Democracy is defined as ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’. In a lighter vein it is also called ‘fools’ government’ because the large majority of the people, who periodically vote to elect governments do so, not so much being convinced of the merits of the policies, put forward by parties contesting elections, but due to rather being swayed by slogans creating waves of public opinion.
So, naturally governments coming to power on the strength of such slogans creating huge waves of public opinion fail to deliver goods as promised to the people. The first thing such governments do after coming to power is implementing the abstract and not the concrete of the undertakings given to the people which is relatively easy to do and fail to implement things that had been neglected for ages as unsolvable.
Some of such age old problems that the present government has been confronted with are the high cost of living and concomitant inflation, human-elephant conflict, the farmers’ difficulty in selling their produce, mainly vegetables and fruits, owing to mal-distribution and weaning them away from the use of imported agro-chemicals, the chronic addiction almost amounting to a coma from an overdose has both been a drain on the country’s coffers as well as the soil.
In fairness to the current Government it has to be mentioned that it has solved a major issue relating to the vast majority of the farmers of the country by giving them a good guaranteed price for paddy which had been a vexed problem for a long time leading even to farmer suicides. After the infamous converting of Mattala Airport into a paddy storage, it has re-vitalised the Paddy Marketing Board. The milling of paddy has been streamlined to ensure a regular flow of rice into the market.
The agitators are blissfully unaware of the fact that Asia’s largest rice mill in Kantale opened by the 1970 Government was closed not by J.R. Jayewardene but by his successor in office.
The buildings are still there overgrown with trees. Some of the Opposition parties have forgotten such plus factors and are instigating farmers’ protests, demonstrations and lightning work stoppages, especially in the State health sector, being oblivious of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic today.
This is in a situation where there is a lull in such agitations in other countries by not only workers but by ethnic groups fighting nationalist causes and even those who adopt terrorist tactics to achieve their goals.
It is tantamount to abusing the right to oppose under democracy and it is so especially because they are not mass protests and the agitators are merely saboteurs incited to do so and do not do so at their free will which is undemocratic. In comparison to Sri Lanka there is even a marked drop in the intensity of such protests in other countries worldwide, nowadays, in view of the escalation of the corona virus pandemic situation.
All countries, rich and poor, are fighting hard to control and contain a common enemy that COVID-19 is, today, as best as possible. The farmers’ protests in India, no doubt politically backed, have fizzled out after the worst spell of the epidemic there giving priority to the maxim ‘first things first’. But not so here! Even the do or die tactics against the military in Myanmar have subsided in intensity, not so much realizing the futility of civilians fighting the army as the fighters being concerned about the spread of the deadly virus.
There is a common belief that all aspirants to political power engage in acts of sabotage against the party in power perhaps being unmindful of the truth that it is the country that they bleed and not the opposing party.
It is like cutting the nose to spite the face. Maybe it is as old as history! We in this country have only to hark back to the mid1950s; it is said both leftists, save the VLSSP of Philip Gunawardena, and rightists led by W. Dahanayake, sabotaged the Government of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in their haste to “better rule the country”. It shouldn’t be so for it’s juvenile like university ragging.
It must stop, and, at all costs! On the other hand governments in power too must make it a point to nip issues in the bud rather than allowing them to grow to unmanageable proportions creating an opportunity for non-governmental organisations backed by interested countries to change regimes undemocratically