Definition of a hypocrite is “The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.”
“The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.”
― William Hazlitt, Selected Essays, 1778-1830
The events which have been unfolding in the social landscape of Sri Lanka, particularly in the recent past, are so unsavory that to recount and analyse them is in itself is a painful exercise. As a nation we have lost direction in whatever we do as it is all hypocritical. Why is this so?
Let us unravel ourselves from the present to the past.
Development Eyewash – Hypocrisy No 1
This day the 18th of March 2013, sees the opening of the new airport in Hambantota. This is seen as a project extraordinaire, in the Miracle of Asia. Let us as a nation take our blinkers away from the pretense of needing such an edifice at a very steep cost of Rs 26 billion and the cordoning off of 2000 hectares of forest land for an airport, in an already environmentally compromised area.
Fooling oneself that such facilities are the need of the hour, and leading people up the garden path believing this is real development too is a type of hypocrisy. Not making a statement and going along with everything a state deems fit to do, makes us CITIZENS, hypocritical and cowardly. It is only fair that the citizenry makes a statement in order to clarify its views on various development and governance issues, so that the government feels the pulse of the people. If people do not make a noise, how is the state to know? To be fair by the state of course. However as the poorly governed status of the country portrays, even if the citizens who pay for all these grandiose schemes do make a protest, it will fall on deaf years. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the citizen to make our views known. Of course, there is that hypocritical segment of our society, who wine and dine at such openings and tamashas, laugh with the masters, say how wonderful the state of the country is and come away, to prepare for their next hypocritical exercise in diplomacy at some other do.
Do we really need an airport at this stage? Have tourist arrivals increased so drastically that people are beating their way to Sri Lanka. Is there such a rush at Katunayake like Heathrow or JFK, that we are almost unable to cope with a flurry of tourists? The Tourism Promotion Bureau gives figures that are suspect all the time. According to Tourism experts, the occupancy rate in December 2012 has been the lowest in three years. They ask how these increase in numbers of Tourist arrivals are given, when occupancy levels are falling? Based on this reality, do we need another Airport now? This has been planned for over 10 to 12 years and people never got serious as the need for this facility was really not felt. So, is it to appease the people of Hambantota, with such magnificent projects or to impress the rest of the world that Hambantota, the fiefdom of the leaders is highly developed or is it foolish but genuine intent to attract visitors? Let us break away from a hypocritical silence and chip away at the truth for a change. Will it be yet another white elephant of the South, that keeps away the real elephants, who face a disaster of environmental mismanagement according to those who are really knowledgeable about these matters? It is reliably understood that after an unsuccessful fiasco of elephant drives in this area, the human elephant conflict will be aggravated owing to this lopsided development scheme.
Looking at a reputed Global Index on Tourist Destination rankings, Euromonitor International, Sri Lanka has still not entered the 100 Highest Annual Tourist Arrival destinations of the world. The top three are Hongkong with 20 million, Singapore with 18 million and London with 16 million.
WITH 18 MILLION arrivals, Singapore has only 2 International Airports, Changi and Seletar. Changi handles most of the Tourist arrivals and is only 1300 hectares in extent with 4 terminals and 2 runways of 4 km each. It is also one of the most cost effective arrival venues.
In contrast for a mere 1 million tourists is Katunayake not sufficient?
The Irony of Paltry or Zero Allocations for Social Development
Much funds are needed to fully and meaningfully rehabilitate the Northern and Eastern Provinces and many pockets of people who are poverty ridden around the country. Shelter needs in these conflict affected areas are huge.
At least 20,000 housing units need to be built immediately in the Northern Province, to escape the Monsoon rains.
Donors who are much castigated have come together to support these people as the powers that be are busy building airports instead of much needed shelters.
The treatment of donors is hypocrisy at its worst. The message to donors has been “you are bad for Sri Lanka, please don’t divide us. There are hidden forces working through foreign Missions. This is all an imperialist plot to divide and rule Sri Lanka and convert it into a Christian state.
A 30 month project “Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing” targets the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Batticaloa, and will assist 4,000 conflict affected families to reconstruct and repair their damaged houses. It is funded by the European Union, Government of Australia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by UN-Habitat and SDC. Housing construction will be undertaken using a “Home Owner Driven” process, in which owners are directly granted the funds. Housing for 4000 families will be assisted with USD 20 million.
The cost of the Airport in Mattala in USD is 260 million. Simplistically calculated this amount would cover the housing needs of 52,000 families.
It should not be forgotten by our hypocritical and cowardly citizens who do not stand up for anything that education has yet to receive the promised 6% of the GDP. The academics were taken for a ride with many promises in order to get them back to work. Now they too are being hypocritical.
Militant Religious Resurgence – Hypocrisy No 2
A quote from ― Kyle Idleman (on Christianity, but apt for the Bodu Bala Mania) sums the current phase of Buddhist hysteria “These religious types were the fans that Jesus/? seems to have the most trouble with. Fans who will walk into a restaurant and bow their heads to pray before a meal just in case someone is watching. Fans who would go to R-rated movies at the theater, but have a number of them saved on their DVR at home. Fans who may feed the hungry and help the needy, and then they make sure they work it into every conversation for the next two weeks. Fans who make sure people see them put in their offering at church/temple, but they haven’t considered reaching out to their neighbor who lost a job and cannot pay the bills. Fans who like seeing other people fail because in their minds it makes them look better. Fans whose primary concern in raising their children is what other people think. Fans who are reading this and assuming I âm describing someone else. Fans who have worn the mask for so long they have fooled even themselves.”
Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or Buddhist Power Force supporters are aptly described in the above quote. This movement which does not see much logic and reasoning, who are as bad as converters to Christianity through the Sword are on a witch hunt of Muslims and Islam at the current moment. Earlier it was the targeting of the Christians and attacking of churches, now turned towards mosques and Muslims.
Members of the BBS
Another is that it is supported substantially by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who turns to evil strategy whenever it suits him. This is highly probably as he is a ruthless, dictatorial, fundamentalist, opportunist. The BBS is an ideal substrate for his machinations. The government certainly needs to distract the polity as they are beset with a multitude of non delivery on promises to the people and a number instances where people of this country have been totally hoodwinked. The Campaign of the BBS lays much emphasis on the suitability of having pure Sinhala Buddhist leaders. So Gotabaya may also support them to keep his brother in power by getting BBS to do propaganda for this eminently suitable leader who can now appear for a third terms as well.
Bodu Bala is also spewing a campaign of hatred and lies about Islam and the Muslims, with unbelievable spouting of rubbish regarding forced conversions, fertility reducing oils and sweets given by Muslims, the suddenly dangerous impact of the Halal label, hounding of the Hijab, drastic increases in populations among the Muslim community etc etc. The understandably hypocritical state, of course is standing by uttering a few deterring but insincere statements at suitable intervals. The state has not taken a strong stand on prohibiting this kind of unacceptable behavior.
But the sane and sound minded Sinhala Buddhist hypocrite from the citizenry is not even pointing a finger at BBS. As a Buddhist, the writer is deeply ashamed of the silence of the majority who do not even like to utter a word against such fanatical fascism.
Is Sri Lanka going to be plunged into another 3 decades of bloodletting by turning a convenient blind eye? Not surprising.
The 2 illustrations of Hypocrisy Nos 1 and 2 are only but two examples. There are 100s. Sri Lankans awake from your hypocritical slumber!!