Posted on December 17th, 2009

J Jayasundera

When I left Sri Lanka in the early 70s I left because the politicisation of every sphere of Sri Lankan life was interfering with my way of life. However at the time our own Buddhist value systems of simple living, honesty and integrity was intact, the public services were relatively efficient. In the recent past I have had the opportunity live in Sri Lanka for about 3 months which revealed to me a despicable state which has provoked me to write this article.

To ensure a stable future for any country there has to be good governance. Good governance has  many definitions how ever the basics of the Rule of law, Efficient and productive public services  free of corruption is essential. For a sovereign state it should have the character to withstand foreign interference how ever powerful. Sri Lanka has failed in every respect.

 Public Services


I am a product of that noble ideal of free education. A system that has helped social mobility, gender equality and freedom of thought. One that Sri Lanka can be proud of. Under the influence of the IMF and world bank the subsidy of the education has been reduced to such a degree  that in the first instance it has created a two tier educational system. International public school system for the rich and government funded school for the rest. I was appalled that every student who went to government schools had to have private tuition suggesting that the system was below par. It also took away time  from the students who could have made use of  it to develop away from academia. It would be better if the government charged students a nominal amount to improve the quality of education.

It makes a mockery of finance when the subsidy on the national education is reduced but you spend 1 billion rupees on foreign education.


The people have lost faith in the government institutions , very different from the health system that was there in the 70s. The private health care has grown but not necessarily for the better . The medical mudalalis who charge Rs 1000 for a 5 minute consultation cannot be considered to give proper health care neither would it give continuity of care. What this all proves is the failure of the government to provide an effective health care system. Unfortunately health care is also a victim of the IMF /World bank advice of reduced subsidy.

The poor productivity of the above 2 sectors epitomises the malaise of the public sector. The reasons for the above is not only the reduced subsidy but also the cycle of corruption and politicisation.

Politicisation / Public Services

Politics has infiltrated every strata of society. Every need of the community has to be at the benevolence of the politicians. A letter from a politician is essential be it for a job or even to get a legitimate right . It is interesting that political appointees have filled up the public services. When you walk into any department you see half of the public servants reading the papers or in idol gossip. The public services have been uneconomical it only fulfils political subservience. Their altitude towards the public is despicable. Only time they appear to engage the public is when they are looking for a bribe to perform a job that they are anyway paid to do. It is far better if half the public servants are sent home to grow vegetables on full pay.

 Cycle of commissions

 When I went to Sri Lanka I was under the impression commissions were  confined to public servants and the politicians. I was appalled to see that Hardware store, Timber Merchants with hold the commissions for the carpenters/ masons with out your knowledge. Any introduction or referral by a professional ensures a commission to them. The medical mudalalis take the cake. If a referral has been made to a consultant for an opinion there after whether he treats or not he will visit the patient and say hello and charge for the visit. It is alleged that the doctors get a commission even from the pharmacies. This is an absolute disgrace. When guardians of humanity resorts to this kind of immorality what hope is there for the country.


It is a waste of time talking about the blatant corruption. It is an open secret. Every man woman and child knows about as it is so blatant. The hedging in the petroleum corporation or signing the contract for the southern high way 4 times with replacement of many bridges is only the tip of the iceberg. What surprises me though is that there are no questions asked by the guardians of the public be they in govt or opposition. The civil society and the media are blind to it. What hope for the country especially the poor.


The biggest failure in Sri Lanka is the judiciary. When you have to wait a life time to have a court decision it makes a mockery of the law. How long can you tolerate that in the 21st century. Justice delayed is justice denied. This of course does not take into account the politicisation and the alleged corruption in the judiciary. It wont be long before the people will take the law into there hands.

 Politics and elections

Only successful profession is politics. The  country cannot afford so many elections. With in six months of October there would be 3 elections. Provincial council, presidential and parliamentary. All elected members in the government are ministers with all the security, administrative officers and vehicles. Can this poor country afford all this. In addition of course during the elections there is no other work done in the public service. The whole system is parasitic.

 Faliure of the Temple

 Buddhist hierarchy has failed the people. They are blindly following the politicians and neglecting the masses. There void in the community is filled by the foreign funded Christian organisations. Then they shout about Christianisation. Failure of Sri Lanka is the failure of the Buddhist Hierarchy be it in Asgiriya or Malwatta. The only service performed by the temple are the rituals like the katina pinkama to earn money. They even make use of Foreign donors  to enhance there profits

 Geo politics

What has happened to sri lanka is what happens to the man who sells his wife. He has no say in the matter. We have a Leader of opposition who leads a party that wishes to be the next government. What intrigues me is that he himself does not think he is electable and supports a common Presidential Candidate. He consults India , and the International community but does not consult his constituents. What a joke!  The only rightful deduction to this absurd behaviour is that he is kept there by the foreign supporters who do not wish a sinhala consensus.

The blatant interference in the government by India and the west has made governance almost impossible. How does one run a government to different beats of the drum by different interested parties. The only response we see are pilgrimages to India and the rest of the world by the government and the opposition at different times to enlighten India and foreign governments and to get advise and help or more pertinently orders. Are we a sovereign state or a servile state?

 Failed Public Service, Failed Judiciary, Failed political system Is Sri Lanka a failed state.? Unless the politicians have the foresight to unite have a national government with good governance with honesty and transparency my country will have no future.


  1. aravinda Says:

    You may be in despair, becuase you got a free education and did no service to Sri Lanka. You have to solve your problems in private. Sins of commissions are better than sins of ommissions.

  2. jana Says:

    Denial of reality is the definition of a Lotus Eater

  3. Priyantha Abeywickrama Says:

    Am I the only optimist among the Sinhala speaking Diaspora? I see the events that are unfolding as a good sign to refocus on ourselves. Old garbage belonging to someone else must give way to new ones belonging to me. The whole system that we think is ours, is/was never ours, but more akin to what we migrated into as blind. Why bother worrying too much about looking after someone else’s children at the expense of mine, when I got my own to look after. I can assure that Sinhale’ is going to be a better place soon devoid of the scum that brought us to where we are today. The fire that will burn them to ashes is yet to be ignited. I could be one of the few migrants, who did not lose our future. So, I am going home and invite others of my kind to join me to fix it for once and all, and am glad to say that we got what it takes to do it by all means, good or bad.

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