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. Once he wrote thus: “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” All Sri Lankans, leaders, followers, the rich and the poor, the so-called high caste and the low, Sinhalese, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus, all belong to the two categories of those who are fooled as described by Kierkegaard. It is not a very flattering description.

Caught up in a chaos of crises, battered by scarcities and fatigued by standing in multi-kilometer long lines for the basic essentials of living, all Sri Lankans, after having been buried in a cemetery of ignorance, are finding it hard to resurrect, whoever the new Prime Minister or the Cabinet of Ministers. It indeed is a painstaking process for one to endure day after suffocating day in their lives.

What commenced at the beginning as a very promising and energetic uprising, Aragalaya is gasping for breath; its participants, today’s youth drawn from all walks of life, have realized that they too have to satisfy their family needs by standing in lines for a liter of fuel and cooking gas, for kerosene and food and even basic medicines. What was promised on the election platform in 2019 during Presidential Election campaign has vanished into thin air. The utopian dreams have been shattered and the castles that they built in their dream world have come crashing down.
Surrounded by their loyal goons and driven to desperation by the looming economic disaster, the Rajapaksas, instead of crafting plans and strategies to overcome the sudden but decisive turn of events that directly affected the body politic of the country, rushed to their comfort zones that originally gave them shelter however much temporary it was. They applied Band-Aids on a wound that had been festering and eating into the very marrow of the nation for decades. A generation after generation has been subjected to the invisible suppressive measures of a majoritarian parliamentary democracy. They transferred the focus away from the Galle Face green to the House of Parliament, mistakenly called the Temple of democracy.

Ever since the Aragalaya commenced, ever since the protesters emerged in the farthest corners of the land, in rural hamlets and emerging townships, the focus was on the purity and patience of our youth and their elders who participated in these protests. They voiced their anger; they exhibited their dissatisfaction and they mocked the very wheels of governance from top to bottom. They displayed a remarkable sense of balance on all fronts- caste, creed and religion.
For the first time since 1956, Sinhalese Buddhists failed to draw a line separating them from the Northern Tamils and Eastern Muslims. Catholic Nuns came to the assistance of a fallen fellow being without questioning their religious fidelities. One single family of Lankans succeeded in focusing their beacon of light on the current crises and political depravities of a ruling family.
An uprising of this magnitude was never witnessed on the streets of our country. Its growing popularity and its riveting attention by all social classes made the 1971 Insurrection look utterly puny. But for all that promise to disappear and become a mere thought of yesterday, some strange phenomenon must have occurred; such uprisings do not dwindle in a couple of weeks unless there was a fatal flaw in either the substance or the process of the movement that created it. But neither is the case. Then what happened?

To answer to that question, one must look inwards; one must see whether the very character and core of our national DNA is inherently flawed or otherwise, not in a very technical way or fashion, but in a broad panoramic sense. As much as one cannot attribute the current lethargy of movement of today’s Aragalaya to one single factor, one simply cannot be oblivious of the conspicuous historical behavior of Sri Lankan psyche throughout the centuries.

Being a subject people under monarchical rule, from the time Ceylon became a nation-country, governance being a dichotomy between the monarch and the subject-people; over the centuries we have become accustomed to decrees issued by the ruling King or Queen as against a more democratic structure wherein consensual decisions were reached after conference and discussion. This psyche of being subject people was passed down and even after the colonial rule under the Portuguese, Dutch and British governors, our people remained loyal to the rulers except a few rebels who called themselves more patriotic than the rest!

Every now and then, in the aftermath of gaining Independence in 1948, some segments of our population resorted to extreme measures by taking up arms against the ruling powers as evidenced in 1971, 1987-1989 against the incumbent governments and for a total system change. At the same time, one cannot forget the 30-year war engineered by Tamil militants led by Prabhakaran’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), which ultimately became a geopolitical issue in the Indian Subcontinent.

But the ultimate outcome of all these political skirmishes turned out to be fruitless; their objectives lost in the process of the battle and methods employed by the respective rebellion/terrorist groups reaching absolutely inhuman and vengeful levels. However, in the wake of all these episodes, the governing party became even more entrenched in their rule and accomplished to instill in the great majority of the people that they, the rulers were more patriotic than those who rebelled against an evil set of rulers and even more evil principles and policies. The complexity of the circumstances of such a sociopolitical milieu is telling and one cannot expect the journalists to provide the answers to these complexities.

The reason for writing such a seemingly justifying couple of sentences in this piece is plain and simple. It is not the job of journalists to provide answers to such complicated and thorny issues that confront a country on multiple fronts. The three branches of government, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are vested with that task. When they fall silent on the most consequential issues and instead willingly participate in the destruction of the fundamentals of our sociopolitical architecture, it falls on those who make writing and reporting about these events and personalities involved in these events as their profession, no sane person can argue against such free expression of thought, writing and action which is ensured as fundamental right in our constitution.

It is the noble responsibility of all who call themselves professional journalists that the fundamental right of expression free thought, however extreme it could be, to shed light on facts and facts alone. Judgment of such facts is entirely on the shoulders of the reading public. But herein lies the grave burden of judgment. Time and time again our voting public has been deceived, cheated and hoodwinked by their leaders. Aftermath of each election exposes this vulnerability of our people. This public vulnerability is not merely confined to Ceylon, nor is restricted to the Indian Subcontinent; it’s common to all countries which have chosen democracy as their system and structure of governance.

Nevertheless, ever since May 9th, in the wake of the infamous meeting at the Temple Trees where the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa held court and virtually unleashed his thugs on the Galle Face protesters, the national conversation shifted from the Aragalapitiya to other quarters, specifically to the President’s residence (at this time the presidential Secretariat was unreachable for its chief occupant, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa) and Parliament.

With the appointment of Ranil WickremEsinghe, once again the focus was shifted from the demands of the protesters to the appointment of RW as Prime Minister and the new faces of the Cabinet of Ministers. It was in effect a master stroke. Whether such a measure was adopted as a strategic move or a mere reaction to the day’s development, one would never know.

When Parliament started its customary proceedings, for the first time since the beginnings of the uprising, the people could watch firsthand their representatives and their priorities. They argued about their burned down houses; they argued as to who is to be blamed and who is to be spared. Parliament has met now more than two months and we are yet to see a comprehensive plan or strategy to overcome the current economic crisis and present an acceptable set of constitutional changes in order to stem the erosion of our sociocultural led by brazen corruption and nepotism.
The House of Parliament has become a House of the Blind. No member seems to see; if they could see, they deliberately chose to disregard the protruding incompatibilities and absurdities. Such is the sorry state of systems and structures. But, have we reached an impasse of the country’s drive? Are we still strong in our pursuit of supreme yet realistic goals? What has happened to the proposal submitted by the Bar Council of Sri Lanka? What’s happening to the talks with the International Monitory Fund (IMF)?

The people are still on lines for their fuel for vehicles and gas for cooking. The lines are ever lengthening. Supermarkets shelves are fast becoming empty. Prices of essential food items including rice and dhal is increasing exponentially. Very soon rationing of food items will be the order of the day. The darkest days of the Sirimavo/Felix era would be seen as most auspicious in comparison to the coming days, weeks and months.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 20
    2

    The singala parliament not alone deaf and blind.RAJAPAKASAS Made most of the singala buddist voters deaf and blind by using buddisam ,anti tamils anti muslim and since of late anti christian AS A COVER WITH THE HELP OF MORE THAN 75% BUDDIST PRIESTS KNOWN YELLOW PETS OF RAJAPAKSAS.

    • 6
      0

      Dont forget not only uneducated sinhalayas but also like minded tamils and muslims are also in that hell.
      :
      Who voted for them ?
      .
      I dont see any difference between parlimanetarians and their voters.
      :
      Ranjan Ramanayaka, former MP made every effort to edcuate the people; consequence was to put him in jail, while kings of criminals like Mahinda Rajapakshe stays enjoying tax payers funds further, as srilanken judiciary is fully proxy on them. The size of injustice governing this country is beyond bearing as of today. Those who got educated to be judges stay as if their senses are fully impaired. No matter the verdict for RR ended up that way, judges could do their job- having looking into it to the facts. However, SRILANKEN judges continue to be ” blind and deaf” before any kind of injustices as of today.

      If judges in this country would take the the side of the facts, they would be swelling with pride by the time, they enter their retirements, else, they remain as crime supporters forever.

      • 1
        0

        LM , this is a gem of an article. Factual, honest and hard hitting. Tells all about how we reached to this SORRY state. Lankans are “absolute fools who believe what isn’t true and refuse to believe what is true”

        • 0
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          Chiv,

          Yet today, Gheetha Kumarasinghe, questions ” why should GOTA step down “…. can you imagine ?

          Even dogs and cats would be happy to get rid of RAJAPAKSHES.

  • 13
    2

    Northern Tamils and Eastern Muslims? What about the Eastern Tamils, who are the largest community in the east and together with the Tamilized eastern Veddha are the original and indigenous population of the east. The east is their land. Not the land of the Sinhalese who were settled there by the Sri Lankan state in the last 70 years and the Muslims, who arrived there as refugees, fleeing persecution, as they were settled there, as they were South Indian origin ethnic Tamil Muslims. Now they seem to be becoming increasingly marginalised and deliberately ignored by the Sri Lankan state, and most Sinhalese and many others who now deliberately trying to make and imply that the Tamils of the east do not matter and the is east no more their land but the land of other who only arrived recently. Very soon the same fate will befall on the northern Tamils, as seen by the incident on Kurunthoor malai.

    • 12
      2

      The Tamil Muslims of the east have every right to live in the east and be treated with dignity and justice and freely allowed to practice their religion. They are ethnically Tamil and have been there for centuries but to imply this is their land only and not the land of the eastern Eelam Tamils and the Tamil Veddha who have lived there for thousands of years and ruled their land before European colonization, takes the cake, denying the ancient Tamil Hindu heritage of the east. Should have stated the Northern and Eastern Tamils and the Eastern Muslims, implying it is the homeland of all these people, by stating eastern Muslims and excluding the eastern Tamils, it means the Tamil do not belong there or are immaterial in their own homeland.

  • 12
    2

    Good article. However what about the Eastern Tamils? Don’t they matter? The is their homeland but seems they are becoming increasingly irrelevant and marginalized in their own homeland. Now coming to the main reason, which may not be relevant to the article but is extremely relevant to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Crisis, A Window Of Opportunity For South India-Sri Lanka Economic Ties. “In a recent interview with an Indian TV channel, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, touched upon a less-emphasised yet significant aspect of India-Sri Lanka relations — the commonality between Sri Lanka and the southern parts of India. He even said he would“easily fit into Chennai or Kerala, which was Thamizh too until a few centuries ago, without a problem, while, similarly, people in the south can fit in here”. This was not the first time that he has talked of forging closer ties between his country and south India. Very relevant and good observation by the Prime Minister, However sadly will not happen due to Chingkall hatred and prejudice towards India and Thamizh. Their politicians, clergy and Mahavamsa have seen to this.

    • 4
      1

      This means even Chingkalla and Muslim politicians and elite in their hear know that the Chingkallams and so-called Sri Lankan Moors are descended more or less from South Indian Dravidian Thamizh ( then Thamizh Kerala and Thamizh Nadu, Southern Andhra and Karnataka) and hardly from North Indians, Arabs or other people like they brainwash their masses to believe and teach them to hate their actual Dravidian Thamizh origin. and go around falsely stating. Ranil has more or less admitted this truth.

  • 5
    0

    What happen to the making of a new constitution during the “Good Governance” period?
    One has to realise that there is a great need to solve the minorities issues along with the economic and political issues. With the police, army navy & airforce unjust activities in the North and East of SL, IT IS DIFFICULT for the TAMIL DIASPORA to support the SL. The phobia of Sinhala people for the Indians is deep rooted. V, Why not write about the minorities issues as well.

  • 0
    0

    Soren Kierkegaard as quoted by the author has captured the stark reality in his existentialism. None yes, none are so blind as those who refuse to see. Even plain existence in a que.They inhabit a planet called pride on which they ride while truth they hide. Mr Ali Sabry may have lots of answers not only of politiciens doings but his own professionalism.
    Lets hope the apologists here have the decency to put their money where their mouth is oh yes, in times when the shit is about to hit the fan.

  • 2
    0

    One interesting and thought-provoking point that entered my inquisitive mind was in the paragraph starting from: ” To answer that question one must look inwards …..one must see whether the very character and core of our national DNA is inherently flawed or otherwise..”

    My reading (some years and years back) reminds me that one of the main functions of DNA is to ENCODE THE GENE. Simply each cell (92 Trillion cells compose the whole body) contains two copies of most “GENES” – one inherited from the father and the other from the mother. Still, there are a few genes that are “Unique”, in that, you will find one “copy” per cell. These “Combinations” of “Genes” go to decide the “SEX” (male/female) of the “Embryo”. That is a long story.

    Please note, “GENETIC DISEASES” usually arise only if both copies (father/mother) of a “Gene” is “DEFECTIVE”. The most interesting fact in regard to this above-quoted paragraph is: “The Defective Gene either leads to an “ABNORMAL” protein that cannot function or to no “Protein” at all

    Isn’t that the “DELAYMA” that is faced by this “Nation” and the “Country” named “Sri Lankan” and “Sri Lanka” respectively? Someone competent in Biology out there could throw more light on an answer to my question.

    • 0
      3

      “our national DNA”
      We are such a thoroughly mixed population and it will really be our international DNA needing analysis.
      The predominant part will be Indian, which too is a fair mix of races. So we may not get very far.

  • 1
    0

    In my above comment, a typographical error occurred. The word “DELAYMA” must be corrected to “DILEMMA”. Thank you for your attention.

  • 6
    0

    The Sri Lankan Parliament is the House for the intellectually challenged, crooks, racists, and the incompetent. The House for buffaloes and donkeys.

  • 2
    0

    “30-year war engineered by Tamil militants led by Prabhakaran’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE)”
    Was nothing engineered by JRJ who declared in 1977: “If you want war you have war….”
    It is most convenient to pin it all on a single group, which is virtually dead and gone.
    *
    Sinhala chauvinism and Tamil narrow nationalism fed each other with ideologies of hate. All of us are answerable for what went wrong.

  • 0
    1

    “The darkest days of the Sirimavo/Felix era… “
    There was a crisis precipitated by the more than four-fold increase in oil price compounded by two years of drought which affected the global food supply.
    There was restriction on transport of rice and shortage of wheat meant bread queues mainly in Colombo. There were other periodic shortages as well.
    Efforts were made by saboteurs to wreck the food drive. Nobody starved, thanks to the fertility of the soil, except in the plantations where the main staple was wheat flour. The drought meant no work in the plantations and the plantation workers were forced to move out— some to India and some to the North.
    There were no petrol or diesel queues. But there were kerosene queues— not a fraction as long as the LPG queues of today.
    Most importantly, the country did not have a debt burden like what it has built since 1978. There was no devaluation despite IMF pressure.
    The country did not vandalise its assets the way it did out of political spite and cynicism, including the use of the “war against separatism” to justify the squandering. Also, there were far fewer semi-illiterate thugs in parliament then.

  • 2
    0

    The Trade Mark of Rajapaksas had been to INDUCE FEAR into the civilians especially the minorities,Professionals Politicians Judges Journalists etc
    White van was used freely by them using staff of the ministry of defence.
    Even now these forces are active to sabotage the ARAGALAYA

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