Lessons for the Government of Sri Lanka from the Uva Provincial Elections

Uva Province Election - Sri Lanka

Politicians desire power. To gain power they need votes. For votes they need people. To win votes spending on lavish propaganda is not enough. People want action and people are also literate enough to know the dynamics of power politics which is why regime change tactics have all failed in Sri Lanka. The next plot is to take away the power of the majority voters, the stakeholders of the Sri Lankan identity has. The tactics used is to install everyone but the majority into powerful positions and get them to make the necessary legal changes that would make the Sinhala Buddhists the majority only on paper and remove the power they yield even at elections. The question is, how aware and how in control of the situation are the leaders that wish to protect the identity, heritage and history of Sri Lanka for invariably it affects their ability to come into power in the future as well?

Uva Province is made up of 2 districts – Badulla and Moneragala.

Uva borders 3 provinces – Eastern, Central and Southern.

Badulla is famed for its Ravana waterfalls, Mahiyangana raja maha vihara where Lord Buddha first visited and even the Kataragama temple. Badulla is remembered for the 1818 uprising led by Keppetipola Disawe against British colonial rule. Uva is also synonymous with the butchery of Sir Robert Brownrigg who declared every person about 18 years to be killed. Uva recounts how the gentlemen of the world, the British poisoned wells, destroyed irrigation systems, killed all cattle and destroyed cultivation (Wel lakshaya – stands for 100,000 paddy fields in Sinhala – these were all destroyed).

http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/governor-robert-brownrigg-butcher-uva-wellassa

The population of Badulla is 887,220 of which Buddhists comprise 589,393 (72.6%), Hindus 157,360 (19.4%), Muslims 47,172 (5.8%), Roman Catholics 11,639 (1.4%), Christians 5985 (0.70%).

Moneragala has a population of 352,920 of which 93% of the populace is Sinhalese Buddhist and Tamils make 5% while Muslims make 2%. Sadly, while North Sri Lanka has been uplifted from virtual stone age to an example of modern development, Moneragala remains one of the poorest districts in Sri Lanka and has been holding that title throughout successive governments.

The results: Badulla

  • 462,769 voted
  • UPFA has secured 209,056 – 47.37% (9 seats)
  • UNP has secured 197,708 – 44.79% (8 seats)
  • JVP has a seat with 20,625 – 4.67% giving the Government a wafer thin margin.
  • UNP’s Harin Fernando secured 173,993 preferential votes while UPFA’s Anura Vidhanagamage secured only 59,316

The results : Moneragala

  • UPFA’s Shashindra Rajapaksa 96,619 (Votes)
  • UNP’s Ananda Kumarasiri 24,421

The lessons

1. Outcome of playing hide & seek with the National Identity of Sri Lanka

A country’s identity is founded by the majority of that country.

It is so in Britain, Germany, Japan, Russia and France. It is not so in Canada, America countries created after ousting Native Indians. Even created countries like Singapore despite the ‘multicultural’ slogan, ensures that at every level the majority status is protected.

Thus, with 2/3 of the country being Sinhalese Buddhists there is little one can argue against Sri Lanka’s identity as that being Sinhalese and the State religion being Buddhist. When the British signed the 1815 convention it was with the Sinhale nation acknowledging the place of Buddhism that establishes the argument further.

Yet, when portfolios are in the hands of politicians who are not grounded in their pride of the Sri Lankan identity, politicians who prefer to live by norms and values of foreign nations, the very same that are out to change government and capture Sri Lanka within their sphere of influence, can the nation or the majority populace trust them in their political roles?

When these politicians in their actions take pains to use their positions to subtly and covertly remove the status of the majority, does the Government think the public is naïve not to read the writings on the wall of the eventual outcome? When step- motherly treatment has been afforded by these very politicians to the Sinhala Buddhist majority will that one day not lead to resentment.

Sinhala Buddhists should never be led to the position they think that the known devil and unknown angel are virtually the same. Tragically, if this happens both the known devils and the Sinhala Buddhist nation will fall apart never to rise again. South Korea is a good example of a once Buddhist identity now under Western Christian rule.

If Islamic countries are not questioned for upholding through laws, rules and regulations Islamic rule, if Christian nations despite their multicultural slogans keep secure Christian systems in how their countries are governed what is wrong with Sri Lanka, a nation built by the Sinhalese Buddhists in doing the same?

2. We need minority leaders of the caliber of Sir Razick, Ponnambalam Ramanathan…..

The Hindu civilization religions do not have foreign governments or missionary systems to carry out imperial agendas. Buddhist and Hindu space has been and continues to be target of imperial domination. The fact that Sri Lanka requires funds to build up its tattered economy and win confidence of the global community while understood, what is not understood is why despite appeals being made, sensitive portfolios have been given to minority political leaders vying to establish a parallel law, a parallel social system, eating labels which will long term eventually create a Maldives out of Sri Lanka.

The handing over of Justice Ministry and the damage being done before our eyes cannot escape the attention of the Government to claim ignorance. The changes being planted will bear fruit in future for which subtly the wings of the Sinhalese Buddhists have been clipped confining them to the village while a handful of others are too absorbed in making profits for themselves to realize, be concerned or worried about what happens to the identity of the country.

If we all adapt this attitude of not caring to preserve a history of over 2600 years which 180 Sinhala Buddhist kings fought and sacrificed their lives for, while men fought bravely and laid down their lives against the Christian colonial powers out to convert and divide the people and rule them, what is the point in learning history, commemorating the national heroes and issuing stamps for them?

Should we not ensure that every area the national identity of the country is firmly established while no minority can deny that they enjoy far more than any minority enjoys elsewhere. That official acknowledgement will go a long way.

3. Don’t allow public to lose their love and pride in protecting the nation

A nation will be protected only by people who love and feel pride in it to protect it because they feel they are part of its heritage and wish to continue the culture, values etc.

While there will always be lascoreens, sepoys and Shylocks amongst us these are a miniscule number about whom people are aware of, they know from where they are funded to say what they say and they know they are simply paid agents.

The moment that the public lose their love and pride to protect the nation the country falls.

This is why the education system of a country is extremely important. However, with the introduction of scores of international schools that run according to their whims and fancies, scores of minority religious schools now upto university level learning a language that is alien to Sri Lanka and has no relevance – where will all these lead.

Currently, the education ministry is dabbling in all sorts of multicultural secular programs which they themselves are clueless about and contributing towards totally ruining the brains of today’s youth. All these new fancy notions being introduced are all pluses for those seeking identity change of Sri Lanka and are minus for the foundational identity of the country!

How many in these international schools know to sing the national anthem, know any of Sri Lanka’s heritage sites or national heroes or would even care to know and with the current number of entrants and when they eventually pass out and hold positions of employment what would this translate to for the future of the country in terms of any of them holding leadership roles minus any love for the country and would they protect the nation & its heritage?

Have the authorities even given a minute of their time to think about this? Do we have long term strategists or thinkers to see the dangers in store as a result of the quick short-term benefits we are quick to sign up for?

Take measures to secure the protection of the national identity trickles down to all levels and starts with schooling system.

4. The people don’t hate the President, they hate most of his men!

There is little argument that the President remains the most popular leader in Sri Lanka. No former or vying candidate can even come near him in terms of charisma or leadership abilities. Nevertheless, the issue is with his closet. Most of the team are imported from the other political parties marking time for and heavily funded for the eventual takeover. Their feet are everywhere but in Sri Lanka and opportunism is what the majority of them stand by (they wear 1lakh worth shoes while others are attempting to create a trend in sole-less shoes). Most of these same were all proponents of the ‘unwinnable war’ song, the very same that diminished the armed forces at every turn and delighted in dining with the tigers during the height of the infamous ceasefire.

It is the people whose pride and love for the nation is well grounded who remember and appreciate the elimination of terrorism and that achievement the people bestow to the armed forces, the commanders of the 3 forces, civil defense force and police, the Defense Secretary and all others who worked towards the elimination. People know those who did not want the war to end, who would have prayed in secret for the war not to be won.

But through the way the administration is taking place in particular the manner the education is being steered we are breeding people who have no love for the nation and when that happens there are no people to fight to protect the nation. Subtly this drive is taking place and politicians either are dumb not to realize it or are too caught up in making money and enjoying the privileges of office to care.

What also needs to be said is that there would be no post-conflict development to the international standards and levels that we see today in virtually every province not because of provincial ministers, provincial chief ministers but solely because of the Defense Secretary and Minister Basil Rajapakse, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga and a handful of others. The critics must produce ministers, officials and advisors of the past who are not corrupt, let the critics also produce examples of the past to match the achievements that we see before our very eyes in virtually all districts of the country in a manner of just 5 years.

The tragic outcome is accentuated by the mistake of allowing the same underperforming ministerial brats to contest elections, providing no security for the future of the political party or quality of leaders to lead the country. It is good to look at the quality of leaders that India produces, educated, ability to debate and people who will never betray India whatever ideologies they hold. We must admit that we are gravely in need of politicians and leaders who can proudly defend the nation without having to read only prepared speeches cut and chopped before departing.

Reshuffle cabinet – get rid of underperforming aging Ministers and those working to other agendas. They are powerful by virtue of the funding and support from overseas and lack any electoral base in Sri Lanka. Very few will weep their departure!

Build up the party with talented and educated youth – not people linked to thugs and holding criminal records.

5. Sinhala Buddhist Leadership not for sale

Every politician realizes that to come into power they need votes. Votes are achieved according to the dynamics of population. The fact that governments have been lethargic to ensure that all ethnicities have a right to live and reside throughout the country has allowed the promotion of a notion of Tamil Only, Muslim Only areas which now has transcended to ‘Tamil Speaking areas’ – a threat that Anagarika Dharmapala thuma realized and voiced concern about in 1926.

No amount of giving to minorities will ever result in them voting for Sinhala Buddhist politicians once they have secured for themselves satisfactory legislative, judicial and executive control for which they are presently vying for and have secured with remarkable ease. A good look at all positions of power and who sits in control of them will reveal how vulnerable the current leadership has placed itself. That vulnerability is now getting exposed and the poor Sinhala Buddhist voter is powerless to help unless the leaders reverse the damage done. To do that there is a need to educate the youth in English language, in subjects relevant to hold power while all the time ensuring they are rooted to their heritage and history.

The present election will see the UNP forge ties to secure votes of disillusioned Sinhala Buddhist vote to bridge the gap at the next elections. It is imperative that the leaders realize the propaganda battle that will take place to fool the Sinhala Buddhist voters and it is important that voters continue to remember NOT to vote for a party leader who wanted to commemorate the arrival of the Portuguese which lost him the 2004 elections because he was clueless about the atrocities the Portuguese committed and are we not committing the same mistake in the invitations extended of late! Are leaders not weighing the outcome and the gains with the minus results likely to dislodge them from power by appeasing to a miniscule number?

Only patriots of the country will know not to give the country to the very party that signed to hand over territory to the enemy and exposed names killing the intelligence officers that bravely fought the enemy. No patriot would wish to hand over to the same party and bunch of leaders ever ready to commit the country to anyone and everyone so long as they can remain in power – the scenario resonates all puppet regimes functioning as proxies elsewhere. These lessons are good for the Government who also has leaders with hidden similar traits with the fear of a marriage of these traitors that would will leave the country in the hands of the enemy and a nation with a proud history, heritage and identity lost forever.

Let these scenarios provide food for thought and inspiration to make the necessary changes to fortify the country and its people and ensure it is not handed over for commercial domination.

– by Shenali D Waduge

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