This quotable quote from the satirical poet John Dryden’s “The portrait of Zimri in “Absalom and Achitophel” seems quite pertinent to the quotidian political hot potato Sri Lanka is passing through in her gravest period of recent history.
In fact, Sri Lanka is gearing towards a crucial situation to elect members for her legislature who would seal the destiny of the country. This time, the General Elections 2015, the Litmus Test of her political maturity would give a loud call to the whole world with regard to where she stands on the global scenario. The whole responsibility rests on the shoulders of the voter of the Sri Lankan electorate. On account of the bewilderment being created by print and electronic media, in which they are confronted with a situation of not seeing the wood for the trees. The situation is uneasy due to the very fact that as the country is not yet out of the woods of “Yahapalanaya” and “Mahinda Chinthanaya”.
This preamble to the chaotic and volatile political situation forms a launching pad for me to delve on my emblematic title in my attempt to analyze the current situation in the light of the salient features of the satirical period of English literature spearheaded by John Dryden and Alexander Pope, prominently.
John Dryden won the day through his plays and poetry. His profound studies into classical literature put him on a good stead. His literary career was quite parallel to the political situation of the contemporary period and regime change. His life spanning from 1631 to 1700 is a period to reckon with, because of its historical significance. His “Annus Mirabilis” could be an augury for Sri Lanka in the current context. His oeuvre bears ample testimony for how the natural cause would decide a country’s future, therefore the main objective of this piece of writing is a concerted attempt to record a period of time in our motherland in which the man-made moral paralysis is reaching dizzy heights as it seems that our so-called guardians of the nation are going to lose the rudder. Political satires of this nature should essentially come under the microscopic view of the political analysis off this day and age, and thus the Disc Jockey like political analysts could perform their duty by the nation in a classical manner other than dragging the nation to a bottomless despair.
Almost all the literary giants in the world have derived their inspiration for writing from “The Bible” and the great bard and myriad-minded playwright that the world has ever seen, William Shakespeare. Thus, John Dryden had the necessary inspiration for this biting satire from the Bible. Hence, the title is a biblical allusion. Both John Dryden and Alexander Pope firmly believed that classical literature could be used for reformation of rulers and subsequently people to be benefited in the process. On this count, let me make a humble attempt to open the eyes of the Sri Lankan voter to whom they should vote for a better Sri Lanka for our prodigy to nourish when the septuagenarian political masterminds leave the shore to heal their wounds for a comeback.
In the forthcoming election foray, there could be “princess of the land”. The voter has to make an in-depth study of the candidates who would contest. They would shout loud that “They are princes” of the land and “Mankind’s Epitome”. But yet they could be international conspirators to discredit our sacred precincts of the legislature - The Parliament, in the idyllic backdrop of Diyawannaoya. In fact, most of these ‘princes’ should have jumped into the placid reservoir and commit suicide throwing the Excalibur they forcibly grabbed from the righteous rulers. The ethanol princes, drug traffickers, murderers, philanderers, illiterate and self-appointed representatives and all sorts of racketeers who do not know their onions should not be allowed to make our August Assembly sacrilegious.
They declare that they are versatile characters. But our recent history drives home the concept that most of our parliamentarians are incapable of discharging their bounden duties by the nation. Yet, the tax-payer is compelled to pay them a handsome salary and bear the expenses of their unimaginable perks. To make the matters worse, they use filthy words from their foul mouths to be learnt by the tax-payers innocent children who visit the place for educational purposes. It is very ridiculous that their opinions are nakedly wrong. Yet, they are “Stiff in opinions”. They don’t really represent the people’s voice. They are square pegs in round holes.
In the Westminster system, a member of the Parliament is duty-bound to study all the intricacies of the ministry or the portfolio he is going to be appointed to as the Minister-in-charge. But, in Sri Lanka, it is very ironical that if our ministers become an utter failure in one field he is appointed as a Minister in another. From petroleum to education, from trade to sports, from finance to Ayurveda or when there is nothing to be given to their stooges, a separate ministry is created which is very irrelevant to him. For instance, we have never heard in the parliamentary history of a separate portfolio for languages.
It is a very minor subject that comes under the purview of the Minister of Cultural Affairs. Therefore, the Minister becomes disgruntled and ends up a “dried pumpkin” and a fly in the ointment. The decorum in August Assembly vanishes and becomes unparliamentary. So, the voter should be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
In our recent history, we observed how our legislators behaved in public life. How can one man play the role of many a profession. Our ex-ministers and MPs argued bitterly and vehemently in Parliament in day time, yet at night time they sang songs on the public stages or at night clubs, got drunk, involved in nefarious brawls and went home fully bandaged with poppy bruise. A genuine statesman doesn’t get into the boots of other professionals. There is a vast contrast between the aesthetic or affective domain and their trusted duty. In fact, they mostly play the role of buffoons, not statesmen or legislators like the late JR or Lakshman Kadirgamar.
Most of our ex-legislators seem to be alcoholics but not workaholics. It is the nemesis if the nation, philandering is their way of life. Women are greatly benefited by their foolish behaviour.A ruler should be guided by his own credo with the nation’s welfare in his heart, when we switch on to any TV channel or go through the printed media, we come to know that our representatives at Diyawanna Oya have fanciful ideas on different spheres of activity. They begin new projects with much fanfare spending tax payers’ money and in no time the projects fail. Or else do not get off the ground. They remain at thinking stage.
To cap them all, most of our so-called leaders use abusive language in public. I have observed that the judgments of our politicos range between two extremes. At times, they are over violent, and sometimes over peaceful. Zimri also had this negative trait. “Railing and praising were his usual themes: so over violent or over civil
That every man, with him was God or Devil”
Our rulers’ public behavior is that people, their own voters, get rude punishments from them at their offices. Most of our public representatives lack sense and sensibility in dealing with their constituents.According to the information I have gathered from different provinces for this article, some of the political figures have been dragged into abject poverty even by fools. What at last they have earned is foolish enjoyment that serves nothing. The crux of the matter is that these politicians realize their folly too late for them to bandage their wounds.
The other day, a very old Septuagenarian tried his level best to come to limelight by forming a brand new political party. But it didn’t get off the ground. It is a red light to red politics.That’s why in Sri Lanka we find so many political parties of which the total membership could travel in one three-wheeler. In course of time leadership is pick-pocketed.
Sri Lanka is a country abundant with both natural and human resources. What our country needs at this crucial moment is election of well-versed, well-informed, educated, well-behaved and far-sighted leaders to take the country forward. The voter has a bounden-duty in casting his vote for the betterment of the country.
Since gaining independence, what the voter has experienced is the illusion of the balance of power between green and blue. In this sense, the historical April uprising 1971 is a landmark in the annals of Sri Lankan politics.
The late Dr. Ediriweera Sarachchandra once addressed the convocation of the University of Peradeniya and reminded the people the value of Plato’s great saying, “The ruler of a country should essentially be a philosopher and a philosopher should be a ruler.”
It bears added significance because of the very fact that he suffered from the bitter experiences once in his life when there was no such a ruler in a certain period.
“Forewarned is forearmed”