Jayatilleke de Silva, in The Daily News, 29 January 2016, where the title is “Theatre of the absurd in local politics”
Adolf Hitler claimed that Germans are of Aryan stock and that they are superior to other races. That is why he wanted to purify Germany by destroying the Jews. The world knows how this doctrine of racial superiority ended. It developed into the dangerous doctrine of fascism. In his crusade for world supremacy hundreds of Jews and others were put in concentration camps and executed. Of course Hitler appealed to the people in the name of patriotism and socialism to grab power “democratically”. The most deplorable factor in that situation was not the acquiescence of the ignorant but the silence of those who knew where Hitler was heading.
This foray into history, in my opinion, is not out of place in view of certain developments in the local political scene today. If you are travelling on the road you could see a label painted on the back windscreens of cars and three wheelers with the words Sinha Le (lion blood) with the second word depicted in blood red, implying that the Sinhala people have lion blood in them. It is based on the unscientific belief that lion blood denotes superiority.
It is for scientists to investigate the similarities and dissimilarities of lion blood and human blood. For the moment it would be interesting to ask whether a transfusion of lion blood would be accepted by the human body. However, science categorically shows that all humans have the same blood whatever their ethnic, religious, class or social differences are. The human race has existed for thousands of years long before these historically evolved divisions including race and religion appeared.
Communal tensions: Sinha Le has become a signature line of a new brand of rabid racists who want to consolidate a Sinhala hegemony over the non-Sinhala population of the country. Propagation of such superiority is certain to exacerbate communal tensions and disturb the current atmosphere of peace and goodwill among communities. It is sad that these divisive and dangerous policies have not been rebuffed categorically by State and political party authorities. On the other hand, there seems to be collusion between chauvinist forces led by the former President and his followers. If inter-communal relations worsen to the level of impending racial riots these adherents would be willing partners of hit squads that would be released to create mayhem. The resurgent antics of Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera of Bodu Bala Sena notoriety is also a harbinger of possible escalation of chauvinist activity.
This dangerous new trend in rabid racist politics should be nipped in the bud. Failure to do so would have dangerous consequences including Sri Lanka once again being relegated to the position of a pariah state by the international community and serious constraints on economic development with obvious repercussions on the living standards and the future well-being of the people, particularly those of the future generations.
Misappropriation of public funds: Time and energy of those who hold high office as well as the media that should be concentrated on solving much more urgent and vital problems of the people are dissipated by another diversion. This is seen by a quick perusal of the media these days. A disproportionately large space is being occupied by spokesmen of rival factions within the SLFP on matters of their internal politics with the result that discussion and debate of such vital matters as Constitution making has been relegated to a secondary place.
The President in his other capacity as the President of the SLFP is compelled to devote much of his valuable time to internal party politics of the SLFP than attending to matters of State. Moreover the majority of SLFPers both inside and outside Parliament are campaigning for continuation of policies of the last regime that immense pressure is brought on him to compromise on principles. It is necessary to remind that some of the demands of these elements run counter to the aspirations of the people expressed on both January 8 and August 17, 2015.
In this situation issues of good governance has been placed in the back burner. For example, the pledge to institute clean Government is being obstructed by two factors. One is the lack of progress against public servants and politicians of the former regime who have been charged on various counts of bribery, fraud and misappropriation of public funds. One year has passed and we are yet to see any trial, leave alone a conviction. Instead what we witness is a long trail of the accused being summoned to get statements recorded and their public statements with full media glee implying unjust harassment. They also have the audacity to challenge the law enforcing authorities and claim political vendetta. Street demonstrations are also staged obstructing proceedings of probing and judicial authorities. All these go on with full impunity.
Local government polls: The other is the alleged corruption and misdeeds by members of the Yahapalana Cabinet itself with no credible follow-up inquiries. In this situation the public is justified in concluding that there ought to be collusion between the accused and some members of the Government. The sooner such follow-up action is taken and matters cleared the better is for the Government and the country. It is naïve to think that in this age of all pervasive digital communication technology and an alert civil society any miscreants could escape public gaze and wrath.
The situation is further complicated by the forthcoming local government polls. As is the usual practice among political parties and politicians issues of local governance are relegated to the background and instead the campaigns focus on national politics and its international repercussions. For example during the last regime local government elections were used to send a message to the international community showing people’s supposed solidarity with a leader that alleged he is facing death by electrocution following an international trial. This time it is supposed to be about the nature of the State and Constitutional reforms. The whole campaign is being orchestrated on wrong lines even before nominations are called for in order to use it as a platform for the defeated forces to stage a comeback and reverse popular gains of January 8.
It is much better for local polls to be conducted on ward basis by individuals instead of by political parties and groups. In the latter case it is the allegiance to the party and not the credentials of the contesting individual that would be decisive in voting. This would prevent a pluralistic grouping of councillors who would cooperate in administering the local government area.