Citizens' Mail | Daily News


Citizens' Mail

Hobson’s choice, indeed

We are just a few weeks away from doomsday. This will be followed by even a greater catastrophe. Are you one of the 15 million voters, ready to face this chaos and tragedy, if you do not make a wise choice?

The contestants have begun their rhetoric and false promises which will never see the light of day. Their promises, of corrupt-free governance, free of red tape, a just, free and an equal society, which has been step by step deteriorating ever since independence.

But as citizens we have created this Hobson’s choice, we have made room for these outcastes with no real tried and tested yardstick, with no real credibility without ethical and proper educational qualifications to steal the limelight from the politicians of yesteryear who were gentlemen to their fingertips.

It will take a century or more to rid the current politicians of their stranglehold of this country. They have fortified themselves against righteousness by their ruthless greed for power and wealth and allied with other breeds of politicians, who are on the same wavelength.

But, we by our choice, of red, blue, green and other psychedelic colours, instead of economic and social policies have abdicated our rights which have led to the politicians usurping it and will continue to bleed this nation.

Walter Fernando


Scared for the sacred call?

The Daily News editorial on October 15 captioned ‘Clergy in politics!’ should be considered very important and noteworthy and action by authorities, wherein it says “Two leading members of the clergy of the country’s main religions have frowned on members of their flock taking to politics.

The Viharadipathi of Mihintale Rajamahaviharaya Ven Dr Walawahengunawewa Dhammarathana Thera has enjoined all Buddhists in the country not to even entertain any member of the Sangha when approached seeking their votes. The Sangha has no ‘Paksha’ [Political Party]. Their only ‘Pakshaya’ is Poojaka Pakshaya [Religious calling] Views in this connection were echoed to a degree by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who said he was looking forward to the day when religious leaders would not be seen seated like flower pots at political events”. I would also add His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had said that no political leader should meet him and all 225 members in parliament should be sent out. Whether these statements border on politics is another matter. As for refusing to meet political leaders, it could be called as unbecoming or not expected of a spiritual, but his abhorrence in the clergy taking to politics should be admired.

To buttress the statements, it is considered best to quote from a book ‘Sir DB Jayathilaka Biography’ by Dr Nandana Wijesekara where that famous national and Buddhist leader had said of monks taking to politics – When he was informed that there were such stories of Bhikkhus entering politics he said, “I cannot believe the news that the Vidyalankara Pirivena would be a party to such an unbecoming effort. I cannot even believe the story current in the country that any monk associated with Viyalanakara Pirivena was hoping to enter the State Council. If the Pirivena gets mixed up with politics, the strong bonds of my firm trust and devotion binding me to the Pirivena would be severed”.

Now attention to the provision the Constitution regarding Buddhism which says – Chapter II- Buddhism – 9. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Article 10 and 14[1][e]. Though the intention is good, what has happened in practice. Buddhist prelates have made this provision a political issue to seek personal favours, as politicians know the Buddhist monks influence their devotees to win at elections. This has resulted in Buddhist monks neglecting their religious duties and go behind politicians.

My personal experience is that when I went to a famous Rajamaha Viharaya in my locality and complained to the Chief Incumbent, who is no more after a tragic death, and a state recognised one like that, that a monk in his temple refused to issue me a Pirith Noola, he, to my horror said that tying Pirith Noola has become a nuisance and hinders other work. What other work, I could not understand, but it could be indulging in politics as he was one who distributed Sil Redi and conducted Bodhi Pooja at the last Presidential Elections, supporting a particular candidate.

This shows to what extent Buddhism has fallen into and also the Sasana, so much so that some call them ‘Men in Yellow robes’. It is a hilarious sight when politicians attend temples, kovils, churches and mosques, the monks or priests bless them by placing holy relics on their heads, in case of Buddhists and place shawls round them by other priests, knowing fully well that the politician is only acting to show that he is religious and the ulterior motive to get the priests to canvas votes in his favour.

Would it therefore not be prudent for the government to delete this provision from the statute, and allow religions to be safeguarded, fostered by respective religious dignitaries, such as Mahanayakas, Archbishops, Kurkals, Imams etc. This provision also makes the monks place the onus on the state to promote and foster Buddhism and wash off their hands of that responsibility. Do we not see the deplorable situation when Buddhist monks are charged in courts for criminal offences, such as illegally retaining a baby elephant, as alleged, allowing temple premises to be used as political offices, encouraging strikes by nurses in hospitals who care for helpless patients, rousing communal feelings and flout the laws of the land.

It is hoped that religious dignitaries pay heed to what Ven Dr Walawahenawewa Dhammarathana Thera and His Eminence the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith plea is seriously considered to give religion its revered rightful place, by which the people could be disciplined, thus leading to a peaceful and prosperous country.

G.A.D. Sirimal


Points to ponder at the presidential election

Which Presidential candidate should Liberals vote for- those who value our prevailing liberal democracy which enables us to enjoy personal freedoms including the freedom to practice any religion or no religion?

We have two main candidates to choose: Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa.

We are still under IMF tutelage which is no bad thing to ensure responsible liberal democracy. Whichever candidate is elected will have to toe the line laid down by the IMF as long as we are under the foreign exchange debt repayment programme.

This, however, allows us to elect responsible leaders instead of rabble-rousing demagogues who have in the past stirred up communal and religious strife. Have we learnt from that experience? They say wise men learn from the experience of others, ordinary men from their own experience but fools never learn. Has our political democracy matured or are we still a rabble-rousing populist democracy? Politicians cater to the instincts of the people and if the people are driven by their lower instincts then democracy has no future in the country.

The only democracy possible in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society is a liberal society where people are free to own private property which is the foundation for individual civil and political rights. Socialism, where individual ownership of the property has been done away with, has failed to produce civil liberty and individual rights. Socialism looks attractive since it promises equality and people like equality. But such equality, even if possible is at the expense of liberty for equality has to be enforced by some authority and all authority corrupts sooner or later and leads to the emergence of a ruling class which tends to monopolise power.

True that equality does not guarantee freedom. In fact, the natural order of society seems to imply inequality in wealth since some people are savers while others are spendthrifts. The ideal is for the spendthrifts to spend their own previous savings. But there are compulsory savers and inveterate spenders and there is no automatic mechanism to ensure equality between planned savings and actual investment. This is the problem that economists detected but are unable to find a solution to without sacrificing freedom of the individual which is as important as equality.

So freedom for the individual including the freedom to save and accumulate wealth seems to lead to inequality of income and wealth and some State action to reduce such inequality. The drive-in the economically free enterprise economies stems from this ability for the savers to accumulate wealth and invest them to make more money.

Greed is part and parcel of human nature and cannot be abolished or outlawed by state monopoly overall enterprise since those in power can still give vent to it and act like the private owners enjoying benefits even if they have no formal title to the wealth and property as in Socialism, since possession and control of such property and not mere legal ownership is what matters. This is where Communism failed since those in power enjoyed the benefits of economic wealth though they did not own wealth.

R.M.B. Senanayake


Remedy to the human elephant conflict

Elephants avoid bees and thick cactus thorns. If one could hang beehive cages near the houses in villagers where they could swing these cages with ropes at any given time when the elephant approach the bees.

When disturbed, they will chase away the big creature. This could also provide bees honey as well to the villagers. Another is to grow pathok, another thick thorny cactus around the villagers to keep the rapidly diminishing elephants away without harming them. These methods could be also be adopted around the paddy and other fields and also by the roads.

Susantha Mahinda Welgama


No public property for propaganda please

The Campaign for Fair and Free Elections (CAFFE) have received 131 complaints related to misuse of public property by presidential candidates. There are complaints on movable and immovable resources, belonging to Local Councils and Central Government being misused. Relevant authorities must put an end to this immediately. Election Commission is spending RS 4.5 billion for this presidential election. We are spending so much of money for a non-corrupt and fair election. If the election is not done properly this amount of money is wasted.

As general public, it is our duty to work against election corruption. We should not allow politicians to misuse public funds for their election propaganda. If we allow this, these candidates will misuse public funds after coming to power. Corruption should be rejected at every stage, at every level. We have seen and suffered enough because of corruption. We should not tolerate it anymore. Police and Election Commission should offer a financial gift of Rs. 25,000 to anybody giving information about use of public property for election propaganda work.

D. Weeratunga




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