We have heard the story of the dog in the manger. Our ancient kings are known to have disguised themselves and travelled about to obtain vital information directly from the people. They ruled the country without listening to gossip. It is not so today. I believe the affairs of the country are now looked after [...]


True loyalty need of the hour


We have heard the story of the dog in the manger. Our ancient kings are known to have disguised themselves and travelled about to obtain vital information directly from the people. They ruled the country without listening to gossip.

It is not so today. I believe the affairs of the country are now looked after by both the media and what everyone is going about talking or gossiping. That is why I thought of addressing those who are governing, those who are similarly involved and the general public. Lot of people live lazily but with great expectations. They expect things to happen. They wait till they are hired and promoted, wait for housing and other benefits. Waiting by doing nothing is useless. It is foolish to wait till help comes from outside.

It is the duty of the Government to provide what the people need. Helping people privately is not the norm. The trend, however, is to expect most things from the Government, and when that fails we change the Government and start going behind the newly elected people. Because of this, though educated, we do not make much progress.

In most other countries, where education is provided by the state, people study, get themselves qualified and achieve their goals on their own strength. In five to six years, they reach their target. It is good to rise up on our own steam with, of course, whatever is dished out by the state. But since what happens here is different, people look to the Government for housing and even toilet facilities. So an election is important. There is a market for new candidates as well as the previous candidates.

It is around sixty years since I came into residence in Colombo. I remember the life in Colombo then. I also remember how Singapore was about four or five decades back. At that time, Singaporeans took water to a bucket and bathed themselves. There was a small bucket even in the toilet. So it was what we called the ‘bucket system’ there. When the ‘bucket system’ was in operation in public in Singapore, in Sri Lanka we had proper sewerage and drainage systems. Singapore developed on its own even after importing the much needed water. Likewise Dubai, a desert land developed. Why has this development not taken place here?

Compared to other countries, natural disasters are minimal here. But we now have landslides and earthslips. Some of these have been the result of building toilets and pits on hilly areas. Hospitals are full of patients. We have introduced chemicals and harmful fertilizers to our ecosystem. Quality standards are not maintained. People fall sick. It’s time the leaders got out and had a closer look. I remember President Premadasa going about unnoticed and getting first hand information about things. We had not come across a similar leader but we have had several leaders who looked into the needs of the people. The public servants have an important role to play.

There was a time that educated rich of Hong Kong emigrated when they feared that Europeans were leaving the country. But the indigenous Chinese who remained behind took the country forward with the development policies of the British. In a few months those who emigrated realised their folly and returned to the country. It is not the case here. Many of our young who are benefited by the free education become doctors, engineers and accountants and go abroad and make those countries rich. They even sell their properties here and deposit money abroad making the banking systems outside rich. We are not benefited. It is forbidden for Indians to take anything out of the country. They work to enrich their country. This is one of the main reasons why they are developing.

Many are talking a lot about tourism these days. But if a proper census is taken we will know the correct picture. Tourists pay to their agents for their tour in advance. Even a couple of months after their departure the money has not arrived here in Sri Lanka. Though the tourists have paid in advance for their stay in hotels, their transport, we do not get the money as soon as we should. This has to be looked into immediately.

Once upon a time I was living in Britain and even had voting rights there. Also I was an American citizen once. But I did not want to continue living in those countries. Since I have been abroad, I have studied the world outside and can express many ideas. After the war, the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa redeveloped and beautified Colombo in preparation for the Commonwealth Summit. Even I warned him when he was doing this as I feared that this is something like putting the shoulder to the wheel.

When changes are made it is customary to meet challenges and reversals. This is what happened at the last Presidential election. When a city is developed, tourism gets a boost and the economy begins to breathe again. People must feel happy. But this does not happen always.

There was a time when goldsmiths from here went to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and even Tanzania. But today we import jewellery. You can take 4 ½ kilos of gold to India without any charge. But to bring in a piece of copper or iron we have to pay a tax here. Even the bowl for the monks is taxed. I am not saying that we should not charge a tax. But to be reasonable. Racketeers bring in container loads of contraband but the small man who brings in minor goods is fleeced.

Those days we had unions affiliated to political parties such as the SLFP, the UNP, the Communist Party and the LSSP. Now they are virtually dead. What we now have are ‘one man shows’. Today many trade unions rise not to protect but sometimes to also advance and protect the powerful. They rise up as unions to protect those who rob and steal from the enterprises. Trade unions must operate to protect the institutions and rise up against those who destroy them. The workers of today have lost loyalty to the institutions. We have to change this attitude.

Gotabaya Rajapakse got into real trouble by trying to make Colombo beautiful. Today some are asking as to why we should have parks, and walkways. These same people are making use of this facility. Lord Buddha preached against plucking a little branch from a tree that gives us shade. The people who follow in his footsteps have become so ungrateful. They even lack gratitude to their own parents. So the first liberation must be to transform people so that they would be true to themselves, family, institution and to the country. There are no colours, parties, castes and religions to true loyalty. If we transform our people to be loyal and grateful, we would solve many a problem and attain much.

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