Sri Lankan politics is never dull. Our political mentors of the post-independence era would not in their wildest dreams have ever anticipated the levels to which our country would decline, nor the Constitutional reforms and amendments that would be incorporated -all to enhance our democracy and the freedom we gained from our colonial oppressors.
The calibre of political leaders we had before we became a republic is of no importance to the present generation – they are just names and figureheads in history – which we keep alive with occasional memory jogging of our ‘Father of Independence’ or the likes of Sir John: or the last of that line Dudley Senanayake. With S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike there evolved a new swing in the thinking of the masses – a new doctrine – a new outlook and the birth of a new slogan “The Sinhala Buddhist” revival, which unfortunately has now got out of control – leading to conflicts among the clergy entering the arena and the nationalist parties of every race in the ring. The bull fight will continue with each bull charging at the other, but we have not got a matador capable of controlling these bulls.
It is no secret that the ministers, MPs, politically appointed heads of institutions and their entourage enjoy perks and facilities well above what they deserve at the cost of the poor tax payers. (Not that there are many taxpayers – if the CID does investigate they will unearth more files for the tax evaders in this category). This cross-section of rulers needs to remember that they are bound by oath to serve and uplift the country and the people they represent. It is most unfortunate that they all get terminal bouts of memory loss once they get elected. They forget the constituency they represent and the workload they should put in as ‘honest’ politicians.
Watching these leaders of our country on TV I have yet to hear them talk of what they propose for the future development of our country with a genuine earnestness or strategy. A vague mention of their ‘Chinthanayas’ or ‘mandates’ or ‘publications’ is made – something no one is so naïve to believe any more. So, where are those figures that the younger generation is to put their faith in?
The choice of vocabulary of most politicians today makes us think we should embark on a “Politicians Dictionary” which would be an eye-opener to those who use it when they coach their children and their grandchildren on the type of language they should use when addressing people in public. Neither have the political party heads reprimanded or advised against the use of bad language, their behaviour in Parliament which they are well aware has been witnessed by schoolchildren in the gallery and by the public at large on TV. These are not trivial facts – these are important to help to build a healthy, respectful nation.
Likewise the choice of a political candidate is important.
Popularity is not the priority in choosing a political candidate. His or her ability to engage in selfless service to the constituency he represents and his knowledge on politics and subjects related to thereof is. Experience does count. A politician must be like any other person holding office committed to the office he represents. Will a cricketer whom you and I very well know needs hours of practice daily to keep himself in shape and who wishes to take part in matches – internationally and locally, ever be able to do an “honest” day of work as a politician to the constituency he represents or any other Ministry he upholds?
Likewise, let’s have a peek at the stars that are “twinkling above us”. Some had not visited their birth town until recently – nor been aware of the shortages and problems those areas have experienced. As a shooting schedule appears the masses will have to sing.. “How I wonder where you are”.
Is it that they are the fading stars of yesteryear and now need the rejuvenating serum of political glamour?
We cannot ignore the fact that the political jungle is also full of ‘related species’. A few years ago an uncle – nephew connection caused much heartburn to some, now the prevailing scenario is causing near panic.
Discipline has been gradually eroding for the past couple of decades with both leaders bending to the demands of their disciples as their power was at stake.
Sri Lanka does need the input of young professionals – most of whom shun politics as they term it a “dirty game”. We need those who can contribute their knowledge and expertise. There are eminent figures in the private and public sector who would definitely lead us away from this ‘third world’ if they are given posts in the Government for their capabilities and not their political affiliations.
It is now up to our leaders to realize the war is won, let us not waste time in political shop talk and bashing each other’s ego. We need our country to go forward, to ease the heavy economic burden which is dumped on to the laps of our citizens by the heavy cabinet and the power hungry. It is not the advice of the astrologers nor the clergy that we need (they have exhausted their breath on deaf ears) but some common sense to realize we need to change the existing selfish ideas and visions held by most politicians, if our country is to journey onto a road of recovery. There may be a glimmer of hope at the end of the rainbow if the past mistakes are not repeated and a more responsible attitude is adopted by the governing powers.