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A fat hope?



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Father J. C. Pieris, writing from Galle, is always a good read. His contribution in "The Island, Opinion" of 6 November, entitled "Crooks must be chased away" is no exception. He raises a common fear that what is written, does not reach to where it should, because of arrogance, illiteracy or unconcern. Still the few voices that are willing to be heard – as an alternative to silent despair, must prevail. However discouraged we are, and however frequently we hear "But what can we do" will persist, until some day, the Penny will drop. Drawing an analogy, it is incessant drops of rain that can transform even hard, unyielding rock into fertile soil! "Respice Finem".


I am hopeful that change will come because the politicians – in whose hands our future seems to lie - have so comprehensively devalued and painted themselves into a corner, that nothing except a radical reform will make it possible. The present systems and most of their practitioners have to be resolutely discarded. In their place honour, integrity and honesty be ushered in. There is sufficient talent and ability among us, waiting to be harnessed. Their time has probably (and hopefully) arrived.


Apart from direct thievery of our money, there is a corrosive and spreading contagion of deceit that pollutes all of our society. The leadership is gravely guilty. Hope in the clergy is rapidly being blunted. Lying is no longer despised, mediocrity is tolerated, poverty is ignored and false theatrics pass for vision. The media is not free from blame.


Donald Trump invented "Fake News". The best weapon of combat is the truth. Unfair assertions (spreading with amazing speed through the "Social Media") can only be matched by disclosing the truth. Sometimes, explanations are so feeble that they can only deepen the distrust. Attempts at explaining the Duty Free Vehicles racket is but only a sample of patent criminality. Here too, ugly rumours surround the fate of some 38 luxury Jaguars that were imported by the last Government. To whom were they gifted? What of the Duty Free vehicle that was imported by someone falsely declaring himself as an MP, which was simply untrue? Many such instances have surfaced. Suspicions of kickbacks and falsifications by our MPs would have been easily contradicted (or confirmed) if only they were compelled to declare their assets – presently and at their first entry into politics. This is one among many of Rules and Laws that are ignored with disdain. The Malwana "Cottage", of which no owner was traced, is disgustingly symbolic. Is candour too much to expect?


"Party Manifestos" as disdainfully confessed from the highest pinnacles of power, are not to be believed and only meant to attract votes! And we are by implication expected to honour, protect and sustain the products of this flawed exercise. Persons who project themselves as being persons as Lily White as their "Kapati Suits" could be frauds. As Fr. Pieris suggests, a remedy is to ignore politicians when they intrude into events that should be none of their business. I continue to be amused by their public displays of piety, spontaneous (although accompanied by their camera crews), and casting furtive glances to ensure that the camera shots are faithful recorders of their piety and generosity. They humbly offer basketfuls of flowers, fruits and clothing (paid for by the Taxpayers) as symbols of their purity! Facial expressions are obviously faked to portray child-like innocence. No religious precinct is spared – Church, Temple, Mosque, Kovil or Cathedral – and if the local cannot match the power of the exotic – no worry, the expenses of the foreign pilgrimage will be covered by the State! Members of the family and their buddies in need of divine succour are also welcome. The time spent on such jaunts is seemingly regarded as time well spent.


To return to Fr. Pieris, he suggests means of restoring politicians to their "Rightful Place". He also suggests some undeniably useful guidelines to be embodied in any attempts at charting our political future. This is interesting, and is in harmony with a "Manifesto" offered by Mr. Nagananda Kodituwakku, an indefatigable and courageous defender of Civic Rights and Peoples’ Democracy. He distinguishes himself by being the only aspirant to Presidential Office to declare a Manifesto for public scrutiny. Our response will establish whether ours is a mature electorate or not. If he is successful, then our claim to be a sturdy democracy would be vindicated. As Tarzie Vittachchi so pithily expressed it - "Communication without transformation is merely Gossip."


DR. UPATISSA PETHIYAGODA


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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