By Lakmal Harischandra –
I am feeling lost and so is my dear nation, still failing to realize the sheer folly of entrusting it to those who are not fit even to manage a wayside shop, let alone this ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. A coalition of disparate parties has crumbled into disarray with dirty political games being played; sadly in the name of democracy. With the latest political crisis, country may well be re-entering the era of deep fracturing of polity, a climate that bred authoritarianism and all the attendant ills of the past . I am not a professional writer; but in my desperation and frustration, I chose to express my thoughts and also thought of exhorting my fellow countrymen to rise up against this prostitution of our political process and corruption of our political culture by cowboys and comics. Those at the grassroot levels are watching the unfortunate developments with gaped mouths and anxiety. Shouldn’t we ask the pertinent question; ‘Why have we become a nation which cannot manage itself both productively and efficiently, when comparatively many in the region are whizzing past us?’
Many democratic experiments have been failing in Sri Lanka. We have lost many historic opportunities given in a platter, since Independence in 1948. Fast forward, we have almost come to the end of the tether, after having voted in a bunch of misfits yet another time. Today, it is thus a shame that we have been compelled to bear the ill-consequences of our own follies, saddled with a crack President who is more appropriate to head a comic house, 2 ‘Prime Ministers’ ( one being corrupt to the core and other being inefficient to the core), a parliament of baboons( at least that is how baboons are described in a group in the English language), a pack of thieves, rapists, betrayers, cheats, frauds, low grade unprincipled turncoats who will sell their souls in return for pennies and illiterates who have less qualifications than a peon in a government office. A Professor once said that many of those representing us in parliament are fit to be in old age homes and sanctuaries. O Tempora! O Mores!
Past seventy years, Sri Lanka which was once stood tall as the Pride of and premier league of Asia, a country LQY of Singapore wanted to take as a role model, has now being relegated to the lowermost levels and on the fast track to being a Pariah State. Worse of all, the rowdy political class has brought indelible divisions of racism and communalism among our people, and using them to stay or come to power. I think the Sri Lankan Cricket team is most representative of the degeneration of standards of politics in Sri Lanka. What sort of country are we going to inherit to our next generation? At a time where Trumps are making a mockery of Western style of democracy, Modi is allowing Maha Baratha to stoop to cheap racist politics, Sirisena through his stupid weak brand of politics/ Mahinda through his insatiable greed for power/ Ranil through his inefficiency and selfishness to cling to power at all costs have managed to precipitate this constitutional crisis and a setback for democracy in Sri Lanka, making it a laughing stock of the world.
For how long can we allow these sucker types to be in charge of our country and bleed the nation to death? For seven decades, we have been voting in and voting out greens and blues or combination of both in turns, all of whom have been sucking the nation dry through corruption, inefficiency, racism and petty politics. Who allowed them to sell Sri Lankan assets without people’s consent, on the guise of executive and legislative power in a democracy? (Sri Lanka became the first nation to fall victim to the Chinese debt trap laid in the name of infrastructure building, leading the country to build a series of white elephants) .Who allowed them to sell their vote in parliament in return for a pot of gold? Who allowed them to help themselves with massive perks in the form of houses, luxury vehicles and security as well as unbelievable free amenities and pension? Why cannot these frauds be brought to book as promised? Where are the massive money pots being offered as bribes for ‘jumping MPs’ emerging from? Aren’t they worthy of investigation? Why aren’t those who give fairy tale promises and forget after elections to be made to account like in other fields? Why can’t we bring in a system where our public representatives are elected based on acceptable levels of education and political literacy? Why did we allow leaders of this country of 21 million to become venal and self-serving? Why are we allowing foreign governments to interfere in domestic politics and throw all diplomatic protocols to the wind? These are but some questions people ask ; but unfortunately they still want to be spectators without being part of a wider movement to set this rot right and ensure cleaner and efficient system of politics.
Democracy is a good thing ; but in Sri Lanka, it has turned into a wide big farce, in the hands of these type of lowly political class. Democracy shines when the people are engaged with it every moment. We need to adopt new technologies to inform, discuss and debate about any and every matter that is of interest to the people. Also in a democracy, it is counterproductive to have parties that act solely for the interest of a certain ethnic, religious or any group of people. In true democracy, all parties should represent all people. However, political parties in Sri Lanka are solely responsible for creating all ethnic, lingual and religious conflicts. Sadly, corruption is ingrained in the Sri Lankan society almost as a part of the country’s culture. People from all walks of life, irrespective of their social status, are accustomed to engage in corrupt practices for their convenience and/or to accumulate wealth unlawfully. The menace of corruption in the country has grown into an epidemic proportion, and it appears to sit on an exponential growth curve. It is a major obstacle to democracy as it causes an individual or a group to take undue advantages at the expense of others.
The mobilization of civil/ public activism is the only way forward to bring some amount of sanity into our political process. As Jayadeva Uyangoda said in an article in Colombo Telegraph only recently, ‘the 2015 experience has taught us that a disturbingly new political lesson: political parties and the class of professional politicians are no longer reliable allies in the struggle for democracy. For them, democratic desires and aspirations of citizens have only an instrumentalist value. Their loyalty and fidelity to their own democratic constituencies is tentative, opportunistic and expendable…Building and strengthening democratic defences and resistance in our society is perhaps the only available path to counter the degeneration of Sri Lanka into another version of the Maldives. In view of the decline of Sri Lanka’s political parties as institutions of democratic resistance, most of the responsibility for resistance will fall on the shoulders of citizens and their autonomous mobilization.
He added ,’Though relatively small in numbers, it is some of these groups who first mounted sporadic resistance to the authoritarian regime of the Rajapaksa brothers and then created conditions for sustained resistance until a new coalition of political parties emerged to facilitate opening up new space for democratic revival. These civic republican groups are now largely dormant. They are awaiting a fresh phase of mobilization and it requires coordinated initiatives and action. Providing organizational leadership to these scattered core groups of Sri Lanka’s democratic social movements is perhaps the immediate task of the more active and resourceful civil society groups’.
Perhaps, this dire crisis for the nation will jump start the movement to get rid of these misfit politics of all hues whether Sirisenas, Rajapakses and Ranils and make Sri Lanka start off another phase of democratic revival , before people lose faith in democratic institutions completely. People should start to speak up and be counted before these political parasites take the country to eternal oblivion and hell- hole. Time is however not in our favour.