Sri Lanka: Why should we vote JVP in this coming election – Part 2

I find JVP wants to break the political culture of plutocracy in Sri Lanka. Yet, political vision and mission of JVP has not yet, reached into minds and hearts of 22 million Sri Lankans. 
by A Special Correspondent

Responsibility, accountability and transparency

Unlike traditional Sri Lankan politicians from main political parties namely UNP, SLFP and SLPP, JVP has been demonstrating politics of responsibility, accountability and transparency. There is no doubt the quality of politics has badly deteriorated in recent time in Sri Lanka. Until CKB’s time, political leaders had some sort of responsibility, accountability and transparency. Yet, the quality of politics sadly declined since MR took power in his second term. Any discerning student of politics will agree with this fact. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to know this basic trend in Sri Lankan politics. Of course, MR saved the country from the clutches of terrorism and yet, his cohort badly damaged Sri Lankan politics and its democratic traditions.

A Chinese delegate visited Sri Lanka in 1970s during the SLFP rule under premiership of late Srima Bandaranayke. After all official engagements, this Chinese delegate was keen to go on a picnic tour to some parts of Sri Lanka. Late Premier Srima Bandaranayke knowing financial difficult of treasury in her government, wrote a personal cheque from her own pocket for the expense of this Chinese delegate for their tour. This may look a trivial issue in this modern time and yet, those days, it was a big issue. The point I would like to make here is to draw your attention to the sense of responsibility, accountability and transparency the late premier had in politics. We may disagree with her political ideas and yet, political leaders of those days, had duty consciousness, responsibility and accountability. Yet, today all this has gone. I still remember when SLFP was badly defeated in 1977 general election, our local SLFP MP from our constituency used to take CTB bus to go to Colombo. Because, those days, politicians did not steal public money. They did not do business out of politics. They consider politics as a public service and yet, today politics is a big business in Sri Lanka.

They did not use their ministerial posts to make money out of politics. Those days, MPs behaved with some sort of responsibility and accountability. They were so scared to break any laws those days. They respected the rule of law and judiciary those days. Moreover, as soon as candidates lose their election, they mingled with public in those day. Or they become ordinary citizens. This is exactly what we see in many European countries today. Yet, Sri Lankan politics has become a profit-making business enterprise. MPs use their power, influence and public office to make money, wealth and properties. Unfortunately, MR let his MPs to accumulate wealth. He created a plutocracy in Sri Lankan politics. The plutocracy is the rule of rich and wealthy. That is what exactly now we see in Sri Lanka. Noam Chomsky has condemned plutocrats for their failure to fulfil their social responsibilities. He argues that they misuse their political power to accumulate wealth for their greed and hedonism. That is why we notice a rapid increase of corruption in Sri Lankan politics. More importantly, we notice the increasing level of poverty among Sri Lankans.

Why many MPs in both main political parties do not want leave politics. Some of them are over 70 years old and yet, they do not want leave politics. Why? It is to expand this notion of plutocracy in Sri Lankan politics. Some wealthy wants to dominate Sri Lankan politics and hand over power to their family members. This is exactly what takes place in Sri Lankan politics. There is no one in main political parties to break this bad political precedent in Sri Lanka except JVP political party. So, we should support JVP to bring back some responsible politicians into politics. Recently, only 5 MPs came forward to declare their asset and properties. Why other MPs in UNP and SLFP have not come forward? Because, many of them are scared to come forward, they know they will end up in court.

What is politics? The social scientists and political theorists have been providing us with many definitions and theories around the notion of politics. In a nutshell, we can say political power is a social contract between public and the rulers. It is a trust between people and the rulers. Politics is something to do with the arts of governance, activities of government and different political parties. It is related to the question of how should people be ruled, and what kind of government people should have? People give their mandates to the rulers to rule the country with some expectations. The rulers should take over the power with sense of responsibility and commitments to fulfil. They must fulfil their duties with the sense of responsibility, accountability and transparency. Unfortunately, our politicians lack the sense of responsibility, accountability, transparency and sense of commitment. That is why we are suffering like this in Sri Lanka today. Unlike in the past, to engage in politics today, politicians need some skills, knowledge, and talent. Yet, in Sri Lankan politics, many people without any basic educational qualifications enter politics out of love and passion for posts and positions.

Plato and Aristotle maintained that political philosophy and ethics are inseparable. It means politicians must maintain some moral and ethical principles in their attitudes and duties. Yet, Machiavelli maintained that “there are no objective moral truth in politics, and political success therefore requires skills, not knowledge. We all know that it is impossible for everyone to win a game. Just as we cannot decide who should win a football match through scientific or moral debate, so, in the political contest for power we can find out winner only by playing the game” (Johanna Oksala, 2013, University of Helsinki. P.33). This is what exactly takes place in Sri Lankan politics too. All those plutocrats in UNP, SLPP and SLFP are playing these political games. They do not nominate educated youths into politics rather they would nominate all those craftly influential people into politics mostly from their inner circles to control power among these plutocrats.

Plato metaphorically compares the notion of democracy to that of a ship of fools. He argued that in the name of democracy a team of fools can control the politics and government. That is what exactly happens in many countries today.

“Imagine the following situation on board of a fleet of ships, or on a single ship. The captain has the edge over everyone else on board by virtue of his size and strength, but he’s rather deaf and short-sighted, and his knowledge of naval matters is just as limited. The sailors are all wrangling with one another because each of them thinks that he ought to be the captain, despite the fact that he’s never learned how, and can not name his teacher or specify the period of his apprenticeship. In any case, they all maintain that it isn’t something that can be taught and are ready to butcher anyone who says it is” (Plato, Republic p.208. translation by Johanna Oksala). This platonic description is well fitting Sri Lankan politics today. Many politicians today dream to become president of Sri Lanka and they do not think about their knowledge, training, apprenticeship in politics. All what they want is to compete for the presidential election like that of the captain of platonic metaphoric ship.

I find JVP wants to break this political culture of plutocracy in Sri Lanka. Yet, political vision and mission of JVP has not yet, reached into minds and hearts of 22 million Sri Lankans. They want to create a responsible and accountable political leadership in Sri Lanka. However, the political opponents of JVP have been trying to depict them with the old fashion socialism of failed states in the world. But, JVP in Sri Lanka has become one of progressive political party with some sublime political ideologies and principles. All what they want to do is to create a clean politics and service the public. Moreover, they want to create a politics of responsibility and accountability in Sri Lanka. They want to create a corruption free political leadership in Sri Lanka. Compared all what other parities so far have done in politics, the ethos, mission and vision of JVP politics are more comprehensive and more cohesive. Nevertheless, JVP lacks manpower to take its mission into each household of Sri Lankan communities. It has got a good vision for Sri Lanka and yet, it does not have enough resources to materialise its political agenda in Sri Lanka.


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