Sri Lankans countrywide have been manipulated by ambitious politicians since independence as the result any fool in an electorate was capable of winning if they contested the election in an area his political party has support, thereafter the winning foolish or unfit politician will grow from strength to strength as seen in the seventy years. Today every voter, irrespective of ethnicity or religion in all regions of the country is the loser, trapped with a glass feeling setup by the political party the person support; so much so communities are divided and segregated by ethnicity and religion.
The LG pools due next month and political parties have fielded their candidates and there is no doubt many fools or unfit candidates too would have received nominations to get elected to this bottom level of power. But nominating such a person as a candidate the parties are doing a disservice to the people for they cannot put an end to the corruption, money rackets and even nepotism present in politics today and will not get the voters to breakout of the trapped in glass barrier feeling. Take the case of the people in the northeast for example the presence of excess soldiers, the failure to free more land held by the military and the failure to abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act are all particularly detrimental to the restoration of normalcy in this region. However, this grievance of being trapped in glass barrier feeling is not specific to the northeast or to the Tamils people, although they are the most vocal about the failings of the government to deliver on its promises; the complaint regarding the slowness of the government is more widespread. Those who voted for the government to ensure that there would be good governance and economic prosperity from all over the country are dissatisfied with the progress that has been made so far. They see the failure of the government to take those accused of corruption and abuse of power to trial and to prison as indications of infirmity of those who may do the same in the future.
The larger population whose main priority is to improve their standard of living and get out of the poverty traps they are in, are disappointed that the government has patently failed to jump start the economy. All Sri Lankans must accept the reality that the country as a whole is not generating enough wealth and it had been the main cause for disintegration of them into smaller groups divided by regions based on ethnicity and religions; while the majority dominating the minorities due to the folly of the past leaders who were stupidly hero worshipped by the people. There were experts in the past who advise people to boycott elections as it happened at the first provincial council election in 1987 and later years at the 2004 general election and the whole world knows the consequences. Today, have people claiming to be experts advising voters to go to polls and to cast spoilt votes at the oncoming LG polls, there is no sense in wasting votes. But time is ripe now for Sri Lankan people to shutter this barrier in their mind and break out of the trapped in glass feeling to select the right candidate to represent them at this lowest level of power to commence the journey to take the country forward to prosperity. Thereafter apply the same concept at the Provincial Council and Parliamentary elections, while working together with the winners to uplift the economy to generate net income for the country, that way there will be enough wealth to share round and there will be no need for any discrimination.
Fact every Sri Lankan must realise is that whatever Sri Lanka produces ends up in the same international markets and most of them are either exploiting us or else themselves are in the process of declaring bankruptcy and when there is no market to sell our producers and services cannot sit around and eat what their factory has produced or services as they not all edible. The Bitter Truth is that neither Industry or Services are sustainable in the long run, whereas Sri Lankans have been farmers for millennia and that is what they do best and the real sustainability is in a product that is so special that the international world will queue up to buy; besides there are so much scope for diversification into producing many value added agricultural products. Unfortunately, after independence in 1948 the rulers have remained inward looking in their thoughts and concentrated mainly on subsistence agriculture that has virtually destroyed the sector, while the population had expanded many fold and thanks to the exclusive polices of successive governments animosity has grown between communities; all the while the revenue earning capacity has diminished year by year. Sri Lankans manipulated by ambitious politicians have taken to the rule of the jungle and survival of the fittest has become the norm, while all the rulers could do was to supress the masses who make protests, resulting in two uprisings from the economic minorities in the South and a bloody civil-war in the North that extended to East between the ethnic minorities all against the state.
Today, a new mindset is needed to move away from the present extremely selfish, a dead beat education system where students are tutored only to get through exams, instead of creating a holistic generation that is encouraged to think outside the box, not only depending on the internet but by absorbing the world around them to look and learn; possible by changing the school curriculum to follow the Yala and Maha crop cycles, instead of the unrelated school holidays, that would give youth the chance to feel and smell the richness of the earth. The future for Sri Lanka lies solely in a high-tech, scientifically confirmed, chemical fertiliser free, bio-sustainable food production from agricultural science applied farming methods. At the same time the traditional export crops tea, rubber and coconut too should be rejuvenated to increase market share to bring more revenue to the country.
There is also a need to review human resources utilization be it in the estates where those not directly involved in the industry needs to be sourced out elsewhere, the strength of tri forces reduced to meet peacetime requirement and surplus located elsewhere on more productive industries than antagonising the locals; preventive women leaving the shores to work as housemaids overseas. There are many hundreds persons differently abled by the war and thousands of war widows all needing appropriate vocational training and employment thereafter to make the human resources utilization more effective to help the economy.
Another area not well exploited by the people is the resources around them in the sea and below in the island nation. For generations Sri Lankans have allowed other countries particular India to pouch into this unlimited ocean wealth while poverty has increased in the land over the same period, having missed golden opportunities to explore the ocean resources to their benefit. The fishing sector is in need of proper management for country is still importing fish for consumption. In an open market there is still plenty of scope for the industry to increase production to earn more revenue from export. Since independence there has been news in the media on the availability of oil deposits north of the island and the authorities have known of the potential to generate crude oil and natural gas sufficient to meet country’s energy needs for many generations. For many a times in the past, many onshore and offshore sites were tested and petroleum deposits found and the answer given by the authorities was that it was not economically viable for development. Yet those in power have not ventured into it, perhaps due to their ignorance the country has not taken advantage of this valuable resources, whereas India, our neighbour has been producing oil and gas in the same period to their advantage from the deposits on their side of the marine border. Yet, the country has gone for coal fuel fired power plants with all its environmental hazards, whereas had the petroleum resources been made available, the country could have by now benefitted. Today more tests have confirmed that it could meet the country’s fuel needs for generations; but with continuous production in the Mannar and Cauvery basins from their side by India these fields will get depleted of oil soon and if Sri Lanka does commence any off-shore exploration and production work in the near future, may end up only producing natural gas. Yet, it is worth getting on to development of the local gas deposits as it could result in significant foreign exchange savings.
The LG polls scheduled next month gives Sri Lankans a golden opportunity to come out of the hero worship mentality and vote right to get rid of any greedy, corrupt and ambitious to select candidates who have a genuine desire to serve the people. For no reason they should the voters be persuaded to boycott the elections or spoil their vote if they go to vote, for there is nothing more stupid than this to do, all eligible to vote must use their right and vote. Remembering that electing the cleaver and fit candidates at this lowest level of power is as important as getting the right persons elected to the higher levels of power. For it is they with time would move up the ladder to provincial and finally to the legislature; that is the only sure way to put an end to the corruption, money rackets and even nepotism present in politics, by starting the cleaning from the bottom to the top. This will rid of all corrupt politicians and the multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation will prosper and return to respectability by 2030.