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Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

23 November 2019 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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This is from that old gentlemen who thanked Gotabaya Rajapaksa, personally for constructing the jogging track and the beautiful lake at Bellanwila, which was once a marshy land breeding mosquitoes, a few months back when he was jogging along and waved his acknowledgement.    


This letter is mainly my comments and observations on his first day’s action. One which caught my eye was the attire he was in at the swearing-in ceremony. He was in a white short-sleeved shirt and white trousers and no coloured shawl – Blue, Green, Red or Kurakkan colour round his neck and the ‘Magody suite’ which our politicians wear. That shows he is independent and will act according to his conscience, of course with the advice of experts and professionals whom he proposes to engage and the Cabinet of knowledgeable men.   

 
The next act is his instructions to pull down pictures of political leaders in government offices and to have only the government emblem. This shows he is not seeking personal glory or recognition but the glory of the country and its people. It is not out of place, I consider, to mention the origin of hanging of pictures in government offices. This concept started with setting up of Mobile Offices and Gamudawa in villages by former president R. Premadasa when he was the then Prime Minister. I would wish to narrate my experience, which I have done earlier as well. The instructions were that an officer should be appointed, who could take decisions on the spot and see that they are carried out without delay. I was appointed from my ministry for this duty. A school is selected by the Prime Minister and officers should move one day ahead to set up office in a school classroom. My first day’s experience is worth mentioning. That evening after I set up office in the classroom allotted to my ministry, a few officers from the Prime Minister’s Mobile Secretariat walked in and questioned me rather rudely as to why I had not hung a picture of the Prime Minister. Before I replied I asked who they were and for their identity, I told that there was no such instructions and I have not brought a picture. One of them ran back to the Prime Minister’s Mobile Office Secretariat and brought a framed photograph of Prime Minister R. Premadasa and hung it on the wall behind where I was to sit. While leaving the officer told me that the Prime Minister was very particular to have his picture exhibited. All this time, my clerical assistant and KKS were hearing what the officers said. This done, I went to the house of a villager with whom I was to lodge that night. For the present, I will not describe the hospitality of the grand old villager. Next morning, I went to the school where the Mobile office was to be held. To my utter surprise, the clerical assistant and the KKS had garlanded the picture with ‘Watu Suuda’ flowers, plucked from a tree in the school garden. I questioned as to why this was done and my clerical assistant and the KKS said that they heard what the officers had said of the importance of the picture of PM hence placed a garland to give added recognition. Sure enough, the PM walked in as usual on his rounds and I could see by his facial expression he was highly pleased. That was the start of hanging pictures of political leaders. This was further expanded by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa not only in offices, but also at bus stands, lanes and other construction sites of course with the photograph of the MP of the area and provincial council member. One wonders at what cost and whose money. The action of the newly appointed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will stop this waste which amounts to fraud and corruption.    

 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, having been a war veteran and an administrator as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, I am confident he will never give in to personal favours 

 

Next is most important. The clergy now claims this victory is mainly due to their involvement, and thereby expect to influence the government. This canard is absolutely false as the people are very knowledgeable and seeing and experiencing the Yahapalana government’s miserable failure to deliver the goods as promised and further deterioration, voted against. Hence, it would be best to keep the clergy at bay if a stable democratic government is to be established to fulfil the election pledges. Let the clergy solely be engaged in propagating, fostering and preaching with minimum interference from the government. I say this because of my personal experience at a very famous temple in my area where the Incumbent monk, who is no more, said when I complained about a monk in his temple refusing to issue me a pirith noola and requested me to come later. The tying of pirith nool has become a nuisance and hampers other work. What other work other than serving the devotees. Is it dabbling in politics? Let not the lesson of SWRD government repeat itself. It is relevant to mention what the authority on democracy - Erskine May said of Religion in democracy – “From the secular point of view religion is a hindrance to democracy as it enforces a set of legal and societal principles, separation of religions and the state is required to protect freedom and ensure equality from a legal point of view, democracy can never enjoy general acceptance in a religious society. Anything outside of rigid interpretation texts is rejected and God rather than the people is sovereign”.     


President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, having been a war veteran and an administrator as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, I am confident he will never give in to personal favours. Upper most in his priorities should be independent Judiciary and law enforcers. We have seen in the past how the judiciary and the law enforcers [Police] had been influenced.   

 
It is time to have a new model of government replacing the seventy-year-old system and it is best to quote what R. Buckminister Fuller said of a new model. – “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”. That is what new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should do as much as King Constantine did to avoid breaking up the Roman Empire due to religious conflict between pagans and Christians.    


 To quote from Dan Brown’s Book Da Vinci Code – “Constantine needed to strengthen the new Christian tradition and held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea. At the council many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon. The date of Easter, the role of Bishops, administration of sacrament and the divinity of Jesus. This not only precluded further pagan challenges to Christianity, but new followers of Christ were able to redeem themselves only via the established sacred channel – the Roman Catholic Church. Historians marvel at the brilliance with which Constantine converted the Sun-Worshiping pagans to Christianity” So be it with our 
Gotabaya Rajapaksa.     


Above is an example to set up a new model government fusing what was good in previous governments with the new thinking of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Maybe a new hybrid Constitution.     

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