Monday, December 26, 2005

year of shame

2005: what else can you call it. we, sri lankans as a nation should be ashamed of ourselves.


today there will be two(?, i really don't care) minute silences, ceremonies etc. at nine thirty. there will be enough politicians, religious leaders, and other 'great and the good' speechifying to make one puke. no amount of such empty pageantry and humbug will wipe out the fact that we have let the people who died (exact number of whom we do not know by a factor of thousands), or were otherwise affected by the tsunami, down. thousands upon thousands of people still live in 'temporary' shelters and camps and are fast turning in to another lot of vociferous beggars more or less permanently dependent on government and other benefactors, like the war displaced, samurdhi recipients, farmers, and public servants.

it's easy to blame this on victims themselves, by saying these people will never be satisfied with whatever is given to them and in the process have a laugh at their expense as some people do, but that would not divert the blame from those who deserve it, namely all of us, because of our tendency to put our trust in the government and not on the victims themselves.

imo (as i and others said then to anybody who cared to listen, not that what we as a bunch of outsiders say ever matters :-)) the best method to reconstruct the areas affected, and to put the people back on their feet, after the initial relief effort, is to give a substantial oneoff cash grant, to each individual and and to every business/institution (including local governments), with no strings attached, to do with it whatever they wanted. that it would be a oneoff grant and that responsibility for its usage is completely in their hand would have been emphasized to the recipients. In addition to relax whatever regulations or tariffs that will impede the reconstructions. in other words to trust the affected people and to stay the hell out of their way afterwards.

top down micromanagement

no, instead we as a nation chose to micromanage everything in keeping with prevailing socialist mindset of the citizenry. what self respecting politician would want to keep the victims at arm's length in such situation, huh?. no, from mahinda buffalo to sajith premadasa to hakeem to jvpers, all of them wanted to be seen doing somethings (if possible everything) to help the victims. only thing they competed on was on the efficiency of their methods, at heart they all followed the policy. un agencies, non governmental organizations, and everybody else who wanted to help, did the same and media praised or criticized with the same mindset at the back of their mind and never ever questioned this policy of top down micromanagement.

of course most people (even most politicians) sincerely wanted to help. only a few like the mahinda buffalo wanted to skim off the money. however all of them from government to ngos wanted to keep control of the money and how it was spent in their hands as long as possible, instead of just giving it to the victims.

underneath this was the belief that they were more clever, more qualified, and in every sense knew better than the victims what is best for the victims, than the victims themselves. this of course is the fundamental error all socialists make even when the socialists concerned do not think of themselves as socialists.

well they were wrong as always. only the victims know what is best for them, if anyone wanted to help them they should have trusted them. any other method would endup going nowhere, and the present situation of the tsunami victims illustrate this clearly as daylight, but for blind people daylight means nothing.


then there was the election. same overestimation of powers that be, either in buffalo's ability to deliver on the promises he made, or the bunkerholed one's to take revenge on everyone who disobey him, resulted in foisting of an inevitable war on us. willful stupidity in the south and spineless cowardice in the north triumphed over individual self interest. less said of this the better.

sri lankan's chronic inability to face the reality and the tendency to live in an unreal fantasy, where governments can keep a huge population in permanent dependency and where war can be won militarily(either by government or ltte) with the existing resources will soon come crashing down. sooner the better imo, that seems the only way we will ever learn to trust ourselves as individuals.


after such a crash we must ensure that the productive forces and people who have been keeping this country afloat through war and incompetence will finally be allowed to achieve their full potential.

let us not forget, that sri lanka had positive growth rates in all the years but one(2001) since independence, that we have always been the richest (in terms of gdp per capita) country with a substantial population in south asia, and the one with best social development indicators. all of this while we had war, insurgencies, and horrendously stupid governments while others in the region enjoyed peace and stable government. just think what we can do with peace and freedom.

afterall, we not only have the world's most ruthless terrorist organization that is in the bloody cutting edge in terms of military tactics that matter, we also have an army that has more or less contained it with the minimal resources available. al qaeda and americans, as everyone can observe, look pretty amateurish compared to us, even when they use bigger bombs or high technology. just one more example of what we are capable, if we put our minds to anything.

that is why we should face the reality when the crash comes, sometime in the next year or so, and in the aftermath, honestly assess our situation and allow ourselves the freedom to realize our full potential as individuals, instead of shamefully wasting years and years on deadends like we did in 2005.

we must keep that in mind as we inexorably head, past the daily crop dead bodies, towards the fall that we have created for ourselves in this year of shame.


Keshi said...

Heyyyy Sittingnut me bakkk for few mins :)

Yep I know that most SL Tsunami victims did not get the funds accordingly...its a disgustingly shameful thing for the authorities to do! Even I donated money for SL Tsunami victims through Red Cross, and to imagine that this money might not have reached the relevant ppl is quite heartbreaking. Shouldn't these authorities be sued for not distributing the funds accordingly and with due respect?

btw I hope u had a great holiday season with ur family and friends :)


Komisiripala said...


I know exactly what you mean. I worked my ass off trying to coordinate action between 15 buildings at my uni in raising money. Spent an entire week sitting at a table and explaining the issue etc making signs, posters etc. I even got ResLife to sponsor a damn pizza party and raised close to 2000 dollars. For what? For buffalo to fill up on his election coffers?

Worse, Sri Lanka is now officially the least reconstructed 'affected region'.

Our fundamental flaw is our own pride. As the saying goes, pride goeth before the fall mate. We (as in all SLankans) will swallow our pride and shit it out for a few more generations even after the fall.

As for your social indicators I would like to point out an interesting thing I learned during O Levels (1999). According to the Physical Quality of Life Indicator (PQLI - a more detailed indicator of development) Sri Lanka had about 92 points. It measures teachers to student ratios, doctors to patients ratios et al. United States had somewhere around 96 points. Now how can it be, that we who were ahead of a nation such as Singapore has fallen so far and so fast and no one realizes it and no one cares about it? Shame on us.

Chandare said...

Hey sittingnut,
this is totally unrelated to the post.I wrote a simple wikipedia entry on Simon Navagattegama.
There are lot of information missing over there on Sri Lanka.What if we try to fill the gaps if we can find some free time?(I know finding free time will be really hard)

sittingnut said...

keshi :
heyyy! i am very glad you dropped by even for a few minutes. :-)
I was feeling rather lazy for the last week so has a huge backlog of every thing but throughly enjoyed the laziness with my family and friends, so no regrets.

Hope you are enjoying the greatest holiday ever as you deserve.

as for tsunami funds, i think money donated to red cross at least will probably be delivered eventually, if they haven't done that already. i don't think suing anybody here will go anywhere, but if this continues i am sure some donor will actually sue in a foreign country.

you said it mate, shame on us.
all this can be hugely frustrating and demoralizing i completely agree. only thing to do is to fix it in on individual level.
at least we must make sure we never give anything to government and whenever possible directly to victims and if that is not possible to ngos that have transparent accounting and a good track record.

i could not find your wikipedia entry on simon navagattegama will try agian later. anyway thanks.
you are right we should fill in the gaps. i have done a bit here and there sometime ago in the main sri lanka article etc. but yes we should get more engaged there and contribte new material. thanks.for the suggestion

btw there is an antiwar rally tommorow(31st) at indepence square at 6.30pm.

Keshi said...

hey Sittingnut, yeah I dropped by few blogs during the holidays and that too to my fav blogs only :) U r one of em...hehehe...

Glad to hear u had a relaxing holiday with family and friends...I had a very busy one and it was really full of fun and laughter...Im still in the holiday mood :)


sittingnut said...

i am flattered. :-)

i am not surprised you had a holiday 'full of fun and laughter'. anywhere you are, will be full of fun and laughter. :-)