20 December 2014

Sri Lanka’s Presidential Election: No CHANGE if SAME PEOPLE re-enter Politics
Shenali D Waduge

The CHANGE fever has hit Sri Lanka’s elections. The voice of Colombo is all abuzz with ‘let’s bring in some change for a change’ and then there are countless followers to tag along. How many of these change proponents have actually thought about the type of change they want. Is it change just for the sake of change or are they happy to bring back people who have been proven failures in office? Is it a change to give them another chance at failure and what would that failure result for the country and the people? The backers of this change mantra, let us remember brought change to countries of Europe, Middle East, Africa and even broke up the Soviet Union. It is because of their ability to orchestrate CHANGE and what those CHANGED countries are suffering now that should make people think twice about who they are backing in Sri Lanka. The current dissatisfactions will come nowhere near the CHANGES in store for Sri Lanka.

We have a Presidential Election. It is an election not about keeping scores, taking revenge or making up for previous lost elections. The election is to elect a man or woman to lead the nation and that leadership requires a lot of pluck and a lot of vision. More importantly that vision must be grounded in the needs of the people.

We have 19 contenders including the incumbent. The two main contenders are the President himself and the former General Secretary backed by a pool of political parties and individuals claiming to bring CHANGE.

While acknowledging that there are plenty of grey areas for the incumbent President to deal with it is important that the people cannot and should not forget that there is so much a Government can do within 5 years following the end of a 30 year terror period. People must be intelligent enough to quantify how much of the 30 years loss the 5 years post-conflict has achieved. We can all be judges but we need to realize that it is easier said than done. Nevertheless, we cannot forget that the incumbent who came into power in 2005 ended 30 years of terrorism in 2009 and that was done not single-handedly but because of a team of people committed to ending terror. Those that played a role behind-the-scenes were as important as those that claim credit for the victory. What needs to be reiterated is that the same resolve to end terror did not prevail for other leaders who led the country and who followed appeasement policies. These are the same people now coming forward to re-enter power.

Returning to CHANGE, the hot topic it is surprising that the most educated lot in Sri Lanka have not wondered what is the change in bringing people that have been in politics, people who held leadership roles and people who were very much in the Government until they crossed over back into power? What have they achieved in office for any of us to be proud of?   

For real change should the people not wish to bring in new people, people who do not have a history and people who have by association being complicit themselves though they now pretend to be lily white?
Moreover, people also need to realize that we are living in a capitalist society, it’s a world of haves and ‘have nots’, and the haves will show no qualms of making sure they have more even if it is at the cost of the ‘have nots’. We are living in a world where people are unsatisfied with what they have, they thirst for more, they don’t know what makes them satisfied but they thirst for more and this thirst often leads them to catastrophes some of which are irreversible.

People are also under the misconception that everything is honky dory in other climes especially in the West, the dream land where media projects to the Third World that dreams come true. Dreams can come true for any one so long as they work hard, they do an honest job, they earn a proper living. We elect leaders to ensure there is a stable country and a climate in which we are safe the rest of the story has to be written by us. We have to earn our living, we have to keep our home and family and we have to feed the family – the politicians will not do that.

Lest, people think that the people in the West are happier the statistics reveal a totally different story.

·         Only 1 in 3 Americans are truly happy
·         average US household credit card debt stands at $15,611
·         In 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households
·         1.5 million children in America are homeless
·         Nearly 102million working-age American adults are jobless
·         A poll conducted in America in April 2014 (Reason Rupe) revealed that 75% Americans felt their politicians were corrupt while 70% Americans said that politicians used their political powers to help their friends and family and hurt their enemies
·         In the land of freedoms and rights there are over 2.3million prisoners
·         US gun culture kills more Americans than Americans dying from terrorists – over 30,000 Americans died from gun violence in 2013.
·         The brutality of the US police can be seen in the recent killings of unarmed black Americans.
·         Freedom and rights Americans boast of is questionable in the drones, phone and email tappings, cameras and civil-clad intelligence officers that roam the American streets.

Let’s cross to Britain
·         1million Brits are on the dole while close to 400,000 non-British nationals were claiming benefits from the state
·         Britain is the most violent country in Europe
·         There are 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK today
·         7 out of 10 Britain’s have taken loans, owes money to banks, money lenders – half of UK’s adults are living on the debt edge
·         1 in 5 Britons admit they have had to bribe people in the judicial system. One in 10 said that they had bribed the police!. 7%said they had bribed education officials, while 11 per cent of people who had contact with the registry and permit services or land services said they bribed workers
·         Parents cannot afford to provide midday meals for their school going children.
Let’s face the truth that whether it is in the West or East, the quality of our politicians has dwindled. There are no benevolent leaders today because the system has changed and people are living in a world where the fittest survive and all others are used and discarded. The global systems are all corrupt as we can see from the scale of corruptions that take place even inside the UN. Even Prabakaran is said to have had millions plus property as well… how did he acquire so much wealth?
Life is no bed of roses for people. The truth is that profits end up in the hands of a few and it is totally in their hands what they want to share with the rest of the world. They can give, they can withhold or they can deny. Look how they control the world consumer supply, banking systems – these are manipulated and controlled and this global team can bring countries down if they want to. It is good for people to educate themselves on how the world is run. It is certainly not run only by our politicians and the politicians of the Third World have a hard time trying to please their people while facing the challenges globally.
Therefore, the English reading public of Sri Lanka need to keep abreast of what is happening globally to realize that CHANGE is not as easy as the romanticism associated with it.
Where is the change if the same people are elected from a different party? What is the guarantee that their past misdeeds will not be repeated in worse ways?
Will the CHANGE be detrimental for the NATION is what voters need to wonder!
The truth is in a capitalist world the haves always end up reaping benefits whether they are in the winning or losing side. It is the middle class and the poor that suffer as a result of electing the wrong people to office, it is for that reason that the people need to think seriously about CHANGE.