‘Tis The Season Full Of Folly!
“(The) Sri Lankan government has taken measures to establish a space agency in Sri Lanka to improve the telecommunication technology in the country. Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Priyantha Kariyapperuma said that the preliminary assessments have already been made to explore the feasibility, state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation said.” — Dec 16, 2009 ColomboPage
“The United States Department of State says that it is aware of an ongoing United Nations investigation on allegations of human rights violations by the Government of Sri Lanka and it fully supports the investigation.” — Dec 16, 2009 Colombo Page
“I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.” — Oscar Wilde
“The urban elite and its middle class appendages are entirely to blame for the fact that no politician, no political platform, no political alliance or party has any moral standing, any integrity left in this country.” — Gongalegodaya
Sri Lanka is to establish “a space agency” soon according to the Director-General of the Telecommunications Commission. This is certainly timely and important. The lack of space for any serious democratic discussion as well as the absence of independent agents who will lead these discussions is sorely missed, especially at election time. In fact, this will simultaneously solve a number of burning, as they say, political issues and ease the problems faced by many of our spaced out politicians.
For instance, space is certainly a new and unexplored option for our Foreign Minister, whose dedication to find new salubrious climes to explore en route to the Guinness Book of Records and to provide vacations with a difference for family and friends is mind-boggling. If he found the time and money to visit Iceland in his efforts to be inclusive and non-discriminatory, outer space cannot be much further or less consequential. Certainly, he will face far less questions and hence fail to adequately address less than is his abysmal norm.
Next, our ministers and MPs with special interest in the Beatles’ song Lucy In The Sky Wth Diamonds will, no doubt, revel in the new frontier where they can peddle their wares to a new and unsuspecting public. Finally, the space cadet functionaries in our ministries would have a field day in the inter-galactic union moots, especially in the Ministry for Disaster(ous) Debating, Human Rights Branch.
But all this is trivial you may say: cheap jokes and pot shots at our politicians and their acolytes are child’s play today, while opposition party offices are burning, and the abuse of power in the rank misuse of state resources is rampant. Yet, apologists may ask, how sure are we that all this is perpetrated by the Rajapaksa regime and its satellite workforce? Take the poster campaign against the so-called joint opposition candidate.
Hundreds of these printed demands that he apologise to the country at large and the military in particular adorn the walls in front of the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station, for instance. Similar locations seem to attract these anti-opposition notices, like moths are attracted to light.
These have got to be the work of outstation peasants and plantation workers who’ve travelled to Colombo by bus at midnight, crept surreptitiously up to these highly secured spots and pasted their posters only to crawl away unseen by the Police or Army or Navy or Air Force who’ve been manning the place 24/7. So too the spontaneous public campaigns against Fonseka’s “betrayal” of the military.
It’s got to be ordinary people without an ulterior bone in their bodies who are willing to give up the meager daily wages that they make, who have pooled their life savings to hire buses to come to Lipton’s Circus or Hyde Park, just so that they have the spiritual and moral satisfaction of calling a spade a spade. Or was that what Fonseka did and then withdrew his claim? All these posters are confusing me, especially when I think of what personal cost and sacrifice the ordinary citizens are undergoing just so that they can set the record straight.
Enough sarcasm for one week. Such rubbish can only be said with a straight face in Sri Lanka, and that too because we want to be fooled into believing that the rottenness of our systems of governance and the corruption within our political leadership are redeemable. We know, of course, that Sri Lanka is in the direst of dire straits, and we profit from its corrupt and hierarchical structures in innumerable ways on a daily basis, but we continue to pretend that all is not lost.
The urban elite and its middle class appendages are entirely to blame for the fact that no politician, no political platform, no political alliance or party has any moral standing, any integrity left in this country. In this sense, we’ve got everything we want already, everything we’ll ever get, and all that’s left to demand is that space agency. There’ll be no end to the crap we’ll be dished out from all sides, so extra space, especially during election time, is a necessity.
A regime in panic is a sorry sight, and much that it then seeks to do becomes counter-productive. The public sense blood and that too can produce unexpected results on polling day. Fear of loss is almost as bad as over-confidence, about which the UNP knows more than any other party on earth. Before every election they claim to be winning by a landslide, which is true if you consider that the land has slid beneath their feet which are never on the ground. As I have said ad nauseam we the awful middle class certainly deserve the riff-raff that rule us to death. But what about those who suffer in camps and plantations, who languish in unemployment, whom we “educate” to be almost unemployable, who never had a decent chance at a slice of the pie, whose daily wages get them less and less to eat, who require special attention that our nation refuses resolutely to provide? Are they too continued to be doomed to penury and seeking foreign employment due to our perennial folly?
So-called civil society groups and watchdog (space?) agencies should get off their Colombo-based asses at least now and demand that the election discourse is not confined to personal mud-slinging and phony public protests made to order. The Sunday Leader had an editorial a few weeks ago which outlined a set of core issues that required resolution. On the basis of their responses to these 10 concerns the candidates can be evaluated. More importantly they can be pushed to take positions that are sensitive to public needs and aspirations, and then forced to be accountable for the positions they have taken. In that way, our collective folly may be reduced in that though we will still have corrupt and self-seeking leaders, they may not have such free reign to do as they please.
We’re in such bad shape that every little bit counts.