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The Dark midnight is over; a new dawn over Lanka - EDITORIAL

3 February 2015 06:40 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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As we today celebrate the 67th anniversary of Independence in a new era of good governance, democracy and social justice, we need to reflect on what some great personalities have said regarding freedom and liberty. English historian and politician Lord Acton has said liberty is not a means to a higher political end, it is itself the highest political end. English writer and well-known art critic, William Hazlitt has said the love of liberty is the love of others, the love of power is the love of ourselves.


President Maithripala Sirisena who will take the salute at today’s ceremonies said in his first message to the nation that he had no intention of being a king but had committed himself to be the chief servant of the people. The principle of servant leadership is a hallowed concept that has everlasting value. At a simple ceremony on January 11 for the swearing-in of the new Cabinet of Ministers, the President advised them not to crave for or cling to power.


Being a man who practises before he preaches, the President pointed out that on November 21  last year, he had taken a challenging and risky decision to let go of  his posts as a senior Minister and as General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. He said if he had failed, he and his family might have been killed. But letting-go worked and 6.2 million people voted for him at the presidential election on January 8 in a move that is changing Sri Lanka’s history.


Indeed we need to be fully aware that we are living in a historical era  of  an all-party National Unity Government with a new political culture where the leaders are selfless, sacrificial and sincerely serve the people instead of the unprecedented plunder of public wealth and resources by the discredited former regime. It was the worst of times and all roads led to corruption and the abuse of power, with the breakdown of the rule of law, the independent Judiciary, the Police service and other vital institutions or pillars of democracy.It is a time-tested truth that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. The sovereign people and the newly independent media need to play a key role  by keeping a close watch to ensure that the new leaders maintain the highest standards of accountability and transparency, honesty and integrity.


On a day like this, political, religious and other leaders need to be aware of the need for a gradual inner liberation from slavery to selfishness and self-centredness,  greed and the craving for power, popularity and prestige. Unless and until this happens, the talk of  independence, freedom and liberty will border on hypocrisy and they will be like whitewashed sepulchres, preaching without practising and   trying to grab without giving to the country.


Since 1948, and especially after the breakaway of  S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike to form the SLFP in 1952, we have seen largely confrontational politics. While a multi-party system is vital for democracy, in Sri Lanka it has degenerated into a desire for personal or party gain or glory. After the imposition of the executive presidential system in 1978, the situation became worse and the first President J.R. Jayewardene had undated letters of resignation from all Government MPs.


The crisis gradually worsened. Stooging and servile flattery became the vices through which top posts or promotions were obtained. From 2005 and especially after 2010, it became a family dynasty. Rajapaksa was the law. The family members and those who were ready to indulge in stooging and servile flattery were able to become multi-millionaires at public expense.


Hopefully, the silent and non-violent revolution of the people on January 8 marks the dawn of a new era of good governance. The dark midnight is over, the fresh air of freedom is blowing throughout the country, the winds of change are blowing in the trees and illusions are becoming a dream in the aftermath of the worst nightmare in Sri Lanka’s history.
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