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Indi’s recent post on why the UNP sucks right now catalyzed a few thoughts on the characteristics of the majority of politicians in Sri Lanka – if not every single one of them. Barack Obama put it well when he stated that there are usually two specific reasons for folk getting into politics – one is to help the country in general and society in particular, through actions designed towards necessary social causes, and the other is for ‘business’ – or a way to accumulate power and/or wealth. Unfortunately for us we seem to have nothing but the latter species of Homo Politicus Sri Lankensis inhabiting our environs. And matters do seem to be going from bad to worse.

Take the case of Karu Jayasuriya as an example. Here’s a guy with a reputation of being ‘clean’, who ostensibly left the Opposition Party, the UNP, due to ‘matters of principle’ relating to the restructuring of the Party and joined the government along with his son-in-law and other reasonably senior and important members of the Party, claiming that they were still members of the UNP. This dealt a severe blow to the Opposition, assisted the government to remain in power and also garnered for the ‘turncoats’ some perks they did not have whilst in the Opposition. In the meantime they did an ‘about turn’ on the views they espoused whilst in the Opposition, kissing all manner of asses in the bargain and displayed their true characters – and also showed the world that their motives had more to do with their individual desires for power and perks than for the folk they claimed to represent. So, in effect, they joined the party they said had ‘stolen’ or ‘bought’ the election victory through their clandestine dealings with the LTTE – the terrorist organization they were supposed to be fighting. Talk about ‘principles’! If anyone can see the nobility of their cause, I would love to hear the rationale.

Looking back at other politicians who have crossed-over to the Opposition through the years it is not difficult to assess that, for the most part, their reasons for joining the opposing Party were all to do with selfish motives and nothing to do with whatever principles they claimed to have had in representing their electorate.

Of course this phenomenon is in no way limited to Sri Lanka, which is the point that Obama made when he elaborated on the two primary causes for individuals getting into politics. However, here in Sri Lanka, the phenomenon has reached epic proportions and it is extremely difficult to single out any active politicians who are in the game for altruistic purposes and not to feather their individual nests with either wealth, power or both.

The stream of thought made Java recall an earlier post related to this topic where it was suggested that politicians are a lot like diapers and that they should be changed frequently and for the same reason.

As Pope (that’s Alexander, and not the guy in the Vatican) once said “Hope springs eternal in the human breast…”, but it does look pretty bleak that the chances of a new sub-species of Homo Politicus Sri Lankensis will emerge in Sri Lanka anytime in the near future.

How do you see it?

December 2008
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Ephemeral Ruminations by Java Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
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