Posted on February 5th, 2024

By Dr Tilak S. Fernando.

Many individuals want to leave Sri Lanka because of the ever-increasing cost of living, the lack of medicine available to patients, and the new tax formula. The latest is that the  routine surgical operations  are to be placed on hold due to hospital drug shortages. The  former Minister of Health was remanded by Maligakande Magistrate until 15th Feburuary 2024, after  being listed as the eighth suspect in  the case  in connection  with  the procurement of substandard human immunoglobulin. Every  Deputy Solicitor Genaeral appearing for the prosecution, has been accusing the former Minister of Health of amending the  locating process of the Government imports  and the type of medicine, which made the Court to reject bail by terming him as a suspect under the Public Property act..

 People have  suddenly started to starve due to the increased prices of commodities. Parents drink tea and eat only them  buns these days (media reports) as their children do not understand the situation, because parents do not want to keep children starving.

During Mrs. SirimavoD Bandaranaike era.

Some years back, during Mrs Bandaranaike’s regime, when imports were banned altogether, people used to leave the country because of the shortage of red onions and sugar; having  had to stand on long queues to obtain clothes, bread etc. It was akin to lining up for hours to get petrol and gas a year ago, when the current President Ranil Wickremaasinghe took over the respsonaibibilty, when all the others in the oposition members backed out !

Despite, he lost completetly during the last election, even his Parliamentary seat! He lost all the  UNP Parliamentatary seats,  including his own seat.  He was ultimately lucky that the UNP supported him to be the only one seat that  he was selected by the UNP. Today,  it is  tragic that people were starving due to a lack of food or cannot purchase at high prices , especially the vegetables where everything is soring upwarads! So many children are malnourished due to the scarcity of nourishing food. It has been highlighted internationationally!

 Other Countries

Unlike in the past, today, there are more opportunities in countries like the Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia. In the olden days, only professionals could migrate to the UK. There were only students from bourgeois and wealthy families in the UK. At first, the UK opened its doors to first-generation of Africans and West Indians. They were seen walking on Sunday mornings, well-dressed, to the church. The first generation of Africans were West Indians, who were peace-loving people and became the nucleus of the UK’s British Rail, London Transport, and local councils. At the same time, many females were absorbed into hospitals as nurses and auxiliaries. The generation of migrant children had a missing link in them  that  they appeared to be quite hostile !

Sri Lankans

During the past two decades, immigrants to London arrived from various parts of the world. The early Sri Lankan community in London consisted of a few professionals who migrated to the UK on work permits along with students. With the increase in population in the UK, especially gave birth to second-generation of immigrants, thus, it became self-important. The black July incident in July 1993 (Sri Lanka) gave easy access to refugees with all fabricated  and real stories in both Sinhala and Tamil communities. Tamils gained financial and moral support from the LTTE.

Today it is a different kettle of fish. Tamil intellectuals who went to Europe,  Canada  and America formed a group known as the ‘Tamil Diaspora’ and worked against the Sri Lankan government at all levels, negatively influencing the country’s progress. Some have become billionaires in phone telecommuncications and others have developed   into entrepreneurs, and some are involved with money markets.

The LTTE was responsible for helping refugees to become entrepreneurs. In the UK, in several towns, Tamil supermarkets and shops are visible, and they make moeny all sales, including Sri Lankan vegetables, spices and Sunday newspapers. Sinhala communities in the UK did not get support or assistance from the Tamil community at all.  After being in the UK for five years, the so-calld ‘refugees’ qualified to become residents. They became nostalgic and became familiar names such as Baker Street, Charing Cross, Paddington and Wimpole Street, what they had read from text books. Immigration acts  have become renewed every now and  then.

Refugee Needed to sweat much more.

Refugees sweated much more than they used to in Sri Lanka. At the end of the day, they married girls from villages back home and produced children. They could drive new brand new, posh cars and detached houses similar to what they had seen in Colombo! But they felt a vacuum in their hearts. They thought of their simple living in Sri Lanka, but after being labelled ‘refugees’, they could not visit home conditionally. They did realise the resentment, being that their skin colour is different from white, but they had to live like second-class citizens.

At initial Stages

At first, refugees were confined to 8 x 6 cold rooms. It happened to everyone; black sheep, dropouts, incorrigibles and the show-offs amongst the cream of the elite from the prestigious Colombo colleges pursuing their degrees in UK Universities. For some of them, money meant nothing! They received bank drafts from their parents monthly, from foreign banks and Swiss banks, where parents had ‘ external accounts’ with numerous banks . Others , of course, saved up every penny to pay college fees, and survive and attempted to find a higher job in London or to settle down in England.

Unlike their Tamil colleagues, the Sinhala masses did not get help or  any assistance or such as cooperation from the Tamil communinity. Yet, they were courageous. The whole of immigration laws were to become changed. There were victimised doctors and engineers, as well as more refugees, who turned a new life in home away from home.

For those who want to abandon Sri Lanka, there is a message from the writer that there is no country like home where one can keep one’s head up and walk in the streets, without feeling self-guilty of being a second-class citizen. The writer has lived abroad for a considerable period in London and, when advised, people tend to think it is out of jealousy the advice is he is given! But they don’t realise until they realise what a mistake one has committed!

Other Countries

In a country like Italy, one could save the total salary as one has to live in the same house looking after a senile adult. Not only that, if one is so lucky one gets a Villa written under  the person’s name, where the owner has written a  last Will, the very the person, who was looking after when alive! One is able to  enter the Italy when  there is someone who pay council tax!

first, refugees were confined to 8 x 6 cold rooms. It happened to everyone, black sheep, dropouts, incorrigibles and the show-offs amongst the cream of the elite from the prestigious Colombo colleges pursuing their degrees in UK universities.

There  have been victimised doctors and engineers, as well as more refugees, who turned a new life in their home away from home..

Mental distress is the greatest of all. Although it is frustrating in the present economic ruin, the situation is hoped to ease with time. Rather than taking bold decisions to leave the motherland, one should think of the free education the professionals have reached today and think twice about abandoning the country! Once  ond leaves the country, there is no coming back, and one has to do any job to survive.

At least, knowing that the Tamil diaspora is willing to invest in Jaffna and the East is encouraging. This year the seventy-sixth independence celebrations held at the Galle Face Green ceremoniously. President Ranil Wickremasinghe hopes  that everyone  will help Sri Lanka when the country is in a diabolical financial state.

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