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When politicians believe in short-term glory

22 April 2021 02:51 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In 2019 President Maithripala Sirisena declared open the Jaffna International Airport in Palaly, but do we hear much about this facility these days? The picture shows an Indian Alliance aircraft taxing on the tarmac after landing on the Jaffna International Airport (Pic AFP) 

 

We know that things are really bad in education when such subjects are highlighted tele dramas and filmmakers are working on it at present

We criticise the Rajapaksas, but we don’t have the patience to see whether some of the projects they started had potential

 

Perspective must be backed by solid thinking and without the veil of politics. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka we tend to see everything through the lense of politics. We criticise the Rajapaksas, but we don’t have the patience to see whether some of the projects they started had potential.

 

Good examples are the Mattala International Airport and the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Sooriyawewa. At the height of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime tourists arriving in Sri Lanka via Mattala could land in the island 30 minutes earlier if they chose it as an alternative route to arriving at Katunayake. Thinking on these same lines of aviation in 2019 President Maithripala Sirisena declared open the Jaffna International Airport in Palaly, but do we hear much about this facility these days?


Much has been said about the cricket stadium in Sooriyawewa where only two world cup matches were played, in 2011. Constructing this venue in remote Hambantota was done with a positive mindset. At least the powerful family thought of giving the economically backward village of Hambantota a facelift. But that didn’t happen. The authorities could have used the stadium for future sports activities or as a training facility for other disciplines; however they didn’t. Still there is potential to make it a sporting hub. But politics is a dirty game and Sri Lankan lawmakers play that game well. For the record this sports facility was used by the Yahapalana regime to store rice. 
The problem with Sri Lankan politicians is that they don’t follow up a start to a project which has potential. And to add to this voters in this country have short memories. Over the years we’ve seen many projects initiated by lawmakers, but they don’t reach a state where much is spoken about such initiatives even after a regime change. There are exceptions though; the Indian Government funded ‘1990 Suwa Seriya’ ambulance service which was commenced during the Yahapalana regime is continued with by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime. This is how it should be; if the previous government commenced a project that’s viable then a regime which assumes power in later years must see the need to continue with it. 

 

Sri Lankans need to be disciplined in maintaining projects they commence in the island. At the same time the government must identify local industries and aid entrepreneurs who have served this country well by continuing their production lines and providing jobs to thousands of employees


The issue with Sri Lankans is that they aren’t demanding and let lawmakers with a shaky past rule the roost; again and again. We need to be more demanding as voters with a franchise and find a system to block corrupt politicians from retuning to parliament as our representatives. There are politicians in the present regime and the opposition who have the potential to start commercially viable projets where the benefits can trickle to the citizens. But the majority of the lawmakers have not served this nation and instead survived in the shadows of able lawmakers. A good example is mediocre politicians surviving under the umbrella expanded by Mahinda Rajapaksa in the field of politics. The list of those who have survived in this manner runs wide. We just have to be mindful. 


When Sri Lanka celebrated its 73rd independence day in February there were so many posts on social media questioning what our lawmakers had done for the country and its people for such a long time. If we analyse closely many ambitious projects were commenced in the past, but the citizens of this country saw benefits trickling down to them. And coming back to the hard earned independence in 1948 and the ushering in of peace in the country by the year 2009 have been threatened; the former by the ambitious presence of the Chinese here and the latter due to the emerging of religious extremism in the country. 

 

These obstacles remind us of an annoying habit Sri Lakans have which is to start a project with the enthusiasm of an interviewee, but view the follow up akin to cleaning the dishes after a party


Just take tour around the country and see how many schools started with much pomp and pageantry are one the verge of closing down. We know that things are really bad in education when such subjects are highlighted tele dramas and filmmakers are working on it at present. 


Sri Lankans need to be disciplined in maintaining projects they commence in the island. At the same time the government must identify local industries and aid entrepreneurs who have served this country well by continuing their production lines and providing jobs to thousands of employees. We know of industries like the ones producing incense sticks, kites and Vesak pandols thriving in the past, but being affected by imports. It’s a responsibility of any regime to protect local manufacturers because certain manufacturing skills have been past down from generations and some arts and crafts are in danger of being gong into extinct. 


Governments in Sri Lanka did start the ferry service within Colombo limits and a much publicized Colombo Lotus Tower; the latter being promoted as revenue earner in the industries of tourism and communication.   

 

There is potential to make the cricket stadium in Sooriyawewa a sporting hub. But politics is a dirty game. For the record this sports facility was used by the Yahapalana regime to store rice


Our lawmakers are ambitious ‘creatures’, quick to start projects sans much thinking and then lose interest and focus. This was once a country which could sustain itself with the rice produced at home. There are stories from the past that the islanders even exported some of the excess produce. But we see a nation which once consumed sufficient rice for all three meals struggling to see where the next grain of rice would come from. A rice mafia operates in this country and the culprits are large scale mill owners. We only have to rekindle the past and see that we were a nation where the paddy farmer was so closely associated with the king who helped them. 


Even now the paddy farmer has been promised much by the present regime, but despite a cracking start by the man with a military past, who took the initiative to find a solution the rice issue sees obstacles in his way. 


These obstacles remind us of an annoying habit Sri Lakans have which is to start a project with the enthusiasm of an interviewee, but view the follow up akin to cleaning the dishes after a party. This nature is confirmed by the urge to adorn a facility, that serves the public, with a board that carries the name of a lawmaker who attends its opening ceremony!

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