Posted on June 20th, 2009

Asoka S

61 years after independence from the British Raj our beloved Sri Lanka continues to be one of the poorest countries of the world. Our GDP is 83.2 Billion Dollars Vs the worlds Largest USA’s 13860 Billion and tiny Singapore’s 227 Billion. Our GDP ranking is 68 out of 220 countries and Singapore stands at 46th.
We rank 105th on the literacy scale out of 202 countries at 89.1%. which is indeed a silver lining among the dark clouds.

So for a country with 89.1% literacy and generally known as an enterprising people how come we ended up so poor while the once mud hole Singapore in 1960s without even drinking water in its soil rank so high in wealth and prosperity. It is a combination of things one of which is the poor quality of leadership we had and the huge nepotism and corruption we dragged ourselves into since independence. There were Prime Ministers who believed that by stopping imports and owning all economic activity by the government we can generate wealth and there are those who believed that we as a country were able to pick and choose who would invest their precious dollars as if there were no other countries in the world who would lay the red carpet to investor dollars.

Then there was the Marxist JVP who were still fighting to create a Utopian Marxist State in1980’s as the most Marxist country in the world Soviet Union was dismantling its own. In fact the whole world had enough of it by the end of 1980s. Today only pathetic Cuba still holds onto it perhaps till aging Castro in gone.
They just cant wait.

Maniac Prabhakaran’s evil spell took care of 26 years of post independent Lanka and despite huge energy in the private sector no real growth took place as the country was in shambles due to this evil man’s killing and destruction spree.

President Rajapaksha and brave Lankan forces finally defeated the LTTE totally. A new chapter is dawning and Lankan people are waking upto a brand new day full of new found freedom and hope. This is a historic, defining moment in Lanka annals. We have a rare chance to rebuild our country economically and rebuild our battered democracy. As much as Lankan people are fed up of war they are also fed up of corruption from top to bottom; from top leadership to the police constable.

Next to the LTTE war, corruption was the thing that everyday people always spoke about. Filth like Mervin Silva’s kind were tolerated at the highest levels. He even spoke raw filth in front of the Clergy and the President, breaking all norms of decency in our political culture. Fed up, finally some brave Rupavahini staff dealt with him to shut him up. That moment was hailed all over the world demonstrating people’s anger over this disgusting man with high connections.

Now the North is about to receive a massive dose of government funding to rebuild the ravage of the war. We are looking at billions of dollars. In a country with nearly 20 million people and thousands of educated, smart people President’s brother Basil is the chairman of the committee who will oversee how these billions are spent. Thanks to JR’s short sighted constitution, he is an unelected member of Parliament (and selected so by his own brother),appointed as Senior Presidential advisor by his own brother and now the point man to President to oversee Northern renaissance. How ugly can it be?

Where is the accountability for public money? Where is the Transparency of how this money is spent? Why not pick a smart, educated, uncorrupted business executive or a public servant for this massive responsibility involving billions of Dollars? Why not have him accountable for a BI partisan committee made up of elected members of both parties so his performance can be monitored by an independent group of elected parliamentary members? How accountable can a blood brother be to his boss?

The answers to above forms the very essence of a democracy. Democracy is not only electing law makers through a ballot but how these elected representatives monitor those who have been appointed by the executive to run the countries affairs. By sidestepping and hoodwinking their powers our leaders over the years made nonsense out of our democracy to the point that we became a corruption mess. Now we have the chance to undo it but we are making some big time wrong moves.

President Rajapksha has already made history by defeating LTTE. He has fulfilled his constitutional responsibility to defend our nation 110% and more. The nation can be proud of their leader for that. But the political capital he has thus gained must not be used to build an empire around his family. Specially at a time when the opposition is in doldrums. A healthy opposition and a free press is the ultimate guardian of our democracy.

It is too late now to undo JR’s constitution. So we can hope and pray that the huge power vested in our Executive is used wisely always providing transparency and accountability for people’s money.

Finally here are some suggestions to be the Chairman of Northern Reconstruction Committee. How about a Major or a General who fought the tigers in the frontlines risking bullets and bombs? How about a brilliant, University graduate who demonstrated academic and carrier excellence in his chosen filed?
How about a CEO of one of Lanka’s few Blue Chip companies? We are looking for excellence, dynamism, integrity, ability and most importantly rewarding the very best among us. Isn’t that what good leaders are supposed to do?

Now we know how we ended up 68th ranking in the GDP scale. Now we know how we became a corrupt mess. Now we know how Southern youth joined the JVP. Now we know how hundreds of thousands of our young women left behind their infants to be servants to Arabs for $100. Now we even know how monsters like Prabhakaran were created.

Let us learn from history at least now.



    Since I was a youth I have been dreaming of Sri Lanka to be a developed country at least like Malaysia or even Singapore. Perhaps we can develop Colombo our capital city like Singapore and the rest of the contry like Malaysia with our own flavours to it. But I ran out of my patience when I was only 20 years old and decided to get out of the country for good and now I live in Australia for the last 25 years. But I have not given up my hope for my country. I think now it is the time. We have the country under one flag and one strong President with a family of patriotic citizens. The North has been liberated and millions of tribute are still flowing to our President and his family for the hard work they have done. Now we all must get together to make sure that the Northern development will go ahead solidly as possible with no curruption to report. A committee of intellectuals, leading entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and politicians must get together with one accord. However, do not forget the famous saying “camel is a horse made by a committee”.

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