Independence: Abuse And Responsibilities

Sunday Leader Editorial

When thinking of the Independence of a nation it is prudent to reflect on the past to get a perspective on the present state of affairs as well as the direction in which the nation is heading.

Our ancient stupas, creations of the hydraulic civilisation the remains of which still cause amazement, are remembered as creations of fabled monarchs of those times. But the true creators of those massive monuments were never accorded a place in history – those who built them with their tears, toil, sweat the cost of their lives and those of their loved ones. The monuments were named after the ‘Great Kings’.

This was not peculiar to Lanka. The Wonders of the World such as the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal bear the names of despotic rulers of those times.

Cartoon added by TW from Ceylon Today

We recall this historical injustice soon after our 69th anniversary of Independence to show that this injustice is perpetrated in contemporary times as well – certainly in our country. Modern colossi are named after so called democratic leaders of our time though the funds for the projects come from poor citizens, through indirect taxes. The poor who could not afford to purchase their basic necessities had prices hiked to pay for these projects. Highways, byways, by lanes, avenues, harbours, airports, stadiums – for all of which the poor had to pay taxes, whether they brought in returns or not.

During the ‘glorious past’, Dutu Gemunus and Parakrama Bahus, they were the lords of the people. Their sycophants, the stone inscribers and historians on palmyrah leaves (Talpath) – the progenitors of the Laptop Journalists of the recent past – recorded the doughty deeds for the ‘Serene Joy’ of the people. But we are now in the era of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka where the people themselves are the lords and masters of the people. There can be no reincarnations of past greats.

In the present, can we be satisfied with the progress made during the past 69 years of Independence? Countries that were in a chaotic state, particularly in South East Asia – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam in the fifties are now way ahead of us. Even India has become a regional giant with the fastest economic growth in the world, Indians claim.

Sri Lanka is vacillating between a dubious 4 to 5 per cent growth.

According to World Bank report of 2015, 23 per cent of Sri Lankans – lived below the poverty line – below $ (US) 1.25per day, around Rs. 180 per day. This is certainly alarming though all political parties are more concerned about grabbing or retaining power more than growth rates.

(Cartoon from internet)Image result for Independence Sri lanka cartoons

That is the stark reality we have to keep reminding ourselves and not how the Yahapalanaya government could be toppled and proven failures reinstalled, as very many are attempting to do.

The pro-Rajapaksa rally at Nugegoda last week had as its preamble ‘The Beginning of a Revolution’. The purpose for a revolution seemed to be to topple the government. This could be done with the will of the people at the next elections scheduled for 2020. But the revolutionaries seemed to be in an awful hurry. They wanted Mahinda Rajapaksa installed but he did not spell out how he could save the people now gripped by the bonds of poverty even though he had ruled Sri Lanka for 9 consecutive years.

Undoubtedly, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, two years in office, is in difficulties like most democratic governments in their first two years in power are. They have been rightly criticized but they have mandate for another three years to live up to their pledges. That is in accordance with the accepted norms of democracy even though not in accord with wayward revolutionaries.

Every significant political move made by the government has been opposed tooth and nail with ready and sycophantic mobs rushing on to the streets to create chaos. Stupid and idiotic protests made against SAITM, a private educational institution [approved by the Rajapaksa administration] awarding medical degrees and is being opposed by the highest of medical institutions tainted by anti-government political elements is typical of the obstructions of the undemocratic opposition.

After years of long conflicts on SAITM on the streets, academia, medical council students’ unions and parliament the Court of Appeal ruled last week that medical students of SAITM can register with the Sri Lanka Medical Council – thus enabling students of the private medical institution to practice medicine in this country.

But no! The Sri Lankan Medical profession – at least those in control – consider themselves to be a tribe to have descended from the Sun God. They won’t accept the decision of the Court of Appeal. The medical trade union GMOA has declared that they would give the government one week to resolve the issues stemming from the court decision before it launched an indefinite strike!

That means the sick that turn up at hospitals for succour and those admitted would be left to die unless the government succumbs to their demands. The medics are worried about an esoteric ‘quality of medical standards’ but what of the ‘standards’ patients on forking out Rs. 1,500 per consultation are faced with? Hang on for hours for the ‘gods’ to turn up and be turned away after two to three minutes!

These are the children that were blessed with free education from kindergarten to post graduate level now blackmailing the people who paid their hard earned money for their education through taxes direct and indirect.

If this is not the freedom of the ingratiate buffoons blackmailing the people that educated them, what is? Yes, they have absolute freedom but is this the way to safeguard the nation’s independence?

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