Crafty lawmaking and celebrating independence

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Military personnel were practising their moves for the 74th year Independence Day celebrations while a Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) worker was carrying on with his work regardless of what he saw. That was yesterday (Thursday); just a few hours ahead of that memorable day which we celebrate by hoisting the national flag at homes and our offices. 
But like that labourer engaged in keeping the city clean there are so many citizens, who consider themselves as not so privileged, who ponder about what they can really celebrate today. 
True we broke off the clutches of the British in 1948 and enjoyed the feeling of freedom, but our politicians were shrewed and used the ethnic issue created by our European masters for their benefit. A suppressed community over the years tolerated much, but when things reached a boiling point a civil war broke out. 

In a war no side is innocent. Casualties were high on really bad days. Loved ones from both sides were taken away when they strayed onto the blood-soaked battlefield; knowing or unknowingly. But still we continued to celebrate February 4th because we thought that the war would end one day and we’d get to celebrate peace; or better have peace of mind. 
The war did end and the regime in power back then promised everyone affected by the conflict that all were welcome in this country and there was nothing to fear. This statement was made by none other than the executive president himself at that time. 

Sri Lankans living abroad were asked to return to the island and be part of the government’s investment drive to lift this nation. A good many of them did return and pump in money to the country through investments. 
As much as roads were built and development did take place we also saw how shamelessly the tax payers’ monies were squandered. Those walking on the corridors of power thought that winning the war gave them a ticket or the license to spend money from the state coffers without being questioned. The result of all that was a regime being left to stare in the face of mounting debts. 

The absence of gas and the lack of essential goods in supermarkets and state run stores has pushed the people to an era similar to when the country suffered at the hands of premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The latter promoted a home-grown culture and solution for everything that was related to the economy. The result, though she was genuine, was that the country’s citizens faced hardships and there was a scarcity of essential goods. The other political entity at that time-the UNP- too promised concessions for citizens through their election manifestos. Overall, both leading political parties in the 1960s and 1970s had the habit of promising economic benefits to the people via which they thought the country’s citizens would reap the best out of a independent nation. The British masters were no longer here to give us orders and the country was shown the ‘route’ by our lawmakers who boasted of being loyal to the nation. Crafty lawmakers mapped out plans for their survival and the thin thread that runs through all their moves-which also has the people tied up -has been to ensure that the majority of the citizens received welfare packages. We’re now brainwashed to frown upon a political party in power which doesn’t offer relief to the poor. We never think it is wise for a political party to throw that garbage thought out of the window and promote a culture where the authorities teach the people ‘how to catch fish’. 

Seventy four years after the British left this shore we are looking to the state to feed us and give us much concessions. Basic economics teach us that there is no such thing as a ‘free meal’. Someone has to pay for it; in this case the government. We need to change the way we think starting with the thoughts on independence. The word independence must be seen beyond its geographical periphery and stretch into the area called economic freedom for everybody. 

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Disclaimer: Crafty lawmaking and celebrating independence - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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