21 September, 2020

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Towards A Non-Political Party

By H.L. Seneviratne

Prof. H.L. Seneviratne

How our political parties have kept their promises is well known, as is the downward march of our political culture. Beginning with scattered incidence of bribery, corruption, nepotism and inefficiency in the early post-independence era, these have today become the very definition of government. It was with fervent hope that the majority of the people voted the present government into power, but deep disappointment with it and the system of parties within which it is embedded, has made it necessary to contemplate a political structure beyond the traditional political party, that we might call a ‘Non-Political Party’. 

A non-political party requires us to rethink politics as we know it. Such a party is a loose organization that can appeal to the people for support to form a truly national government that is also honest and efficient. By a “ truly national government” I mean a government of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim parties, and not a government of just the two major Sinhala Buddhist parties as the present government is. In such a government a qualified person of any ethnic or ethno-religious community is eligible for any office. Thus, the president, or any minister including the prime minister could be a Tamil, a Muslim, a Burgher or a Sinhala.

Since the main interest of the existing political parties is self-aggrandizement they will oppose tooth and nail the idea of a non-political party. But, given the misery and hopelessness of laboring under our present political culture, expressed in both the present regime and its predecessor, a committed and sustained attempt to form a non-political party has a fighting chance of success. The best proof of this is how in the last presidential election, a coalition of people from different backgrounds and holding different views were able to vanquish a seemingly invincible foe.

Organizationally a non-political party has no choice but to use the model of the conventional political party. But its inner life could not be more different. The main objective of a conventional political party is the furtherance of personal and sectional interests, whereas that of a non-political party is the furtherance of the national interest.

A non-political party is by definition open to all including those members of any conventional political party who are willing to mend their ways, and accept the idea that politics is a calling in the service of the country, and not an industry, and less a license to commit every possible crime with impunity. Elected parliamentary members of a non-political party are entitled to an honorarium based on need, with none of the cash and perks that the present elected representatives enjoy. 

If it is to succeed, a non-political party needs to be bold enough to exorcise the holy cows of our political culture. It must have the courage to loudly and proudly proclaim its commitment to the full and complete separation of religion and state, and to genuine power sharing with the Tamils, while also addressing the concerns of the other minorities. 

Our politicians think the people are idiots, incapable of reason, and capable only of the grossest of tribalism. Thus, they resort to gimmicks like appealing to religion, ethnicity and “culture” to get votes. A non-political party can demonstrate that appealing to the people’s intelligence and power of reason is a more potent and more lasting way to get their support.

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  • 10
    0

    Short, yet wonderfully distilled thoughts. The political space for a transparent, ethical political culture will emerge. Ranil, Sirisena, JVP, TNA, ND,MC, they have all betrayed the people as gave their predecessors gave done for decades. The new age will come. And it will be lead by none of these losers. I am hopeful.

    • 6
      0

      With all respect to you Sir,

      “Our politicians think the people are idiots, incapable of reason, and capable only of the grossest of tribalism. Thus, they resort to gimmicks like appealing to religion, ethnicity and “culture” to get votes. A non-political party can demonstrate that appealing to the people’s intelligence and power of reason is a more potent and more lasting way to get their support.”

      ACTUALLY THE MAJORITY FOLKS OF THE NATION ARE ULRTA IDIOTS:

      EXMAPLE 01
      It is believed that WP of the country are the place where percent of the intelligent people are the highest.

      But people rally round to a man like Wimal Burtuwanse and his rhetorics as to no others. His repeats about colonial masters and western invasion to lanken folks…
      this man with zero knowledge about external politics have succeeded to win the hearts and minds of voters over 300 000 in WP . is that not a living evidence to prove that people in general are grass eaters. ?

      EXMAPLE 02

      We perfectly know the murder – YOUNG RUGBY PLAYER and the evidence collected on RAJAPAKHSE family – BUT NOTHING SEEMS TO BE HAPPENING putting them in jails… why ?
      But people support them as notimes before EVEN they each families would voluntarily get raped by Rajapakshes rascals.

      Is that not a NUMBER 01 example to see, PEOPLE are NO better to any uneducated folks in Africa or any other continents ?

    • 2
      0

      I am also hopeful of complete change in the political culture for the betterment of the country and its citizens. The present political leaders completely betrayed the trust placed on them as this article rightly stated “that they think the people are idiots and incapable of reasoning”. Very soon they will be in for a rude shock with a non political person emerging and dismantling the comfort zone of the established politicians. Mr Nagananda Kodituwakku a non political person has expressed his desire to lead and put matters in the proper perspective. He deserve the attention of the masses. However we should thank the present administration for instilling the freedom of speech to the people without any reprisals. But it’s regrettable they have not been able to reign on the abuse of the freedom which is causing chaos

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 3
      0

      Good thinking, Mr.Seneviratne, but sadly I think this is true in the Sri Lankan context: “Our politicians think the people are idiots, incapable of reason, and capable only of the grossest of tribalism. Thus, they resort to gimmicks like appealing to religion, ethnicity and “culture” to get votes.”
      It is not really the people’s fault ,caused by their low IQ as Amarasiri keeps saying. It comes from the way they are brainwashed from birth with tall tales about their origins. I believe it is time an unbiased history of the country is written and used in schools. Government schools should be absolutely secular and not mostly Buddhist by default as at present. There should be no religion taught in any school but private ones. The media should not tell 3 different narratives in the 3 languages.
      It will take a generation for the first products to emerge and change the system. But the question is, will the present set of rulers, or their successors, allow such a change to come about ? I personally don’t think so.
      But there IS a bright spot. The way things are going, the Chinese and the Indians will end up owning most of our assets. Maybe THEY will instil some discipline in this benighted country.

      • 3
        0

        oldcodger

        “Good thinking, Mr.Seneviratne, but sadly I think this is true in the Sri Lankan context”

        Here is a brief introduction to
        Professor H. L. Seneviratne Emeritus
        Ph.D. University of Rochester 1973

        My early research interests were fashioned by three factors in the context of my growing up in Sri Lanka. First, Buddhist rituals were all around me, and I was stimulated to explore the meaning of these rituals. Second, Sri Lanka was going through radical social change. Third, Sri Lanka was groping for an identity and economic security after its recent emergence from British colonial domination. My published work reflects these contextual factors as well as my belief that the utility of traditional sociological theory is by no means exhausted.

        My present work represents a critical examination of the themes and social processes arising from the kind of social context mentioned above, which is commonplace in the contemporary world. Social change, emergence from colonialism, and the search for national identity and economic security have brought out a great deal of idealism, but much more turbulence, confusion and human suffering. I believe anthropology should contribute to our understanding of these, and help minimize poverty, inequality, injustice, discrimination, violence and human rights abuses. Broadly conceived inquiry into these areas constitutes an important part of my present research interests.
        Specializations
        Religion and politics, socialism, classical social theory, human rights, democracy and free market economy, ethno-nationalism, cinema, art and popular culture.
        https://anthropology.virginia.edu/faculty/emeriti/profile/hls

  • 9
    0

    This is an extremely urgent need of the hour and we must commend Professor Seneviratne for expressing his thoughts in such a clear and forthright manner. His thoughts can be considered a basic framework from which a full conceptual model can be developed. I hope a group of intelligent, sincere and well-meaning people will take this proposal on board and provide it with the necessary leadership to move forward. It is also my fervent hope that a large segment of the educated and well-meaning people of this country will leave their comfort zones and rally round the leadership to provide them with the necessary support in numbers, finances and ideas. This is the only way that we can leave a decent legacy for our children.

  • 4
    7

    Politicians ruined the country and we cannot keep hopes that things will get better. It is high time that the Army take over the country, put all politicians in house arrest and hand over the country to a successful businessman who can work as a CEO and build the economy. Give a free hand to that person to select competent people who can put the house in order. Army should restore law and order, create a disciplined society, get rid of ‘Underworld’ and eliminate drug dealers.

  • 8
    0

    Long overdue idea. We have had a succession of leaders who has outdone each other by how much more they can swindle from the public funds. Their path to power is through the stoking of religious and communal strife. None of the parties has a vision of life for the people. The sole question of our political life has turned on Sinhala Buddhism. The Buddhist clergy has encouraged this as it ensures perks for them. We await an honest leader like Lee Kwan Yew who had the power to galvanise a people. In the absence of such a person, instead of having thugs and killers of human beings clinging onto power by stoking hatred, let us field a new party of the leading business and professional figures of the country. Hope you keep plugging the idea Professor.

  • 0
    0

    as i have said before what we need is a truly national govt wherein all ethnicites are represented
    by the major parties
    so that there is no need for provinicial councils
    the international community will accept a govt when the tna is part of it
    i cannot envisage a new non political party at the present juncture

  • 11
    0

    It is only a person as distinguished as Prof. H.L. Seneviratne who can get away with the statement which acknowledges that what we have seen since independence has always been “a government of just the two major Sinhala Buddhist parties as the present government is.”
    .
    We have kept calling these National Parties, and it is true that there usually has been one Minister with a Tamil name, and another with a Muslim name in governments formed by these two parties. They were National in name, but “Sri Lankan” was equated with “Sinhalese”, with Buddhism also later tagged on. And so the Tamils and the Muslims tended to get drawn away to parties which overtly had names that signified their communities.
    .
    Yes, it is we Sinhalese who should wake up to the need to change the outlooks of our governments, and it needs a person with Prof. H.L. Seneviratne’s stature and standing to initiate this process.
    .
    The great need is to form such a group who have not compromised their integrity and to form a party around them. The burden laid upon us is to communicate this to the people so tht the entire country votes intelligently.

  • 3
    6

    Sinhala man
    If HL Seneviratne said that, then he was talking through his hat. Does he dismiss historical facts so summmarily? Does he forget that the DS Senanayake Govt ofthe UNP had 3 Tamil ministers Ponnambalam, Sutherlaingam, and Sittampala,m. Ponnambalam was given industries and Fisheries and what did he do? He ensured that the entirety of his ministerial budget was spent on the north and east. To him the rest of the country did not exist. Largest industrial venture in CeylOn was the Kankesantursi cement factory. There was also the Puttalam Cement factory, Valechenai Paper factory. There was enough evidence to support a major cement factory in the South but Ponnambalam simply ignored that.That kind of blatant misuse of ministerial office to support communal politics should be decried especially by Bamby pamby dogooders like HLS.

    • 8
      2

      Percy the pathetic

      ” Ponnambalam was given industries and Fisheries and what did he do? He ensured that the entirety of his ministerial budget was spent on the north and east. “

      Aren’t you a dumb ass?
      Those factories facilitated Sinhala/Buddhist colonization of the North through backdoor. More than half of the workers were brought from and employed in those respective factories, processed cement was taken from north to south for packaging.

      Even calling you dumb ass is too much of an accolade for you.

      Do you sometimes call yourself Lal loo?

      • 1
        1

        Stupid Tamil Vedda
        Do you expect anyone to believe that there are any Sinhalese living in the north? 99% of the employees of the Cement Factories wereTamils working in a factory built mostly out of the taxes from the majority of the population viz Sinhalese. Got it? [edited out]
        Who or what is an effing Lal I do not know and do not want to know,it sounds like another Dravidian SOB.

        • 1
          1

          Percy the pathetic

          “Who or what is an effing Lal I do not know and do not want to know,it sounds like another Dravidian SOB.”

          Lal loo is another liar and a stupid racist exactly like you.
          You do not know many things. It does not matter, just get on with your usual typing.

          Population of Northern Province
          Sinhalese
          1881 – 1,379 – 0.46%
          1946 – 9,602 – 2.00%
          1963 – 20,270 – 2.73%
          1971 – 39,511 – 4.50%
          1981 – 35,128 – 3.17%

          The Increase of Sinhalese population in the Northern province between 1881 and 1981 was 2,547.28%.

          These figures are extracted from Census Department Publications.
          Actually the figures above are for others not for you.

          Stupid is as stupid types. Keep typing.

          • 2
            1

            Stupid Tamil Vedda
            Why did you stop at 1981.Were there no censuses after that.?Give the corresponding figures for Tamils in the Northern Province.
            Why don’t you publish the no of Tamils in the Western Province for the same years. In Wellawatte the Tamils have outnumbered the Sinhalese whereas in 1881 there were no Tamils at all. It is recorded history that until 1826 only the Dutch, British and Sinhalese were permittted to own property in the Colombo Fort. Tamils and Muslims were not allowed.till the ban was lifted in 1826.

            • 1
              1

              Percy the pathetic racist;

              If you need information you should spend some time collecting and saving them prior to typing in these forums.

              I suggest you spend time in Colombo library, Peradeniya & Colombo uni Library and some money buying relevant books, magazines, reference books, journals, ….

              • 2
                0

                Stupid Tamil Vedda
                It is the height of cheek. A near illiterate Dravidian advising a learned man of Sinhala descent about books.
                A nice way of deflecting the queries that were directed at him. Stupid idiot!

                • 1
                  1

                  Percy the pathetic

                  “A near illiterate Dravidian advising a learned man of Sinhala descent about books.”

                  Who is this learned man of Sinhala descent if I may ask you lying dumb ass?

      • 2
        1

        This is breathtakingly stupid.Ponnambalam built a cement factory in KKS to facilitate Sinhala Buddhist colonisation of the North.! A totally deranged mind is becoming increasingly evident here.What stupidity even from a Stupid Tamil Vedda!

        • 1
          1

          Percy the stupid pathetic racist

          The location of Cement factory was chosen primarily for its proximity to resources, lime stone and clay. Any donkey would have known northern Sri Lanka is rich in limestone and Murunkan is rich in clay. The Kankesanthurai Cement Factory (KCF) was not meant exclusively for Saiva Vellala Northern Tamils. The successive government since 1956 found it conducive for colonization and a source of employment for Sinhalese. So was Paranthan chemicals.

          What is your problem kallathonie?

          • 1
            0

            Stupid Tamil Vedda
            Your stupidity has reached new levels!
            There is much more limestone deposits in the continental shelf around the South of SL.
            Never heard of a “continental shelf”? I thought as much. Semi literates like you feed on a mixture of thosai and poonac and your brains are located at your nether regions. Idiots like you should be banned from making public comments.

            • 1
              1

              Percy the stupid pathetic racist

              “Never heard of a “continental shelf”?”

              Who is talking about “continental shelf” in response to your typing dumb ass?
              You must be hallucinating after taking mind altering drug, in your case it is your Sinhala/Buddhism that makes you hear, smell, taste or feel things that don’t exist outside your mind.

              Go seek help.
              You are going to endanger your family, your most vulnerable great grand children.

        • 0
          0

          PErcy: govt had to transport HIRIGAL (CALCIUM CARBONATE) from GAlla.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Percy, and NV,
      .
      I think that I must acknowledge a degree of carelessness here.
      .
      It is I who have extended that description to cover all governments since independence. I didn’t mean to distort; I have said “one Minister with a Tamil name”, but as you say there probably were three; please excuse my not checking that even now.
      .
      As a general statement what I said is true; Ponnambalam doesn’t appear at any stage to have been sincerely concerned about the entirety of Tamil speakers – he allowed the Up-Country Tamils to be disfranchised: but then that is a subjective value judgement by me, and I ought not to rush in with vaguely true statements. I’d better not add to the facts stated. So, sorry.
      .
      Yes, such details are best left to disciplined scholars of History.
      .
      However, I do wish to affirm that my view is that we should have governments that are more inclusive.
      .
      And thanks, NV. As so often is the case, you are able to go beyond the bare politically correct statements. How you carry so much in one head is amazing.

  • 3
    0

    A non-political party in theory is good, but in a Sri Lankan context may not be feasible and realistic at the moment. What is needed is a “truly national government”. The country needs a ” no-nonsense strong leader ” at the top.

  • 4
    0

    Sir your point is well taken but the last paragraph is what concerns me. After all since the independence the people have not come out of the politicians trap. Even after 30 years of war and loosing thousands of citizens, both in JVP and LTTE struggles and natural catastrophe there is no signs at all in the attitude of the majority people ( if at all it just got worse with MR).Even the comments in these sites reflect the same. Whether it is economy, China trap or what ever of a major concern leads to argument on race and religion.Any wish about a change is just an illusion.A prefer it with a small correction. The people are idiots and the politicians are well aware of it.

    • 2
      0

      a good test to assess the capacity of the Sinhalese is to hold a plebiscite to find out whether they approve of the manner in which Chinese are creeping into Srilanka followed by India. This may indicate whether they are donkeys or asses.There after we can think of entering ‘politics’ without parties.

  • 2
    1

    The need for this type of organisation was met by the Liberal Party. Where is it today? Who voted for it?

  • 3
    1

    At least one person has come forward to write here and SOW the seeds of intelligence in building a “BRAND NEW” political culture. However, when I saw the presence of a gathering of “Viyaththu” of “Viyath Maga” of GR assembled to decide a course (in my opinion a CURSE) for Sri Lanka, it was felt that this sowing of seed of a new political culture could face a devastating drought of hegemony. Added to this “Ugly Head” of a “Monster” type, there are various types and cultures of groupings of draconian devils roaming around the country from North to South and West to East preying on the ill fated general populace for a comfortable survival. Yet, I am hopeful, because recently a “FEW” of the types this writer envisages have come forward to “SOW” that seed of “HOPE” for this country. One among that “FEW”, as I could have hopes is Mr. Nagananda Kodithuwakku, who was forthright to say : “All elected to Parliament will not be entitled to salaries, pensions and other perks and an MP would be “Honorary Position” in the service to people”. He fights for an “Independent”, “Clean” Judiciary for the country. Then there is a highly successful “Industrialist” by the name Pallewatta, yet another recent find. In like manner there could be found many such “Hopefuls” from all walks of life belonging to all communities who could see eye to eye and bound together for the common purpose of resurrecting this country from the precipitous down turn it is traversing today. This article and the underline campaign is the NEED of the hour and day that must receive the attention of all people. This is my wish and hope.

    • 0
      0

      Absolutely correct and in total agreement. Hope Prof H.L. Seneviratne will also join and strengthen the hand of the individuals coming to put matters right.

  • 1
    1

    One paragraph of your writing shows that your biases. Every time you came here and wrote something you showed you are Anti-buddhist. Other than that, I don’t know how you became what you are. I mean how do you write without understanding the fact. In brief, both parties have muslims and tamils. Both muslims and Tamils are over represented in the parliament. There are 62 three wheeler parties. Are you suggesting another three wheeler parties. Are you suggesting TEA PARty ?. Because you love ammerrica. What happened to them ?

    • 2
      2

      Jim softy the Dimwit

      Professor H. L. Seneviratne Emeritus spent many decades studying, researching, teaching, writing, …………….about his chosen subjects.

      What exactly is your problem?

  • 4
    0

    H.L. Seneviratne’s angst is shared by the silent majority of Lankans. His suggestion is idealistic.
    The term ‘Non-Political Party’ is an oxymoron. A party has to have a mission and politics will enter within second of formation of such a party.
    It is true, we have been led down the wrong path and we have followed. The very idea of Local Government is for locals to address local issues like schools, hospitals, roads and such common facilities and if necessary draw the attention of the ‘Centre’. We have moved away. At the recent LG elections, SLPP brought in national politics (the infamous language/religion-divide) – and “Haven’t they done well?”.
    .
    Politicians are into politics to enhance their personal wealth. In some countries they wait for lobbyists and change tax laws and the like, even go to war – all not to benefit the population at large. This is being talked about – for example the recent comment by former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg “….The greatest threat to American democracy isn’t communism, jihadism, or any other external force or foreign power. It’s our own willingness to tolerate dishonesty in service of party, and in pursuit of power.”
    .
    In Lanka (and neighbours) ‘New-Terrorism (NT)’ has evolved. (NT corruption/nepotism/impunity are legitimate). NT can only be overcome with people’s revolt.

  • 1
    2

    Jim softy the Dimwit

    Professor H. L. Seneviratne Emeritus spent many decades studying, researching, teaching, writing, …………….about his chosen subjects.

    What exactly is your problem?

    • 0
      2

      Stupid Tamil. Vedda
      If a notorious communalist like you praises a person with a Sinhalese name, then there is no second guessing about the persons credentials. [edited out]

      • 1
        0

        Dear Percy,
        .
        I fear that you go too far in your efforts to expose charlatans. I don’t think that NV can be described as such.
        .
        You once acknowledged to me that you like countering frauds, but that in the process you sometimes may be too provocative yourself.
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ashley-and-me/
        .
        It is the eighth on Page Two of the comments on that article. You were then quite frank, and showed that you are a decent man.
        .
        I fear that you, again, go to far here. I have no idea who Native Vedda is, but he does a fantastic job in posting thought-provoking comments, over a range of subjects. He, too, may sometimes get provocative and do something similar to what you are doing. But he ultimately ends up showing us positive, where as admissions such as you made to me are too rare.
        .
        These issues are serious. Please treat them as such, even if the comments end up being bland and unexciting.

        .

  • 0
    1

    Better promote Mr. Shamin Rasool………………….he is more concerned about the happenings in the country.
    For the Sinhalese, his appearance will appleal as he looks like a macho kalu Sinhala giant

  • 0
    0

    We share yr views Mr. Seneviratne, but to build up an independent org. to achieve such good objectives & giving Leadership is the difficulty ? we remember with what difficulties we initiated the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) led by Ven. SOBITHA as a Non- Political Non Party Org., but the People who flocked around it & supported wanted different things and it drifted away from its original objectives ? even the members who initiated the 10 point programme of Action became helpless to restrict its work to its original Non Party, Non Political Objectives ??
    Anyway Wish success to anybody who can Deliver such an Org. to achieve desired Hopes, as one of the former Asst. Secy + Treasurer of NMSJ – sent from USA.

  • 0
    0

    A good article. How to convince the people?

    • 0
      0

      AD: What will be the list of expectations from the new Common Candidate. IS this the Protestant struggle fo rdomination because LTTE lost.

  • 0
    0

    Thank you Sir and can I dare suggest we name this party “One Nation Party”. Is it possible we can have qualified(academic and work experience) people/fit for purpose for the respective role play representing the respective elections? can we have democratically elected leadership same as the Labour Party of UK, Can we have environmental issues/sustainable living (in addition to all the great concepts you mentioned) as the pillar of the party manifesto too, Gross national happiness is more important than the GDP’s? We can make SL the Centre of Science Technology to support her sustainable developments, race/religious are a private affair and nothing to do with the state however we all learn shall/Tamil and English together, Subjects that loose content during translation can then be taught in English too..such as Science and Maths etc, compulsory military service will bring communities together………..I do object one think you mentioned is devolution of power as is not required once we campaign for all the justice everyone wants…..when in power we ban all the language/religious parties too as they do not have a place in a just society…………with regard to existing parties they are just out of date and leave it as that……….only when in power we will realise how many geo political games we need to manage that will lead to eradication/deterioration of all the founding party believes/values…………that is what has happened in SL too and is starring on our face but we still do not get it and rather kill each other…..

  • 0
    0

    Any party we have in Sri Lanka “new” or “old” should be able to erect memorial for all our MOTHER LANKAN children/CITIZENS died since independence irrespective of the “rights and wrongs” because they were our children we collectively failed to PROVIDE a conducive environment as adults for them to survive/thrive even before their birth. It is called parental responsibility in any civilised/religious space. Should make this national day to mourn/reflect/clean up the country of all the ever so piling trash. This will “convince” people to love each other when we light candle for each others children and remember them all and their fate as armed forces or be it the armed groups irrespective of their religion/language. Should have national anthem mixed up of Sinhala and Tamil too. If we can not even mourn together the nations loss of life then what is there to live for etc.

  • 0
    0

    So, Sangakkakara is in the cards. What will be the expectation list fro him. What is his religion ?

  • 0
    0

    Prof: H.L.Seneviratne is a clear example of a Mountain stream flowing as a clear stream.
    The price good men pay for indifference to Public affairs is to be ruled by Evil
    men. – Plato.
    This in a nutshell says it all!

  • 1
    0

    The mountain stream should read as Mountain spring…..

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