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Calamitous predicament demands a new political force

by Dr. Mervyn D. De Silva Former Advisor, Ministry of Plan Implementation and
Member of Parliament

(Courtesy: The Island 28th July 2004)

The editorial of The Island of June 20th 2004 titled "UNF and UPFA - Are there differences?" Is supportive of what the author had been emphasising during the past few years. It was perceived as the seminal cause of the political bungle this country has reached.

Even a kindergarten child who happens to listen to the daily TV news casts, and/or, overhears the conversations of their elders abhorring the abysmally low depth to which parliamentarians and parliamentary debate have descended to, will surely rise up in righteous indignation. The peak in the graph depicting the decline was reached when some Buddhist monks, in this strongly Buddhist country, were assaulted within the chamber of this august House. The unmitigated disrespect exhibited and the bestiality of the act itself, whatever the legality or illegality of the issue that was debated, is indefensible.

Our country has been steadily and quite progressively led to this very critical state of disarray and is plunging down the slippery precipice, predictably into political, economic, and social turmoil and chaos. We have reached this pathetic situation where democratic principles are unrepentantly violated, ironically while we boast of our having attained 56 years of independence (political) and freedom. It is a freedom we all treasure and for which we have to be grateful to those revered leaders of the past who played important, courageous, honest, and determined selfless leadership roles in the march to independence.

As a people once united we now find that we are being divided on every conceivable difference that exists between us by the selfish exploits of the new breed of political leaders, the unpatriotic, the unprincipled, and unscrupulous pretenders as the saviours of the people. Again, as a nation we have been on fire ("Alu Yata Geendara"), the handiwork of the two main political parties, namely, the UNP and the SLFP acting in tandem with the "able" support of the two main ethnically based "democratic" minority parties. The governments they formed were dismal failures in discharging their sacred duties to the very people who brought them into power.

The political culture that was given birth to and nurtured during the past decades for all intents and purposes has become internalised and is systemic in the political parties. To that extent the reality is that these two parties can never ever lend themselves to any radical reforms and changes whatsoever in the forseeable future. As the worthy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lakshman Kadirgamar, voiced boldly and publicly, both main parties are flabby, tired, and corrupt. That they are terminally ill and made our country also so, must be clearly recognised by the general public and particularly, by the national minded men and women who can do something and, will come forward to do that something.

Politics have become almost completely dysfunctional and the people brood for a political party and a leadership that is more truthful, more insightful, more righteous, more wise, more sensitive, more compassionate, and most of all more humane.

The two main political parties appear today like two genetically engineered entities with almost identical economic, social and cultural policies. The amalgamation of the similarities became will never be bartered away for anything. All patriotic citizens, no matter what their race or religion, no matter what their station in life, should join in clamouring from the rooftops for a new national political force and then strongly supporting it. There is no point in civil societies and the J-biz fraternity making pious appeals to the present two leading parties. They should put in place a new force that can transform this nation into one that will be politically stable, economically strong, and independent, socially just and fair, with a truly vibrant democracy as its corner stone. J-biz should found it generously without strings attached remembering that their own survival is at stake. They can take an initiative and be the brokers.

How can this be achieved? Let us appeal earnestly to the honourable members on both sides of the political divide in parliament to bury their personal differences in the larger interest of this nation and break off from their present parties, the UNF and UNFPA (SWRD, Lalith, Gamini). The appeal should be directed to those honest, principled, honest-intellectually, truthful, members of parliament whose hands are not tainted with blood and ill-begotten money. They should join hands and form the core of a new national party, national in character and spirit, just and fair in governance.

In order to achieve this goal they will have to through a process of careful selection assemble a team of other concerned politicians, technocrats, administrators, and businessmen who have the capacity and the will to place the interests of the country and the people before their own, at all times in carrying out duties and responsibilities entrusted to them. Honesty, integrity, diligence, and faithfulness to that goal are the hallmarks.

The core of concerned politicians referred to in the above para will be supported by a strong inter-disciplinary team of local experts in the various fields who are qualified, experienced, and fully alive consolidated after both parties began to take into their respective folds crossovers, no matter what their past records, for political expediency in the numbers game.

Both parties are packed with men with, alleged and proven, records of corruption, bribery, illegal kickbacks, criminal acts, and a litany of politically and socially incorrect acts of commission and omission. This is the gravest problem facing the people because the members at the higher echelons of both parties are inextricably entwined and inter related. They have lost their identities at an intellectual level and it may be quite accurate to say that today, their is virtually one single party divided into two warring gangs whose only goal is to capture power and enjoy the "forbidden fruits" of power, privilege, and money.

Even a casual investigative journey into the inner workings of the entire political system at all levels, the legislature, the executive branch, and the administration, the appalling state of the once brilliant bureaucracy that has been pulverised and substituted by the politics of subservience and patronage, would make all the shameful episodes and incidents reported throughout the country seem the inevitable result.

Just like looking for a needle in a haystack it is becoming increasingly difficult this day to find even a handful of politicians at all levels who are committed to meet the aspirations of the people and have their own visions for the future of the country. Is this country bereft of men and women who do not see and understand that we as a third world people have become the victims of the global disorder and as well as the helpless playthings of our corrupt politicians??

The need of the hour is a new set of truly dedicated politicians who are sincere in purpose, honest in their thinking, modern and dynamic in action who will hold as sacrosanct age-old values that to the ground situation and, more importantly, committed to the cause.

Those constituting the teams will be persons who at no time will act in a manner that will be detrimental to any individual or organisation on racial, religious, social, or political grounds.

The country desperately needs a new political force (party) that will work faithfully and honestly to correct what seems a damnable situation and lay the foundations for a truly government that is democratic, solidly just, economically, and socially fair towards all member of society and with a value system that regards identities, cultures, and the country’s common heritage with pride.

Patriotic countrymen with brains, guts, and courage take up the gauntlet, get on to the phones, make e-mail connections, contact any one prepared to help, assemble groups, contact professional associations, inspire confidence, do more and talk less, don’t throw cold water. Let’s take one step in the right direction. If the people lead, the leaders will follow our attempts to end this unapologetic barbarism. Rise up to the occasion please.



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