Leaders should be protected to come out of a crisis – by Prof. Samitha Hettige

March, 8, 2023

SL boast of 2500 years of civilized administration but it’s clear that there was chaos & conflict most of the time. Despite Buddha’s private visits, emperor Ashoka’s strategic intervention making Buddhist monks playing influential roles as advisors, our penal code largely depended on the 32 methods of controlling human behavior (Dethis Wadhaya) till 1948. That in turn kept the conflict provocative elements under control. Conflict prevention is the key to stability ensuring prosperity as stability attracts external wealth as in all global success stories (Middle East & Far East). In modern terms, stability will indicate; Sufficient infrastructure, Investment in developing human capital, Macroeconomic stability, An active private sector, Governance with fool proof corruption control, Social inclusiveness, Vision for the future & Political stability with smart foreign relations (Ref Nikkei).

President JR as a minister educated the people in the 1960s on the need for a stable decision making process which wouldn’t be affected by unfair whims & fancies of an unfocused parliament. It was the time economic tigers such as Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia were picking up with strong leaders. JR in fact had requested PM Sirima to introduce the Executive Presidency in 1972 & become the first Executive President. In 1972 Sirima drafted the constitution with socialist Colvin R De S indicating it shall give the foremost place to Buddhism. What is Buddhism? It is seen as a way of behavior with doing no acts of evil, engaging in non evil acts & controlling the mind. Did Sri Lankans including those who drafted the constitution give the foremost place by managing thy selves or the land that way since 1972? Some analysts even argue that it was a long term plan to defame the great philosophy which focuses mainly on the liberation of the mind.

While above economic tigers were gaining momentum SL went back acting opposition to above indicators of stability. Whenever SL had a strong government, there were parties creating chaos & conflict. Unfortunately respective governments were unable control those while focusing on a trade based economy. It is worth knowing who were creating chaos & conflict. During 70 – 77 there was JVP destruction (1971) & unnecessary nationalizations sending the wrong message to the world. During JR there was Jaffna district elections & the black July. Premadasa rule was one instance where at least few progressive steps were taken to accelerate the economy (despite discussions on 100% democracy).

Industrial growth & positive polices of the time are now being analyzed by many. Minister of Industries at the time was leader of the house Ranil Wickramasinghe. Most who opposed Ranil’s proposals to promote investment in human capital through the white paper started implementing his proposals after UNP rule ended in 1994. When SL was picking up under President Premadasa with the JVP at bay & economy on track he was taken out. Sri Lankans only saw Babu on the bike. They should know that there were many in the background. As SL is a key nod in the Belt & Road network the number must be very high by now. As the Ukrainian leader had realized, having President Xi in Beijing is one big relief. The situation is similar to having Emperor Ming during the voyages of Admiral Zheng He who helped to establish a strong government in SL which lasted for half a century. Who would lose if SL attracts tourists & investments? SL is bouncing back after the worst crisis in its modern history. Those who don’t want SL to shine would do its best to topple the efforts. Affecting leaders is a time tested way to block the growth of any effort. There is news about threats to the lives of key leaders. Martha may not be able to sniff those who plan as it is only a pet dog. If Sri Lankans truly gave the foremost place to Buddhism since 1972 few thousands of them would by now have gained sight beyond sight to prevent conflicts?  May be they have migrated & are using the power to develop other countries.