Discipline: A Precipitous decline in Sri Lanka

Deficiency in discipline inimical to reconciliation

by Fr. Augustine Fernando

( March 3, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka guardian) The apey aanduwa mentality also meant anything goes. Low quality men, not women, began to enter politics, party leaders accommodating them without paying sufficient attention to their suitability, education, honesty, integrity and reputation. They presented populist policy measures to the people and depended on their mass support which they managed to obtain to form broad coalitions.

Most of the leaders and their followers were hinged on outdated thinking with make-believe visions of an unreal and a historical glorious past about which the misguided politicians made the people fancifully nostalgic. A complex and complicated historical process was simplified and thereby distorted by simpletons to make it attractive to the people and fit it into their populist political propaganda. Along with it came indifference to the real needs of the people, pettiness, inattention to duty, lethargy, laziness, procrastination, waste of time, dishonesty and a disregard for the poorer and disadvantaged sectors of our society. These attitudes which are bred through a deficiency of discipline are very much evident even today in many a politician and public servant virtually making them perpetrators of discrimination and injustice.

President Maithripala Sirisena himself notes that the lack of discipline among public officials and politicians is a major drawback in our country’s forward march. Due to this lack of discipline the power holders have no respect for law and order and no regard for those persons they imagine to be their opponents. Therefore they lack human and winning ways; they engage in bluffing the people, especially the marginalized and downtrodden silent ones, without acting fast and getting a job done. They organize self-serving, political shows wasting peoples’ money that could be put to better use.

Politicians who busy themselves with unproductive meaningless activity have been there during the last sixty years. Somewhat late in the day, it has fallen on the President to call on slumbering public officials and politicians to wake up and be of disciplined conduct and engage themselves in meaningful and productive work.


Not only do some public servants lack discipline, they show forth their partisan political proclivities, religious prejudices and blatant discrimination against minority communities by their arbitrary actions. Some chief ministers are no better. The former Chief Minister of Uva Province, during the Rajapakse regime could not rise to the level of a chief minister of all the people of Uva. Due to his incapability of good reasoning, proper judgment and decision, he bungled and messed up the good relations that should exist in different religious groups of the provincial community, leave alone his overall maladministration. We are quite aware the way he treated our Bishop who went to see him over a problem that was created by a couple of government servants working in the Uva Province. The CM was concerned only about his party people who voted for him. Men of this mentality should not qualify even to be employed in a minor position in the provincial office, let alone be appointed a chief minister.

Recently the Bishop of Badulla whose jurisdiction in the Catholic Church extends to the whole of Uva Province has had reason to inform his priests and religious sisters working in his diocese of the sad situation that persists in an area of the diocese. He writes: “I wish to share with you the present situation in Siyambalanduwa the main substation of Moneragala Parish where our religious rights had been grossly violated. When the whole country is being geared to reconciliation, ethnic and religious harmony and amity, it is indeed sad and painful to watch extremist elements led by some religious leaders, supported by Government authorities opposing and destroying the harmony that has been there for over twenty years. It is important however to insist on our right to worship and practice our faith. Trusting in God we shall continue to go forward with Christian hope and charity and seek intervention of lawful authorities. In the meantime I request all of you to be in prayerful solidarity with the Catholic Community of Siyambalanduwa and the Parish Priest of the Moneragala Parish. Let the whole diocese pray for this intention at Sunday Mass.”


In spite of the President, Prime Minister and the saner ministers of the government and saner politicians promoting reconciliation, tolerance, coexistence and religious harmony, it is sad to observe that there are religious leaders and public officials acting in collusion sowing seeds of division, disharmony, displeasure and disintegration in the midst of people living in peace. They are not only deficient in genuine religious attitudes, they are also deficient in authority and competence and the ways of civilized social and human behavior.

From the time an individual enters the public service or politics, they often choose as comrades a set of mediocre blokes like unto to themselves; they could never offer an intellectual stimulant or a demanding challenge to justly settle an issue affecting people or work towards solving a social, community or peoples’ problem at hand. And they make the wheels of government to grind ever so slowly, in a stop-and-go way, inefficiently, clumsily, messily muddling mode that no one has a grip on any matter, any problem, any issue that needs a solution.

The disproportionately high membership in the pensionable and privileged political outfit of our Land and the massive public service sustained by the tax payer and the net product of their collective and laborious effort, bring to mind that bi-millenial saying we learnt in school, *montes laborant et parturiunt ridiculus mus*, mountains labour and deliver a silly mouse! After tedious, long and cantankerous debate, no one comes to an enlightenment of mind, no elucidation occurs, no common understanding and consensus is arrived at and in an environment of darkness Sri Lanka is inevitably forced to muddle through in waters muddied by stupid politicians and uncaring public servants who do not seem to understand their foremost and primary responsibility is serving the people of this Country, many of who are poor, to live in fraternity, unity and peace.


The vast majority of the people of this Country have chosen to live reconciled in harmony and peace. But are all the members of the Government committed to nationwide reconciliation of all the people? Or aren’t some of them cowardly sitting on the fence and intent only on reconciling with their erstwhile corrupt buddies hoping for more opportune times to fully engage in their old corrupt deals? The President himself says there are rogues in the government .

The Government as a whole is not stating strongly enough that Nationwide Reconciliation is its stand as the Government policy the undermining of which will on no account be tolerated. To undermine such a policy is to sow seeds of disharmony and discord in the community of all the citizens of Sri Lanka who wish to keep to their identity and self-respect. If public servants are not a disciplined body and cannot act justly, honourably and impartially it is best that they vacate their places in the public service and take to their low cloak and dagger activity and display their expertise in prejudice and discrimination in the political arena’s underworld subculture.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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