By Upatissa Pethiyagoda –
The implicit trust that was placed on the Yahapalana (better named the Nethipalana), has betrayed the hopes of some 60 lakhs of voters. This is a very serious matter. Medical Science has yet to discover a pill to cure “stupidity”. But, as with many things, adversity brings out the best of a people. Witness the way our people reacted in the aftermath of dispatching the injured to Hospital. The extremely wise words of His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, undoubtedly calmed people – thus possibly averting a deadly and destructive reaction. The visits of the Maha Sangha to the wrecked churches, the sight of monks sweeping up the debris in the compound of an attacked church, the joint meetings of the Leaders of our major religions, should warm the hearts of us all. But, (Hon?) Mangala Samaraweera, as is his habit, firmly put his foot in his mouth when making public his wish to “report” him to the Pope. At most, he will create a “Papal chuckle. Does our Minister wear oversized shoes or sport a huge mouth, or both? This even tops the howl of protest, when it was suggested to sing the National Anthem in Tamil – this in a country that endlessly repeats its effort to create inclusivity, co-operation, national unity, integration, harmony and an exemplary mosaic that celebrates our diversity. What absolute drivel.
There is also the valuable lesson that our own folks can handle things much better than any politicians could – that we can get on fine, even when the leadership is abroad (Singapore) or elsewhere. Can’t we get by without separatist political obsessions? Much time has been wasted, bickering about persons to blame, and considering timing and sequence of elections. Should we really care about such trivialities? After seventy years of a failed experiment, is it not time for some “lateral thinking”? Is there no talent in this country, beyond some families and their progeny? Should not the reservoir of talent of managerial experience, now adorning the private sector, be tapped? We certainly have it all. I am not one with experienced politicians, who believe that none outside the two main Parties can succeed in a bid for the presidency.
I think that we can bring about this much needed change in the Presidency and in Parliament. All the major parties have debased and devalued themselves so comprehensively, that I am hopeful. We may see a revolutionary change. In the pre-occupation with what are truly irrelevant, there is still a mood for change. The major factor will be the young, first time voters who realize that the present journey can only take them to ruin. Even if not immediately, in the long run.
I believe that a failed revolution is better than a fully successful one. A 360 degree change will only bring us to the same point, a 180 degree turn is what we ne need. For any success, an aspirant will be called upon to make a complete and public exposure of his assets along with his nomination, and annually thereafter. These should be accessible by the public, and not merely filed away in a locked safe. He should also make a solemn promise that he himself will not jump into the same well of dishonesty and pillage – and will allow for his removal at the mere whisper of corruption. Politics is one profession (I wish I could think of a better word, perhaps “service”) where “experience” is a disadvantage. It is a demonstrable truth that “experience” it only allows them help in learning the “trade” of deceit by aspiring entrants.
Current practices also result in tenacious and inferior products, who are long beyond their “best before date”. Some (very few) do retire, when their time is up, or when their conscience does not allow them to compromise their morals, or they have out-lived their usefulness. We have had times when men acted on principles and conscience, and viewed election as a sacred trust, and not a license to rob. The up and coming generation should render divisive words such as Sinhala, Tamil, Catholic, Goigama, Karawe, Kandyan and all such labels as obsolete. Very soon, it will be only Members who will continue to address each other as “Honourable, Garu or Athi-garu.” Respect, admiration and honour are to be won, and not imposed from outside or by legislation.