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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2705

Sri Lanka – The Island that evolution left behind

By Geoffrey Evarts

The developed world is poised to take its next evolutionary step.

The most powerful nation in the world is showing that its racist roots have withered - A young coloured immigrant with an Islamic background is poised to take the chair as the most powerful man on earth… Even if Barak Obama loses the US presidential election, his very nomination from the worlds’ oldest political party (The US Democrats) signals that the American nation is rising from its petty racial and religious differences, and is truly evolving into a multicultural, multi-religious, multiethnic super-nation that is set to dominate Earth for the next century (in the least).

Meanwhile, European nations are slowly but surely fusing together to form a Federal superstate. These nations – some of them traditional enemies since the stone ages – are fusing their economies in order to compete on par with the relentless American economic juggernaut. The European parliament is almost daily passing legislation that is tying these traditional enemies closer together on an unprecedented scale. Russia is the only European nation to (currently) resist this inevitable trend.

Smaller but powerful economic tigers like Japan, Australia, Singapore, Canada etc are spending vast amounts of money and converting their economies to face an energy starved future. In order to do so means that the political boundaries of these countries are pushed to its very edge to survive the times. The politicians in these countries are taking unpopular decisions in order to precipitate the necessary changes to face the future as strong, prosperous nations. Some of these decisions trample the toes of powerful energy barons - financial backers of these politicians. But these decisions are being taken anyway for the greater good of the people.

Even in the “new economic giants”, Chinese and Indian politicians are taking the second step of political evolution and actually beginning to work towards the betterment of its people, while slowly cracking down on corruption, waste and caste.

And where is Sri Lanka in all this evolution?

In Sri Lanka, racism, bigotry, elitism and political favouritism is still running rampant. Brother is fighting brother in a war over real estate & ego. The country’s ruling elite is still tinkering with Sri Lanka’s political system 60 years after independence. The island has been made into a political guineapig by its post independence ruling elite, switching political paths from left, to right, and then left again... The populace (who is ultimately to blame for its plight) is STILL voting for the raucous politicians who talk the loudest and promise the most, instead of voting for the high achievers or personalities with honesty and merit. These guttural sounding rulers piously advocate tightening the belt and sending the poor mans’ children to war and a gory death, while they themselves grow fat and live and travel in air conditioned comfort. And their children (who roam the world with them in some cases) are guarded by elite Commando’s.

The double standards of the ruling elite was amply displayed from the recent opposition UNP “bullock cart” protest March, where the luxury Prado’s and Montero’s burned fuel behind the pondering bullock carts. What hypocrisy! It is no wonder the opposition is branded as “backboneless” and “weak”!

This writer (who is one of the hypocrites because he lives in a developed nation) has friends and relatives back home who tell him how hard it is to live on a monthly salary of 15-20,000 Rupees. But he (the writer) cannot even BEGIN to grasp the plight of those families of 3, 4 or 5 persons living on an income of 5 to 10,000 rupees or less! Coconuts are being sold by the quarter! Milk powder is sold loose by the gram! Help!! We do not have enough money to eat! But we still have to pay for a war that is killing us??? Where is the logic in that?

A funny anecdote

The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently came in for some heavy flak for employing a butler and hiring a 5 star suite on a state visit to America. So much so that there are reports that the Australian Prime Minister is thinking of getting rid of this butler (or an additional secretary, as he himself explained it), while also uncomfortably answering questions about the 5 star hotel stay…

While watching the Australian PM getting all hot and bothered over these criticisms, I laughed to myself thinking whether Sri Lankan rulers would ever feel guilty about their excesses and indiscretions. Every government minister (and some opposition politicians) has anywhere between 10 and 100 private secretaries, co-ordinating secretaries, and additional secretaries - each provided a government vehicle (sometimes 2 or 3, depending on seniority) and a thumping salary (how about the many butlers, cooks and servants only the treasury knows). The President, the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader have more than a hundred advisors and so called “secretaries extraordinaire” between themselves. And we can’t help but mention the 5 star hotels and unnecessary foreign jaunts that our leaders indulge in.

All these funded by a poor, starving, war ravaged nation.

Will our politicians ever feel guilty about their sins? Hell no! “We are the ruling elite, and must be treated as such”! Is what they seem to be saying.

And it seems to me (the hypocritical first world citizen), that it’s the developed world which is trying to curb their indulgences and excesses, while in good ole Lanka, the ruling elite consider all the luxuries they enjoy as a god given right! And anybody protesting against these luxurious buffets should be thrown into an unmarked white van and beaten up! What!

Another few funny anecdotes

How about the story of the US Congressman caught drunk driving? Or the British Prime Minister who was forced to leave for staying in power for too long? Or the Governor of an American state who was forced to resign over patronage of a high class brothel? Would any Lankan politician be convicted for drunk driving? No. Would any Lankan politician resign because he or she has passed his/her “used by” date? Not without a fight. Would any Lankan politician be convicted for patronising (never mind patronising, how about owning?) a brothel? NO.

The points in this anecdote are a few stark ones - Political misconduct, the absence of gentlemanly politics, and the lack of impartiality by Sri Lankas’ law enforcement authorities. Can Lanka’s political culture (vulture is the more appropriate term) ever change? Can Lankan law enforcement ever show impartiality in the face of its ruling elite breaking the law? Can Sri Lankan law enforcement show that it is there to protect the poor man travelling by bus, and not the poor politician travelling by Prado? The answer from the common masses is a RESOUNDING NO! The common masses in Sri Lanka do not have confidence in the law enforcement authorities or the ability of politicians to deliver the goods.

It’s either here….

The LTTE has never shown that it is genuinely interested in a peaceful settlement for the betterment of Tamils. Prabhakarans’ constant reiteration of a separate Eelam, and his ruthless attacks on civilians underlines this fact. Hence the suppression, or better yet, the elimination of the Prabha led LTTE is a necessity. However, a half-hearted war would never defeat Velupillai Prabhakaran, who is committed to TOTAL WAR.

When wars were fought in the first world, it was fought as TOTAL WAR. TOTAL WAR was hard decisions by politicians who didn’t think of their political future, but who thought of the long term future of their country/state. Wartime European, Asian and American leaders saw the need to finish a war one way or the other as soon as possible, so the country could get on with uplifting the lives of its citizens sans bloodshed. Hence the option for TOTAL WAR. TOTAL WAR was conscription. TOTAL WAR was fully committing their country’s’/states’ economy and resources to finishing a destructive, socially erosive conflict AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Not a war lasting 30 long years (and counting) which is taking an unimaginable human and social toll. Not a lukewarm war fought by the poor youth in the hinterland who have no other choice, while the city slickers go to night clubs and party like there’s no tomorrow.

Or there….

Talk peace. Talk devolution. Talk till the cows come home. Talk Sri Lanka to a compromise, so that a suffering nation can raise its head again and begin to catch up with a world that has left it behind.

The common man wants to do business, put good food on the table, make a comfortable life for his children, and stand on his own two feet. He doesn’t care about words like “devolution”, or “federalism”. All he wants to do is live.

However (sadly) he (the common man) DOES blindly follow that raucous politician who promises him the moon, the stars, and a cheap ‘pol gediya’.

At the funerals…

Every LTTE suicide bombing, every government/LTTE military offensive, every abduction, every killing generates a funeral. What do the families of these victims think at the funeral? Well, here’s a few guesses. Correct me if I’m wrong.

• The Tamil families hate the Sinhalese even more.
• The Sinhalese families hate the Tamils even more.
• Some families wonder how this heartbreak ever happened..

Every death spawns a ripple effect of sadness, anger and hate within that family and community. When and how is this going to end? Who is going to end it once and for all? Will it ever end once and for all?

The point of this article?

Will Sri Lanka ever see a Tamil, Muslim or Burgher President? Will Sri Lanka ever see total, lasting peace and harmony? Will Sri Lankan citizens ever be as prosperous as those enviable “suddhas” in the developed world? Will Sri Lanka ever take the next few steps of evolution? At the moment, these goals seem highly unlikely, even though the Island Nation has the talent to do so.

This writer is afraid that when a history of Earth is written a thousand years from now, the caption on Sri Lanka might read;

“Sri Lanka – The beautiful island that evolution left behind”.

- Asian Tribune -

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