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Too long a state of misery for Sri Lankans


Sadly there is no revolution to overturn this chaos in sight
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“On the other hand, the major political parties too have not appreciated the current circumstances in the country and are virtually at the throats of each other. Emperor Nero never played his fiddle with such disastrous consequences as his spirit does today in Sri Lanka. Every political party in Sri Lanka is foul and unworthy of calling themselves leaders of a nation. Corruption is so rampant that just every other person in the country has to be bribed to get a move forward ranging from hundreds of rupees to millions depending on what is switched and swapped in the process.”
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(June 26, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka’s post-independent gravitation towards anarchy, increasing in its intensity after every election is a saga of implausible political short-sightedness. This has been further blinded by racist and religious bigotry outpouring from an unacceptable concept seized by wily politicians on the false presumption that this country must only belong to the Sinhala Buddhist and none other. In the years previous to independence, Junius Jayewardene flirted with this blinkered dogma and after independence, it was Solomon W R D Bandaranaike who rode to power on the tragic Sinhala Only hyperbolic hysteria.
It hurt the Tamils but the consequences to the Sinhalese eventually were even worse. As the years rolled on, the country became devastated.

Today’s rampant and raging terrorism in the country has its roots in the Sinhala-dominated regions of the south of the early 1970s towards which the government of the time reacted with immense ferocity. Such would not have been the case had Sri Lanka embarked on a genuine national economic development activity geared to our resources especially the rural and their potentials once the country became independent.

Though Sinhala Only did not say so, it was also Buddhism Only and on this double jeopardy both the leading political parties, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) built their political fortunes at the expense of the interests and well being of the minorities, principally the Tamils. In other words, Sri Lanka become politically visionless and bankrupt and the ideals for which the Lanka Sama Samaja Party stood for suffered and in due course reduced to the status of also ran. This was Sri Lanka’s darkest hour with destiny.

Politics of utter opportunism led by elitist leaders bereft of grass roots concerns and knowledge was the fate of the Tamils. If S J V Chelvanayagam opted for a federal solution when forced to breakaway from the Tamil Congress, G G Ponnambalam was rooted in his own interests and cheated the Tamils from the very day he was elected to Parliament. He took no time to betray the Tamils in the hill country in exchange for a ministry in the D S Senanayake cabinet which without the support of the Tamil Congress would have come to grief.

Even with a federal proposition, Mr Chelvanayagam was caught on the hop between a federal and a separate state largely due to the rank and file of the Federal Party being political greenhorns and tender foots.

If not already, at least history will reflect that G G Ponnambalam was the biggest cheat of the Tamils. He along with a coterie of capitalists – all of them of the Colombo elite – laid the foundations for all the frustrations that followed and today has trapped the community in the binds of a terrorist movement. A feature appearing in the Sri Lanka Guardian today titled The Ladder by K Mylvaganam reporting from Kilinochchi reflects the utter horror the Tamils find themselves in Sri Lanka.

Although the author goes great lengths to be complimentary towards the Inspector General of Police of Tamil Eelam, he has not been able to say why the conditions he has found there about the prisons are in such dreadful state of affairs. There is no excuse whatsoever to have people jailed under such conditions.

In the introductory paragraph to his feature, Mylvaganam states:

The prevailing ethnic war has caused immense miseries and social problems to the Tamil people. Apart from the physical discomforts and the monetary losses, the catastrophe in the breakdown of their social life and the psychological effects among the people has led to depressions, delusions, hopelessness and aggressiveness. Serious mental disorders are evident not only among the adults but also among the children. One of the side effects of this situation is the increase in crime. The sudden deaths and disappearances of loved ones also contribute to such disorderly behaviours. The loss of the breadwinners in the families compels some women to resort to prostitution in order to feed the children. Finally some end up in prison.

Even the Tamil Diaspora has not had the visions of such consequences. It has largely supported the terrorist ideal without itself paying the terrible price its kith and kin are exposed to, and if this condition continues, the Tamils will be history in Sri Lanka, and quite sooner too.

On the other hand, the major political parties too have not appreciated the current circumstances in the country and are virtually at the throats of each other. Emperor Nero never played his fiddle with such disastrous consequences as his spirit does today in Sri Lanka. Every political party in Sri Lanka is foul and unworthy of calling themselves leaders of a nation. Corruption is so rampant that just every other person in the country has to be bribed to get a move forward ranging from hundreds of rupees to millions depending on what is switched and swapped in the process.

As if we have not had enough of the racial and religious bigotry, rallies are being held stirring feelings against the religion and faith of others. There are also religious groups that are making hay out of the current chaotic state offering all kinds of mystical panaceas and relieves financed by fundamentalist groups especially from the US. But there is a way to deal with such infiltrations and in this, churches and temples that have become part of the Sri Lankan community can be helpful. Buddhist priests in particular should not rage against other religions in Sri Lanka and aggravate the already tragic state of religious ill-feelings in the country.

Buddhism is not such a faith or order. It should have been the bonding force and not divisive and discriminatory it has become in the country. Buddhist monks should stay out of politics completely. History will certainly record this period in Sri Lanka as the one when Buddhism became a decadent force. Sinhala Buddhist political leaders should have used the rich elements of Buddhism to bring about racial and religious unity in the country; they did just the opposite.

Today as a consequence people are under terrible stress as the feature focused in respect of the Tamils. Thousands of Sinhalese young females have been enslaved under miserable conditions in the Middle East countries. The only people who are benefiting from this are international arms dealers almost all of them from the west and those people in Sri Lanka parading as leaders, who collect large commissions from this industry.

Sri Lanka has certainly entered the realms of anarchy and there is not even a sign of possible revolution to overturn this state and take the country towards a new direction. The Sri Lankans have no other option and sixty years is too long a state of misery for any people or nation.


(Victor Karunairajan, a journalist with extensive East-West experience has had an exciting career having worked with Anglican, CSI and Catholic institutions, a Buddhist organization and a socialist government in as many as seven countries.)
- Sri Lanka Guardian

1 comment

Lankan said...

Well said Victor!
A thought that always crossed my mind is: What if the British left Sri Lanka & India under one federation.... May be our situation will not be so hopeless.
India is one nation only politically and democracy somehow functions much better than most other countries.

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