any years ago studying Shakespearean drama one heard of the remark made by Marcellus in “Hamlet.” Act I, Scene 4: stating that “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Perhaps it appears to our politicians, especially in the ruling party, that a similar occurrence has taken place with the pending election for the Uva Provincial Council. It appears that presently a lot of things are amiss for else why should there be so much violence, disregard for election laws and contempt of the very rule of law which they should have been the first to observe.
A parliament consisting of over a hundred ministers and providing the necessary two third majority happily saw not only the demise of the 17th Amendment but also the establishment of the 18th, which placed supreme power in the hands of those in authority and made a mockery of the independence that would have existed under the 17th Amendment in the various independent commissions that were set up to safeguard the rule-of-law.
A parliament consisting of over a hundred ministers and providing the necessary two third majority happily saw not only the demise of the 17th Amendment but also the establishment of the 18th
Politicians of various hues, many of whom who gave up the loyalty they had to their own political party voters and joined the ranks of the government forgetting that a little improvised district called Uva existed . To them what mattered most was that they were able to enjoy the perks and privileges of position which often was accused of lack transparency, accountability and in many instances rank corruption. They did not consider that there were the poor and marginalised in the interior of the country to whom the ultra modern infrastructural development of Colombo and the suburbs with their highways, expressways and arcades were just a fantasy which they saw occasionally on TV. The essential reality of those marginalised by those whom they elected and were supposed to be their representatives, was how they could survive, feed and school their children without proper roads, transport systems and a sustainable development to enable them to earn a living.
On paper and in political speeches the politicians painted rosy pictures of make believe development but what have they actually done for the poor? Quoting statistical data is easy when often that data is manipulated to suit the fancies of those in authority. We are supposed to have a per capita income of over 2000 dollars whereas the gulf between the rich in the corporate world and the new rich politicians as against the marginalised poor has widened to unbelievable proportions.
We have not achieved any great development in the industrial sector except for the existing garment factories and we continue to be considered an agricultural country where the farmer is the essential unit of sustainable development. But though schemes were developed and proclaimed to make home gardens a viable possibility and to provide farmers and fisher-folk with a market for their produce what really happened is that it is much easier to import food items than provide facilities for the marginalised to develop themselves. And as escalating food prices provide a platform for the poor and the fixed wage earner to rail against their political representatives it is so much easier to import rice and sell it at Rs. 60 and sprats at Rs. 375 a kilo and claim that that prices have not increased and that saying so is just a ploy of Opposition to discredit the government. A visit to the Government Sathosa retail outlets will show the farmer from which countries these low priced food has arrived to the market whilst they are yet unable to obtain a proper system to market their own produce. Perhaps they are unable to provide the new coterie surrounding politicians that has emerged the necessary perks and privileges. In fact corruption is so rampant now that some of the bureaucrats that formed the backbone of the country’s administration often want a “santhosam” to even repair a small road that comes under their purview.
Now that the Uva elections have brought to light the stagnating economic plight of the marginalised poor of the once proud Wellasa area, certain politicians seeking their votes are seen violating every ethical principle and election law possible to somehow or another get the elusive vote from a people betrayed by their political propaganda.
Let the authorities open their eyes even at this late stage and be true to themselves that not all the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’s can bring sustainable development to the people unless the politicians are genuinely committed to the well-being of the people they represent. For in the final analysis, as the quote taken from Hamlet points out so well, things are unsatisfactory; and there is something wrong in the country.