Enthroned politics – abdicate or dethrone?



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To our country’s misfortune, politics and politicians have been elevated to a level, that is not only aberrant, but also highly damaging. Those who appeal and beg the votes of their electors, morph into proud, aloof and lofty monarchs with astonishing rapidity, upon election. This is possibly not surprising for those experiencing such ecstasy for the first time. Everything is designed to create the notion that politics and its practitioners are special, and entitled to the best and deserving respect and obeisance. From the grandeur and majesty of the Parliament building, the sumptuous meals served and attendants easily at hand, it requires rare qualities of character to refuse to be distracted towards notions of superiority and fawning attention.


This seeming physical opulence is reinforced by such provisions as "breach of privilege", "contempt of the house", contrasting with "Parliamentary privilege", which is a means of saying "We can say what we like" while you, the hoi polloi "dare not utter anything even mildly offensive". I have myself been the victim of outrageously untrue charges being leveled against me, with no right of reply!


Respect , honour, and fame are to be earned and retained. A recent scene showed how hollow calling each other "Garu" was. The televised proceedings of the House showed, that when a speaker on one side tried valiantly to say something, his voice was drowned by the caterwauling of the opposing benches. When it became the other sides’ turn to reply, the previous wreckers became deathly quiet while the jackals came alive on the other side! Both sides remained inaudible. Above the beastly din, the voice of a harassed officer, called upon to conduct a voice-vote, plaintively intoned the names of the "Honourables" in turn! A visibly strained Speaker, adjourned the sitting. This scene could be one of great hilarity, except that it cost the exchequer some six million and reduced to a shambles the plush carpeted "Supreme Legislature". Am I expected to respect this circus?


Irony is carved in stone on the numerous "Foundations’ laid at election time, thence to remain to support invading weeds. The few remaining slabs, solemnly record the glorious "Sankalpaya", "Maga Penveema", "Diriganweema", "Adheekshanaya" and "Nirawaranaya" of a series of panjandrums, who without exception, do not merit the credit assigned. The only deserving, but not even mentioned, is the Stonemason who painstakingly inscribed all this crap. In the rare instances where a project is completed - amidst "Transmission Losses" along the way - the construct is pompously "Janatha Ayithiyata Pavaranawa" by one of the afore-named. What a charade! Little wonder that we are sliding towards becoming a nation of hypocrites.


There is an implied assertion, that the higher the level of decision, the more correct it has to be. Thus, in order of sanctity, matters are referred to the House, Committees, Cabinet, Prime Minister or President, in ascending order. As can be imagined, the higher the level, the more crowded the Work Desk is likely to be. The Cabinet, for example, meets weekly. It is probable that the dozens of desks are each re-supplied with documents covering more than a hundred pages! Even a group endowed uniformly with qualities of genius, cannot be expected to apply the required degree of critical judgment that is assumed. Our Cabinet is far from endowed with massive talent. Coupled with zero use of a lavishly equipped library, much cannot be reasonably expected.


Let me cite just one example of how this misplaced positioning can lead to injustice. Some Acts that relate to Statutory bodies has a provision that the Minister "….can remove an appointee with no reason assigned. Such act shall be final and cannot be canvassed in any court". Can anything be more iniquitous? Actually a victimized scientist filed a petition in the Supreme Court, under the Human Rights provisions. An exceptionally courageous Judge held that this provision was obnoxious and should not figure in future Acts. To my knowledge, this exceptional direction has not been honoured. There were even among us, some who argued that "who the Minister appoints can also be dis-appointed by him"!


All this adds up to creating a monstrous ego. Even when turfed out – being caught lying under oath, instead being abandoned in shame, they are cheered by a fawning crowd. This creates doubts about our preparedness for universal franchise. But then ours is a people who overwhelmingly picked a two-bit television actress above an ex-mayor, and subsequently an Ambassador and now The Speaker. At least two well-known drug peddlers secured election to Parliament and a few thieves of public property moved to Cabinet rank! And as Shakespeare had it – "they are all honourable men".


The people and the media are very much at fault for creating undue feelings of superiority. This can be expected, considering the extent to which authority has been arrogated or captured, resulting in much – including jobs, school admissions, promotions, transfers and much else, is entirely at the mercy of politicians, looked on helplessly by a cowed and subdued bureaucracy. To bend, is a type of cost-free insurance.


An inescapable phenomenon observed, is the propensity of politicians to use the pronoun "I" where "we" would be much more elegant, gracious and accurate. Thus "I won the War" or "I cleaned the City" are just two examples. Also, one cannot help but notice the tendency to refer publicly, however irrelevantly, to "His Excellency" with an obvious desire to score "Brownie Points". This devalues the object as much as the subject, by this kind of insincere flattery.


One hopes – but doubts – that the much-touted "New Constitution" will provide a provision of recall of non-performers, cross-overs, and proven fraudsters. Thus, justification of the title of this piece which realizes the hopelessness of expecting "Abdication" or ‘Dethronement" of the "Enthroned".


DR. UPATISSA PETHIYAGODA


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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