Nov 24, 2017

Selfish Urban Professionals and Governance How the ignorant willingness of the urban middle-class activism keep this system going

  •  Legality and morals apart, more questions arose with respect to democratic rule.
  • A whole lot of new amendments substituted a single amendment brought to the Provincial Council Elections Bill at the last minute.
  • The crisis is evident in the education system that now needs complete overhauling.
    We Sri Lankans witnessed some serious issues in governance during the past month or two. Not that we were without issues and problems before. Yet, past months left us in chaos.

For one whole week, the country was left in a fuel crisis. A single shipment was held as the reason for the shortage. The Government exhibiting inefficiency showed it cannot handle such crises in winning public trust. The credibility of this Government is such, another fuel crisis popped out last week with long vehicle queues over a mere rumour.
Legality and morals apart, more questions arose with respect to democratic rule.

A whole lot of new amendments substituted a single amendment brought to the Provincial Council Elections Bill at the last minute.

The Government leadership harped on increasing the percentage of elected women, while postponing Provincial Council Elections indefinitely.

Legality of that amendment alone cannot justify the AG interpretation on it. Making himself available on very short notice to rule it can go without a “referendum” makes him sit with former CJ Shiranee Bandaranayake, who consented to allow Rajapaksa to have the 18 Amendment without a referendum.

Then the alleged Bond Scam investigation that is yet to conclude who is responsible for what in the trillion rupee scam. For now it is an “a la carte” menu for media, throwing out information that after Penthouse, implicates four top men in the ruling UNP and many others in the Yahapalana Government over clandestine calls with Arjun Aloysius.
Though they say, it is Yahapalanaya that allows even a PM to be called for questioning, it is also Yahapalanaya that brought a PM before a Presidential CoI.

The Bond Scam seems to outweigh the mega corruptioncharges levelled against the Rajapaksa regime. The Yahapalanaya thus have no legitimacy now to investigate any mega corruption of the Rajapaksa Government. That in Governance is no small political crisis.

The crisis is evident in the education system that now needs complete overhauling.
From pre-school to tertiary and to universities, from school curricula to syllabi, from teacher training to school administration; everything needs far-reaching answers.
So is the health service, dominated by self-serving medics, who have no clue that it is preventive health that needs more and better-trained health workers.
But that wouldn’t allow for a lucrative private and channel practise the medical doctors want.

Thus a crumbling State Health Service, dictated by a profession with corroding morals and ethics.

Transport and public commuting is a harrowing daily experience. Promoting highways can only engineer more and bigger corruption and more frequent flooding. Highways are no answers to huge traffic jams in Colombo and other main cities.

Over 3.3 million daily commuters who depend on railway and SLTB are given no importance in planning transport. Importance is in a mostly re-conditioned vehicle import trade with tax revenue for Government budgets.

Within all these, while this Yahapalana leaders remain stubbornly tied to the Rajapaksa politics of Sinhala racism, of voicing Rajapaksa verbatim on war heroes and war crimes investigations, they have created social space for anti Muslim violence.

While Gintota flared up in the South, there were reports of Muslim Mosques and shops being burnt in Vavuniya town on the Northern border.

There is definitely lack of Policing of society, the right way.

The Gintota incidents once again raised the issue of purposely neglecting effective security deployment for a repeat attack on Muslim property the same night.

The Government does not want to challenge racism hard and fast. There is also no consistent and a loud public demand for disciplined, independent and firm enforcement of law and order against hate speech and violent racist extremism. There is utter disappointment on Independent Commissions, with taxpayer money on them going waste.

Worst seems the Elections Commission that plays politics with the Government and the National Police Commission that is unable to turn the police into a civil department.
The Constitutional Council too remains manipulated by political leaders with the 03 civil society representatives, conniving and compromising. They are not even known to have attended CC meetings and what they stand for on issues, though they are in there to represent the people.

It is a frightening decline in collective social responsibility.
To put it across straight, there is no collective questioning of the wrong and no collective standing up for the right.

Yet the urban  Pundits claim, public space has increased post Rajapaksa.
If that sounds right, then there is a fundamental error that needs answers for. For seven decades now, we remain labelled as only a developing country.

Intellectual and dissenting social activism should thus begin in urban middle class circles that have better and good access to information, new knowledge, intellectual trends and discourses, a culture of socialising and also good exposure to what happens in the world outside. Opinion making thus becomes the strength of the urban middle class and within its selective enclaves like universities. In short, questioning of the existing order, its systems and its politics begins in urban professional circles and in the academia.

They then get percolated into other social segments, first into the organised labour and then to the petty farmer. This was how the parental “Left” politics of Sama Samaja began in early 1930s and grew into the early 1960s as a formidable political force. Failure of the JVP is in its origin. It remains where it began, as the militant political representation of the vernacular rural, lower middle-class.

But now, there is a tragedy that disconnects the norm from reality.

The whole of the urban middle class professionalism and the academia is held entrenched in a very corrupt and selfish market economy; the neo liberal world.

For over 40 years, these professional and academic clans were well catered to by global capital to create an ideology that would justify and nurture the continuance of free market economies.

From the UN and its affiliate agencies to the WB and the IMF, professionals and academics are contracted for just that. So do most funded projects within prestigious universities and in research organisations. All their academic and professional services are geared to sustain the Neo-Liberal Global Economy.

Within countries with governments pushing ahead on heavily liberalised free market economies, the same is replicated in local terms. The outcome has been a very selfish, morally declined, socially alienated urban professional and academic caste.

Into the second generation, they can only think within free market economics and could only exist as partners of this extremely corrupt system.

In the process, the free market economy has turned all professional and academic associations into steamroller organisations that keep demanding better comforts and more privileges. The GMOA is a classic example of this rot.

All other professions from legal to accounting, from engineering to valuation and other consulting disciplines including the hierarchy of the State bureaucracy as well, have also created niches in making big money within this free market economy. In plain language, politicians are not alone any more.

What it means today is that, the urban middle class does not want any change.

The discourse they engage in, therefore only seeks to reform this unholy system from slipping beyond repair. They want everyone to believe that can be done within representative democracy, accountability and transparency that even for urban life would be non functional and fake. Political parties that know no democracy and allow no democracy and are run by unknown funding sources, when voted to power will not leave any democracy functioning. Thus over the past decades, all democratic structures and systems including elections have been turned into mere procedures with no utility and delivery.

Therefore there is an absence of serious political discourse to have long term, far reaching answers to issues that cannot be patched up any more. The cry of the urban middle class social and political activists to punish the corrupt in the previous regime, but with no demands to strip their own corrupt  Yahapalana leaders of power and punish them too, provide no answer in cleaning the system.

Their appeal to have a new Constitution with a promise for power sharing would only give into a stronger Sinhala Buddhist Unitary State, as their leaders cultivate Sinhala Buddhist extremism in MR style.

Therefore their fraternal appeal to this Government to honour the promise of good governance given at the 2015 January Presidential Election, would remain irrelevant in reaching out for actual long term answers to the crisis we are heading to.
What is still being asked for is a Zimbabwean change.

It is the people’s dance in Harare that tends to crown the exit of the big tyrannical rule of Mugabe as freedom won, while the corrupt and illegitimate Parliament schemes to install Mugabe’s side kick and Vice President, the ruthless Crocodile Mnangagwa as the next President.Though big Western allies would accept the Zimbabwean change what such slogans, decisions and statements in Harare leave is a huge void in “realistic political change” in the long term. It is the ignorant willingness of the urban middle class activism to keep this system going by patching up gaping holes that would once again provide a utility value for a Rajapaksa comeback at the next turn.