“where every prospect pleases and only man is vile”
- Bishop Reginald Heber
These words, ‘where every prospect pleases and only man is vile’ written long ago about our country by Bishop Reginald Heber, were resented by me when I first read them, as a schoolgirl, as I felt they were unfair. But when one looks at happenings today, I feel he was a visionary far ahead of his time in his thinking and writing. Our country is among the most beautiful in the world, we have been called Emerald isle, Pearl of the Indian Ocean and other most descriptive adjectives. Our nation’s beauty is reflected in nature’s incomparable canvas created by God, our creator in the verdant varying shades of green of trees and foliage, sapphire blue into turquoise of the ocean, the glorious vibrant sunsets, the golden sands.
We were also called a smiling, hospitable, warm and friendly people.The beauty of the country still exists which is why we were picked by Lonely Planet as the best destination for 2019. Unfortunately this went awry for a while, because of the constitutional coup, but fortunately our now independent judiciary saved us from this fate and the Tourist Board has been working hard to win tourists back with new ideas including entry to the Wild Life Parks where bookings can be done through email.
But recent events have proved that the immortal words of Bishop Heber have come true. Cruelty to man by man, cruelty to animals, backstabbing in politics,violence in Parliament, disrespect to one’s elders are also visible today on an alarming scale. Ingratitude to those who have helped one and hypocrisy have combined to bring out the worst traits of our national character. Some political leaders far from working hard to improve Sri Lanka’s image, have by their selfish actions, stemming from personal vendetta’s, contributed to bad propaganda against the nation by their words and deeds.
The first item on the agenda of the government must be to abolish the Executive Presidency. It has been proved beyond doubt to be a failure and not just once. In a country such as ours, it is important that powers be with Parliament and not in the hands of one man with bad advisors who can ruin the country by their actions. This can also plant the seeds for a dictatorship. Some recent appointments, although not the fault of the government have also made us the laughing stock of the world.
As I listened to the tape of the late President JR Jayewardene’s speech at the banquet hosted in his honour by the late President Reagan in Washington, and his dreams for our country, I was proud that men like him and the late D.S. and Dudley Senanayake were once our Leaders. Although the executive Presidency was the late JR’s mistake, the appointments he made to all high ranking appointments were men of distinguished stature. The same goes for DS and Dudley. I dread to think of what they would have thought of the recipients of recent high appointments.
The government must put its spurs on and work hard in the next few months to do its best for the nation, the economy and its supporters who have stood by loyally through thick and thin. Although all efforts are been made to block this by those who are not for the nation but for themselves, they must find ways and means of overcoming these obstacles. Those who ruined the economy are now talking like pillars of morality and experts on the economy and other issues. It’s a pity they didn’t practice what they preach now while steering the ship of state, and plunging it into deep and murky waters. In short, they are mere politicians and not statesmen.
The UNP MP’s must stop bickering among themselves, making public statements against each other, demanding ministries, trying to hold the PM and the party to ransom , enjoying the trappings of office in Colombo and get on with their work at the grassroots. Talk to the people about the achievements of the government, explain why some objectives could not be achieved, owing to the interference of higher authorities, the illegal sacking of the PM, and establishing an illegal regime. A promise was made to the people that wrongdoers of the former regime would be dealt with and punished. One of the major criticisms of the government is on this issue. Tell them about the major loans taken, getting the country deep into debt, and the high expenditure in the short period of the illegal regime.
We are fortunate to have as PM, one who doesn’t get rattled, and shoot his mouth off like a fool with verbal diarrhoea, at any given opportunity, making us a laughing stock
We are fortunate to have as PM, one who doesn’t get rattled, and shoot his mouth off like a fool with verbal diarrhoea, at any given opportunity, making us a laughing stock. He has personally been responsible for building bridges of friendship with countries who shunned us as a pariah state for human rights offences and corruption. We are an island, but we cannot stand alone. We need the rest of the world, for investment, for development and for aid. We mustn’t forget that and say hands off Sri Lanka. In the late JR’s speech in the White House he stated that we want to be friends with all countries and enemies of none.