Ramblings of a non-political voter


By Goolbai Gunasekara

At the outset let me say that I am a totally non-political being. Mind you, I am mightily interested in politics but I support no party unconditionally as do many of my friends. I have voted for every President ever since I first received my voting card many moons ago – Sir John, Sirimavo, Premadasa, SWRD, Ranil, JR, Chandrika et al. (Obviously not in that order.) I have not yet voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa but who is to say I will not do so in the future?

As a totally unreliable party voter I feel quite free to give my opinions on the goings on of politicians at any time and especially at the moment, and to cheerfully proclaim that I would vote for Beelzebub himself if I thought he would be best for the country. A good candidate that!

It is my opinion that loyalists are sometimes not the best critiques of their Government, and blind loyalists do their leaders a disservice by not listening to people who are not necessarily anti- leader but are being merely analytical. Armchair talkers – that’s who they are (me included.)

Never before has an election caused this much pandemonium. That is the word for the goings on in the political arena right now. The rumours alone are enough to send hearts patients into non-recovery mode. One man , a few years ago, died after hearing a Cricketing result. How come no one has done likewise of late? The scenario is set for it.

Thanks to the stupidity of the electoral oraganisers I was unable to cast my vote. After each election I complain (in writing) that my Kotte based booth is right on top of a hill at Rahula College on Embuldeniya Road, As age progresses my ability to get up the hill decreases and this last time was not for people like me with canes or mobility problems to cast our votes. Cars could be taken up the hill earlier but not so this time. Ergo, both my husband and I did not get to vote. Given my undependability as a voter that may have been all to the good.

So what do we make of the situation and of all the shouting and excitement? Absolutely nothing – that’s what. Cabinet reshuffles leave us cold. Ministers like Duminda Dissanayake should have been shuffled right out of the Cabinet after the fertilizer fiasco. He did not even accept responsibility. An apology at least would have helped calm our anger at the sheer callousness of those in power at the plight of the farmers. Surely there should have been no doubt as to where their votes would have gone on the 10th.

Now what do voters like me make of the brouhaha of past days. We see politicians desperately trying their best to survive and explain the unexpected results. We were particularly incensed by the TV views of government MPs in highly expensive cars driving into Temple Trees ostensibly to confer but in actuality to urge the PM to protect the present state of their affairs for the next two years. The less I write about Presidential decisions the better.

In my opinion the men in those grandiose cars have done NOTHING for the country . Those cars should never have been given to them anyway. Politicians are not supposed to be supported in luxury by our taxes. (I do not include the PM as being guilty of this particular crime.) There are far too many government supporters doing this and talking, talking, talking at public meetings. I can never understand why they need to shout so loud at such places. They assault the ears as well as our intelligence. On a regular basis too.

Let me recall a famous SWRD Bandaranaike story. Apparently after he became PM he was asked if he wanted a special telephone installed at Horagolla. Upon hearing it would cost about Rs. 150 he answered that he had no intention of costing the taxpayers such a sum. Are such words ever heard of late?

The lack of good governance is felt by all. We can never be sure that good decisions are being made for the benefit of citizens. My pet peeve would naturally be in the field of education which I understand. I frankly say that our ‘masses’ are not being educated in order to reach global standards of knowledge or even cope with the’ global village’ life. Syllabuses are changed with no parallel upgrading of the type of graduate teachers being churned out of the Universities. But the billions spent on free, books, free uniforms, free milk, free everything is ridiculous. I remember when Dr. Nissanka Wijeratne gave free text books to students the then Finance Minister was aghast. ‘ How can we afford it," he demanded rhetorically. Well we can see the sad result.

Then the daily Press continues to give us the recent words of the political pundits. They contradict each other, they quarrel among themselves, they make promises they never keep, they annoy us beyond belief. Do they not see the frustrated reaction of an intelligent people?

I give below an amusing division of voters by the British author of a book popular 40 years ago. I have just reread it and changed the words slightly to suit Sri Lanka.

1. There are people who think they run the country.

2. There are those that think they OUGHT to run the country.

3. There are those who DO run the country.

4. There is the influence of the wives of those who run the country.

5. Some think the country ought to be run by another country.

6. And there are those who think it is . The Bond Scam needs hardly be mentioned. We are so totally fed up with the whole thing. Let the Aloysius ‘boy’ off or punish him – but hurry up. Do something about the Thajudeen case or close it. Again hurry up. Wimal Weerawansa’s wife has been in and out of remand on a case which seems a minor one involving her passport or both of them. Settle the matter once and for all and put that lady out of all this suspension. The much advertised financial frauds have neither been proven or dealt with. Why is this? I can hardly voice the fury I feel on a daily basis when Committee after Committee is appointed to do nothing. Delaying tactics are just that, Tactics that fool no one. And I repeat – NO ONE.

Citizens do not deny that there have been piecemeal efforts but that is what they are – piecemeal. We need an on going and continuous upward and onward push and those that do not help the leaders to do so must resign. Surely Ministers who cause such terrible hardship to citizens should have the grace to KNOW when to go.. Other than Felix Dias in the Sirimavo Government and Gamini Dissanayake in a later government has anyone resigned a portfolio?

We also hope that Mahinda Rajapakse realises he should correct many mistakes of his government. First of all, he must not protect children of his friends. His own son, Namal, is too young to be given all that power. He should go to a University in the West and prepare himself for a future role. Hearing him speak with authority on TV does not fill us with confidence. While we may listen to adults of the Mahinda faction we are not going to accept inexperienced young men with not too much education.

The Police in particular need to be reined in. Men like Mervyn de Silva need to be muzzled. I can go on for pages but the message is clear. Will all those who are literally playing ducks and drakes with our country stop this merry-go-round and take stock of assets and non-assets. I don’t mean financial ones necessarily.

Many of us feel our leaders are not being well served by those who claim to do so. Sycophantic followers do more harm than good.

I have to end on an unimportant note perhaps, but one that has caused me no end of irritation from the time of JR onwards. He was guilty of this pronunciation error himself. The word – importantly- is GOVERNMENT. That word has an ‘V’ and an ‘N’ in it yet so many of our politicians and announcers pronounce it GARMENT. Silly little thing to be annoyed about isn’t it? At least that mistake can be corrected, but like so many others I bet it will not.

The mindset of most people these days is one of bemused bewilderment. Can there be anything more damning than this attitude after 70 years of Independence? We have learnt nothing from the past and so we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes again and again. How sad this is for our lovely island!

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