The latest budget is out, and the electronic media is going full-throttle interviewing the ‘man and woman on the street’ to get his and her opinion. He or she is indeed a valid voice in the situation, they are the ones who are directly affected by the ‘mangala mohotha’ of Minister Samaraweera. He sure is on a high and the budget has triggered a tendril of hope among the masses, maybe it could be termed as a beginning of a ‘new page,’ which is so badly needed in today’s Sri Lanka. Of course, the proof of the pudding is yet to come, but at least for the moment we do have a new pudding to eat.
There has been a fair share of distrusts and negativity about the proposed budget. especially from those who rode bicycles to the parliament. There are others, non-political, who see all this as another mirage of unreality. They too could be right, after all, we did have a pocket full of promises that were made at the onset of the Yahapalanaya that simply fizzled out leaving a sky-wide void of disappointment which closely matched the misgivings of the previous regime.
That being the case, amidst these pluses and minuses in the budget equation, let us hope Minister Mangala is getting off the blocks turning a new page to usher a new dawn.
It was a week ago, I wrote that all our woes come from Diyawanna-Oya. People are still scrambling to get fuel into their empty tanks and queuing up around petrol stations. We must be grateful that the lines are now shorter, and things seem to be moving on. This is certainly an incident that has left a big dent in the minds of the people and drained what little confidence they had in the system that governs us. The fact remains crystal clear that someone made a mistake. There should be no cheering squads for not accepting the fuel that sailed into the harbour that was not up to specifications. The rejection of that shipment was the ‘lo and behold’ duty of the ministry in question. The ‘Mia Culpa’ comes from the fact that there were no adequate reserves to handle a simple shipment that went sour. Someone did blunder in this instance and that is a foregone conclusion. As I write this article, Minister Sarath Amunugama leads a special team investigating the fuel crisis. Once the facts are found out on what went wrong, then only can the leaks be plugged to avoid a repetition. Let’s hope this is a new page we are turning without sweeping the dirt under the all-covering Diyawanna-Oya carpet.
Relative to pages being turned, let’s look at a mega happening that took place recently. Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera’s second death anniversary was sacredly commemorated recently. He was the perfect patriot and the greatest strength this country has had as a deterrent to corruption and bad governance. During the ceremony there were two excellent speeches that addressed the current calamities of the country. One was by Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya which was followed by an address by President Maithripala Sirisena. Prof. Wijesooriya spoke mainly on the valiant efforts made by the late prelate to stem the tide of the rulers of that time and bring in a change which was named the Yahapalanaya. He then went on to make a critical analysis of the current regime, the pros and cons of promises made and promises broken. The renowned civil activist wasn’t mincing any words and laid it all bare in front of the gathering which included President Sirisena himself. It was freedom of speech and an erudite activist having the courage to voice the truth in matters that matter most.
There has been a fair share of distrusts and negativity about the proposed budget
Recent fuel crisis has left a big dent in the minds of people
Ven. Sobitha was a perfect patriot and the greatest strength this country had
As much as there are culprits, there are honest men who occupy the benches of Parliament
The law is for everybody,
it should apply to all
President Sirisena on his turn spoke glowingly of the service rendered by the late Sobitha Thera and praised him for his invaluable commitment and wisdom to bring about a regime change in 2015. It was a sincere appreciation that had gratitude laced in every syllable he uttered. Then he moved on to the current political situation and came out strong to state his position as the leader of the coalition Government and its ramifications. “Have we done what we were supposed to do?” That was the theme. “Have we curbed corruption? “Have we brought to justice those who broke the law of the land?” Such were the questions he aimed at himself and at those who ruled along with him. Hard challenges for the ‘powers that be’, more than two years wasted playing ‘Hora Police’ where it was difficult to establish who was a hora and who would be the police.
That is politics for you. The president vehemently made it clear that he would do his utmost to make things right irrespective of who was guilty. “The law is for everybody, it should apply to all and sundry with the same equality and intensity.”
Maybe the President is turning a new page looking for changes for the better. He must be well-aware that time sure is in short-supply before the elections arrive in 2020. Maybe he’s had enough of the nonsense that has been the hallmark of some who hold power in Diyawanna-Oya. As much as there are culprits there are honest men too who occupy the benches of the Parliament. That fact could be the catalyst to bring about a much-needed change in the culture of governance, which has hitherto given birth to fledgling vultures of all sizes and shades, who have brought about the annihilation of our beloved homeland.
Will we really see a change in the two years that remain before we go to the polls again? Will those who abused power and robbed the country of its meagre resources of prosperity be brought to justice? Or will history repeat itself, where if one is politically connected, he is generally exempted from every sin.