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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

All we need is freedom

When a new newspaper comes out to the market, it creates the platform to discuss many new topics. The world is a configuration which is continuously changing.
by Upali Tennakoon
When a new newspaper comes out to the market, it creates the platform to discuss many new topics. The world is a configuration which is continuously changing. Therefore, every day we come across new topics and new terms. We get exposed to new realities and circumstances. In a context such as this, Sri Lanka also has to change. But what is the change we should have? Are we travelling towards the right direction? These are the question we should ask from ourselves.
As Sri Lankans who are living abroad, we feel sorry about the destiny of our country. Most of us have a bleak picture about the future of our motherland. Wittingly or otherwise, our political leaders are taking our country and its people towards an inescapable socio-economic chasm.  This is not something which occurred overnight. It is the culmination of a gradual and long term process for which the successive leaders who governed the country should be held responsible.
When the late Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike came up with the ‘Sinhala Only’ policy in 1956, many defined it as the beginning of a new revolution. Some believed the ‘Sinhala Only’ policy alone would be the ‘messiah’ of our nation. However, as a result of that policy, the education system of the country was totally crippled. It created a new generation who were ‘harnessed’ with outdated syllabi and knowledge.  The rotten education system did not allow them to generate new ideas and creations; it made them ignorant of the world beyond the Indian Ocean. As a result, they were cornered and isolated from the world.
Our political leaders then kept chanting about “strengthening Sinhala businessmen”.  At the same time, they kept cursing foreign businesses and foreign businessmen. But through their policies, they weakened Sinhala businessmen gradually and kept facilitating multi-national and foreign entrepreneurs. This contradicted the claims they often chanted. Today, only the ‘Motor spare parts business’ in Sri Lanka lies in the hands of so called Sinhalese businessmen.
The UPFA government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa appears to be made of Sinhala nationalistic elements. But through the Expropriation Bill presented by the same government, some of the prominent Sinhala businessmen in the country are being victimized.
On the other hand, it discourages foreign investors too. This particular Bill was brought forward by the government, in an environment where state sector institutions incur heavy losses as the result of inefficient management. Before presenting this Bill, the government should have turned those loss making institutions into profitable ones. In views of this, the Expropriation Bill appears to be a cynical and duplicitous one.
Amidst the arguments on the Expropriation Bill, the government took another controversial decision to impose a ban on web sites. During the recent times, news web sites gained immense popularity since the public has lost faith in mainstream newspapers and electronic media. Sri Lankans who live abroad heavily rely on news web sites. With this new decision, Sri Lankans who live in the country were deprived of gaining access to uncensored information on latest occurrences. Sri Lankans who live abroad, on the other hand, have no obstacles.
When the ban was imposed, the international community threw harsh criticisms at the government. Besides, those who were not aware of such web sites started searching for them. The ban, on the other hand, is unrealistic because all the banned websites can be accessed through proxies. If they really wanted to gag what they term as ‘slanderous’ websites, this is a foolish way of doing it.
In addition to that, we can point out so many loopholes in the law enforcing mechanism in Sri Lanka. The most recent example is the manner in which the government coped with Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s killing. The government and the law enforcing bodies took an incredibly long time to issue a warrant against Duminda Silva. Ironically, the warrant was issued after he left the country.
The restriction on dual citizenship holders was another blunder made by the government which had no apparent outcome.  As a result of this, many Sri Lankans who live abroad were disappointed about the government and at the end of the day, the government ended up imposing a useless law which doesn’t serve its purpose.
When we observe from outside, we can find many discrepancies and loopholes of the law enforcing system which create severe adverse impacts upon the government in the long run. The so called miraculous development programmes cannot be seen in these laws. On the contrary, duplicity, double standards, maliciousness and hypocrisy are clearly visible.
That’s why our country needs a new beginning. That’s why we need to think about a society which is free from draconian laws and suppressive regulations. All what we need is freedom. And that freedom should be reflected on the society and its people. Only then will we be able to create a ‘new Sri Lanka’ that will pave the way for a progressive future.

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