There are many many postmortems on why MR lost and the mistakes he made.
But there is another side to this coin. We also must dissect why all the politicians who crossed over and then told the world of his misdeeds did not open their mouths when they were with him. 10 years is a long time for them to have suffered all these in silence. Usual excuse is that they themselves had skeletons in their own cupboards – or commonly known as files on them – but if so, even when they crossed over the danger of these being publicized was there. Besides a person of the caliber of MS also suffered in silence.
Not only of the president but even the other politicians’ misdeeds and fraudulent actions are coming to light only now. Why not then? In every ministry/ institute there would have been right thinking honest people would have been there and even when these atrocities were committed quite blatantly, quite openly they did not open their mouths. Why?
The main reason is fear – not the fear of white vans, but just fear of the superior, especially when it is a politicians. This is the culture we have today in Srilanka. This, has to change. No better time to change than with Maithree at the helm. His oath taking in the simplest possible fashion with open invitation to everyone sets up the correct tempo for this change.
Why do we (all) fear the politicians? Because we ourselves have blown them out of proportion and have created a false sense they are omnipotent and that they deserve our servility and subservience. I remember when I was in UK in the 90’s one day when we were in a shopping mall someone pointed out a politician – if I remember correct the Prime minister – shopping sans any body guards or fanfare. Even at that time it was a novelty for us Srilankans.
We must change this culture. How do we do it?
- Resist the practice of the politicians lording over on the roads, driving at break neck speed, with screaming sirens and flashing head lights even in broad day light, shooing all the motorists to a side, breaking all the road rules as if they are doing a life and death duty. They don’t. They are government servants and if they have important appointments let them start early like all of us do. Only ambulances must be given such privilege.
- One of the reasons they give is that they are so over worked- well, if they are, they are not proper leaders. The leaders should know time management and how to delegate. If they have to attend a function let them plan to be there in time like any of us. If they cannot let them send a substitute.
- It is we the common men who make them feel great even when they are not. We invite them to our weddings and functions even when they are not related to us or friends of ours. This is just a vulgar show off. We must stop this practice. And if they chose to attend even a relative’s function, treat them like any one and give respect they deserve because of their age or place in the family like anyone else will get.
- We must also stop inviting them as chief guests to official functions unless absolutely essential. Their duty is to do the politicians’ work not to show their face at these functions. Often they come late, keeping everyone waiting, interrupting the function even if it started in time, by their arrival being announced, and many rush off soon after their arrival causing another interruption; but the worst is they have no useful speech to make and often their presence serves no purpose at all other than being able to say” so and so came” – again pure show off. Let’s put a stop to this practice.
- Invite only relevant politicians if you must. For example there is no point in inviting a smoker to an anti-smoking campaign. Often the schools invite totally irrelevant politicians who have no idea of the educational value at all. Let us invite only relevant authorities to our functions so that the audience too gain from their knowledge and experience.
- We must not invite them for a function of donation of any material – such as wheel chairs, trishaws etc. unless they themselves are donating form their own pockets. Even when a ministry is distributing anything for the people, we must bring a practice of an important official distributing them rather than the minister. If when a ministry is distributing anything, it is not a gift from the minister, rather from the government.
- Even the politicians must learn to politely refuse all such unnecessary invitations in order to bring about this change.
- Do not – DO NOT – AT ANY SITUATIONS, LET THE GOONS AND THUGS AROUND THEM intimidate you. At times those ignorant fellows without even primary education shooing even professionals in certain circumstances is painful to watch. This boost the politicians’ ego and they feel big and we tend to feel submissive and the fellow beings give in to the habit of venerating them.
- They must not have too many body guards around them as if they are precious possessions of the country. They are not. There is no danger lurking around them anymore and if the Pope can travel in an open vehicle, why do these people need body guards?
- The last but not the least of course anyone in the ministry or even a common man must have access to complain about any misdeeds any politician does, be it the President or a peon. No police station should refuse to entertain a complaint. The government must make arrangements for all complaints to be looked into. The officers must not have the fear of being punished or sacked for doing so.
May look a long list but not an impossible one. Let’s work towards a country where the politicians are just politicians not bloated up heroes to be worshiped nor Lords to be terrified of.
Sent by: Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai,
22, Vanderwert Place, Dehiwela