16 April, 2024

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Target 2048 – Is It Firm Responsive Leadership Or Dictatorial Authoritarian Leadership?

By W.A. Wijewardena –

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Arguing for authoritarianism

The first article in this series on making Sri Lanka a rich country by 2048, dubbed Target 2048, arguing for a democratic leadership rather than an authoritarian leadership has been disputed by some readers. The points raised by them have been two-fold.

Some have questioned which country has gained sustainable development through democracy. According to them, it has come from centralised leadership that has caused resource allocation toward continuous economic advancement rather than getting people to decide the same as it happens in a democratic regime. Another argument made is that democracy may work in Western developed countries but in emerging or developing Asian countries it is authoritarianism that has worked.

A few success cases cited by them are the rapid economic advancement in Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea after 1960s and China today. According to them, all these countries have become rich countries within a single generation due to an authoritarian centralised leadership which they had in the initial phase of economic advancement. Hence, they have argued that the proposition which Sri Lanka should follow the democratic path as advocated by former head of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan, to earn trust from the global supply chain partners is clearly a mis-strategy for Sri Lanka.

Buddhist monks canvassing for authoritarianism

These arguments seem to have stemmed from the misidentification of the firm responsive leadership that is needed with dictatorial authoritarian leadership which is being advocated for Sri Lanka’s top political leaders and practiced by many failed African countries. In late 1960s, the latter type of an authoritarian rule was advocated for Sri Lanka by Rajakeeya Pandita Ven Henapitagedara Gnanaseeha Thero by publishing a booklet on Dictatorship. I have outlined the key points presented by this erudite Buddhist monk in support of his advocacy and the fallacy of those arguments in a previous article. Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was called at that time, had a frustrating experience since independence due to its failure to deliver prosperity to citizens. This had been diagnosed by the erudite monk as a failure of the democratic system of government. Democratic leaders are soft, and he had argued for a tough leadership. Such a leader could push the otherwise lazy Sri Lankans to work harder and create a bigger wealth for the nation.

Politicians burning their fingers acting ‘authoritarian’

In fact, Sirimavo Bandaranaike who came to power in 1970 with a two-third majority followed this advice to the letter; she ran the country under emergency laws, postponed elections, and used draconian laws like the Criminal Justice Commission Law to put her political opponents behind bars. The same was followed by JR Jayewardene who got a four-fifth majority in Parliament. During Sirimavo’s time, the country went backward and during JR’s time, the progress achieved was not adequate despite the authoritarian policies adopted.

Then in 2018 Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was aspiring to be the President of the Republic was also advised by a leading Buddhist monk that he should perform his role as the President like Adolf Hitler who had a dictatorial rule under his Nazi regime. Gotabaya also followed it to the letter pronouncing that his word is the law. The economy did not progress but ended up in an average negative growth of 2.7% during 2020 to 2022. The year 2023 is also expected to cause the economy to shrink by about 3%. Hence, advocating authoritarianism even for Sri Lanka should be done after a careful evaluation of achievements and failures alike.

The misquoted Singapore experiment

Hence, what contributes to continued economic advancement is not a mere authoritarian rule but a firm responsive leadership. This was how Singapore prospered under Lee Kuan Yew as well as under subsequent leaders. Lee’s final advice to fellow Parliamentarians, as disclosed by the present PM Lee Hsien Loong, was that they should never ever allow the system to be corrupted. Following this advice, recently the junior Lee sacked his transport minister S. Iswaran on charges of corruption and authorised a full inquiry into the charge by the country’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau or CPIB. Later in the week, he had a press conference at which he disclosed that the Speaker of the Singaporean Parliament and another lady MP of his party had been asked to vacate their posts since they had continued to violate the high moral and ethical standards prescribed by People’s Action Party to its members.

A PM adopting the set decorum

This press conference which has been conducted by following all the decorum that should be adopted by a head of a state when meeting the press is an example for all of us. It was brief and to the point. He was so gentle in his approach to the press that he even requested the press as well as the Singaporeans to respect the privacy of the two people in question and not to publish anything that would be anguishing to the family members. He was asked as usual embarrassing and annoying questions by press members. But he did not choose to counterattack them or ridicule their stature by raising counterquestions. Instead, he explained everything soberly following the standards of giving out information without losing his composure or balance in speaking.

This approach was in line with what Emperor Asoka had dictated in one of his rock inscriptions that in a debate or disputation, the opponents should be treated with respect and honour on all occasions. This quality is an attribute that is absent among other third world leaders. What is missing among them is that the leaders are third world, people are third world, beliefs and values are third world, and institutional structure is third world. Yet they try to become first world countries by using these third world apparatuses.

Even though the PM of Singapore is usually categorised as an authoritarian ruler, what he displayed here was firmness, fairness, and responsiveness to the people. Again and again, he emphasised that he is answerable to fellow Singaporeans. In Singapore and in other authoritarian rich countries in Southeast Asia, there is no trust deficit between people and rulers. In third world countries like Sri Lanka, there is a massive trust deficit present in everything which rulers say and do. As long as this trust deficit is there, these nations cannot attain sustained economic advancement.

Lessons from the past

I recall that when I was doing my advanced level exam in mid-1960s, I used to read the Hansard of parliamentary debates to build English vocabulary, debating styles, and issues that are debated in Parliament on behalf of citizens. The politicians of that era like N.M. Perera, Colvin R. de Silva, Phillip Gunawardena, W. Dahanayake, and Dudley Senanayake, to mention but a few, spoke in Parliament in English. They were not interrupted by those politicians opposed to them with hoots, catcalls, obscene utterings, and unparliamentary terms as it is happening today. If an unparliamentary word was uttered by any member, he was instantly reprimanded by the Speaker followed by a similar reprimand by the party leader. Singapore still follows this tradition.

As Prime Minister Lee revealed in the press conference under reference, one reason for asking the speaker to step down was his yelling at a fellow MP with an unparliamentary uttering. A speech by NM or Colvin were so well-researched that it was like following a course of lectures at a university when one reads their speeches in Parliament. Sri Lanka has already lost this value system and if there is an authoritarian ruler or a ‘Hitler’ in power as claimed by analysts, things will go from bad to worst in Sri Lanka.

Asking lottery winners about being successful

The claim that authoritarian rules have been successful in continued economic advancement does not reckon the failed cases in that regard. Economists call this confirmation bias and availability bias. In the case of confirmation bias, one looks only at the evidence that will confirm his already established false view. In the latter, one looks for only the available evidence ignoring the vast volume of evidence to the contrary. This was explained by MIT economist Yasheng Huang in a TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) lecture delivered in June 2011.

According to him, China which is said to be an authoritarian state is also a democratic state because it conducts regular elections according to its own yardsticks. He argued that those who quote the success stories of the four Asian tigers, namely, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, have ignored more numerous failures with authoritarian regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America (available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR-uWwvpn5c). Yasheng says that they make the mistake of asking only the winners of lotteries whether people win lotteries; the answer invariably is yes and you make the mistaken judgment that 100% of people win lotteries whereas there thousands more who have not won lotteries.

Even with regard to India, prior to 1990s when India had an authoritarian rule under Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi, India’s growth rate was equal to what is known as the ‘Hindu Rate of Growth’ at 2 to 2.5%; since 1990 when India became more democratic having shed authoritarianism, its growth rate sprang phenomenally to above 7% per annum.

According to Yasheng, when China was under the dictatorial rule of Mao Tsetung, its growth rate was dismal. Though China is a one party system even today, it has its own system of democracy in which rulers are changed every 10 years and new rulers are appointed under the party rule after grooming them into leadership. Though this system differs from the Western system of democracy, it is a better consultative process than a pure authoritarian rule.

Authoritarianism: A license to rob

US based economists, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, have documented and analysed the economic origins of dictatorship and democracy in a 2006 book published under the same title. Having examined the political developments in Britain, Argentina, Singapore, and South Africa, they have set their agenda for the analysis distinguishing democracy from nondemocracy. In strong countries like the UK, the path to democracy was a straight development without any reversals in between. But in countries like Argentina, it was a mixed development, from democracy to nondemocracy and from nondemocracy to democracy and so forth. Hence, they could not have the best fruits of a democratic rule. Nondemocratic regimes use repression for survival, but democratic countries use the people’s mandate for the same.

Democracy in practice is associated with a set of institutions like free and fair elections conducted on schedule and regularly to test the mandate of people, accountability of the political leaders to the electorate as emphasised by PM Lee of Singapore when he sacked the Speaker and another MP from their positions and party, and possibilities for free entry to politics. If these are blocked as it is happening in Sri Lanka today, there is no prospect for the country to test the people’s mandate and usher for a prosperous era.

Supporters of authoritarianism and its victims

Then, the issue is why should anyone while enjoying democratic rights continue to praise nondemocratic regimes? That is because nondemocratic regimes redistribute the wealth in favour of those who support the regime to continue in power. Their beliefs, values, and ethos will become the dominant social institutions in society. Anyone opposing them will be severely dealt with under the new legal powers which they have acquired either through elections or through military coups. This was the folly made by Sirimavo during 1970-77 and JR during 1978-89.

In both cases, the respective political party they headed enjoying super majority in Parliament was reduced to a minority when the people expressed their verdict at elections. None of these parties could come to power without being affiliated to other parties in a coalition arrangement. But while they are in power, there is no dearth of support because they make it their business to redistribute the scarce wealth of the nation to their favour. Though economists call this inequitable wealth distribution, common man calls it ‘robbing the national wealth’ by a few. As long as this possibility is there, there is trust deficit in society.

The reaction by people is both direct and indirect. In the direct reaction, they either revolt against the rulers or choose to seek greener pasture beyond the shores. In the indirect reaction, they remain within the country but with subdued motivation to make new contribution. The direct reaction will lead to an explosion of the economy from outside. The indirect reaction will cause an implosion from within. Both are harmful for sustained economic advancement.

Hence, it is the responsibility of the wise political leaders to make strategies to avoid both.

That is the job of firm, consistent, and responsive political leaders. At the current stage of development considering the gravity of the issues faced, Sri Lanka needs such leaders very badly.

*The writer, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 3
    2

    Dr. W.A Wijewardena, I am with you.
    You have shown that it is just not on Economics that you are competent; Even on Governance you are.
    I have a Q for your next article:
    Singaporeans are secular. Also, educated. Can we achieve the same results with our ‘sheep’? Shouldn’t we be adopting a little authoritarianism to counter that imbalance?
    Thank you.

    • 2
      9

      The Singaporean sheep are more amenable to herding.

    • 1
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      “The claim that authoritarian rules have been successful in continued economic advancement does not reckon the failed cases in that regard”
      I am glad that the very eminent Dr. WAW has taken note of my insignificant cavillings on his advocacy of development under democracy.
      Well, OK, let me put it another way. It is true that many , if not most, authoritarian states have been economic failures. That includes the USSR. But not Nazi Germany till it went to war. Be that as it may, I was talking about Asian states. Is there an example of an Asian state which came to First World status within a generation, like Singapore, while being fully democratic?
      Even Japan wasn’t a shining democracy while it was developing. As to India, its Constitution during Mrs Gandhi’s rule was quite the same as it is now under Modi. Modi is authoritarian too, but , to give the devil his due,the economy has done better under him than any Congress regime.

      • 2
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        As the Indian example shows, even the most democratic Constitution can be perverted by authoritarian leaders.
        The significant factor here is not Democracy or lack of it, but coherent planning and a policy framework that doesn’t change with every election. Our people, due to the focus on elections, are far too prone to throw the baby out wit the bath- water, always falling for glib populists or fake patriots.
        Ranil’s performance over the past year has shown what can be done when the political opposition is kept under tight control either through self-interest (Pohottuwa) or tear gas.None of what he did would have been possible if the Pohottuwa didn’t agree.

      • 2
        3

        A truly brilliant article by Dr Wijewardena. I hope that the witty and clever old codger digests it well.
        .
        old codger is very clever in the arguments he adduces in favour of Ranil. He uses chopped logic to confound us so often, but has got exposed here:
        .
        The section of the article headed “Asking lottery winners about being successful” in orange. Ranil has failed five times, or is it six? Now you imagine that with success in one limited exercise (getting rid of queues by ensuring that prices are so high that nobody has the money to purchase) he has proven that there will be success until 1948. It would be nice, if possible.
        .
        Another fallacy he used on me was that it is not true that “History is written by the victors”. He points to the “Charge of the Light Brigade.” Remembered because a brilliant poem was written:
        .
        https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/jan/20/poem-of-the-week-charge-light-brigade-tennyson
        .
        Not about every failure. Plus, if that poem is properly taught, there is pity for the ordinary soldier, who is forgotten; only some idiot “noblemen” are remembered.
        .
        On the whole I love oc’s clever comments, but they are dangerous. Dr Wijewardena is always responsible.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

        • 3
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          SM,
          “Ranil has failed five times, or is it six? “
          That is an often repeated fallacy. Ranil has NEVER been elected to the executive Presidency, and never had the powers that come with it. He has always had to work with Presidents who had their own ideas.Do you think he would have been able to reform Ceypetco for example, if he had a President above him?
          And, sadly, I must point out that it was the JVP that helped Chandrika to oust Ranil, who had ushered in a period of relative peace, paving the way for the emergence of the Rajapaksas. The JVP is more responsible than Ranil for running this country into bankruptcy.
          I a glad that even you can see Ranil’s “limited success”. Instead of parroting clueless JVP propaganda, why don’t you research what happened in other countries which went bankrupt. Google is free.

          • 2
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            OC,
            .
            honestly saying, I am very dissappointed about many things happening in our country today. SM attacks me having a low opinion about our people, however, it is now turning even worst since I returned from home back to EUROPE. I dont have any hopes about the future of our nation so long “poisonous reptiles such as Wimal weerawanse, Gonthadipila, Vasidewa, Mahinda Rajapakshe and the like miserable men are alive”:
            .
            I thought calling a multi-party conference would atleast bring the foundation stone to building consensus which could open the door for a new chapter.

            President is right having said, that he can only call such meetings, but as single MP in Parliament he has no mandate to act by his own. However malicious politicians and people filled country misinterpret what President to have said. That was the case always in this country with biased and irresponsible media culture.
            Further to this, the rest of the parliament should work through better understandings of all. if not today when ?
            People elected their men into parliament, however, they behave like ” poisonous reptiles”.

            JVPrs and single NPP-MP have not even turned up to the meeting.

    • 2
      1

      Surely, Nathan, we have authoritarianism enough, here! The Singaporean miracle has to be put down mainly to their good fortune to have had an honest strongman in LKY. He may have been somewhat brutal, but he was honest.
      .
      And having got off to a good start, they have continued that way. I know that mine is the most unprofound comment possible, but better that than now pretend that if we get a bit authoritarian we will save ourselves. On the contrary the Dictator is going to be even more corrupt.
      .
      Dr Wijewardena’s article is brilliant, but I don’t think that even he will be able to show us a way out of this mess.
      .
      I shall vote NPP, but will not expect a miraculous recovery. Good honest administration Yes, but no miracle-talk, please.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

      • 1
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        SM,
        “I shall vote NPP, but will not expect a miraculous recovery.”
        In that case, why do you condemn others for not providing a miraculous recovery?

  • 2
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    Target 2048 – Is It Firm Responsive Leadership Or Dictatorial Authoritarian Leadership?

    Due to wrong decision on fertilizer plan people mal nourished becoming sick and visiting the hospital due the quality for medicine the people are dying it is not for a firm leadership as President is targeting for people powered president democratically not parliament powered votes most of them will be not living. The best part to get rid of those past frauders that will prevent you from reaching that goal.
    The president is not after the leaders who defaulted the country. Facts are threatening to those invested in fraud

  • 4
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    Excellent article by a knowledgeable and enlightened person. Will we get such leaders to lead Sri Lanka to peace, prosperity and progress?

  • 2
    3

    It is a valuable article to Sri Lanka but I don’t think that it is impossible to find such a leadership for another centuary.

    • 7
      1

      Ajith: You are correct. We have had a taste of this “Executive Presidency” Government since 1978. Have been able to find a single person to fit into that position? The answer is a resounding NO. I don’t think we will be able to FIND that person even in the future.

      So the best thing is to ABOLISH it.

  • 12
    0

    As long political rulers / leaders are accountable, it really doesn’t matter what people (especially Silly Lankans) think of that government. There are SHAM democracies like ours where politicians are not just corrupt but never accountable. Where as in Singapore, regardless of what people think, there is accountability and responsibility. Though countries like South Korea, Taiwan and HK ( in past ) may not be as Singapore, but we are aware of politicians and leaders being held accountable and in some instance imprisoned.

    • 8
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      chiv

      Fun starts at Archaeological departments:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G04egQ4t7EA&t=203s
      They send a letter to protect the Buddhist land – the Buddhist land must be found first

      Watch this clip, the expert archaeologists have problem answering archaeological questions. Their only motive/duty is to support Sinhala/Buddhists in their quest for land, help land grabbing, carry saffron b***s, …. What the hell is happening?

      Why does leader tolerate these guys. Even the Buddha sasana minister haven’t got any clue, nor the Saffron gang seated in the hall.

      Watch and enjoy.

      • 1
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        Native, thanks. Unbelievable isn’t it ?? only in Lanka

        • 5
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          Native , did you here this one. Parents and Principal of Kotte Girl School complained to police about a pervert harassing them by sharing inappropriate posts on a Whats App Group. For inquiry, alleged pervert was accompanied by another of his kind, former SLPP , MC member Denzil Padmasiri . Reportedly after the inquiry, Denzil exposed him self to the pricipal and parents, outside the Welikada police station. As a result police arrested him. Stupid Lankans seems to have some kind of fascination with private parts / nudity.

      • 4
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        Native,
        What is more disappointing is that Ranil seems to be intent on rebuilding this Maha Vihara instead of conserving it. Will we learn anything new by digging up these places? What we need to know is what happened in this island in the thousands of years before these thi gs were built. Archaeology should not be only about Buddhism. Why not dig up the Hindu temples that the Mahavamsa says were destroyed by Mahasen?

        • 2
          1

          Dear old codger,
          .
          On this, I agree whole-heartedly with you.
          .
          One thing that has always impressed me about you is that you are consistently non-racist. I appreciate that!
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

          • 1
            0

            I have repeatedly asked SM to follow OC, SJ, NV and others who mostly focus on article content, but he can’t because of his “idiotic thinking based on his family, friends, alma mater and other topics”.

            JVP extremists would never grasp the ground realities of this nation. This is the reason why their former leader (Somawansa Amarasinghe) made it very clear that AKD would never be the leader of this country if he woudl not change their stance in accordance with the opinions of lanken people. No doubt, AKD is a good orator, but he has no vision for this nation.
            :
            Listen to the following video, that will open your eyes.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5LBbRy8dSg

  • 4
    1

    We accept our terribly wrong past. But to progress today, more important to imprison the robbers of national wealth and recover all we can.

    • 5
      0

      davidthegood

      “We accept our terribly wrong past. “

      No we don’t.
      That has been the hallmark of our conduct and behavior.
      We invent, reinvent and perversely reinterpret our past and immediate past history.
      However Tiran Alles sees everything creatively, he spins to pervert the course of justice, for example Arrest of Gagendran Ponnampalam, Monk’s threesome video, Kuruntur police incident, … …

      You ought to watch this video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgolnwdcyWo&t=13s
      PM Lee Hsien Loong at Press Conference on Resignations of Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and MP Cheng Li Hui

      Remember “we could do no wrong”.

  • 4
    0

    A salute to the writer for being very candid in saying: ” What is missing among them is that leaders are third world, people are third world, belief and values third world and institutional structure is the third world”.

    If I were to rewrite this portion, I would have replaced the term “Third World” with “UNDERWORLD”.

    If one were to analyze and assess what happened to Sri Lanka during the last seven decades PLUS what is happening today, it is not the “Third World” attitude that contributed to the fall to the PRECIPICE (Down the Pallam) but the “UNDERWORLD” (Pathalaya) Tactics and Attitudes (Criminal Practices and Methods) on the part of the Leaders, People, and Institutions.

    In contrast, if Leaders, People, and Institutions followed a “Third World” attitude, in its proper sense, that would have opened all the avenues for progress toward a better island nation and a country.

  • 8
    0

    Lee Hsien Loong is sitting at a simple table and the audience is sitting on garden chairs; Singapore is not displaying the wealth it has ……. bankrupt Ranil is sitting at a grandiose table and the audience on grand chairs trying to display an affluence Lanka doesn’t have ……

    Little things give people away.

    Kudos to Mr W.A. Wijewardena for writing a piece of guidance I’m sure none of the leaders will read or follow: they are more concerned about their own survival; not the country’s/people’s.

    I joined the forum in 2015, just before the election: in spite of numerous impressive articles here by various writers, the country has headed only in one direction. The country has headed only in one direction since independence. No need for a soothsayer to tell where the country will be in 10 years time?

    You don’t need a weatherman to tell you where the wind is blowing ……. don’t wait for a Santa Clause that’s never going to show up ……. give up hope, enjoy your lives while you still can …….

    • 5
      0

      continued

      I’m enjoying life to rub it to Native ……. dancing to Anton Jones: Mini Gawuma …… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMu_Jndfk9s ……. that’s a top of the line Nakamichi Dragon: I’ve a RX-505 that turns the cassette over …….. I don’t have to stop …

      Salli deela gawuma maheve adegena yanne
      All dekak wath dura baha adiya thiyanna
      Adinna mini gawuma adinna
      Ranil adinna mini gawuma adinna

      In 10 years time, that’ll be more accurate than any high-flung cockamamie informative article! ……. Wanna bet?

      Who are we trying to fool? Donald Trump? …….. Is Ranil a better hoodwinker than Donald?

      Why is the truth so hard for people to grasp?


      Abandon hope all ye who live in Lanka ……..it’s a Devilish Comedy ……… that’s never gonna end ………

      • 2
        0

        nimal fernando

        Did you insist your old flame(s) wore mini gawuma (mini shirt) when you took them out, especially to cinema?

        • 2
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          Native, ……… All my old girlfriends got in touch with me later: we are in contact ……. one tried to get in touch with me for 17 years ……. one came with her son and knocked on my door: I nearly got a heart attack!

          A lesson for you: treat girls well, they’ll remember you. :))

          OC will tell ya ……. good men, around the world, are few and far between …….. :)))

          • 3
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            nimal fernando

            “one came with her son and knocked on my door”

            Was the purpose of the visit anything to do with paternity test or Child maintenance?

    • 3
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      nimal fernando

      “Singapore is not displaying the wealth it has ……. bankrupt Ranil is sitting at a grandiose table and the audience on grand chairs trying to display an affluence Lanka doesn’t have ……”

      You live in US, now tell us who drives flashy cars and wears fancy jewelry, .. … ?

      • 3
        0

        “now tell us who drives flashy cars and wears fancy jewelry”

        The US is even worse than Lanka ……… the most indebted nation on the planet …….. but unlike Lanka, never go bankrupt: always find ways to pay their debts! :))


        Disregard the title ……. read this book https://www.amazon.com/Richer-Wiser-Happier-Greatest-Investors/dp/1501164856 ……. it’s brilliant in life-lessons …… if you don’t have access to Amazon or other sellers in Lanka, I can send it to you.

        • 1
          0

          Nimal,
          “NOW tell us, WHO DRIVES FLASHY CARS AND WEARS FANCY JEWELLERY?”
          You seem to have tendency to ‘ADORE’ the feminine kind, wearing Gold Bangles made of LOOPED, RECTANGULAR SLATS SOVEREIGN GOLD, to enable other less, or totally, uneducated and ill-informed “menials” to understand the worth of these Owners!!!???
          If they were in Uganda, they may have got their limbs cut-off, to ROB the Bangles, with no Patience and/or Compassion who become the targets of the Scoundrels!!??? I mean in Uganda, Burundi, or Rwanda!!
          All similar sounding names!!! Sincerely cannot discern or differentiate between them except the country with the Airport in Capital city fortunate enough to be the “PARKING PLACE” for the special Airplane, carrying important devotees (may be sometimes driving FLASHY vehicles, if you call Land Rover Defender Sports) a Luxury vehicle, to “Thirupathy Thevasthanam” (TT)!!!???
          You forgot to mention those in ‘CHARTERED AIRCRAFT’, in addition to flashy cars & Jewellery’!!!

        • 2
          0

          nimal fernando

          “if you don’t have access to Amazon or other sellers in Lanka, I can send it to you.”

          Thanks for your offer.
          Man are you trying to get me thrown out of my house with my book collection?
          Already I have to hide all my new book additions from my wife and family including my siblings, and children. My children do read not hard copies from shelf but e books only.

          They advice me to keep everything scanned and in cloud.
          As you say I haven’t learned to do much to keep up with latest trends.

  • 4
    0

    Prominence to Buddhist monks have always been a strategy of political leaders as it probably conveyed the impression of being ‘with the average people’ to the larger SB vote base. However, the recent phenomenon of being surrounded by a bunch of monks as advisors begs the question, how qualified are these monks to advice the govt. on current issues, particularly, relating to economic policy & recovery. The fact that a stupid monk publicly encouraged GR to act as Hitler, is an indication of the general knowledge of these advisors. In any developed country, such a remark would even face the wrath of the law.

    Past leaders, such as, Premadasa, DBW, Sirisena, MR, GR, not being educated themselves, had to play to the gallery but are we blind to the fact that the country never progressed, in fact, the outcomes were even disastrous? Yet, RW continues the tradition, probably, in desperation. Certainly, the country can be governed by Buddhist principals & the monks can provide spiritual guidance to the leaders if required but the role of monks today is obviously to fool the gullible public. Wonder what the policy is of NPP about the role played by Buddhist monks as ‘advisors’. If I am not mistaken, the NPP also consists of a bhikku group, therefore, I am sure the role of political monks will continue till 2045 by which time, SL would be most likely another Afghanistan, ruled by a Buddhist Taliban.

    • 2
      2

      Dear Raj-UK,
      .
      Much of religion is bunkum but that doesn’t mean that we can say that and get elected in a nation-wide-election.
      .
      I agree that political-Buddhist monks have done immense harm to our society. However, it won’t help to go round denouncing every monk in foul language the way that “leelagemalli” does. Some monks may be among the best humans on the island.
      .
      Once more, I tell you, that I have listened carefully to what AKD has been saying. He says that his value-system has been honed on Buddhism, but he immediately adds that that Islam, Hinduism and Christianity have equal validity for those brought up in those traditions. He will not allow Bikkhus to dominate the State. I’m not saying that every NPPer is as enlightened. If this man is given a clear mandate, he will do a great deal to foster a healthy outlook on religion. But expect no miracles.
      .
      My background is Anglicanism, but now I can see how corrupt that church of a minority of Lankans is. Raj, there will be a handful of Quakers in the UK. Learn a bit about how they operate. You’ll be amazed at how sound their thinking is.

      • 3
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        Sinhala_Man, Although reluctantly, I wish to interject.
        What is practised in Sri Lanka is not Religion.
        You need no religion to be moral.
        Religion was never a part of politics. It should have remained that way.
        But, Mahinda gave religion a new form. Transforming Religion back is going to be a daunting task.

        • 1
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          Nathan,
          .
          I have given your comment a “Like” but please see what I originally said as being directed at Raj-Uk, whom I have always found to be a man of the highest integrity, but who doesn’t understand that there are few like him. He doesn’t ever use “hate-words”.
          .
          On the other hand, it is true that “leelagemalli” uses intemperate language when referring to clergy in a collective sense, whilst claiming to practice “Pure Buddhism” himself.
          .
          The majority of voters have always, from the time of Socrates who was executed as a criminal, had such short attention spans that they brand the guy “without religion” as evil. I have alluded to what AKD often says, but he goes along with the practice of seating clergy (of all religions) in the first row, and addressing them first. He has to do that, if he wants to be accepted by a majority of voters. However, when he discusses the subject, he rejects a special place for “religions” in politics.
          ,
          This way of doing things could be seen as hypocritical. If almost all pay lip-service to religion, we’ve got to see this as a necessary exercise in politics
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela.

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            SM,
            “This way of doing things could be seen as hypocritical. If almost all pay lip-service to religion, we’ve got to see this as a necessary exercise in politics”
            Yes of course it is hypocritical, and what an astounding statement from one who makes much of “sincerity, honesty etc”. So, only AKD is entitled to be hypocritical as a politician, but not Ranil? You admit that AKD does it because “he wants to be accepted by a majority of voters. ” . In other words, SELF-INTEREST, which you roundly condemned when applied to other people. Have you anything to say for yourself?

            • 0
              1

              Dear oc,
              .
              It was I who used the word “hypocritical”, but it really is more an acceptance of something that has become the culture of the country. And he makes a point of inviting clergy of other religions as well. Yes, I condemned you for saying that “self-interest” alone mattered.
              .
              However, when he gets down to talking about the role of religion, he makes it clear that religion must be kept out of politics. He’s said it again and again that in matters of State, advice must be sort from experts in various fields.
              .
              He’s not obsessed with wielding power himself, and he talks of the need for leaders to retire from politics. He mentions the age 65, but such things are not said as firm promises. There has to be flexibility in some details, but not in matters of principle. I have given links to YouTubes previously; I won’t do so today, but I shall start hunting again should you request it.
              .
              Are there any clips that you can provide to substantiate what you say?
              .
              Panini Edirisinhe

      • 1
        2

        Dear Nathan,
        .
        As a guy who often picks up the courage to say that I owe no adherence to any religion (although I know something of the major religions practiced around me but not all the “religions” worldwide, quite apart from all that ever existed), let me assure you that I understand what you mean when you say, “You need no religion to be moral.”
        .
        When you’re dealing with people who have scruples the statements made by us, are fine, but we are surrounded by many who succeed in having it both ways:
        .
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galagoda_Aththe_Gnanasara
        .
        Most citizens know that this man is a criminal, and the electorate has been intelligent enough never to elect him to Parliament, and yet he has received a Presidential Pardon and is even now holding an official position. He ought still to be in jail, and that despite the most serious allegations against him not being brought to court.
        .
        The fallacy in this discussion that we’re having is that the word “Religion” has a shifting meaning. You have supplied a stipulative meaning to religion; unfortunately few understand that there are these two meanings.

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    Great article but it does raise questions. The author has an inclination towards the superiority of democracy.. The contrary stipulation is China not Singapore which has fair elections though the PAP, Lee’s party has always won. When Lee died, the swell of feeling in Singapore demonstrated the affection the people had for him. He was not an authoritarian. It is different in China. The argument for China is that it lifted 800 million people out of poverty in a short time and that therefore its system is more appropriate for adoption by developing states. It is an argument that is credible. It offers an alternate system. Authoritarian rule with a market system, socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is that system against which arguments have to be directed, not against the straw man set up by the author.

    • 2
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      Yes, there are some elements of the Singaporean democracy that tender minds will find revolting. Capital punishment is one. Corporal punishment (caning) is another.
      .
      However, even those get accepted because there almost always is fair-play.
      .
      It’s that lack of corruption that seems to make the difference.
      .
      The speech by Lee Hsien Loong (including the unostentatious table) indicate an ideal that can be aimed at to order our short mortal lives, but to now try to replicate it here is probably impossible. The tragedy is that an intelligent human like LKY once thought it was going to be possible in Ceylon.
      .
      Racism has ruined it all; but improvement will be possible.

      • 3
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        SM,
        “However, even those get accepted because there almost always is fair-play.”
        If suppressing opposition politicians through frivolous legal proceedings is “fair play”, why do you object when Ranil does it?

        • 3
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          SM,
          “Yes, there are some elements of the Singaporean democracy that tender minds will find revolting”
          Do you know that there is compulsory military service for all young adults in Singapore?
          People like you, I am sure, would find that revolting if Ranil introduced it here, but not I’d AKD did it.

        • 0
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          I have never been to Singapore; however what gets stressed here is that although rules are strict, and punishments severe, plenty of information is given about what constitutes “a crime”. In that sense there is fairness.
          .
          Suppression of the opposition is not something that comes through much in what we are presented on this page. Rather, a concern that the ruling “People’s Action Party” should be clean, and hold itself accountable to the citizens of Singapore.
          .
          The PAP has got elected time and again; the problem is that Ranil has not got elected by the people. I think that more than enough has been said on that score. Had he been content with being an interim President who was holding the fort until such time as fresh elections are possible, most of my objections would have evapourated.

  • 5
    1

    No doubt it is an excellent article. But the question is whether the political looters can be imprisoned and recover all such wealth. Moreover, by 2048 is there any guarantee whether this looters will be alive or dead. Meanwhile there is a CHANGE taking place in Asia. India is having a booming economy while the rest of the SAARC countries are confronted with deteriorating economy. And there is also a possibility of the gradual disappearance of Pakistan & Bangladesh both of which are likely to be accommodated within the Union of India. And Sri Lanka is no exception for various reasons. The best remedy is that the Sinhalese and Tamils shed all their differences and form a Federal State and live peacefully with give and take policy. Otherwise it will be too late to realize to be a part of the Indian Union.

  • 4
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    The inappropriateness of democracy for Sri Lanka has been demonstrated since its independence. It has been possible for the Sinhala elite to manipulate the 6.9 Sinhala morons with Sinhala Buddhist slogans while they remained wedded to Western habits in a big way. Now, they have stabilised themselves ensuring that there is an army that will maintain their privileges, the higher officers being also wedded to the West. There will be no recovery from this position. Democracy is a good thing if the people who are given it are capable of wise choices. The Sinhalayas were given it too early. Now steeped in a Sinhala Only education and the primacy of Buddhism they are condemned to the Mahavamsa mud-hole for a long time. The wise Sinhalaya has migrated to the West, there to enjoy what he always aspired to.

    • 2
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      Cicero ,

      You nailed it . And I would want to look at two of your lines with
      a different viewpoint . ” The Sinhalayas were given it too early ” .
      Yes but Tamils and Muslims flashed their green lights to Trust
      them ! The other line is ” The wise Sinhalaya has migrated to the
      West “. For this , I would give you a very recent experience of mine .
      About three weeks back , I sent a niece of mine with another
      relative , to an eye consultant at a private practice where he appears
      after his time in the govt hospital in the area . He recommended her
      to bring a vision report from a reputed vision shop nearby . Within
      an hour the test was done at the vision shop and they returned to the
      consultant . He was not there at the practice and was told by a staff to
      go to another practice to catch him . So they went there just to find he
      had just left to the third practice and finally he was sitting there . The
      time by then was ten at night . Luckily my party had their car and this
      consultant had his , to around , all within the city limits . My point is ,
      what is these so-called Wise men worth if they Have No Time To Live ?
      And yesterday , just yesterday I watched an Interview of Darshana
      Handungoda on his vlogger , with Handunneththi who said our
      specialist doctors are working in supermarkets and petrol stations in
      some countries ! My strong view is , before calling even a faction of
      these people ‘wise’ , one has to think many times , not twice or thrice . .

  • 0
    0

    “Even with regard to India……………………………………..under Indira and her son
    Rajiv……………when India became more democratic having shed
    authoritarianism its growth rate sprang phenomenally ” . Please read in full
    15th paragraph . It is also paramount to remember how India got rid of their
    so-called ‘ authoritarianism ‘ in an ever lasting memorable way . I do not
    recommend here to do the same everywhere else but history is history and it
    is there to read and remember . Sanjay Gandhi was killed in a heli crash 2 .
    Mother Indira Gandhi was killed by her security. 3 . Rajiv Gandhi was killed
    in Tamil Nadu . And as a result , India is said to have achieved greater
    Democracy that led to faster economic growth . Kristalina Georgieva of the
    IMF detailed out at an interview with Aljazeera , how successfully their
    loans were put to use by India and Vietnam in South Asia and another couple of
    countries in Africa . She was countering the allegations that IMF made
    some poor countries more miserable . Has Rahul Gandhi stated anywhere that
    his family sacrificed their lives for India ? Well , they died and India prospered
    at the end of the day ! Well , I would recommend it is worth giving it a thorough
    reading !

    • 2
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      WhyWhy,
      It is a myth that India is more “democratic” than Sri Lanka is at present. Read the following article about two civil society activists who were in remand since 2018:
      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-66333896
      One 84 year old activists actually died in prison. It is said that Sri Lankans are better at complaining than anything else. Ranil is possibly more “democratic” than Modi ever was. The best of constitutions can be manipulated by unscrupulous rulers.But to his credit, Modi’s economic performance has so far been better than his predecessors.
      We cannot progress wile expecting the same standards of democracy found in the West. It does work that way.

      • 1
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        Sorry, it DOESN’T work that way.

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