If not for colonial rule, it is beyond imagination to think of railroads, tarred roads, Radio Ceylon, printing and newspapers, theatre and Tower Hall becoming part of our lives.
No monitoring can give these elections any validity, as elected representatives don’t represent their voters once elected and the system doesn’t
allow them to.
People do not even know why they should elect more than double the number of Councillors they elected the previous time.
This Blue-Green coalition government will go on stage at Galle Face Green this Sunday to celebrate 70 years of Independence from British colonial rule. This same coalition, established after the 2015 January Presidential Election, celebrated 67 years of independence three years ago, with a simple ceremony, also at Galle Face Green. Three years from then, the ceremony has grown into a grand show as any, the Rajapaksas held to exhibit their power using the Independence Day celebrations.
Though proud we are of the Independence gained (rather received), after 130 years and more of colonial rule, we don’t seem to have achieved anything greater than what the British left us.
If not for colonial rule, it is beyond imagination to think of railroads, tarred roads, the Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Ceylon), printing and newspapers, theatre and Tower Hall becoming part of our lives.
Impossible to think of the new social space the colonial rule created for community organisations, trade unions, women’s associations like Mahila Samithi, youth movement and Tamil people’s associations in Jaffna, and also for the elite formations like the Ceylon National Congress (CNC) and then the Sinhala Maha Sabha (SMS).
Everything Ceylon had never known and experienced ever before. It was this same social space that was used by the Sooriya Mal movement in 1929 to work in malaria infected areas and allowed the formation of the first political party in December 1933, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP).
It was also British colonial rule that introduced formal education, established State-owned schools and allowed privately managed schools under missionaries and the Buddhist Theosophical Society.
They also developed a strong preventive health sector especially after the malaria epidemic and helped change attitudes on hygiene for better personal health. They began archaeological surveys way back in 1871 and then formed the Department of Archaeology in 1890 that helped research and study in rewriting our own history with more and better-documented proof.
With all such infrastructure and new cultural life with new social values, ethics and morals, Ceylon was set on a new economic path on trade and commerce. The old subsistence barter system was replaced gradually for a consumer based economy with buying and selling.
Land belonging to the King and his feudal lords was turned into a commodity to be bought and sold to new proprietors.
A remarkable introduction was the Unitary State the British colonial rule established.
Till then Sinhala Kings, 11 of them had only unified the country that had no State in modern terms. The Unitary State, the British introduced, established a centralised administration, enacted laws and regulations that were implemented and enforced along with a Judiciary.
With the granting of universal adult franchise on the Donoughmore Constitution, the State Council established since 1931 allowed elected local representatives to control domestic affairs.
By then the British had also created a second tier of Local Government beginning with the Municipal Council Ordinance No.17 of 1865 and the Local Government Ordinance No.11 of 1920.
The Donoughmore Commission recommended further expansion and improvement in Local Government that helped establish Urban and Town Councils in addition to the Municipal Councils, all with elected members.
The Soulbury Constitution in 1948 extended and enlarged on those powers giving us independence with an elected bi-cameral parliament to govern ourselves and take responsibility for our future.
During the last 40 years of Post-independence Sri Lanka, the limitless and unrestricted liberalised economy that created a Filthy Rich social sediment has turned the whole political establishment and every State Agency into inept and corrupt power centres
We have since then tinkered with these laws and regulations, adopted two new Republican Constitutions and amended them 20 times with claims to improve and strengthen our Independence, people’s rights and Sovereignty. At the end of all that, where are we now after 70 years of independence? What does the balance sheet look like?
Our representative democracy gave way to two armed insurrections in the Sinhala South within 20 years that turned from bloody and traumatic to brutal and savage, the second time.
That was also reason to modernise the State to be very repressive. We the Sinhala Buddhist majority created a dominant Sinhala Buddhist psyche during the first 35 years after Independence that saw two communal massacres, let loose on Tamil people, the second in 1983 July with Government complicity being inhumanly vulgar and savage.
That led to a bloody savage ethnic war in the next 25 years, concluded as a bleeding human tragedy.
Never learning lessons, the Sinhala Buddhist dominance, is now hosting a decade of refusal on Tamil people, denying answers for the agonising wounds of that bloody war. The post-war decade had also dragged the Muslim community into another unwanted conflict, further polarising an already fractured society.
During these 70 years, we kept borrowing money, turning the country into a long-term debtor of over 10 trillion Rupees. In the process, we keep widening the gap between the urban rich and rural poor.
The Census and Statistics Department says 10 percent of the population earns an average monthly income of Rs.220,197 as against Rs.9,916 the poorest 20 percent earn.
During the last 40 years of Post-independence Sri Lanka, the limitless and unrestricted liberalised economy that created a Filthy Rich social sediment has turned the whole political establishment and every State Agency into inept and corrupt power centres.
Buying over political parties and turning them into undemocratic and corrupt governing tools, the filthy rich decides politics with all democratic structures and their functions reduced to procedural rituals and practices, leaving space for mega corruption.
A week after celebrating Independence, this hapless country that had ethnically and religiously fractured, economically declined and politically slipped into chaos during its 70-year post-independence life, would once again go to LG Elections, another procedural practice.
No amount of monitoring with donor funding can give these elections any validity, as elected representatives don’t represent their voters once elected and the system doesn’t allow them to.
At the LG Elections, people do not even know why they should elect more than double the number of Councillors they did the previous time.
They will have to bear a massive cost to maintain these dinosaur Councils for no special reason. And they are asked to vote for the best from a dirty lot, political parties that have nominated as candidates. Women given a 25 percent quota do not understand they will get entrenched and embedded in a patriarchal system. One that lies subordinate and is dependent on a heavily corrupt and a brutally patriarchal society run by a coterie of filthy rich agents of a lopsided free market economy.
With that, we conclude 70 years of Independence that prove we have been on a wild track not wanting to accept we are that. Our beating around bushes trying to find a way out has given the ever-growing rich and corrupt more power and better ability to keep us on a wild track, ‘believing’ of a future.
No amount of crying foul, demanding cleaning up and new anti-corruption laws, debating corruption investigation reports, voting women and the best out of the bad lot, can ever lead us away from this chaos.
In short, no political party or leadership is innocent and honest.
President Sirisena who claims he would wipe out corruption before he steps down if he does in 2020, is himself accused of the ‘Spectrum deal’ that went through the TRC directly under him.
He is also leading a Government with politicians, who had been with the Rajapaksas and are accused and found corrupt by the PRECIFAC as reported.
He cannot claim he is clean having campaigned for the Rajapaksas at every election including LG, PC and at the 2010 Presidential Election.
Having endorsed and defended everything the Rajapaksas are accused of during the nine long years as a leading Cabinet Minister and as General Secretary of the SLFP. So, is the UNP and its leadership. They cannot claim any innocence anymore after the Bond Scam Report, nor can they shout themselves hoarse that others are corrupt.
The same goes with the JVP that stood for the 100-Day Programme of this Government having sat in the Executive Committee with PM Wickremesinghe overseeing the work of this Yahapalana Government (Good Governance).
The JVP now cannot say they are still against the Port City having dropped its campaign long before the 2015 August elections. Worst is their ghostly silence on the Spectrum Deal that Maharajas are accused of having a large hand in.
They don’t demand a Presidential Investigation on the Spectrum Deal as they demand on all other shady deals.
Seventy years of independence prove nothing can be put to right in this system.
Seventy years that prove we have failed miserably in governing ourselves for the benefit of the people in achieving political stability, democracy and economic freedom. Seventy years we proved we have completely left aside the two most important issues that should have been addressed as the most important issues.
That, of establishing an inclusive Nation State, capable of accepting and accommodating ethnoreligious diversity, with equality and a stable strong economy that can provide a comfortable and secure life to all citizens with equal opportunities.
Seventy years that tell us, we have to start anew and patching up makes it far more untidy.