The Sunday Leader

Can MR Keep Riding From Crisis To Crisis?

Sri Lankan politics is stage managed well so much so that we go on from crisis to crisis forgetting what happened to the others before and being blind to the stark reality of the rising cost of living burdening the people.

Right now most political parties are devoting their attention to devolution – the 13th Amendment – forgetting the vehement opposition of the media shown to the proposed Code of Ethics for Journalists in the last two weeks. This Code of Ethics remains on the backburner and we are told it will come in some form or the other in the near future. In What form we do not know.

Then came the mother of all crises, the hike in electricity tariffs which has been swept under the table but will bounce back when last month’s light bill arrives at home. The crisis in the universities remains unresolved with university teachers expressing dissatisfaction on the way universities are being run particularly with regard to appointments to high ranking posts.

The former Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake is being put through her paces but she is gallantly rising to the occasion and her stand is being appreciated by the public here and globally as well. While the proud boast is making Sri Lanka a hub in new fields such as marine transport and aviation, the country has effortlessly on its own, come to be recognized as a hub for the Dengue and Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD). Then there was the hatred directed at Muslims which is still simmering.

The full list of crises is too long to be stated here but it would suffice to say that by September this year, we will have the Summit of Heads of State of Commonwealth Countries which will have its attendant crises, as threatened by some heads of state.

Piety and casino culture

The nation’s penchant for crises is endless. We have been a nation effusing piety in our snow white national dress. Our leaders take their camera crews and carry trays of flowers when they visit temples to demonstrate their piety to the hoi polloi watching TV. Casinos are not a part of our culture but there are proposals for a mega casino.

The Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharkkitha thero has threatened to take to the streets in protest while the Bodhu Bala Sena too has expressed its opposition. How the astute politician Mahinda Rajapaksa will ride this crisis is to be seen.

Crises are beneficial too

These political crises which have caused many problems and embarrassment to the Rajapaksa regime have their beneficial effects too. Cynics and some political analysts say that they have eased pressure off the government on the most vital factor affecting the people: the high cost of living.

We don’t see the man on the street making protests on escalating prices of essential commodities while their incomes have remained stagnant for years.

The demand made by workers in most counties is that wages should keep pace with the increased cost of living. This has not happened in Sri Lanka with the ordinary people being engrossed in communal and religious issues rather than price hikes. The only rallying issue was the increase in electricity tariffs which appears to have been partially shelved but will surely come back.

The government’s strategy has been to impose ‘indirect taxes’ rather than direct taxation. The increase in such indirect taxation on commodities such as drugs, essential foods, clothing, etc. is not computed by consumers and all they wonder about is: ‘Where did our money go’. This is a ‘painless form’ of extraction that has been imposed on politically inspired consumers. This form of ‘indirect taxation’ has to a very great extent exempted the higher income groups paying more while the poor and the middle class have no option but to cough up.

Political inspiration

The Rajapaksa government does not seem to be much concerned about how the workers exist on a ‘handout-to-mouth living’. Political inspiration and even cricket matches may at times help ride over pangs of hunger.

But can going on from crisis to crisis continue indefinitely? Some of the unresolved crises are bound to rebound viciously such as the violation of human rights issues raised by the United States and other Western nations which will be on us soon.

The lesson to be learnt is from a much used quotation of Abraham Lincoln: You can fool some of the people all of the time; all of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

1 Comment for “Can MR Keep Riding From Crisis To Crisis?”

  1. Trevor Jayetileke

    The rising cost of living is just not a problem for Sri Lanka., but it is a problem through out the whole World. The problem for Sri Lanka is that it does not have a self-reliant economic base or for that matter a Tax Base., to give the relief needed.
    Today the whole world is going from Crisis to Crises and Sri Lanka is no exception.
    The leaders of this World are tested by the moral fabric of their leadership( right values and thinking )., and to that you have to add the shadow that influences these leaders and their leadership., ( generally it is their wives ).
    If one reads the famous story of Rama and Sita told by the ‘Ramayana” one can understand how this theory works., its a condition of the mind.
    Sri Lanka has been let down by its leaders and decision makers.(Elites).

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