(1) Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner once said: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it!!!” No words could describe more poignantly the situation prevailing in our country today!!! We need to take pragmatic cognizance of the issues that plague our motherland under the guise of democracy!!! Looking at the picture as a whole, we see that the underlying reasons for our problems are the erosion of democracy, the total absence of respect for justice and fairplay, the exploitation of the masses, the unsolved murders; the list goes on and on!!! The demolition of democracy threatens us all for we are subject to those who wield power; yet, we cannot continue to be silent spectators at this disgusting show!!!
(2) Liberty of expression
Meetings of high powered commit tees and, detailed talks on eliminating polls violence have already begun!!! Representatives of the contesting parties are assured the liberty of expression to campaign in an atmosphere of justice and freedom!!! The hopes of each and every representative are singularly equivocal, but the tenacious minds that fashion and cushion the exalted virtues of free and fair elections are multipronged!!! The question is, do we believe in this???
(3) Cannot hope to survive
Strategies fashioned in unimaginable depths of degradation will eventually surface and be carried out on the blood-soaked altars of ambition!!! The stage is being set but we cannot even begin to write epitaphs for freedom because of the autocratic manner in which assaults are launched on individuals and institutions that seek to protect freedom. A government which is not responsive to the people’s will and propounds change only from platforms cannot even hope to survive!!! A government which is inflexible and static, that refuses to meet changing conditions and consistently refutes the inalienable right for free and fair elections is past its use!!!
(4) Bikes for students
As we said last week, the Grade 5 Examination being made non-mandatory has given rise to much speculation!!! Children from the rural areas looked on that examination as their sole stepping stone to a decent school in Colombo!!! What we fail to realize are the grim realities that those poor children have to contend with in their day to day lives!!! Most of them have no money to go to school, no money for books and other basic necessities; so you see them standing along the roads trying desperately to sell a bundle of gotukola, some murunga, or any other vegetable that has been grown in their gardens!!! The heartbreaking reality is that they have no means of getting to their schools other than walking there; no matter what the distance, these poor kids have to walk, come rain or shine!!! Instead of offering them WiFi, Laptops, IPads etc., why don’t the authorities think of giving them something practical, something useful like push bicycles that will get them to school, even a school bus, bags for use in school and perhaps even a small meal allowance or a meal that will help sustain them!!! These practical issues are what should be uppermost in the minds of the authorities; how best to alleviate the suffering of these poor children!!! THEY ARE ALSO OUR CHILDREN AND NEED TO BE LOOKED AFTER EVEN MORE THAN THOSE WHO HAVE!!!
(5) Paddy farmers concerned
A New Year has dawned and with it the hopes and aspirations of the people are once again reignited; but to no avail!!! According to paddy farmers, the end of the paddy harvesting season and the dawn of the New Year did not herald the guaranteed price promised to paddy farmers!!! As a result, paddy farmers claim their state of livelihood has declined very badly and they have no choice but to sell to wholesale traders at a price lower than the guaranteed price!!! According to News First “The farmers have no choice but to sell their crops to wholesale traders at a price lower than the guaranteed price. While the farmers in Galenbidunuwewa are suffering in this way, the farmers in Karuwalagaswewa, Puttalam are left with no choice but to store their harvest in their houses.” Saddest of all, the farmers say “There is no new year for us this year. Look there is no space for a visitor to come and sit inside our house. There is paddy everywhere.” Another one says: We have been made very helpless. My husband sleeps outside the house. The children and I sleep in the kitchen.” How sad, how bleak!!! News First also says the Paddy Marketing Board is the main government body responsible for purchasing, selling, supplying and distributing paddy and rice!!! However, the Paddy Marketing Board is only purchasing less than 3% of the country’s annual harvest!!! So, what happened to what was once the Granary of the East???
(6) Think of the less fortunate
With the dawning of the New Year, all people naturally hope that there will be true peace, goodwill, sincerity and prosperity in our land!!! Most of all that those who have, particularly those who have wealth and prosperity in abundance will spare a thought for our less fortunate brothers and sisters; but more than that for our less fortunate children!!! Some of them don’t even have clothes to cover their nakedness, leave alone dress for the New Year!!! In other countries you hear of self-made millionaires and billionaires, some of whom had even gone without meals and clothes to wear but who persisted with inflexible strength of purpose and made it to where they are today!!! They are the ones who stop to think of the less fortunate, to feed, and to clothe; they have sincerity of purpose; what they do is free from pretense, deceit and hypocrisy because it comes from the core of their hearts!!! All our society women who only want to be seen at the ‘IN’ parties or lunches and high teas, our gentlemen who would rather spend money on a race horse than feed a poor child; this is the heartless, inhumane, raucous society we live in today; the ‘IN’ SCENE AS IT IS KNOWN AND APPLAUDED!!!
(7) Develop a greater deeper moral sense
For Buddhist, Hindus, Christians, new vistas have opened, new eras beckon!!! Let us try to make them fruitful, worthwhile and overflowing with humanity!!! For a change, let us see some orphanages, elder’s homes, hospitals particularly children’s hospitals being looked after by those who have and being given the publicity they deserve!!! Let them be proud to be associated with these humane activities instead of wanting to be continuously seen as part of the ‘IN SCENE’ – HOW MUCH MORE REWARDING THAT WOULD BE, NOT JUST IN THIS LIFE BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY IN THE NEXT!!! It is ALL THAT YOU WILL TAKE TO THE NEXT WORLD, not your furs, clothes, jewels, scrumptious cuisines etc., We all need to develop a greater deeper moral sense, we need to move from SELFISH TO SELFLESS, to acknowledge THE PRICE OF PROGRESS AND IF IT IS REALLY AND TRULY WORTH IT???