May Day rallies turned certain parts of Colombo red, blue, and one venue yellow spotted. Much hot air emanated from human bodies crowed together but settled down with chairs provided. More hot air emanated from throats shouting into mikes. Most venues had elaborate facades created on red carpeted platforms and entertainment provided with dance and song. So, they were really show pieces, loud and Party promoting with the should-be-centre of focus; i. e workers – completely out of the picture. Not even mentioned by the speakers, except by a few but all in passing.
Cass troubled over the costs incurred and then she consoled herself it was not from the government treasury but Party funds. Their May Day venues exhibited how rich the Parties were. How much better if they had spent less on the embellishments and helped some workers who are completely down and out, with the saved money. But no. May Day is now THE day for Party self-promotion and spouting political rhetoric.
One tidbit Cass was told was that the SJB had decreed there was to be no alcohol allowed among the audience at the meeting and thus no arrack was given to those who participated in the rally. Certainly, the way to go!
The President’s priorities
President Wickremasinghe waxed eloquent about what he prioritised to achieve before Sri Lanka regains economic soundness in 2048. Is it 2048 that he targets? Far too long to wait. Have we to waste an entire century in coming back to near what we were in 1948 when we began self-rule? There lies the rub. After independence, for about twenty-five years, we had statesmen and decent persons in Parliament, politics and top positions; these places were then taken over by lesser people, some only concerned about self-aggrandizement. I use the term ‘lesser persons’ here to classify some of our political reps and leaders. It is a great lying euphemism, because these lesser persons include the utterly corrupt inclusive of liars, lechers, rapists, chain snatchers, murderers and all other sinners. As the years progressed post 1980s, corruption crescendoed and drove the country to ruin. While they live well, we the Ordinaries have to pay for their sins.
Coming back to what the Prez prioritised after that diatribe of Cass – she’s like a bull who sees red when it comes to many politicians – he said he would “intensify focus on national unity, youth aspirations while pursuing the macro-fiscal adjustment programme.” Reconciliation and youth were the prime concerns, meaning as Cass understands, have peace and amity among the various races and religions in the country and give ear to youth and facilitate the realisation of their aspirations.
Cass will jot down her thoughts on these priorities of the Prez’s There now seems to be peace and harmony among the races and religions and that is thanks to religious leaders of the country; the Aragalaya that demonstrated clearly that all races and religions can work amicably together; and to the sensibility of the people themselves. Also those politicians who promoted Sinhala Buddhism and openly nurtured groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena are now not so powerful and expend their energies looking after themselves from the wrath of the people. One glaring instance of promoting disharmony, nay outright armed struggle between the two races of Sinhalese and Muslim: Islam vs Christianity was the Easter Sunday massacre that appears to have been allowed to take place by higher ups then, with, as the Cardinal repeats, an underhand force that pushed it forward. So to further reconciliation, what has to be taken into consideration is the period after the civil war, since much remains to be achieved in this sphere. What the Prez must do is rein in politicians who foster racial and religious feuds for their own benefit – divide and rule, sort of.
Prioritising the welfare of the youth of the country and their aspirations is to negotiate better government. They demand a change in systems, in politics and its culture. The youth demand transparency, decency and an elimination of corruption. So there lies the direction the president must go. He has dodged this; it is apparent, and is spoken about by those who know better.
Rajan Phillips in the Sunday Island of April 30 dealt with reconciliation fully and astutely in his column with title ‘Ranil’s triple reconciliation: national, economical and electoral’. In it he named very clearly that reconciliation with regard to corruption and crimes committed is essential, should be prioritised since no economic stabilization is possible unless corruption is nailed. And added Rajan Phillips, Ranil and this government have done nothing in relation to these two evils – rampant in the two previous regimes and not scotched as yet, He named two such crimes that were very nearly solved and then shelved: the Thajudeen case being one. If I remember correct, he also mentioned the unresolved accusation that a hidden hand is guilty of the mass murders on Easter Sunday 2019.
Reconciliation is to “restore friendship or harmony: to settle or resolve differences; to make consistent or congruous; to cause to submit to or accept something unpleasant.” Into this definition one can slot in identifying cases of corruption and punishing those corrupt who committed the crime of thieving, cheating, appropriating for themselves what is due to the country.
Legions of cases from the Bond Scam to the sugar and garlic scams; bribes and commission taken and even sought (e.g from Japan); and the supposed payment received to stall the seeking of compensation from the Singaporean company whose poison laden ship caught fire and sank in our waters. None, none of these have been properly investigated and punishment meted out. We remember cases dismissed by courts.
This is Sri Lanka. Useless talking big about priorities. One link that will satisfy reconciliation and youth – Ranil’s priorities – is to catch the corrupt and punish them. The youth want this: high on the few demands of the Aragalaya which represented best the youth of the country. They demanded the bringing back of pilfered billions to the country where the money belongs, and stamping out corruption. This will automatically entail those who stole and hid their loot overseas. Thus two targets with one consolidated, committed action with no biases et al.
As is usual in Colombo particularly, will Vesak be circus time of lights, loudspeakers crowds and overuse of electricity? The Buddha whose birth, enlightenment and passing away are commemorated is relegated to a mere visit to a temple and then dansal and sightseeing. However, this now is becoming more a way for youth. The older and wiser among Buddhists are developing sila, practicing and improving samadhi and increasing in panna. Cass is much in this latter group. If she spouts vitriol, which she often does in this column, it is not through hatred or envy or gossip or love of evil words. It is with good chethana. While giving voice to concerns for the country shared by others who worry, she is contributing her miniscule effort to improve our wonderful land and bring it back to its former glory as honest, tolerant, equal to all as much as is possible, and joyful.
Benefit from a serene Vesak!