20 November, 2019

Blog

Sri Lanka’s Monster Politician

By Neville Fernando

Neville Fernando M.D.

It is revealing and informative to trace the evolution of the Sri Lankan politician.

Politicians are not born but made. They fashion and nurture themselves to fit a certain profile and assume a persona that has historically worked  ‘well’ for them.

Such persons most often work their way upwards from local political party activism. Knowing the importance of political branding, all efforts are to gain coveted representation in one of the main political parties. In practical terms it is either the green or blue party.

To gain entry to this club the budding politician uses the age old ‘by hook or by crook’ methods. To be noted by the main political parties, the requirements are few. One does not need even a basic education or a decent character. But if you can talk well and give rousing speeches, it is a big plus. In other words the budding politician has to be a “big mouth”.

If you cow-tow to the organizers and leaders of the political parties, and receive the biggest prize, that is, nomination in the district system, you are halfway there.  Next thing to do is to entice the rich, including the criminal types, into donating to your campaign. There is an unwritten quid- pro-quo hidden in this effort. Of course the party itself will give the politician campaign money. After succeeding at the provincial level, the politician moves on to the national scene, facing general elections.

Having secured a spot in the national election, the politician needs to stage a big district-wide visual advertising splash and mega rallies, replete with stirring speeches with false promises. The politician quickly learns to use for his advantage the blind party allegiance of the majority of the people. If the politician gets elected, he is “set for life”. Not only will he gain great wealth and power, his family and relatives too will benefit handsomely from his success.

But what about a genuine effort and dedication to uplift the lives of the people and to bring real economic and social development to the country? That question is not part of the thinking of our standard politician. This is a predicament related to the near illiteracy of the standard politician and his complete moral vacuum – such a person has no idea of what economic and social development is. But hypothetically, if the question were put to him, the probable answer is: “Well, the other politicians are not fretting to address the serious economic problems and to develop the country. Why should I even think about it?” 

Such social and economic development requires genuine effort and dedicated work, which nevertheless may be seen as useless exercises, which may produce pain and ultimately backlash by the people. Hard work towards economic and social development needs getting your hands dirty, and asking your voters to get theirs dirty too, which can be a risk factor in re-election. Instead, why not choose the path of least resistance and be safe by choosing the proven methods to keep the masses tamed, namely, why not dig into the state coffers and distribute concessions and freebies to the people. Thus the politician uses Pavlovian conditioning psychology to create grateful and dependent masses to be hooked on state giveaways. With that, the politician is assured of immediate acclamation by the masses, which in turn assures re-election, the politician’s ultimate dream. He wants to be constantly reborn in the political samsara.  All he needs to do is to fill a big war chest to contest and ensure a win in the coming election cycles. 

Thus, the mechanism to achieve this is simple. Rob and misuse state money, get rich personally, and save some of that loot to be used at the next election campaign. This trickery is so effective, and is a formula that works to perfection. The result is that the same pea-brained but crafty politicians get elected each time and a dysfunctional parliament is born again and again. 

What is the result?

For 71 years of democratic self-rule, we have failed to progress as a nation. We have, instead, regressed, and are at the bottom of even other Asian countries.

We are 14 trillion rupees in debt.

The country spends 80 percent of the earnings to pay for government debt.

State income is 5 billion rupees a day, but the expenses are 7 billion rupees a day. The shortfall is a whopping 2 billion rupees a day!

Almost all corporations and government enterprises are losing money.

Rampant waste, fraud, and abuse define government at all levels.

We have created a monster politician who is taking our country down a precipice. He is here to stay, because he is part of the system, or we might say, the political culture of our country.  The only way we can be freed of him is by eradicating the system of which he is part. That system is the present system of national and local government, with an oversized parliament, equally oversized cabinet, and a system of provincial councils that’s completely unnecessary. It involves is a huge daily expense, in salaries, services, rents, vehicles and perks. This “system” will be on special display starting now, until November 16, to be re-displayed during the parliamentary elections within a few months. 

A few small groups of activists are questioning this “system”. Unless that eventually becomes a mass movement, and this vicious system exorcised, its monster politicians will ensure that the country is pushed down the precipice. 

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Latest comments

  • 20
    1

    Politicans are a general representation of the overall SL population. Who are equally uneducated, immoral and crude. Don’t ignore the fact that the island has produced three mass murderers in wijayweera, prabhakran and zahran. This is the same Gene pool of the gereral population that elects members to Parliament

  • 10
    0

    a great pity the country does not have an oliver cromwell

  • 14
    0

    Neille, there was a time when politicians were honest and lived simply.
    Much of the bi-partisan UNP-SLFP corruption has set in with foreign AID and over-seas jaunts of politicians funded by western countries on fake strenghthening democracy project to, spread corruption and advance donor countries business and security interests.

    USAID and Saudi funded fake advisors like Prasad Kariayawasm,have turned the Sri Lanka Parliament into a Cesspit of corruption. In the name of reconciliation politicians have been bought to advance the geostrategic and business and security interests of foreign govts.
    Fake development projects are a big source of corruption and debt in Sri Lanka which have swelled the bank accounts of corrupt politicians.

    • 1
      0

      In addition, ability of a person to organise a support base at the local level is also important to become a politician. However, for those who get nominations due to party and family connections, this factor comes second.

    • 5
      0

      Don Stanley,
      ‘ . . there was a time when politicians were honest and lived simply.. .’

      Reminds me of that very nice Mr Wijayananda Dahanayake.

      • 2
        0

        THE CABINET UNDER 1965 DUDLEY SENANYAKE was the last one which had all good ministers and secretarys who are all SLAS OFFICERS.all these changed under SRIMAVOS govt after she brought complete out siders starting FROM DR.NARTH AMERAKOON AS secretary to MR.PETER HENAMANS MINISTRY.bad start and bad example.

      • 0
        0

        Spring Koha

        Let us here also remember the millionaire Amarasuriya Brothers who were in the political landscape in the 1950-1970 period. Wealth was measured in lakhs then. Millions were unheard of. They entered the political scene to sincerely serve the people. They did and spent much of their wealth in this noble endeavour. There could have been other individuals and families with similar ideals as well. They neither coveted the country’s resources for their personal wealth nor used their positions and influences for selfish gain. The system was healthy, the Police neutral and the laws supreme then. The blood-stained feature of Religion-centred politics and clerical activism was to arrive later. The bestial hyenas came to rule (or ruin?) since then. The country since is in economic shambles and the people – then united and at peace – are at each other’s throats in real and imagined fears.

        Is this man’s folly or the curse of the Gods? Either way, we are in the most pitiful state since the last seven decades.

        Kettikaran

    • 2
      0

      Quite correct, but JVP while pretending to be fighting corruption has been backing Bondscam Ranil and gone on the foreign trips for fake democracy strengthening and has kept its mouth tightly shut on the fact that the Parliament is the Fountain head of corruption and Sri Lanka is rotting like a fish – from the head down.

      JVP’s AKD is now also sadly part of the privilege and perk of the Political Caste of leaches in this Miracle of Modayas!

  • 13
    0

    The voter should realize the future is in their hands. Not to elect undesirables, socially disruptive persons monsters. We the people are embedded in racism and prejudice. Think of the foolhardy act of electing a Rajapaksa again and again. .
    The young are informed with a mind of their own. They should decidedly influence the election process. It’s their future for goodness sake. 70 year olds are hoping to ruin their future. By pass surgery does not bestow youthful modernity. What a calamity.
    Across the Palm Strait they dismissed the Gandhi dynasty decisively. No more Nepotism in India. Let us take a lesson.

  • 10
    1

    except for the TNA and JVP the rest including the opposition is corrupt to the core

  • 13
    0

    Neville, you are absolutely right. I believe it is not just the politicians but the voters too to be blamed. They created and enabled these rogues by bringing them to power again and again. Otherwise wise, we would not had such chronicity and a bunch of family politics, since our independence Senanayakas, Bandas, JR/RW, Rajapaksas and now Premadasas. In my opinion Lankans got independence from British (on paper) but are still slaves of crooked politicians.

  • 7
    0

    All the politicians in Sri Lanka are monsters.

  • 7
    0

    Nepotism is accepted in SL, whether it is politics or employment, & is the only way to get ahead in a career. Political parties are obliged to put forward a candidate, even a proven criminal, who will get the votes by any means & the result is that we had, & have, uneducated yobs as leaders of this country who see no wrong in openly promoting nepotism & cronyism. Among the illiterate there are a handful of ‘educated’ politicians but, maybe due to the education system in SL, they too have no integrity or self respect & are happy to exploit the gravy train.
    In this scenario, we have a choice of an alleged war criminal, accused of abuse of power, massive frauds & even murder, the son of a former much hyped uneducated President who was also an alleged murderer (remember Richard de Zoysa?) & should have even been tried for treason for arming terrorists, & a relatively unproven candidate put forward by a former terror group, responsible for the murder of many innocent civilians. As for the rest of 36 or so candidates, they are probably a strategic move to break up votes by interested parties or just seeking a few minutes of fame.
    Personally, I have no faith in any of them but I was hopeful of a ‘civil society’ candidate, Naganada Kodithuwakku. However, the fact that he was unable to file his own nomination papers on time, as well as, running a transparent campaign, questions his ability to face greater responsibilities of governing a country. Of course, I am not sure what went wrong & it may have been beyond his control to overcome ‘entry barriers’ of politics in SL but at least he had a track record of ‘attempted’ reforms which I am sure he would have continued given the mandate.

    • 3
      0

      Raj-UK
      What I am understand about Mr. Nagananda Kodithuwakku’s inability to file his nomination papers in time is the requirement by the Election Commission for an aspiring candidate to file nominations via a registered political party.
      An enterprising individual who had complied with the said requirement for the registration his party was negotiating a price with Mr. Nagananda who had I understand at the same time applied to the U.K. Home Office for the revocation of his British Naturalisation status to resume his SL Citizenship and was awaiting reply.
      In the meantime the said individual I understand had changed his mind and requested a higher price from Nagananda.
      That had let Mr.Nagananda on the lurch.
      As far as I am aware whether Mr. Nagananda’s application to the Home Office for the revocation of his British Citizenship had been successful or not is not known.
      May be anyone else with the latest correct information on the subject can give a reply.

      • 0
        0

        Correction
        What I ‘understand’

      • 1
        0

        Uthungan

        Thank you for the explanation. I thought there would be some such explanation which was why I commented on high entry barriers for entering politics in SL for ordinary folk. I hope Mr Kodithuwakku will learn from all this & come out stronger next time, provided of course that we don’t have a President for life. I am sure all the political leaders in SL, as well as, the Election Commissioner, won’t like reformists rocking the boat, so naturally the barriers go up.

        • 1
          0

          I have met Nagananda in his Nugegoda Office (for just about 3 minutes) about a month ago. More importantly, he has now said that the only woman candidate, Dr Ajantha Perera, has accepted all his exacting conditions as incorporated in his draft constitution. They are to have their first “rally” near the Town Hall at 1.00 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday, the 20th. I intend going.
          .
          I’m convinced that Nagananda is honest and always meant business. He has got rid of his British citizenship – he has made many such sacrifices.
          .
          That detailed explanation for his being denied registration of his candidacy is accurate. Independent candidates are those who have at some time been Members of Parliament – e.g. Samaraweera Weeravanni and Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha (not contesting through his one time Liberal Party).
          .
          The problem with Nagananda is that he’s so stubborn – and rather humourless.
          .
          What has happened to him is sad. Let’s see what happens tomorrow. I’ve got ready a letter to give him asking that Ajantha Perera and Nagananda back just one “Alternative Candididate”, perhaps the JVP’s AKD.
          .
          The Elpitiya “by-election” is ominous; Gota is on a roll. Since you follow events on Colombo Telegraph, you may not understand the Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist mindset. It’s very difficult to get such guys to think.
          .
          I know that this probably reads like a tired response. Sorry, but that’s what it is.
          .
          Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

          • 0
            0

            I too was at the rally on Sunday. For whatever the reason perhaps the bad weather conditions … the crowd was limited to mare 200 with a stadium can support about 2000 individuals. Mr. NK is still open to the idea of a coalition of 5 member constitution counsel with 3 permanent members already been nominated with 2 open seats to any other presidential candidate who intend on joining them for the final punch.

  • 4
    1

    Where are the Hong Kong-type demonstrations for real democracy and freedom?

    • 2
      0

      Bawa.
      You and Us are the HK style activists. If we expect the ‘other man’ to do the activism for us we are selfish. Activism is born from caring, anger and empathy. To want change from corruption, disorder, incompetence, nepotism, racism and utter ignorance.
      We give our comments sitting comfortably at home without a tinge of honesty.

      • 0
        0

        Dilkie, we have priorities. Our first is the safety of our families. Politics and the nation are way down the line. If anyone thinks otherwise they are free to act accordingly. We can only give moral support.

  • 5
    0

    This article is a brutal and honest assessment of our political system and culture. Politics has been the bane of Sri Lanka and an impediment to progress and reconciliation.

     In the early days the inducement was Free Rice. The World Bank and IMF disapproved it. I thought otherwise from a personal experience  I encountered in 1971 where a little girl somewhere near a village off Kanthalai was bartering a small paper bag of rice for some panadols . This was the extent of poverty in Sri Lanka which the city folk and politicians never  acknowledged.. The poor and disadvantaged still remain poor.

     Our mega rich politicians of today supposed to address these issues only looked after themselves, their families and cronies. They ask for SUV’s to visit their constituencies but  only to sell the permit.The older generation of politicians were far more honourable and respected and never served the country to make their kith and kin rich for generations to come.
     
    The war and introduction of more tiers of govt provided the opportunities to make politics a money making machine through power and corruption.

    The moral fabric of Sri Lanka was obliterated by the lack of good and honest leadership from top to bottom in every sphere of public life. Today’s politicians are devoid of any principles or ethics switching sides and somersaulting to enhance their wealth, (asking price Rs 500 million ) a precedent permitted but later regretted and yet not barred. We as a nation have been docile for far too long. It is time to change the system. We need a leader Not from a political party but by a third force to put a stop to the rot that has prevailed for so long. Hopefully People Power -to save Sri Lanka from the abyss it is in.

  • 4
    0

    Loud mouths, hucksters, thugs, crooks, rogues and similar run the political class. Most decent citizens shun going into politics. Our so-called democracy is really an ethnocracy. Minority politicians will only ever get the ‘best-supporting’ prize.
    No wonder we have a growing diaspora of our people eager to escape the shit-hole that has become Sri Lanka.

    • 1
      1

      This shit-hole will be enlarged with the 3 sons getting married, in the next round of
      Rajapakse governance.

      The first Rajapakse Decade has this on record:

      The Rajapakse rule – 2004-2014:
      Mahinda Rajapakse – President, Minister of Defence, Finance,
      Urban Development & Ports & Development.
      Basil Rajapakse (Brother)- Minister of Economic Development.
      Former Presidential Advisor.
      Chamal Rajapakse (Brother) Speaker, Former Minister of Ports &
      Aviation
      Gotabaya Rajapakse (Brother) D.S & Chairman of State-Owned Apollo
      Hospital
      Shasheendra Rajapakse (Nephew) Uva C.M, Director SLT, SL Airlines
      PS to Minister of Finance
      Namal Rajapakse (Son) M.P. Hambantota, Chairman T.Heta, Co-
      owner Carlton Sports etc.
      Yoshitha Rajapakse (Son) Sub-Lieutenant in Navy, Co-owner Carlton
      Sports
      Nishantha Wickremasinghe (B-i-L) Chairman, Sri Lankan Airlines,
      Mahin Airlines
      Jaliya Wickramasuriya (Cousin) SL Ambassador to the US
      Udayanga Weeratunga (Cousin) SL Ambassador to Russia
      Prasanna Wickramasuriya (Cousin) Chairman-Govt. owned
      Aviation Services Group
      Nimal L Hettiaratchchi (Nephew) CEO Sky Networks (SLT)
      Lalith Chandradasa (B-i-L) Director DFCC Bank
      Asantha de Mel (Relation of MR`s wife) Chairman C.P.C,
      Chairman/Secy: SL Cricket
      Sumanadasa Abeyagunawardena (Family Friend) Astrologer,
      Director NSB, Advisor ITN, JP, Hosp.Director
      I trust Journalist will be a record of this for the future.

  • 1
    0

    The country made steady progress in the first decades after entering a modern elective political culture, being able to negotiate legislative reforms, progress in education and infrastructure, etc. achieved before 1948.
    Universal suffrage was granted/grabbed a bit too early, those requesting were surprised when the women were also granted. The result was the gradual tribalisation (a hallmark of earlier cultures) of what should have been the modern political culture.
    The actual winner was dynastic politics and the effective colonisation of SL society by these elite.

    To be fair the rebellions of recent times had not been very different to former times, other than in the level of attrition. Seeking to better, they become worse. Greater attrition was used to quell these uprisings. One could see similar throughout our history.

  • 0
    0

    “almost all corporations and government enterprises are losing money.”

    What is COPE doing about it? Their action should be to Notice the Head of that loss
    making Institute to turn round within six months or produce a Pal for such a
    turn around, failing which he/she should tender his/her resignation at the end of
    the given period. This should be made the Policy in future and overseen by the
    Ministry involved via its Secretary.

  • 4
    0

    “Gotabaya Rajapakse (Brother) D.S & Chairman of State-Owned Apollo
    Hospital”
    But Gotabaya Rajapakse has to fly to Singapore for The Slightest sign of Illness!

  • 0
    0

    Neville,
    What you wrote is an excellent summary of our political system and the nature of most of our uneducated, crooked, money hungry politicians who has no love for the country or for the poor mases .I was hoping that Mr Nagananda Kodituwakku may be the savior of our nation. He at least addresses and focuses on our major problems and produced a sample constitution to eliminate corruption at the top, over haul the corrupt system of justice, and to bring all the crooked politicians and their cronies who squandered Billions of rupees form our country, to justice… It seems like he has a long and treacherous road ahead of him
    Claude.

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