I think it was JR Jayawardene who said that Sri Lankans are a people that are easily satisfied as long as their basic needs are met. I.e, they are satisfactorily fed and clothed. If I have wrongly attributed that quote then i am sorry. But it’s not too far off the truth no?
Politicians have known this for a long time though, JR or no. The ways to the people’s hearts over here have always led mainly through the metaphorical abdominal region. Meaning through satisfaction of immediate needs, temporary or no. Since independence, the ‘socialist’ part in the ‘socialist democratic republic of Sri Lanka’ has played a key role in the thinking behind most of our economic decisions. The theory has been always to give and give. To buy a man a fish to eat instead of teaching him how to fish. We are a welfare state cast into abject and almost cyclical poverty by anti free market manipulations courtesy our economic managers.
Price Index Bonus
This brand of temporary socialism takes a particularly dastartdly form during electi0n time. Sarath Fonseka, by virtue of his ability to strike doubt at the heart of our incumbent, has already brought us price cuts in petrol and gas. Rural farmers are getting lending rates chopped. Meanwhile, the presidential directive to commercial banks to reduce their interest rates have been largely ignored because of the skewed state of the market. It is a public secret that state banks monopolize commercial markets and their reluctance to reduce rates means that none of the banks in the market will reduce its rates.
The minorities are also enjoying elevated status now that the climax is approaching. There is talk of detainees under the terrorism act being released, the IDPs at Menik farm being relocated by January, The Northern displaced Muslims being relocated by March etc. Yet, the ‘complications’ associated with fulfilling these promises will probably mean that these words run a dangerous chance of proving empty.
The Dream-on Bonus
What I would like to see is some serious talk on education and language reform. Addressing issues that need talking about like devolution of power and the executive presidency is important because without sweeping structural reforms in our political landscape i really dont think long term prosperity is possible.
A government needs to be lean, mean and efficient. It should have the goal of the country’s economic prosperity at the forefront of its manifesto. Sadly, these ‘idealistic’ things don’t happen. And its obviously because secularism here is a convinient blanket over a governmental structure that is mostly designed around optimizing political power for the political elite well outside the goals of long term national prosperity.
What is also obvious is that for people who crave these solutions, no alternative exists in the election. Because none of the candidates deem these things important enough to even fake promise. But in the meanwhile, we can all chill a bit and enjoy the Fonseka bonus by driving more, eating more, growing more and watching more TV on which people aimlessly rake in the muck all in the name of the struggle for supremacy that is Sri Lanka’s socialist democratic politics. What fun.