The Pass the Pillow Politicians of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Parliament

The history of cross-overs in Sri Lankan politics is amusing to say the least. Political parties have no problem about the jumping jacks and political parties have no issues in passing these politicians like the game – pass the pillow. A game it is and all parties are playing the same game. They ridicule one another on stage but enjoy a good up of tea and a hearty laugh in the end. The laugh probably is meant for us – the Public. We the gullible and the fools end up making heroes out of zeroes simply because some bad eggs jump to bring an opposition party into power. Is it not time to change the entire voting system and bring in a better option for the people and the nation and not the politicians? But can we expect changes when the changes end up having to be done by people not wanting to relinquish any of their powers and quite satisfied with the status quo whether they are in government or opposition?

Global politics today is corrupt. Mega bucks are thrown in by organizations to ensure they get their ‘people’ into power because when they are in power these entities are assured of getting their agendas met. Thus, politicians end up trapped even before they enter office which is why in reality it is hard to find an honest politician and why we say there are no honest politicians in politics or politics is not for honest politicians. Perhaps the day a new political culture prevails across the world things may change.

The politicians we end up voting for and those who enter from the back door may not have qualifications even a simple O/L pass but their ingenuity is such that they have created for themselves their own goalposts – even if they cross over they do not require to leave the party though they are voting for the party that they crossed over to. What kind of logic is this and have the people been so foolish to accept this? All crossovers have to do with fulfilment of personal goals and nothing else and such people deserve no one’s respect nor do they qualify to be termed ‘respected’. The political parties will complain when they end up losing people and power but they will not complain when crossovers help their party to come into power!

What is important is that the cross overs between 1951 to 1965 had no links to perks, bribes and other factors except the disagreement in policies. With every year the demand is raised for cross overs and there are even foreign entities willing to and actually conniving these cross overs! Today we are talking about millions being demanded alongside other perks too and the logic is always – ‘why not so long as we can form a Government’ so any bad egg is welcome and all these bad eggs are having a price tag which they are proud of and not ashamed of displaying the pitiful conditions these politicians have deteriorated to and questions why any of us in public would even wish to shake hands with them!

What is even more amusing is the excuses they give for crossing over and these range from ‘putting country before party’ to claiming that they stood for ‘honesty, transparency and against corruption’ and the best one is that it was against ‘principles’ to be in a party that people were against. We have heard enough and more of these and they have a season too. The kangaroo inside each comes out at the height of elections and the public should take close note of their speeches and statements because these are dead giveaways on what they are planning to do. We need to ask why these jumping jacks are given plum portfolios especially like the Ministry of Justice when it is all too clear that the damage is being done to the country while in office and thereafter crossing over for another plum portfolio to continue the same damage! It also questions why they are even kept in office when all signs reveal that they remain only to satisfy their lusts.

Are the public euthanized to such an extent that they are unable to realize or do they also become party to the hypocrisies because they too stand to gain? Let the public be honest for a change and ask themselves how many vote for a politician because he stands for principles, for a vision to raise the country and its people or do they vote for a politician simply because they see advantages to themselves when x,y,z is voted in? Is this not why the politicians have got used to distributing lunch packets, arrack bottles and now money is slipped into envelopes and handed out during elections? With the politicians raising their demands the bribe taking voters have too. All this in the end spells a very doomed future because any amount of handouts can be given before coming to power in order to come to power, but these payments have to be repaid and how does the repayment take place? Ah, it is good if people begin to realize the evil cycle at play and also realize how guilty they too are.

The cross overs after 1965 were all to do with bribes, perks and privileges and even to avoid legal cases against them.

  • 1965 – 13 SLFP MPs led by C P de Silva left the government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike. did not matter in the very early crossovers in the years 1951 to 65. Allegations were made during the 1965 crossovers that bribes were given by a media group to allure the members to change sides.
  • 1965 – when Dudley Senanayake was PM with a 7 party coalition, Dr. W Dahanayake (one man-party LPP) crossed over against cutting of rice rations, mid-meals for schools and lunch for hospital patients
  • 1999 – 12 SLFP MPS (G L Peiris, Mahinda Wijesekera, S B Dissanayake) crossed overduring Chandrika Bandaranaike’s rule crashing her government  (allegations of bribes and perks offered to cross over)
  • 2000 under Ranil Premiership crossovers such as Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Wijepala Mendis, Dr. Stanley Kalpage

It is really difficult to count the number of cross overs over the years but most of the cross overs have been from the UNP to other parties giving us to ask whether UNP has become a training area for people to cross over yet keep their membership in the UNP? The count would place more “UNP’ in Parliament since most of the UNPers in Government have not given up their UNP membership.

When Shakespeare said Brutus was an honourable man should we be surprised how many ‘honourable men are inside Diyawanna Oya”?

With elections announced for 2015, the bargaining game has already begun. No doubt foreign players are also involved and a lot of charts and checklists are following the eeny meeny mieni mo game to see who can be paid to be taken and who needs to be paid to remain. It would have been better to keep the announcement of elections as a surprise leaving little room for mischief.

We get the government we deserve and if people themselves continue to tolerate the same clowns proposing to jump and create a new government with the same set of bad eggs it will show that the people are no better than the politicians.

Instead, the political parties must be lobbied to include more youth, qualified and people who have through examples shown commitment to developing the nations through projects that they have innovated. A new system of including talented youth with proven records must be developed and not simply those that look good on paper.

– by Shenali D Waduge