Sun, 27 Nov 2022 Today's Paper

A freedom we might not enjoy

11 December 2020 07:52 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Artistes in Sri Lanka have complained about loss of income due to restrictions on crowds gathering due to the present pandemic. But here is a rare bright moment during all the gloom where concert goers in Sri Lanka are seen enjoying themselves at a drive-in-open-air musical show which was staged at a domestic airport in Colombo on June 1, 2020. (AFP)

 

Censorship and crackdown are not the best tools for control. The regime can counter these news by hiring media experts

Our politicians freed this country from the claws of terrorist tigers, but they have been careful in affording the opportunity to people to enjoy freedom

Our own Muttiah Muralitharan came to Colombo, mingled with the majority race, achieved cricket goals

 

The December cold is setting in and Christmas is approaching, but people might not have the freedom to celebrate the festive season as they would wish. 


The lack of freedom is the highlight despite Sri Lanka being a country which eradicated terrorism. Lawmakers continue to bring in new laws to curtail the freedom people enjoy. Now the people of this country have to seek the assistance of the law to bury the dead and mourn their loved ones. The Christian community is demanding justice for those killed in the Easter Sunday bomb blasts. Just the other day as many as 24 motor bikes were taken into custody by the police because those who rode them engaged in night races. Some of these bike riders had driven recklessly in the Kimbulawela area and breached the road rules, but that’s beside the point. 


Freedom comes with a price. A good example was the civil war which demanded so many lives from both sides before it reached an end.  But even after that civil war people don’t enjoy the freedom they deserve. So many social media users were tracked down and arrested by the present and the past regimes. Whether these posts are inappropriate or lack credibility will be decided by the viewers. Censorship and crackdown are not the best tools for control. The regime can counter these news by hiring media experts.


Past and present regimes have something to lean on when they control freedom in the country. The fact that supports this control is that uncultured and ambitious people can threaten the peace in a country if they have the power to express themselves. Social media platforms afford this opportunity. 


These individuals, or for that matter anybody, must have the opportunity to criticise the government, but it should not be done using false statistics and facts with a mischievous motive. 


Sri Lanka boasts of giving opportunities to all to practise the religion of their choice. But despite this fact, and there being more than four established religions in the island, the prisons in the country are overcrowded and full of people who have lost their way in life. This also gives an indication that as much as there are honest and decent individuals who value freedom, there are unscrupulous individuals who must be checked; in the context of freedom. 

Most of the country’s artistes have complained about their earnings having depleted due to lack of shows (AFP)


The opportunity to earn well is the cure for most ills. Even for the individual who suffers from ill-health that extra money can bring some solace. But when we read newspaper reports we hear that Brandix’s employees were forced to work despite having fever because the workers wanted to ensure they could take home a decent pay packet. The same can be said about the many sales assistants who worked in many of the fish stalls which were associated with the alleged spread of the coronavirus.


The majority of workers in Sri Lanka can just survive 30 days of the month with their income, hence they don’t have the freedom to remain at home for a few days in the case of a lockdown. A good many among them haven’t even heard of the term ‘financial freedom’. 


Most of the country’s artistes have complained about their earnings having depleted due to lack of shows. When times were good in the absence of COVID-19 they had shows. Many say they had to perform several times during a month to earn a decent living. But artistes in Europe have affirmed that they perform twice or thrice a year, holding gala shows that give them the income they need for the entire year. They practise and research on music during the rest of the year. Freedom decides whether you run in life’s rat race or earn enough and still enjoy living a sedentary life. 


This writer remembers President Gotabaya Rajapaksa telling working professionals prior to the elections that he would make a prosperous Sri Lanka that would enable workers/entrepreneurs to decide on how much and when to work. But the pandemic has stood in the way of the present Government executing its plans. Most businessmen have seen the freedom they had erode due to the collapse of a healthy environment in the country. 


When the Yahapalana Government was in power the Cabinet it formed had different flavours; in terms of those who served as lawmakers. Politicians could express individual views and tell Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party, that they needed reforms within the party. The present politicians who serve in the Pohottuwa-led government don’t enjoy this freedom under Rajapaksa family rule. They are like robots, and their remote controls are with a powerful family. 


Just a few days ago the loved ones (Northerners) of those who perished during the civil war filed four petitions in court seeking the assistance of the law requesting permission to mourn the dead. The petitioners were however unsuccessful.


But elsewhere in the country the JVP used the internet and other platforms to celebrate their ‘heroes’ who perished in two uprisings against the regime. There has been freedom for one party to mourn the dead, but not for the other. 


Education, living experience and challenges make people wake up and demand for their rights. Our own Muttiah Muralitharan came to Colombo, mingled with the majority race, achieved cricket goals and backed a Sinhalese with a military background to be the next president of the country. That’s a good example of a Tamil person in the island enjoying the best of freedom. He also stopped an Indian filmmaker from going ahead with a movie about him because there could have been a backlash against the filmmaker, because the South Indian community said that Muralitharan had betrayed the Tamil community in comments made regarding the ending of the civil war. With all this Murali showed that he was free in what he wished to do. But our politicians would love the ‘Manoharan’ in the tea estate who speaks Tamil, sings Sinhala songs, watches the Sri Lanka vs India cricket match and cheers Sanath Jayasuriya and not Sachin Tendulkar, and gets beaten up when there is a clash between the Sinhalese and Tamils in the village he lives in. Our politicians freed this country from the claws of terrorist tigers, but they have been careful in affording the opportunity to people to enjoy freedom. If the Tamils, Christians and Muslims have to seek the assistance of the law or Government during the past one year to demand justice, then what freedom are we talking about? When freedom is denied we’ll see Madrasa schools being operated on the sly, Tamils preferring to watch Tamil Nadu TV channels and the educated being far removed from local politics. That would be a ‘terrible’ kind of freedom we’re talking about!


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  • Lasith Sunday, 13 December 2020 09:12 PM

    The author of this article lives in an ideological dreamworld rather than reality! His definition of " freedom" is undisciplined democracy, which is far from ideal.


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