Making this country, the best:
Towards a new Sri Lanka
Continued from yesterday
I admired the response from the President when he reminded the nation
and the monetary bodies that we had friends in the region who will
support us and we will not negotiate nor depend on such handovers.
Nivard Cabral also did well under the powerful guidance of our foreign
policy of the Government. When did such things happen in Sri Lanka?
Making the country developed and self-sufficient. Picture by
Have we taken a count of the number of people who felt good with this
response? Why because we are now proud Sri Lankans. We all know what the
outcome of this saga was: We got more from the IMF.
Then there was hilarious claim in the UN Human Rights Council. The
web spun by the UNHRC’s N Pillai together with many powerful nations to
say that our Force and political leaders were murderers. We all know in
our hearts (including the opportunistic Opposition Leader) that we did
not deliberately kill our own innocent people in the North.
A bunch of friends watched the submissions live, late at night and
early in the morning on the internet when the sessions were open, the
submissions delivered by Professor Rajiva Wijesinha, Mahinda
Samarasinghe and the then UN representative Dr Dayan Jayatillake.
We were so proud to have our own blood, represent our country the way
they did, and most of all the way the sessions were prosecuted, the
strategies used and most of all the way we rallied some of the most
powerful nations close to us (China, India and Russia) and won our
counter motion with a resounding majority.
Was that not the sweetest victory of all and when did any country as
small as our manage to get so many countries rally behind in support and
when did such things happen in the history of Sri Lanka?
The key was to use the right people for the right job and the
leadership has made us proud. For those who said we have antagonized the
West, I say so be it, we have made many more close friends who are and
will be there when we need them.
We need to cultivate the culture of nationalism. We need to cultivate
a culture to be accountable. We need to change the attitude of people to
work hard for prosperity.
Nationalism is important as we need to learn to say this is our
country, this is our people and those come first. During one of my
visits I was having dinner at a reputable hotel in Sri Lanka. We were
three Sri Lankans. The level of response we received was quite poor,
nevertheless, there was not enough of bending backwards for the guest at
the next table.
Four white people possibly from Europe. There was one staff member
practically standing beside the table to serve the four, none for us
waiting as much as 20 minutes to get served on one occasion.
After much debate with my two friends, I had to call in the
restaurant manager of the hotel to explain to him that we as Sri Lankans
need to learn to look into the needs of our own people, serve them first
before we serve foreigners, as that is how we get treated when we live
in those countries.
What I found during both trips to Sri Lanka after September 9, our
people are very friendly, willing to help and will go the extra mile,
and we are almost there if we take a little bit pride being Sri Lankans.
Accountability is very important.
A post election news headline says “Don’t lead the masses in the
wrong direction, the President urges the politicians.” Is it not the
culture of our politicians to find fault when it is stark clear that it
is the correct thing to do? Is it not the culture of our politicians to
take from whereever it is available?
Is it not the culture of our politicians to do nothing if there is
nothing in it for them or ask for more before even a project commenced?
I am not in the game of blaming the politicians, but it is face that a
child learns to behave like their parents. Corruption, commissions
taking is not limited to Sri Lanka. Even Western politicians the
so-called democratic countries are masters at helping themselves.
In high probability no country will and have been able to eliminate
corruption, but those countries who were successful, like Singapore has
been able to limit it. I think it is more important to be accountable
for what anyone does.
If the focus can be directed at doing the job to the best of one’s
abilities, or even better, or even a bit more better, that is
strive/push to be better every time, eventually the culture of
accountability will set in. And herein comes the attitude.
We need to culture the feeling among our people to want to do a
better job every time, not do a job because one has to do it or need to
do it for other reasons. I once was talking to a contract in a company
in China and he in a flash said “sorry I have go now to talk to my god.”
I was bewildered. This was China and my understanding was that
religious xx was not that great in China. I said “god?” and he said “oh
I am sorry we call our clients god. The attitude and the dedication I’ve
seen in China is amazing and has to be experienced to be believed.
They say that every time a new President is elected in any country
people who vote do so with great expectations.
Most of all people have hope, primarily for their betterment as we
need not forget that we are all human beings, secondarily for a better
environment, a better country to live in.
Is it not why many emigrate to more prosperous countries, for better
personal gain, with many sorry to leave but have no choice? Can I know
one person who is rich in Sri Lanka who wants to leave Sri Lanka?
Does that not tell a tale, that Sri Lanka is heaven for many of us if
we had a decent living standard, only if our country was rich and
prosperous, had the means to support our own people, had enough money to
bring about development etc.
Mr President we have had many Presidents in recent times, in my time,
I’ve seen starting with the first President J.R. Jayewardene. You are
now the fifth President of Sri Lanka after JR and people have given you
an opportunity, and placed their trust in you as the best out of the lot
to lead our country.
There are many who have the capacity to make a difference, who are
crazy enough, who are maniacs but do not have the opportunity, like you
have today. I appeal to you; make this beautiful, able country the best
in the whole world.
During one of my recent visits to Sri Lanka (January 2010) a
journalist asked me Do you think Sri Lanka can make it,” and I had two
words, ‘without doubt’, and I strongly believe this time that we can do
it. Take the chance.