Saturday, March 29, 2008

Political Machinations

Nero is still engaged in debauchery while Rome burns. This is the view I have of the political intrigue that takes place in Sri Lanka, completely devoid of concern for those affected by these games.

People are sworn enemies one day, and bosom buddies the next, when they see a benefit for them or their agenda. This is a daily occurrence in Sri Lankan politics as can be seen by some of the recent alliances. People are in favor today and out the next all due to a minor episode or indiscretion. Most of which are as a result of unsubstantiated rumor of he said she said type.

People are very insecure lest they lose their plum positions. The patron’s egos are constantly massaged and sycophancy is seen as a prerequisite for largesse. So those in power tend to be isolated from reality and are presented with a picture that is completely distorted from the ground situation.

Access is granted for a fee or favor ensuring further isolation, and solutions are not judged by their merits, but by other criteria in the nature of what is in it for me?

All those in the political arena are subject to this, not just in government but all opposition parties. Then all the people become prisoners in their position, not being able to speak their minds, but resort to riddles in explaining positions not to upset those they owe allegiance to.

Sadly the only party that had a chance to bring good governance back into the political arena has been hobbled by their ideology which is out of date, but which they are totally enslaved by. I mean the JVP in this context. Many of the JVP members in Parliament have now had an insight into the rights and wrongs of politics, They came in untried and tested and were the perfect schoolboys to see what is wrong with the present setup. They could then attain the moral high ground like no one else had, but blew it away on doctrinal arguments, which could easily be attacked on the grounds of credibility.

An example is the recent attack by a JVP MP on the price manipulation of rice by senior government ministers and their relatives. It was done in the context of attacking the rich using their monopolistic position to corner the market and therefore make super profits. It should have been attacked on the grounds of ethics, where senior ministers or their kith and kin should not be permitted to purchase the government stock of paddy, but the bidding process open to all in a sort of fair auction, permitting all interested parties to bid. It is easier to do this as otherwise they would merely be seen as sour grapes, attacking a businessman who has seized an opportunity to make money afforded by the state.

Attacking the lack of ethics and good governance is not anticapitalist and therefore not the party line. This enslavement has marginalized them, and now they are just seeking ways to keep afloat their outdated agenda.

The JVP members are unable to say what they want in Parliament if it does not adhere to the strict party line and this is enforced in a brutal manner by threats and intimidations of personal freedom. The doctrine is now defunct, of the communist collective good overriding the individual liberties. The party by not being able to grow up to its responsibilities is now being marginalized. Failing to see that in the world context, even China has shed its philosophy, and transformed itself will be the JVP’s downfall.

The UNP is in no better position, with factional intrigue, and people all jockeying into place to be the next leader, with so many people believing they are more qualified than the next person. Rumors therefore abound of who is siding with whom, without agreeing on a clear message to attack the government with. This enables the current government to carry on regardless due to the lack of an effective, cohesive and concerted opposition.

The SLFP cadre are so mortified about being disenfranchised that they are fearful of any dissent toeing the line, even though most ministers operate with no power and only that granted them by the President in control of the purse strings. Their loyalty has been bought by their portfolios, which give them status and so nothing concrete happens as far as implementing policies are concerned or fashioning new ones to take the country forward or address even the basic issues of the day. Speeches are made, foundation stones are laid, and thanks to the state media everyone is informed that things are under control and anyone expressing dissent is unpatriotic.

The country therefore languishes, drifting aimlessly with no one in Parliament truly interested in what is happening in the country, and the war is used as an excuse for every ill that has befallen the country and the reason why nothing has been done about it.

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