Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What has happened to the People to be so servile to their leaders?

An unprecedented increase in the cost of Fuel was suddenly imposed without warning and there hardly seems to be a whimper of complaint let alone a spontaneous uprising. In other countries this could give rise to an immediate revolution and even an overthrow of the government in power. Students of Politics should try to explain this phenomenon. Is it that we are sufficiently affluent not to bother or is it that we are too complacent to complain and will only join in when there are others agitating on our behalf? I do not have an answer to this except to say that the tolerance level for punishment in the Sri Lankan body politic has proved to be extremely high, and the Govt. knows it and benefits from it.

This is a very worrying development, which has now enabled the people in power to rob the wealth of the nation with impunity, which I refer to as daylight robbery on a massive scale at every turn of one’s head. Is this a sign of things to come, where the Rajapkses have tested the waters? They have done the opinion research and realized that there will NOT be a revolt, so they calmly raised the prices, with a hint of some sort of subsidy that will hopefully give some relief for the poor, knowing full well that they have no intention of keeping any promise.

We will in days to come see one increase after another, coinciding with the need to raise wages first in the government sector and then in the Private Sector, neither of which the employers are able to concede, as the fuel shock has pervaded through both sectors, rendering some private businesses instantly loss making from being profitable. The resulting government taxation loss turning establishments from profit to loss is another burden the people of the country have to bear, as the government has shown NO intention of cutting the cost and trying to economize in order to face the difficult times ahead.

It is just a matter of time before further devaluation is upon us, first to Rs125 to the dollar and then when this is not sufficient to Rs150 to the dollar to make working overseas the only option for many of our enterprising citizens in order to provide for their families. The huge economic mismanagement of the Rajapakse Regime and its impact will only surface in time, when all of the culprits will be relaxing in the French Riviera having raided the coffers of the state bare, much in the way the old dictators of the Latin American Banana Republics did to their citizens.

This is an appeal to all thinking citizens of the country to stop being greedy and think for a moment of what your inaction will do to the future of the country, when you are in a position to make a change for the betterment of our country now.
To take a few examples to illustrate this point, I ask the reader, do you remember just a year ago how the pundits in power were talking about our stock market being the Asia’s or the World’s top performer? We were so drunk with sound bites that even then we failed to realize that not one red cent had come then, or in the 3 years since the end of hostilities from abroad to make this feat. It was all internally generated speculation, boosted by Government Leaders and their friends raiding the EPF coffers of our people for personal gain. The true figures are only now coming to light, when one sees the 100 Billion rupee loss those investments have now shown, while the pockets of those who were lined have filled their own. Now it is the world’s worst performing stock market! Quite a feat for the Chinthanaya!!!

I have said before and will repeat, “ALL development we have seen is thanks to the US$25Billion remitted by our citizens from work and savings from overseas, and the multiplier effect of that. If not for government waste and high interest rate borrowings from Chinese Banks, we could have seen a higher rate of growth”. We were therefore living under a false sense of security as the Government was taking the praise for actually stifling growth if truth be told. If the Rupee had held its true value of Rs130 to the dollar, we would have had a much higher growth rate and these remittances would have yielded a greater value to the recipients, enabling an even more effective allocation of resources to private sector led growth.

It is now down to convincing the duped public that there was mismanagement of the economy at embarrassingly large proportions, and the culprits are still trying to put a spin on it, blaming the IMF or USA or the Iranian oil embargo. It has NOTHING to do with them at all. When you go broke, you go to a bank for a lifeline, the bank insists on certain conditions before they are willing to lend any money, and so it is only prudent banking the IMF is performing here.

It is not too late to cut the 100 + ministers and their perks, cars and security. It is simply not necessary, and in fact a burden. We have tolerated this nonsense and deserve to be in this mess. We believed in confidence tricksters. How can anyone allow an uneducated thug behind the scenes to determine Stock Market Broker Credit policy just because he has the ear of the President who does not understand the nuances of Investment? All the small investors have lost their savings.

It is not too late to allow the management of the economy to technocrats who know what they are doing instead of sycophants who are only interested in lining their pockets. There is some deep pain ahead for the economy due to the misbehavior of those we have elected, but an immediate change of direction will prevent an apocalypse which we do not deserve and CAN avoid if we act NOW.


Anonymous said...

There is no denying that this time the authorities have done quite a few good things that would have never happened if any other government was in place. The main cause for that is the unwaivering goals. But that itself has caused heartache to the masses.

If I take a very independent view, bulk of the people are too tired of getting beaten up by one obstacle after another. I think most have just given up and is trying to do by whatever they can scrape up. If you look at what happened to people who complained the last few time, have any of them gotten at least some consession? - no. While on the media they seem to report a consensus being reached, in most occassions the actual situation have been that they were bullied to shut up.

And the worrying thing is there are some ordinary citizens who think that is how this state should be run and that democracy will never work here.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the former reader that Democracy will never work here. The majority of the country’s people approve the economic (mis) management of the current regime. I do not believe in so-called Computer-Jil-Mart. There are some jil-Marts in every election. However, in general they show the public sentiment.

Anonymous said...

I take a different view, it is democracy at work, because despite all this price rise, the people believe in the govt. explanation that it is a foreign trap to crush the nation, and will therefore still vote for the current regime.

So when the govt. does such a super job at misinformation, that all those affected still believe in their version, it is a tall order to teach them economic theory and how misled they have been all this time, and continue in this blissful state of ignorance.

So it is democracy at work with the opposition unable to dent the power of the state machinery.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is I suppose people have still not felt enough pain yet. This has been possible because of the unsustainable fiscal and monetary policy of the regime. Now that these policies are coming undone, the pain will really begun to be felt.

Also, the Sri Lankan public has proven to be a very uneducated lot. It is still jungle law here, so the value of democracy, freedom of speech, due process and the like are beyond their grasp.

They are a very primitive people yet, and I am sure the regime wants to keep them this way as the moment they become able and educated, these rascals will be out of power.

Anonymous said...

Actually the word primitive can even be applied to most Americans. Even they often make irrational decisions in who they elect for high office.

Do doubt this debate will roar on, as to why we are so unmoved. Is it a cultural malaise or the Eastern Philosophy of Karma? I don't know.

On the one hand the political pages in the Newspapers in Sinhala are eagerly read, but when in comes to judgement on polling day it is the fear factor put into the people narrow minded inherently cast oriented and racist mindset that matters, not the price of this or that.

In the end all one needs is a leader we can all believe in and have confidence in intrinsically.

Anonymous said...

I think your historical perspective is lacking because you were out of the country for so long.

the country was at war for 30 years and its now over. that is an accomplishment only once in a lifetime which has been achieved by this government and they are therefore going to remain in power for the next 15-30 years.

you are also overly focused on the negative. there are now areas where people can freely move to and start over. goods can be produced and moved around all over the country. the devaluation is good for those producers within sri lanka and will make their products more competitive vis-a-vis imports. sri lanka may be able to finally produce its own food supply now that there is peace in the country.

infrastructure is blossoming. have you travelled down south lately? how long did it take you? i'm sure you've seen some shows in the new cultural center by now. how about that port down south, and the other major infrastructure projects in the country?

people realize that it's a new day in sri lanka and they'll go with the government for a very long time to come, until the new generation that knew little of the war come of age.

Anonymous said...

Diesel price hike - the common man is affected by bus fares - still cheap, not a huge deal. Also will be affected by increasing transport cost for food small time entrepreneurs - they will be pissed but it is not a huge segment. - Government probably loses 1% of vote base

Kerosene - Affects the really poor - Government probably loses another 1% here

Electricity - Although the price is ridiculously high, most lankans are in the subsidized tier and will not really be affected - No major loss of votes here

Devaluation - Could lead to a lot of inflation but will also be good for many businesses. If government keeps the rates high to fight inflation the effect of this should be muted. However GDP growth will slow down significantly.

Based on all of these, if the Government makes the right economic decisions going forward, they probably will be able to hold onto power.

However, the elections will be a lot closer if they are free and fair.

If they continue to make the wrong moves as they have been doing for the last few years, they will lose.

Good luck, the situation is in flux and I hope it breaks your way. Sri Lanka would be a much nicer place if people of your ilk were running the country.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

Anon1 15th Feb

Please understand that this Government has made grave mistakes of management of the economy, and they have only successfully delayed the day of reckoning. After winning a series of elections on false prospects, they have finally piling on all the pain in one go, hoping that in two years when the next elections come about the people would have forgotten about it.

So it is just a political gamble to remain in power. Do nothing if you accept that conduct, and agitate for change if you don't like being made a fool. A simple choice.

Anon 2 Feb15th

You contradict your self in saying the Govt. was elected fairly and then say democracy will not work in Sri Lanka.

All I would say is the playing field should be more level and fair and then the people's will be reflected in the poll.

The system now gives the Dictatorship all the power over media, white vans, principal TV stations, and the full machinery of the govt. sector working to promote their point of view.

The opposition has no resource to counter this, so unless we have a rational thinking public, the one with the greatest ability to preach lies will be believed.

Anon 3 15th February

It is extremely important that the opposition first explains very clearly in a way even educated people understand that they have all been conned into hibernation.

Once people are convinced and those with resources also can come on board, they can then rally the people round by a good campaign to educate inform and eventually topple the regime.

Before all of that the UNP MUST unite and fight a single fight.

Anon 4 15th February

You have a point that it is easier to fool the uneducated than the educated, but in my opinion I know many educated people who are also so fooled. I have had to go through a lesson in basic management of budgets to explain what an almighty fraud has been perpetrated. So it is not an easy exercise to change people's views.

Human nature only sees what is in front of them not what lies behind that FRONT!

Anon 4 February 16th

Yes most of the world does not care about rights and wrongs, until it affects them personally. That is human nature. So it is all a matter of finding a good leader who can empathize and communicate with his people and gain their trust without personal gain and glory that is the current set up. We can then look forward to a period of corruption free prosperity that actually permeates all sections of the community.

Anon 6 February 16th

I disagree as I have been in SL unbroken since November 2004 and I have driven alone through LTTE infested forests to Minneriya for my farming. I missed at least 4 huge bombs by minutes. I took huge risks with my life.

I am telling you the current times are far worse, as it is purely directed at dissent. Any dissenter's life is at stake. That is far more sinister than being at a time of war where the enemy is known. Now the enemy is within our own people for Money and personal gain, not for what we believe in.

So whilst you may be correct about people who are less frightened and so give day light robbers a chance to make hay, it cannot last for a long time. Their greed will come to light in time, when people will NOT give them the light of day.

Obviously you are in the comfort zone that is why you talk such.

Anon 7 February 17th

You take a too simplistic route about how few people are affected. The resulting action will affect all to the tune of about 10% increase in Cost of Living, with no resultant increase in income. So every one will be affected, with the exception perhaps of Overseas workers whose money will give more rupees, and the Forces who are in any case earning more than they deserve (17 yr soldier earns more than a 29 yr old qualified teacher)

It is only the message that is not getting through. It is my job to get that message across to as many people. Blame me for that weakness, I am willing to accept that. I am only human and cannot work miracles!!