14 December, 2019

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Where To Be Born: To Be Or Not To Be

By Ravi Perera

Ravi Perera

In the aftermath of the impeachment of the Chief Justice, with the nation’s psyche still defiled with the ugly  debris of the  political/legal battle of a  wrenching saga which  gripped us for nearly two months, one could have easily by-passed the “where to be born index 2013”.  Evaluating various socio-economic measurements is not a luxury a nation perpetually in crisis can indulge in. Given the  drab  realities of our existence, wishfully thinking of the “the best cities to live in, the top 10 tourist destinations in the world, countries with the highest quality of life, the best restaurants , the cities with the richest cultural life etc” seems a fanciful activity with no possible gain to be had.  Besides, for the 20 million souls calling Sri Lanka their home the question of the best place to born in 2013 is a question a life time too late. But where the yet to be born are concerned, perhaps a question of responsibility for those considering parenthood.

Just to put you in the picture, according to this index Sri Lanka is an unimpressive # 63 among about 70 nations surveyed as to the best place to be born in, if such a choice were to be available to the unborn. Switzerland leads   as the most desirable place to be born with Norway and Australia right behind it. The United States is at 16 while Great Britain has fallen back to a not so impressive 27(Japan is at 25). To get a better idea of the index we must look at the scores of each country. Switzerland the No #1 scored 8.22 while Great Britain gets 7.01, the difference between being about 1.21 points. Sri Lanka at # 63 scores 5.71while Nigeria the worse country to be born in, scores 4.74.

It may be argued that although it is not considered a good place to be born in, things are looking up for those like us who are ex post facto. After all, we have a President who is on a crusade against corruption in high places, a leader of the opposition whose broad forehead   perhaps is indicative of a head well crammed with details of sub-clauses and protocols   of international covenants before which we would slip and a Chief Justice committed to the hilt to national unity and nation building. What more can a nation asks for in the leadership department, one may ask?

But surveys such as the best place to be born (in 2013) give a darker, even sinister, interpretation to this golden picture. If one were to go by the declarations by the government news media, the shrill tone which belies the genuineness of its assertion notwithstanding, the country is presently run by a passionately patriotic cabal   extremely sensitive to constitutional niceties .So what is the truth? Is the truth with those far-a-way-surveyors working on various data in the comfort of nice places to be born in? Or is the truth with that unprepossessing   looking mob shouting themselves hoarse in front of the Parliament House( built with Japanese  money and skills in the late 1970s) about the sovereignty of parliament ?

There was a poignant scene at one point in their demonstration. Two gleaming four wheel drive vehicles stopped by the sweaty slovenly looking crowd. From one of the vehicles alighted a well groomed politician dressed in sparkling white, obviously on his way to the parliament. His security detail took up position ready for any eventuality. The politician spoke to the crowd. The crowd smiled happily and cheered. The politician got back to his vehicle which then whizzed towards the parliament.

When parliamentarians like Wimal Weerawansa and Ranil Wickramasinghe speak of the concept of the sovereignty of the parliament it is obvious that they are talking about a very foreign idea. The idea of the parliament evolved in far away Britain. It  is  amazing that a country to which the notion of a bath is said to have been introduced only in the  Roman era ended up a few centuries later as one of the greatest nations in the world ever. The idea of a parliament is only one of the innumerable contributions to the world, by that nation in its effloresce. In contrast, our style of government seems to have remained   unchanged from the time of King Vijay to Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, two thousand years later. We developed no parliaments, comparable courts of law or for that matter any other democratic institution as recognized today.  Nothing changed; every new event unfolded only a part of a revolving chain.

In the mimicking of cultures and institutions of another civilization, have we missed the essence? Was the virulent attacks on an almost defenseless Chief Justice and the nearly orgiastic ending of that drama the bricks and mortar on which the idea of a parliament was built? Surely the sovereignty of the parliament or for that matter any other institution means anything only if it is there to improve, strengthen and enhance human freedoms and dignity. That is the bedrock of the system we have adopted. Even a criminal is presumed to be innocent, the case against him must be proved beyond reasonable doubt before a select panel of his peers and after all that he still has a number of appeals available. It is a process that has won the acceptance of peoples far and wide.

It is said that in England the mere presences of an unarmed policeman is sufficient to bring most situations under control. His power comes from the acceptance by the populace of the essential justness of the British systems. In Sri Lanka on the other hand we saw that despite all the power play of the impeachment motion and the subsequent swearing in of another Chief Justice only naked power ensued its execution. Where such naked power has to be unleashed we surely cannot argue that there is general acceptance as well.

The motley crowd that greeted their representative in front of the parliament that day has another reason to cheer now. It is reported that the legislature may, in the event any one of them is arrested by the Police, extend the period of that detention, before he is to be produced before a magistrate. In other words, he will not have the protection of the law for a much longer period. But of course   as their slogan said   the parliament is sovereign.

It may be that the “truth” of any situation is relative.  That day the crowd saw no wrong in the manner of their transport, the meals provided and even the payments made in return for their services. It mattered not that they had no real idea of what they were doing. That is the truth of an existence for those fated to be born in a not so desirable place. But in this world there are other realities, other truths as much as other parliaments.  But one day if that crowd of simple people were to ask as Hamlet did “To be or not to be, that is the question:/Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/ or to take arms against a sea of troubles/and by opposing, end them”, will the truth appear very different?

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Latest comments

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    A mirror held to see ourselves, as a nation, today.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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    Bunch of fools who know very little but, too unintelligent ,even to know that., and prays for divine intervention and rely on soothsayers!!!

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    Sri Lankans appear far from civilistaion.

    1. If the Westerners did not colonise us we will be still Veddahs roaming the jungles, killing each other, “might would have been right” without rule of law and judiciary, let alone accounting financially and corruption. We will be wearing amude and not trousers, bows and arrows and not guns. This would have made us uncivilised in this world.

    2. LTTE was formed because of ultra racism and perverted Buddhism causing repression and murder of Tamils, an uncivilised character of the Sinhalese, nearing barbarism. Liberation movements such as LTTE were the good reason to liberate the people of more than 30 African countries. Therefore LTTE was a necessity caused by Sinhala barbarism.

    3. The western inaction was more out of indifference than “divide and rule”.

    4. Sri Lanka is not a small country. No one must cheat himself and others. There are at least 38 countries smaller than SL.

    5. The island of “SL” has two nations with different culture, character and aspirations. The only way to live peacefully would be to allow each nation to have its autonomy in its territory by a new constitution, as the present “constitution” is illegally formed and flawed with several amendments- about 18- to put in order, And the “constitution” has became more flawed.

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      @Sarwan
      Might has become right once again in Sri RajaPakistan, formerly known as Ceylon and Sri Lanka. The Sinhala racists egged on by the present ‘One Family’government have now started hounding the muslims. Brace yourselves for another ethnic war that will be used by this government to bring out the blind patriotism of the majority and and cover up their corruption and the rising cost of living. A country continuously at war with multiple enemies is the only formula that despotic regimes have to stop the masses from trying to overthrow them. When thinking about the pathetic state this country has fallen into, a few famous quotes from George Orwell comes to mind…

      “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

      “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

      “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

      “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship.”

      “Patriotism is usually stronger than class hatred, and always stronger than internationalism.”

      “Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.”
      …well for the moment the Rajapaksas’ seem unbeatable but the Buddha said, “Nothing is permanent,” which is something all right thinking people of this country can look forward to one day.

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        AGREED,

        BUT, SO CALLED SINHALESE BUDDHISTS ” JARPASSA CLAN” NEVER BELIEVE THE NOBLE WORDS,

        ” NOTHING IS PERMANENT “,

        PREACHED BY LORD BUDDHA.

        THANKS,
        BUDDHIST SINHALESE.

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      Sarwan says:

      ” If the Westerners did not colonise us we will be still Veddahs roaming the jungles, killing each other, “might would have been right” without rule of law and judiciary”

      I beg your pardon. Where did you get the idea that Veddahs roam the jungles to kill each other. This is a sweeping comment without any evidence. Could you let me have cite of your evidence.

      I suggest you spend a spell in the jungle to learn about my people.

      Before the advent of your white masters there were kingdoms, judiciary and people albeit most of them were descendants of Kallathonies.

      Your ignorance knows no bound.

      You say:

      “LTTE was formed because of ultra racism and perverted Buddhism causing repression and murder of Tamils,”

      LTTE may be the product of an undemocratic state, but VP’s objective was completely opposite to what you suggest. The stupid Tamils were cowed down by the Psychopath and his henchmen for nearly 25 years. The idea that liberating stupid Tamils from ultra racism and perverted Buddhism was a noble idea but the Tamils ended up as captors under Polpotish brute VP.

      You say:

      “The island of “SL” has two nations”

      On what basis?

      I say there is only one people it is my people and rest of them are Kallathonies from North or South India. You might find your respective nations in your original homelands in Tamilnadu or Venga.

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    Can this type of behaviour and mindset be tolerated by a nation that boasts of 2500 years of civilization? Civilization results in cultured and refined behaviour, principles and values. If the end result is so putrid and smelly, one wonders what we are talking about. This type of behaviour is occuring at the highest echelons of power.

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    Where to be born survey is an excellent yardstick for any government to use as a measure of the happiness of the population. The Central Bank should consider bringing the relevant indicators to the Central Bank Annual Report. With a ranking of 63, Sri Lanka is ahead of other South Asian countries. I hope we will at least retain our ranking through damage control measures.

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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    MARA is questioning on the validity of UN, CW, USA and other countries who helped him to win the terrorist war.

    Therefore it is time for International community to come down hard on Rajapakse Regime until it RE-instate CJ Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake.
    ————————————————————————-
    Some of the Measures could be.
    ———————————–

    1)Total travel Ban on President ,Govt.Ministers and their Families….as most of their official Meetings are mere Pleasure trips wasting people’s money.

    2) Freeze all aid given to Govt. and direct them through INGO’s.

    3)All IMF, WB Lonas be given only on condition that GOVT. should use them only on people and should stop importing duty free vehicles for Ministers and Govt.Goons.

    4)Restriction on Tourists visiting Sri Lanka

    5) Cancel CHOGM and ban Sri Lanka participating from CW,UN and international conferances, functions and meetings.

    6) Trade restrictions and freeze concessions given to GOSL.

    7)Direct all help given to Minority communities and people in need, such as building houses, community centers and Childrens and adult homeless shelters etc. to Local Charities, NGO’s and Red Cross, Lion’s club, Rotary Clubs etc…..and not to GOSL.

    8)Direct nutrition programmes, health care and education on needy people to the above Charities.

    9)Freeze all Foreign Personal bank accounts, fund accounts, assets, real estate and shares invested by all Govt. Ministers and their family members.

    10)also International community should be ready to assist citizens if Govt.Instigate another violence similar to 1983 Racial violence against Minority Tamil community….but this time against it’s own Sinhala community or any other Community.

    11)Also all the International business related commers, Trade and Currency transactions, deals and development contracts and projects should be freezed due to unavailability of proper and recognized Judiciary system or a Chief Justice.
    Therefore until CJ Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake is re-instated all these contracts and projects should be freezed.

    12) Give a dead line to Re-Instate CJ madam Shirani Bandaranayake and to get reid of all Govt. Corruptions, thuggery, intimidation and white van abductions and threats etc……and if GOSL does not agreed, use Internal and External pressure for Regime Change.

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    An outstanding piece. Wish every sri lankan reads it with an open mind.

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    Jayantha,

    Yr recommendations are well said and that is the need of the hour, all right thinking citizens and international communities must now gather and implement all recommended suggestions to maintain rule of law, justice, equality, fairplay and protect the judiciary. Its time the masses get together join forces to maintain law and order, peace and equality and eliminate the rajasakkiliyas and their mafia families from the face of this earth.

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    No! Who said it? Sri Lanka should have been No.1. These LTTE supporters bribed those people to push its name in to the last position, just like they do to all those western countries, organizations, media and individuals, bla bla bla.

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    All the anti government forces in SriLanka along with the Tamil Diaspora and Navar Pillai from the UN have joined together to undermine and subvert the great leader Mahinda and his government. The Government should now now take steps to dismantle these evil forces. The traitorous Black Coats need to be sidelined and not given any government support. The ExCJ’s affairs and all 15 charges should be again investigated and should be dealt in a Court of Law. The anti Government stooge judges in the Supreme Court should be removed. No government can function with antigovernment traitors in high positions obstructing government development plans.

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      Sudu Akka is brainwashed as it is the case with many of the illiterate masses in the country. She has much more common with the shanty dwellers that ate kiribath immediately the still legitmate COUNTRY^s CJ was impeached by MR^s unconsitutional actions.

      If Sudu Akka^s ilk could realize all these – they could better help the folks NOT helping UNO and other instituations – going to impose the next resolutions in the March Meeting.

      Now the IC feel that the need of MR on Hague court is becoming mandatory.

      Sudu akkas folks can sing the song together with the uneducated bunch in and out of parliament, but reality will be shown to all soon than later.

      Nothing more to say- rulers behave .. with citzentry as was the case with Rizana.

      Letting them to beheahd the poor girl – now offering the family 1 million rps. – Unedcuated MR and his acts will be written our history…

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    Sudu Akka you are probably one of a kind. A sick mind

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    I have waited in Quatar several times to take my transit.

    No wonder that those people are connected with those punishments from the stone ages. People are prImitive by all means. Their soils are rich but majority of people are not literate.

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