Hansa poottuwa is a Decorative image of twin swans: a traditional Lankan motif, it signifies harmony and prosperity. It illustrates the elegance and exquisiteness of a woman along with the masculinity of a man. Manawasinghe wrote, “…Piyumata piyumak heppenawou dekalai hansa petaw me heti dangalanney” [playful pohottuwas make Swanlings twitchy] for maestro to scintillate ‘Prematatake, mekai menike…’in a musical ballet.
Gorgeously dressed in a greenish-blue sari and crawling majestically on the red carpet surrounded by her UNP loved ones last Tuesday at Sugathadasa indoor stadium, was the daughter of two former heads of state, and two times President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who did not hesitate to make known her preferences, before she wound up her speech to a fairly well attended, including a few of disgruntled SLFP electoral organizers and their supporters plus scores of people who cheered vociferously for Mangala and Rajitha, the aging politician hinted, ‘Sajith’s Policy statement is far more superior to that of Gota.’
The chief organizer and President of newly formed ‘Protect SLFP’ or “Api Sri Lanka” movement, sponsored, according to Pohottu guys, by Mangala, openly called upon the audience of 3000 participants to vote for Hansaya. It is also rumoured that a national list UNPer will resign paving way for CBK to enter the parliament and relieve Sajith, if he wins, of the burden and indecision in appointing a Prime Minister.
Ambalama for the Aging
One of the oldest wood carvings of hansa poottuwa is in the Panavitiya Ambalama at Narammala, a place built for travellers to rest. An ‘ambalama’ in the modern political terminology is an abode for retired or disgruntled politicians who deserve good relaxation in overcoming vengeance they had acquired over their active years.
The Tuesday’s show reminds the writer a fictional description of a pair of swans in a pond. The author cleverly wrote, “…the swan pair was so graceful and majestic as they moved together –more like a ballet. The two birds in close proximity synchronised their actions, raised and smoothly lowered their necks to intertwine with each other. The male paddled so he’s now alongside her, and grabbed onto her neck with his bill…”
“Teach him …,…also that for every scoundrel there is a hero, that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader…that all men are not just, that all men are not true… that 10 cents earned are of far more value than a dollar found… it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose, and enjoy winning when he does win…. Teach him to scoff at cynics…. not to follow the crowd when everyone else is doing it. … never to put a price tag on his heart and soul…” --- Extract from the famous LetterFrom Abraham Lincoln to his son’s teacher. I quote it here, because there was a bit of insight in it, that I could share with Daily Mirror’s intellectual reader at a time they ponder or muse how to cast their vote on the 16th.
‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’, is how Albert Einstein defined insanity. By this definition, we are an insane lot. For seven decades we enjoyed our sovereignty by voting UNP and SLFP or an alliance headed by either, expecting good governance. We are a failed state; our political and administrative systems have failed miserably. Can we, come out of this mess?
After pondering for one month about whom I should vote for on 16th at the Presidential Election, I happened to attend a State institution for a personal matter, a few days back and was awaiting my turn. A uniformed, Forces Officer approached me and decided to make a casual, and possibly a little nervous inquiry as to how the Presidential Election was likely to turn out. Guessing that the man is from intelligence, I said the candidate with the best manifesto, a visionary candidate should get the preference. He acknowledged by saying, “Sir I have to cast my postal vote today, and I am undecided”, clearing my anxieties.
"Teach him …,…also that for every scoundrel there is a hero, that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader…that all men are not just, that all men are not true…that 10 cents earned are of far more value than a dollar found."
The nation goes to the polls on Saturday to elect its President for the next five years. Elections are, probably next only to death, the great equalizer. Irrespective of whether a man or woman has a doctorate or is illiterate, rich or pauper; belongs to high society or low in the social ladder; he or she has only one vote: that’s a democracy! The British colonial masters decided to grant the vote to Sri Lankans, they did not consider a universal franchise, but first gave it only to the ‘educated Ceylonese’. Later, in 1931, they felt that all Ceylonese were adequately politically grown-up to grant the adult franchise our women folk became entitled to vote long before the French.
We come to the defining moment where a retired army officer is being challenged by a son of a former Executive President and the Deputy leader of the main political party.
A benevolent dictator is an autocrat. We do not want strong individuals or working dynamos, but strong institutions. India, Japan, Australia and most Western nations, are lively democracies with strong economies. Economic development in Sri Lanka for seven decades came with nepotism, family bandyism, and oppression of the rule of law and democracy. Vital issues have been downgraded into forgotten things. The voter has been compelled to believe promises, half-truths, and propaganda. Like in the past Presidential elections there is vituperative and slander by both the main candidate. After the election, the winner will run away with the idea that he has received a directive to do anything.
I WILL VOTE FOR….?
… I will vote for the candidate, who announces a cut in subsidized healthcare for the people who can afford to pay. Withdraw free education for children of parents who pay home visited tuition master 4000/- an hour. Ban single passenger vehicles entering the city during rush hours. Agree to politically distance the relationship between religious organizations and the state and create a secular state. [“From the secular point of view, religion is a hindrance to democracy as it enforces a set of legal and societal principles. Separation of religion and the state is required to protect freedom and ensure equality.” -- Erskine May]
Who declares the truth that we are a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural society. Teach all students comparative religion as one subject instead of various religions, leaving it to the Daham pasal and parents to teach their preferences. Remove the Constitutional clause that grants special place for a selected religion[especially the foremost place is given to Buddhism which denounces Buddha dhamma.
"A benevolent dictator is an autocrat. We do not want strong individuals or working dynamos, but strong institutions. India, Japan, Australia and most Western nations, are lively democracies with strong economies....Economic development in Sri Lanka for seven decades came with nepotism, family bandyism, and oppression of the rule of law and democracy."
[In December 1947, DS Senanayake taught the Mahanayake theros that “Buddha professed universal equality” when they wanted the clause enshrined 1948 Constitution because DS did not think of hoodwinking ‘Buddhists’ for votes. Finally, all agreed to drop it. Buddhism and all other religions prospered without it from 1948 to 1972].
Remove all State Administrative requirements in categorizing citizens on a racial basis and treat all as Sri Lankan nationals.I will vote for… Who has the STREGNTH to make these pledges, even if it affects his chances of winning because he correctly realizes that the votes of such petty-minded racists are not worth at all. Who can initiate more vocational training and create employment so that they need no carrots from politicians? Who can introduce a plan of Career Paths, from O/L onwards, an idea of paths and options to schoolchildren? Who will not make unrealistic promises and increase Government debt which will further weaken the foundations of the economy? Who has the courage to name the corrupt among their cohorts who will not be included in a future Cabinet? Who pledges to place before Parliament and for public discussion, controversial pacts that are prejudicial to territorial integrity, national security, and sovereignty, [like the SOFA, MCC, and ACSA which are forced down the throats of the third world with great purpose by the so-called donors] before signing them.
President and Premier with Equal Powers
Voters look for a change, half-baked 19A has made a Presidency and a Premiership of almost equal powers. Ministers and bureaucracywill experienceworking in such a matrix union challenging because one has a difficult role while reporting to two bosses. One must be clear on his role, responsibilities, and priorities to avoid perplexity and work efficiently. Until such time we amend the provision, and most importantly, …I will vote for the candidate, irrespective of his age or, strength, who will have the guts to name the holder of equally powerful position of Prime Minister, because, unless there is close co-operation, cohabitation, and mutual understanding between the two, the country will continue to suffer ignominious and widespread instability. We will get torn apart among the influences of various elements allowing them to ravage the economy; leaving a nation denigrated to carrion serving as a food source for the foreign vultures.
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