Knocking tortoises off their perch
Politicians are said to be like tortoises perching on fence posts. There is no way they can reach such heights on their own and those who elevate them can always bring them down. But, intriguingly, people forget that sovereignty resides in them and treat the political tortoises as demigods.
It is heartening that some Sri Lankans have, at long last, told politicians where to get off. The Sainthamaruthu-Malikaikkadu Jummah Mosque in Kalmunai has declared that its congregation consisting of more than 28,000 members will stop supporting all political parties until a separate local government authority is created for them.
Today’s main letter on the opposite page tells us that the protesting people have warned that they will field independent candidates at future elections under the guidance of the board of trustees of the grand mosque if their demand goes unheeded. They have also decided against inviting politicians to public functions in their area.
The people of Sainthamaruthu-Malikaikkadu apparently suspect gerrymandering of sorts and their consternation is understandable. They point out that the government has undertaken to create some new local government areas in the Nuwara Eliya District at the behest of a yahapalana minister. They are reported to have burnt effigies of some prominent politicians as part of their public protest campaign. We don’t approve of burning anyone in effigy. However, the people of Sainthamaruthu-Malikaikkadu deserve plaudits from their fellow countrymen for sinking political differences and joining forces to knock some political tortoises off their perch. ‘Even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forbear to cheer,’ one may say.
Let the people of Sainthamaruthu-Malikaikkadu be urged not to invite politicians to their functions even if their demand for a separate local authority is granted. It defies comprehension why politicians should be invited to non-political events. A member of the National Elections Commission points out in an article we publish today that about 94 MPs have not passed the GCE O/L examination. These politicians must be sent back to school. They must be made to learn reading, writing and basic arithmetic. Whether they can understand anything about the national budget is doubtful. Perhaps, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s assessment of the MPs is right; he famously said, when the first bond scam came to light in 2015, that MPs did not know Treasury bonds from James Bond!
When semi-literate, self-conceited politicians are invited to public functions, taken in colourful processions with the educated, intelligent people dancing attendance on them, children who attend such gatherings get the wrong message; they cannot be faulted for thinking that learning is an exercise in futility. For, they can drop out of school, take to politics and go places like their representatives enjoying VIP status. We are not short of eminent persons of international repute who have done the country proud. They are the real VIPs who should be invited to public functions so that they can inspire children and the youth.
At school functions, politicians wax eloquent ad nauseam on obnoxious political issues, taking swipes at their opponents without saying anything at all to inspire young minds in the audience. Some of them even go so far as to wash political dirty linen. With such politicians at the helm, does this country need any enemies?
As Henry Ford once said that if you have giants in key positions of an organisation then you will have a team of giants and if you have dwarfs therein then you will be left with a team of dwarfs. For, dwarfs with chips on their shoulders, out of jealousy and insecurities, prevent capable persons from joining the organisation. This is what has happened to Sri Lanka. Countries like Singapore have overtaken us because they have highly qualified, capable, technocrats in key government positions. A cursory glance at the list of Singaporean ministers and their dazzling qualifications will help one realise why we are lagging behind the affluent city state. It is high time Sri Lankans stopped the age-old practice of electing dwarfs of all political stripes to represent them.
Let all temples, churches, kovils and mosques be urged to emulate the example set by Sainthamaruthu-Malikaikkadu Jummah Mosque and keep the politicians who are full of themselves and notorious for their broken promises, reminded that they are only tortoises on fence posts.