17 October, 2021

Blog

The Depth Of Disappointment

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda

I make no secret of my welcome of the advent of a “Third Force“ into the political arena. My argument then as it remains now, is that “Professional” politicians have made such a mess over the last seventy years since Independence, that a radical change is necessary, and urgently so. Both the parties that have taken turns in running (or ruining) our nation, once held in high esteem even internationally, agree that we are in the depths of the pit. We can no longer dare to compare ourselves with the best, but have to argue that we are not the worst. In short, we cannot look upwards but merely pity our new companions at the bottom.

A cardinal factor is the loss of credibility. No one seems to believe any thing that the government or its agencies may say or do. Examples are legion, the most recent being the data relating to the Covid Pandemic.

Our thought processes and exercise of franchise are person related. To hold that our electoral choices are governed by “policy” differences is fake. The attendant corollary that our society is “politically mature” is pleasing, but faulty! The ‘average’ voter would declare that he is a “Rajapaksa person” or a “Bandaranaike or Senanayake” one, or as “kavadath Nil, Kola or whatever rainbow hue”. To hell with economic, education, health or security matters seems to be the message. Is this not the undeniable reality?

The complaint that everything is “politicized” is thus inevitable and self-inflicted. This is pushed along by the “I Factor”- exemplified by Ex-President JRJ. “Mang koranawa” optometry. This continued in relation to our War Victory twelve years ago. As has been expressed “Success has many fathers, failure is a bastard”! The “first person singular” is craftily and dangerously, transformed into a “singular First Person”. In claiming credit, “we” is much more elegant and accurate than “I”.

Unhappily, this is not so. An inevitable consequence is that all ills of a deed or misdeed is laid at the door of “The President”. However unfair this is, it sadly fashions our opinions and judgments. Being in the frontline (or limelight) attracts all the bullets. Encouragingly, “It is the fruit-laden mango is what entices the stones!”

The victory of Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as President, kindled great hope that a much-needed discipline and answerability, will be hallmarks of a revitalized Administration (which I believe to be among the “Three Pillars” of democracy). But some see the efforts such as the “Gama Samaga Pilisandara” as a cheap political gimmick. In the same breath we would favour the saying that “A good General never says “Go” to his men, but orders “Follow me!”. One measure of President Premadasa’s term was his direct attention to detail. Some may decry his style as “Micro-management” or to age-related insomnia! But few would deny that it was effective.

But, there is the possibility that it may also breed resentment in senior rungs, who may sulk into non-co-operation. But the President should also be sensitive to such reaction, and judge when he should graciously retire, once sufficient momentum has been generated for the change to proceed unaided.

There is a sense of alarm that too many Administrative positions hitherto occupied by civilians are now operated by ranks of Retired Forces personnel. The image of Forces personnel merely as uniformed thugs (which image would please the aggressive Diaspora and like-minded expatriates). The expression “Officer and gentleman” would fit better as a descriptive. From my limited contact with ex-military men, I could not see even one who would fall short of this lofty honour. Let it not be forgotten that at the point of selection for officer ranks, the most exceptional performance in competitive sports, academic and physical and proven leadership were the criteria. This, combined with rigorous training, could not but help in ensuring the cream of the cream, were our admired men in uniform. I like to continue to see them as heroes worthy of acclaim.

Despite the reservation of some, I firmly believe that the success (even partial), of the performance of the anti-pandemic campaign, belied the view that more of medical expertise in leadership would have functioned better. But the fact that the superiority of the forces in fulfilling logistic requirements is amply evident, in hurried setting up and managing quarantine, setting up camps, emergency hospitals, contact tracing, vaccination and myriad other functions has been exemplary. The medical side was also outstandingly efficient and comprehensive. The combined efforts meshed well and performed with near perfection. Together, they have done us proud. National pride in the marshalling of operative capabilities have been excellent. This is sadly lacking in many other spheres. The efficiency of the exercise as a whole is commendable.

The prospect of Sri Lanka becoming a meritocracy, is sullied by even a cursory look for examples. There is justifiably negative. It was hoped that nepotism was a blot and reforms may aim to reduce, if not eliminate this unfair practice. Even more worrying that persons who were discredited by our Courts, with specific strictures that they should never again be in paid State employment, have defiantly come back into the close circles of governance. Others with proven records, or substantial suspicion of serious embezzlement of State funds, are mockingly in positions with significant authority. There are other examples which are upsetting. Too many have quit from key positions, unable to bear the force of their conscience. The negativity of rampant nepotism is disappointing – to put I mildly.

In eliminating the drug menace, contract killings, smuggling illicit liquor and criminality in general, the sheer size of the contraband seizures is stunning. No longer in milligrams but in kilograms, not in lakhs, but millions and sometimes in trillions! Some mind boggling revelations in the Panama Papers may reveal even more salacious information. Come on Social media, put a sock in it. The required patience is killing us!

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Latest comments

  • 8
    1

    It is sickening that we have to accept that we cannot look upwards any longer but merely pity our new companions at the bottom.
    We were bestowed with democracy so prematurely that we have made Democracy look awful!

  • 3
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    Look oh my my …..the viyathmaga pillis and pullis are overwhelmed by “Sapa”,
    See Intellects… this your sole achievement so enjoy fullest we don’t want to disturb the enjoyment,
    Sir honthatama karanawatha…?

  • 13
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    Lankans DESERVE IT. Didn’t they present Sir. Fail as an outsider, nonpolitical, no nonsense administrator, supported by Viyathmaga, hailed by prelates . What a drama ??? Dan sepada.

    • 2
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      “No one seems to believe any thing that the government or its agencies may say or do. Examples are legion, the most recent being the data relating to the Covid Pandemic.”
      It’s not only that. The total incompetence and ignorance of its members is so openly apparent. Consider the fertilizer fiasco, undertaken on the ideas of, among others, a monk and a “doctor” who believes that, 2000 years ago Sri Lankans had a 140 year lifespan! Now it seems a shipload of “organic potassium chloride” has arrived from Lithuania! Is there even such a thing? In that case, even urea is “organic” since it is made from ingredients which are found naturally!
      The President has repeatedly reversed his own directives given days earlier. There are utterly stupid decisions like the ban on palm oil and to even uproot the plantations. All these are directly attributable to the President himself, and shows up an excess of power in his hands. What is the use of Parliamentary government if only one incompetent man’s whims count?

      • 1
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        Part I
        OC,
        Good Morning.
        Fertiliser Fiasco (FF – any connotation of this acronym to anything sinister is in the domain of my humble brain capacity, but attributable to those who so comprehends it to be!).
        Your reference, “Now it seems a shipload of “organic potassium chloride” has arrived from Lithuania! Is there even such a thing? In that case, even urea is “organic” since it is made from ingredients which are found naturally!”
        My appeal, please pardon these JPUM (repeat stands for Junior Pass Unable Matriculation – GCE O/L and not even Justice of the Peace and Unofficial Magistrate!), who are evidently the majority in ‘The 6.9MElite’ and aligned Force props.
        By virtue of not proceeding to grade 9 and beyond, they would not have heard of, “Friedrich Wöhler (German: FRS (For) HFRSE (31 July 1800 – 23 September 1882)”, the Scientist – Architect of a process known as Chemical Synthesis.

      • 1
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        Part II
        The scientist Wöhler is known for seminal contributions in organic chemistry, in particular the Wöhler synthesis of urea.[2] His synthesis of the organic compound urea in the laboratory from inorganic precursors refuted the prevailing belief that organic compounds could only be produced by living organisms due to a “life force”.[1] Wöhler also introduced the concept of a functional group, which was a new concept that advanced understanding of organic compounds.
        The new found elite in propagating, Organics is highly commended to read the life, times and scientific changes that accrued to world at large as it would contribute to envision the future, before attending to “anything Organic including UREA”
        Our education system should modernise and make a paradigm change in the science syllabus, so that we the populous of SL are educated in synthesis with their leaders at large to ensure, we understand and comprehend the vicissitudes of the governance of the Elite.

        • 1
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          OC, apologies, amendment, to read as,
          “so that we the populous of SL are educated in synthesis with their leaders at large to ensure and Educational Synthesis of the population, we (the Populous) understand and comprehend the vicissitudes of the governance of the Elite!!”

      • 1
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        OC, apologies, amendment, to read as,
        “so that we the populous of SL are educated in synthesis with their leaders at large to ensure and Educational Synthesis of the population, we (the Populous) understand and comprehend the vicissitudes of the governance of the Elite!!”

        • 1
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          Mahila,
          I do hope our geniuses don’t ban aspirin, paracetamol, polyester clothing, etc on the grounds that they are synthetic!

    • 1
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      CHIV,
      .
      not “Lankens” but ” only slaves” making up about 6.9 millions .
      .

  • 9
    2

    Upatissa Pethiyagoda,

    It took more than 70 years for Sinhalese writers to realize that rule of is now is at rock bottom.

    To me the fall of the rule of law started in 1956, when a pogrom was let loose on Tamils, and the culprits were not brought to justice.
    In 1958, 1961, 1977 and 1983 more virulent pogroms were let loose on Tamils who lost lives, property, dignity, and confidence in the Sri Lankan state and its rulers from independence.

    Armed forces including the police aided and abetted these pogroms. Nobody was convicted.

    Now we read Sinhalese writers say that rule of law has collapsed in Sri Lanka. When Tamils were at the receiving end of the lack of rule of law, it was acceptable to them but now when it comes to them they jump up and protest. This is racism pure and simple.

  • 11
    1

    Most Sinhalese writers correctly identify the abuses by the state — except that they do not want to touch on what the state did to Tamils during the war. This includes the opposition.

    • 2
      1

      Jaffna Man,
      My experiences precede yours.
      There has been an orchestrated plan in place to subjugate us at all cost. Sinhalisation of our lands and people started in earnest in 1956. It has gone on relentless ever since. When the heat woke us up, the flames had already engulfed us. It continues to consume us at the rate and speed, the State decides. We cannot contain the damage by criticizing each other. Let us free ourselves, first.

  • 5
    0

    Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, thank you for your insightful article.
    .
    All Rajapaksas are malicious, unscrupulous and incompetent. Gotabhaya tops the list.
    Mahinda is the most devious, untrustworthy and wastefully extravagant politician. I am still trying to recover from the shock of how he deceived the Sinhalese who brought him back. His son Namal Rajapaksa, a first time Minister, followed in his footsteps and chartered an entire aircraft at public expense to make a pleasure trip to Kenya.
    Gotabhaya has admitted that his grand kakistocracy has failed. One of his stalwart Buddhist monks now suggests that (instead of changing the person) the position (the Presidency) should be changed to avoid future kakistocracies. I am sure King Kekille would have suggested the same.

    • 1
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      For the last 73 years, Sri Lanka had been a plutocracy, not a democracy. The wealthy make decisions for their benefit. One of the best (or worst) examples is the transition from chemical fertilizer to organic, paving a new path to make money for the wealthy by importing expensive organic fertilizer, despite the fact that it will ruin our naturally fertile soil.
      The Minister of Agriculture suggests that Sri Lanka should import ‘liquid nitrogen’. Man, why should we purchase liquid nitrogen when we receive free liquid nitrogen throughout the year? Plutocrats don’t even know the basics of the Sri Lankan agricultural system. If the harvest is low, it is not the fault of not using fertilizer, it is the fault of not following the season.
      We have thriving microorganisms in our soil. We have organic matter in abundance that can feed the microbes. We have carbon on the surface of our soil. (Fifty eight percent -58%- of organic fertilizer is made up of carbon). When we can regenerate our agricultural system without spending a cent, why do we import organic fertilizer?

    • 0
      0

      “Gotabhaya has admitted that his grand kakistocracy has failed”
      Yes, he has, for sure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER8yIK1ZWXk

      But, will it change anything? Anything at all?

      “Mahinda is the most devious, untrustworthy and wastefully extravagant politician. I am still trying to recover from the shock of how he deceived the Sinhalese who brought him back” Why did it take you so long to realise this? Did you vote for this crude bunch of bandicoots, Champa?

      The only path to salvation is to neuter the whole bloody pawula, ideally in one fell swoop.

      • 2
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        ES,
        .
        brother; ALL THESE WERE NOT OVERLOOKED.
        .
        My elders always repeated, Army men would ruin a country. They may be good as millitarist, but not as politicians.
        .
        I dont hear any circles proudly voted for criminals are live today. Either they are innerly dead or have no guts to come forward and heart out.

  • 0
    0

    As long as we have leaders who use the racist card, to divide, get votes, and make sure there is no unity, as long as there is nepotism, cronyism and corruption (which usually go hand in hand), as long as leaders put themselves, their families, and their deep pockets, ABOVE our country and people, and as long as they pretend to have investigations into crimes, knowing fully well the results will not be released, or not be accountable for any, we will forever be a third world country, begging for foreign aid, never progress, and forever having economic woes.
    It seems everyone is corrupt, from top to bottom, which means we will be in this predicament always.

  • 1
    1

    If President Gotabaya honestly apologized to the People of the land then I am in total support of his acceptance of his failure. But in doing so if he is going to ask Mahinda to indirectly rule the country, then the country will be run in such a manner not for the benefit of the citizens but for the benefit of crowning Namal Baby and scraping paga on various deals including selling foreign assets owned by SL.

    As a Grand Father especially, after the birth of his Grand Daughter President’s eyes would have opened. He does not want his Grand Daughter to read in the history books that her Grand Father was a murderer, thug, hoarder of ill-gotten money, and above all who managed white vans. Here is an opportunity for him to clear the slate clean and re-write a new chapter.

    All he has to do is forget about the benefits to the Rajapakse family but focus on developing the country. This he can do by appointing a unity government that should include ministers from the opposition as well. All those ministers who even have the slightest black dot have to be kicked out of the cabinet and new blood should be included. This should also be done for senior govt employees such as the Governor of the Central bank, Ministry Secretaries, and even Judges.

    • 1
      0

      “As a Grand Father especially, after the birth of his Grand Daughter President’s eyes would have opened. He does not want his Grand Daughter to read in the history books that her Grand Father was a murderer, thug, hoarder of ill-gotten money, and above all who managed white vans. Here is an opportunity for him to clear the slate clean and re-write a new chapter.”

      Good summary, and cannot have escaped even the hardest of hearts.

      I feel though, that it is too much to expect a callous, unschooled murderous village thug to disengage from the family project and becalm the nation.

      The unity government suggestion is super. But again, you cannot normally juxtapose “Rajapaksa” and “sharing power” in the same sentence. It just doesn’t work that way.

      Sadly, therefore, Nandasena’s granddaughter is going to have to find out what a terrible man begat her father, but her apologies will be too, too late.

    • 1
      0

      Buddhist 1, I agree with what you say. That sweet girl’s grandfather can have a clean slate in history and a nation to be proud of. Needs to drop the immature Namal fantasy for another 10 years. He has authority to bring up shining Sri Lanka which earlier brothers dropped off due to their excessive greed and imaginary Sena/Banda dynasty. Let this last chance not be lost.

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