By Gamini Dullewe –
For a Democracy to function smoothly, the citizens of that society should be intelligent, matured and honest, mostly for the country as a whole to benefit. If not the miscreant in that society will oust the honest, qualified educated and usurp Power to govern by deceiving the masses as the Saviours, to be elected by the public vote, only to enrich them and their support base, at the cost to that country and the rest of the citizenry. This is precisely what happened to us in Sri Lanka where the Hoodlum captured Power after openly robbing the Tsunami Funds. Thereafter the Deceitful Leaders made a mockery of Democracy by allowing all who supported, each and every one of them, to dip their hands into the Govt Kitty in order for them to be retained as the Populist Leaders. That was the ruse they adopted to cultivate popularity and to remain in Power Winning Election after Election, selling Cheap Political Rhetoric as Patriotism and a sense of Nationalism, fostering Sinhala Buddhism, the Opium of the Majority. This modus Operandi reached it’s peak after November 2019 Presidential Election where the President elect, openly permitted the new MPs of the Pohottuwa Govt to fell timber cutting Forest Reserves, mine sand and earth notwithstanding Environmental damage, removing Transport restriction just to appease the support base, for them to make a fast buck in order to keep them satisfied. Today we are about to witness the ill effects of a Flawed Democracy in the wrong hands of a set of Imposters parading as Paragons of Virtue.
It is believed although Athens in Greece is considered as the cradle of Democracy, there had been other City Centres in Greece that had adopted Democratic Rule over Nobility, that had ruled before. There is no known society that had not been ruled by the Monarchs before the advent of Demoracy. With the birth of Democracy most if not all Monarchies have either been converted to Democracies and some countries retaining their Monarchs for Ceremonial functions or totally annihilating the Royalty and the Nobility, to establish Autocratic rule with despots acting as Dictators. These Dictatorships have been periodically subjected to change of Rulers by being overthrown by their second in Command and they have had rigid Rule of Law, either adopting Communism or Socialism as their Political Ideologies, whilst the Democracies have had their rulers changed from time to time through the Ballot and at times through the Bullet. In Democracies by and large it is believed that the masses are the decision makers to change Leadership through their Franchise. In a Democracy, that society can follow either Capitalistic Policies or Socialistic Policies to develop the Country’s Economy.
The Birth Of Democracy In Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka after being ceded to the British by a Treaty in 1815, the country lost it’s Monarchial Rule remaining in the Kandyan areas. Then the British Governed the whole country under One Rule, all it’s subjects, without division for over One Hundred and Fifty years till 1948. In 1931 with the establishment of the Donoughmore Constitution, Adult Universal Suffrage for the first time was introduced by the British in the Country’s History. This has been a Pilot Project executed before granting Independence to ensure freedom from Colonial/Imperial bondage for the British Colonies in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The Donoughmore Constitution had been drafted by one Sydney Webb – Secretary of State, a Socialist whose desire was to see an equitable distribution of Power and wealth to every Community in the Island to achieve Prosperity and in the Soulbury Constitution introduced in 1947 just before Independence was granted, Article 29 (2) had been incorporated to safeguard the Minority Rights. However, there had been One Britisher who had opposed openly, saying that the Country’s Polity was not mature and literate enough to Implement and enforce the Protection provided to the minorities in our Multi Ethnic and Multi Religious Society. True to his wise words, we as a Nation has proved beyond doubt, 73 years after Independence, enjoying Democracy, the Faux Pas that was predicted. The downside of Democracy was even worse, where the Hoodlum in society was afforded ample opportunity to capture Political Power to plunder the National wealth for their own aggrandizement, at the Cost of Peace and Prosperity to the entire Country.
During the time of Monarchial rule before the advent of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, under the Feudal System there was no significant disparity between the Landed Gentry representing the Haves and the Peasants representing the Havenots. Dress wise all were attired mostly alike and all houses were built with Wattle and Daub and there was not much difference like between a Mansion and a hut. The houses may have varied in size and roofing, but there were no big differences then as there were no Mansions or Vehicles unlike today, to display or flaunt one’s wealth. Except the King and the Aristocracy, the rest were mere Vassals in Society. It was Family Tradition for the distributions of functions, to be a Medical person (Vedamahattaya), Carpenter, Gold Smith or Black Smith and other. All engaged in Agriculture helping each other through a System of Barter and not for payment of money, although folk lore reveals of Gold nugget payments for heroic deeds in the past by the Kings. The appearance of money, VOC currency surfaces with the arrival of the Portuguese in the Coastal areas under their rule. People begin to acquire money with the sale of labour and export of Spices. It was only under the British, the Natives really start to use money as currency and gradually displaces the system of barter. So commences the money accumulation as wealth and it was the Renters that became Rich first in society first to make Nobodies as Somebodies in society. One could get a better insight to this aspect, if one reads Kumari Jayawardena’s book from Nobodies to Somebodies, where the Landed Gentry although had wealth in the form of land, did not have liquid cash as the Renters did. There had been no Buddhist Temples in the City of Colombo. It was with the Renter’s money, the first Buddhist Temple at Kotahena ‘Devaduththa Ramaya’ had been built and the second temple, ‘Issipathana Ramaya’ built at Greenland’s Road, possibly to clear their Conscience of making Filthy Lucre.
For an effective Democracy to function, the majority of its subjects should be above average intelligence, a high degree of Honesty and well committed to the cause. It is only then a proper Democracy is functional for the benefit of that country as a whole to the haves and the have-nots equally. Let us see our perspective from the inception. To begin with we had the (UNP) United National Party where the name itself indicated of that it was a joint force of the majority of it’s Citizen who were of some standing and well to do, to contribute to help Develop the country, sometimes spending their own wealth. Then we had the Leftist Parties led by the Capitalists who played the Comradery part with the Ordinary masses to win their hearts and minds, some being Professional Lawyers of repute who were ardent Leftists, who never appeared free for any of their Litigants. Societies adopting Socialism or Communism was a total Deception to fool the masses, where those who preached the Ideologies to become the new rulers, their families today have become the Neo Capitalists of those societies, displacing the earlier Capitalist Rulers. The UNP under DS Senanayake started off well, alleviating poverty by allocating 5 acres of prepared Paddy Land, 3 acres of Highland, a two roomed house built and a Co-Operative System to support them to purchase their Rations, to be paid back with their harvest. Thousands of families were settled in the North Central Province (NCP) in a number of Colonization Schemes that were commenced, much to the criticism of the Leftists then, that the UNP was trying to kill the poor, infecting them with Malaria. However, the end result was to have today a Farming Community that act as the backbone of the Rice producers in the country, with the likes of the Sirisena family both Maithreepala and Dudley, as the beneficiaries of that DS’s scheme. The UNP under Sir John Kotelawala as PM of the UNP Govt, continued with helping the poor farmers but also commenced Housing Projects as the Bambalapitiya Flats for the Middle Income Families in the Country and for the poor Tenements holders, Flats at Maligawatte which later Premadasa continued to expand.
In the midst of this, with the untimely demise of DS Senanayake and the appointmenet of his Son Dudley Senanayake to succeed him to prevent a rift within the party for leadership, Banda precisely did that, by aligning with the Reactionary forces in the country, forming the Pancha Maha Balawegaya, Sangha, Weda, Guru, Govi and Kamkaru, giving leadership to the Sinhala Buddhist Monks to form the SLFP and form a Govt of their own in ’56 to boast that their Govt was elected by the Poor, therefore will only serve the Poor in the country, ignoring the Rich, where over 80% were represented by the Poor. Yet the masses were vary in voting them in to power because although they managed to win Constituency wise with a larger representation in the Parliament, they could not win the majority of the aggregate vote. It is ironical how a govt can be only for the Poor in a country where the whole of society vote in a Democracy? The UNP Govts hitherto have been for the Rich and Poor alike. The Banda’s and Gunda’s Govt of ’56 was Anti- Capitalist and there was a witch hunt to denude the Capitalists to appease the Poor by doling their Nationalized wealth to the poor as handouts to lure them to support their Politics.
Deceit And Corruption In The System
Banda himself hailed from a Capitalist family. There are many who point the finger at the UNP, that Corruption commenced with the UNP. Yes, Corruption that most saw was after Premadasa and Sirisena Cooray took the reins of the UNP undoubtedly. But I like to remind these critics who crow of Corruption, to have commenced under the UNP, to find out how Mrs. B redeemed ‘Tintagle’ their residence down Rosemead Place in Colombo 07, which Banda Mortgaged for Rs. Nine Hundred Thousand to the BOC in ’55 for his Party’s election Campaign, that Banda could not redeem before he was assassinated, was redeemed after the Mortgage was transferred to the People’s Bank, after the People’s Bank itself was established in ’62 by Sirima’s govt. Now, from where did Mrs. B find funds to redeem, that Banda did not have funds to redeem the property prior? Remember how Mrs. B had added zeros for Compensation for their excess properties vested with Land Reform, after take over, where she lost her Civic Rights and also nicknamed Bindumathi. The Dooshanaya and the Bheeshanya Label was pinned on Ranil Wickremesinghe in particular and the UNP in general, more so by Chandrika and Mahinda with their supporters, prior to ’94 Hustings to win Elections. Before that, Corruption has been prevalent in most Govt Depts, where many a Party supporter of all Political Party were accommodated with employment, where corruption has been rampant.
Although most Politicians who took to Politics from the Socialist SLFP were more corrupt than the rest because they being Paupers turned out to be the wealthy after a few sessions as MPs in the Parliament. Only one MP, one D.B. Munnkulama a Lawyer from Kurunegala was tried and convicted for Bribery and Corruption. Thereafter no MP has been tried or convicted, not because Corruption has ceased, but the System has been overpowered by the Politicians subduing the Law enforcement. This fact was very clearly seen when MR was exposed of the Tsunami Fund Scam from the Helping Hambanthota donations where MR had defrauded over a Hundred Million Rupees to a personal Bank Account of his and was allowed to contest the Presidential Election in 2005, without a Trial or Conviction. But for many, especially for Ranil Wickremesinghe Critics, they saw the speck in Ranil’s eyes with a nonevent of a Bond Scam and not so much of the Tsunami Mole in MR’s eyes, where he, his family and supporters have plundered the bulk of the wealth in the country, from 2004 Tsunami onwards.
The Fallacy In Democracy
Populism in a Democracy as ours, does not deliver the best to govern a country, no matter how much they are popular or win with the mass support at an election genuinely or in genuinely. There has to be checks and Balances adopted to prevent the Hoodlum from entering Politics and taking over the Country and thereafter Ruining the Country more than Running it for the benefit of all in society. What happened to Sri Lanka under the Rajapaksas, where not only the Judiciary, nor the Police or the Public Service was spared from MR’s influence to toe his line, winning election after election and brazenly dispense Cases filed against the first family and their supporters or for that matter to Pardon any Criminal, Convicted by a Court of Law, vilifying the Judiciary and the Justice System of the Country saving the, ‘Apey Miniha’ without any qualms, making the Justice System in the country, a Mockery.
Now on the brink of Collapse of the Country’s Economy, what has to be understood by all, is that the creation of a False Popularity to elevate an individual to allow his support base to rob, has to come to an end, sooner or later. Ranil Wickremesinghe realizing this, gave enough rope to the Rajapaksas and their supporters to hang themselves and many thought that Ranil Wickremesinghe has ceased to be reckoned as a Political force anymore. They are all sadly mistaken. The writing is on the wall, even making the bitterest Critic of Ranil Wickremesinghe, to soon accept and realize that it is this Noble Person, Ranil Wickremesinghe who can resurrect the Country and the fallen Economy. Why do I say so? Today at a time the Open Market System has collapsed and it’s adverse repercussions are felt and seen by all, the only person who can revive is a Leader with Vision acceptable to the Western World with whom we have had over 84% of our Trade, that can be rekindled once again to build that confidence with the Lending Institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, the only Finance sources available, which the Idiotic Pundits of Mahinda Rajapaksa supporters threatened to pull the Plug out from the World Bank, not very long ago. The Rajapaksas and their Economic Pundits believed aligning with China we could change the System. Now that System Change has collapsed because we have only 12% Trade with China. Therefore, if we are to develop once again, there is no other way, other than reopening the Trade ties with the Western World, under a reliable trustworthy person as Ranil Wickremesinghe, who could be trusted by the Investors and not another to be experimented like with Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Current Predicament And The Likely Forecast
Currently many are under the misconception that this Flawed Democratic System we adopted, should be carried forward as the only way out. Thus, some believe that either Sajith Premadasa being buoyant after the recent SJB demonstration, defying the Pohottuwa govt’s attempt to clamp down and Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the JVP after his party that caused the most damage and destruction to this country and the Economy, believe that finally the masses will repost their faith and trust in him, will be elected as the alternate Leader of this country. Under normal circumstances it would have been a possibility, had any resources been let behind in the country, that was spared by the Rajapaksas after their rule. Now that we are on the verge of Bankruptcy, neither Sajith Premadasa or Anura Kumara Dissanayake will last more than two months because Gota survived for two years. Both have no Capacity or Experience to revive a country from Bankruptcy, but would have been also ran, to prolong the end, had there been something left behind by the Rajapaksas without wiping the slate clean of any assets.
Many in society are still blissfully ignorant of a state of Bankruptcy, until this society physically experience the scenario. Little they know we will soon be in a state of Anarchy with no Law and Order situation for someone to protect their property from being plundered. None could be spared not even the VIP Politicians or their property. The only salvation is for Countries like India, America, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Canada and the other allies, to get together and bail us out, the One and the Only way out available then. The country can ill afford to hold an election to choose Leaders to prolong the agony because the Pohottuwa Govt has made the Country Bankrupt. Besides the International Community involving themselves to salvage this country is not going to leave the reins with any Tom, Dick or Harry but someone whom they can Rely and Trust, a person with Vision, Honesty and Integrity. I trust those who have a little Grey matter will know who the person is, more of a Statesman than a Politician, who will unite and take this country forward to Civility and Prosperity, sans Religious and Racial difference making all equal citizens of this country.