Pseudo Elements Of Patriotism
We have in our historical records the names of some people who are called “Patriots” and “National Heroes”. We call so because those mighty, hearty and gifted people who had nationalism in their blood fought the foreigners sacrificing their lives to decolonize the country. After they abolished the Europeanized rule and converted it to a nation state and upturned it the national way working not only using their knowledge and state resources at their disposal but also generously sacrificing properties and wealth they inherited and earned. They were not self-seeking people. They were magnanimous leaders with clean hands with stainless characters. As such, they became people worthy of praise.
The magnitude and the magnificence of the services they rendered and the human kindness bestowed on them aroused an affectionate desire in the beneficiaries to reverently and gratefully ennoble their nobility. Like canonization of humble servants of God as Saints by the western church, these humanists too by virtue of the meritorious work done honestly in the interest of the mankind found their way to deification by the mankind.
They erected statues resembling them after them to continue to be with them as before, and annually, they from ordinary to extraordinary people go before their statues and lay wreaths before their feet with love, honour and gratitude and salute in prostration, give alms to confer merits on them, make eulogistic public orations, broadcast, telecast and write in the press recalling the services they rendered for the well-being of the people, about their gentility and of their impeccable and effulgent characters deferentially. Though their bodies are dead and decayed their names have come up after them to shine than the stars above, and for evermore.
There was also a day declared by the state as a “National Heroes’ Day” to honour the deceased on the first day of January every year but, it was abolished before long as it did not befit an inglorious class of deceitful people who were hell-bent to demean and wipe out the history of the patriots, the names of patriots from history and the sovereign good they did for their fatherland, intentionally, to survive pretentiously. Thereafter, political parties began to celebrate this day individually to commemorate individuals of their choice on dates chosen by them, in disunion.
An individual can belong to any political party but, if that individual works for the common good of the people sacrificing health, wealth, knowledge, time, taking risk of life and sacrificing life, he or she becomes an honourable humanist.
Honour is commanded by virtue of the humanitarian work done. Why discredit them when we must do credit to them. Why should we commemorate them severally when we should do it collectively as patriots belong to all? So, where is patriotism today? Evidently, “Opportunism” is what is practiced though a doctrine similar to egalitarianism is preached. We have come past seven decades since independence but sadly, we still remain in a lumpenproletariat.
Disunity and opportunism
Undeniably, we are on a sound footing today on a buttressed foundation laid by them for the forward march of the nation and with due respects to all those patriots belonging to all the communities in this country we continue following their doctrine and paradigms left with us for our guidance struggling amidst obstruction and subversion. Our representatives still do not have a patriotic feeling to admire and appreciate when good is done instead they rise up to disrupt, discredit and discourage adversely.
Our country at the time of acquiring independence maintained a very high standard of discipline and the disciplined people had a great respect for the law of the land.
The credit of bringing the people of this country to that civilized standard goes with an everlasting gratitude to the humanitarian Christian Missionaries who were here in that era. They never severally regarded the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers but, as a family. Having trampled on the sovereign example they set, and, gone stray we prolong in disarray without a principled path to proceed. We don’t see meaningful discussions and dialogues in harmony instead violent behaviour and speeches in anger while still remaining divided as opponents prognosticating a disastrous end. Disunity and opportunism began as we began self-governing.
Upali S. Jayasekera writing to the Editor of the Sunday Observer on December 3, 2017 under the caption ‘Rolling stones gather no moss’ said in his penultimate paragraph that “However, in the context of our country, especially in the political arena, it looks as if it is those criss-crossing from one political party to another and back – the Rolling Stones” who are mostly successful. He wanted someone to correct him if he was wrong.
The first change that took place in this House of Representatives in the form of a crossover was when G G Ponnambalam QC leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress joined the United National Party in support of Don Stephen Senanayake to stabilize the first government of our own. He was offered the Ministry of Industries, Industrial Research and Fisheries. However, S J V Chelvanayagam in protest broke away from him and formed the Federal Party. This was the beginning of crossing over and opportunistic politics.
The second of its kind took place in September 1951 approximately five months before Premier Don Stephen Senanayake’s demise when the United National Party Minister of Health and Local Government Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (who was assassinated in September 1959) crossed over to the opposition owing to party line differences and formed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party with the severance of connections creating a precedent too, for future guidance.
When Premier Don Stephen Senanayake passed away on March 23, 1952, some of his followers in grief refrained from continuing, others who grew old retired, some of them departed and none of them are with us today. As people who believe in reincarnation we hope to meet them again but, what is regrettable is that until then, we will not have such people because the present day politicians are self-centred except for a handful of prestigious people who believe that they are in that house with a mandate from the people to perform a bounden duty. The avaricious who deceived the people have boarded a gravy-train.
Origin of self-governance
Having won the general election in 1956 at the head of a revolution, Bandaranaike formed the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna regime popularly known as Apey Aanduwa, or ‘our government’. The people who created that government began to rule the country according to their whims and fancies adopting a monolingual policy of ‘Sinhala only’ in a trilingual state. It created disunity and dispersed the united people.
The followers of Apey Aanduwa did not listen to their leader. The leader had to listen to them. When the leader refused to entertain their opportunistic demands they killed their leader, the revolutionary. The discipline of the country reduced to zero, the rule of law was disrespected and violated. Administrative procedures were breached, circular instructions were overlooked. Since then opportunism became a sort of culture that made living easy by grasping opportunities by hook or by crook for those birds of a feather. It was inherited by generations after them and it’s a tradition taken root.
Tradition is a procedure handed down from generations to generations. Crossing over in parliament from one party to another has been a tradition followed from the origin of self-governance. It’s therefore not considered a wrongdoing. This custom has been followed for the past 70 years. For all the people who were born during these seventy years, it was only a tradition to be followed. They followed it. This tradition is now part and parcel of politics here continued even in 2017 amidst preparations being made to hold the local government elections.
The opportunists among the hoi polloi rallied round the politicians and lived around them. The opportunistic politicians rallied round party leaders and lived around them. The party leaders induced members of different parties to join them giving promises of attractive favours and embraced them when they double-crossed their leaders and crossed over to them.
When elections were declared they fought tooth and nail to grab the suffrage of the constituents. When they were elected to office they at first gave a wide berth to the electors and joined victorious parties deserting their parties to grab opportunities offered as Santhosam, the something. To get rid of the scapegoats and stooges who became pests afterwards, they were given appointments from the lowest to the highest and contracts from minor to major regardless of their qualifications. Thereafter, those square pegs in round holes in connivance with all others who were compelled to join them robbed and ruined the public service while the so-called representatives played ducks and drakes with the wealth of the people. This method became an employment and the people who saw them prosper and having learnt the secrets of the short term method of becoming prosperous without toiling and sweating selected “politics” as an employment.
Today, even idling, loafing and loitering about in the premises of a government department, corporation or in other statutory bodies has become an employment, therefore, they should not be mistaken as idlers, loafers and loiterers. This is how day by day opportunism, favouritism, nepotism, bribery and corruption came into being and all these practices gave life to subversion.
Search of green pastures
The envious competitions and fierce fights to enter parliament as people’s representatives and provincial ministers increased when a remuneration was offered converting a portfolio to a pensionable post. But, it is not understood whether they are governed by the Establishment Code and contributing to the pension scheme except for the maturity for eligibility is said to be in five years. As this is heaven sent to the easy goers they began to behave in chameleon style, changing colours to become eligible to a pension in a short while marking time living pretentiously and luxuriously until the end jumping sides to sides. My comment does not reflect on the handful of patriots still remaining with us.
Crossing over took place during the previous regime when hordes of partisans from the United National Party crossed over in greed for portfolios. The talk of the town was that President Mahinda Rajapaksa bought them over to establish his government. He reared them in his century up Cabinet well until the end but, at the end, they deserted him in 2015 to climb on the bandwagon. They included the people both won and lost.
If uprooted by some means, these politicians will suffer the loss of an energizer becoming weaklings and lackadaisical in the absence of the vital power.
The tradition of crossing over, crisscrossing and double crossing in search of green pastures has not ended. This cultured way will continue as all the others did in the past. It’s to gain affluence and influence.
Upali Jayasekera is right and he owes a bouquet of flowers for being bold enough to be very frank. We will succeed and prosper only when scholars and gentlemen politicians take seat in the legislature certainly after a revolution similar to that of France. (L Wijeratne)