By : Mohammed Jehan Khan
It was before 66th years, the Nation of Sri Lanka cherished together on their first independence day, when British decided to give dominianship to this country. Historically Sri Lanka was under many European colonists starting from Portuguese to British. It was in 1505 Sri Lanka (only the coastal belt) fell for the mighty Canons of the Portuguese wilderbeasts. Under Portuguese colonists, Sri Lanka encountered some of the worst atrocities in it’s 3500 year old long history. Under Portuguese rule, Muslims, whom they called ‘Moors’ suffered vitriolic persecutions.
After the collapse of the Iberian economy in 1627, the Dutch-Portuguese War saw the Dutch conquest of Portugal’s Asiatic colonies. Eventually, Portugal’s Sri Lankan territories were ceded to the Netherlands. The Sinhalese Kingdom headed by King Rajasinghe II signed the Kandyan Treaty of 1638 with Dutch and soon embarked on a war against their common enemy, The Portuguese. Rajasinghe and the Dutch were both playing a double game trying to outwit each other, and the treaty of 1638 was never implemented, hence it opened the gates to the Dutchs to capture Sri Lanka easily.
The European greed has no limits. Dutch had wars with England, which triggered diplomatically taking over Dutch colonies during the Napoleonic wars. By 1815 British controlled the length and breadth of Sri Lanka.
However during the British Rule Sri Lanka found it’s enlightenment. British, though known for their treacheries, did not impose such harsh treatment against the natives as they did in the greater Indian Subcontinent. They used local informants and British surveyors to map the island, then built a network of roads to open the central region. This made possible export production of plantation agriculture, as well as tighter military control. The laying of the railway was carried out during the Governorship of Sir Henry Ward. The opening of coffee and tea plantations, road development schemes, establishment of hospitals and maternity homes throughout the island, were just some of the major works undertaken by the British who ruled Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Broadcasting council or Radio Ceylon was the First Radio station of Asia established by the British in 1925 just three years after the inauguration of broadcasting in Europe. Sri Lanka was the First country to Launch telephone communication in South Asia. (Sri Lanka telecom then Ceylon communications). The Legislative Council of Ceylon was the first formed representative government in the British colonial nations around the world, established in 1833, along with the Executive Council of Ceylon, on the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission. It was the first time a non-white country within the empires of Western Europe was given one man, one vote and the power to control domestic affairs. The first election under the universal adult franchise, held in June 1931, was for the Ceylon State Council. By the end of 1940’s Sri Lanka or ‘Ceylon’ became one of the richest countries in the world with a GDP per-captia of £3600.15.
It is apparent that the father of Modern Singapore Mr. Lee Kuan Yew stated in his book ‘From Third World To First – The Singapore Story 1965-2000’ that :
‘My first visit to Sri Lanka was in April 1956 on my way to London. I stayed at the Galle Face Hotel, their premier British-era hotel by the sea. I walked around the city of Colombo, impressed by the public buildings.’
However the time was not on the side of Sri Lankans as the vile Sinhala ultra nationalism was staged by some extremists to degrade the country’s minority population. It began with the introduction of ‘The Official Language Act No. 33 of 1956’ or ‘Sinhala only act’ which replaced Sinhala as the only Official language of Ceylon, failed to give official recognition to Tamil and English, the mother tongue and the commercial language of Ceylon’s three largest minority ethnic groups (Indian Tamil, Sri Lankan Tamil and Moors), who together accounted for around 29% of the country’s population.
In 1955 the civil service had been largely Tamil; by 1970 it was almost entirely Sinhalese, with thousands of Tamil civil servants forced to resign due to lack of fluency in Sinhala. This resulted in decades old civil war which ended in 2009, one of the longest fought war in human history. During this decade long Civil war, Ceylon was pushed from the ‘First world’ to ‘Third World’. The total economic cost of the bloody war fought for ‘Language Language Fanaticism’ is estimated at US $200 Billion, approximately 5 times as large as the Gross Domestic Product of Sri Lanka. Aftermath of deadly Civil war, under the leadership of Rajapaksas, the country was pushed into a further Ghetto.
All through the years Sri Lanka was a country that has high standards of decency, civilised and well disciplined, but since 2005 disorder, the year when Rajapaksas seized the reign, violence, corruption, injustice of power and tyranny of wealth is so widespread that in the near future it will paralyse the life in this country. No democracy can survive with out law and order. The moral standards of our politicians, police force, army, criminals, and legal system are living examples. The cause for this state of affairs is the failure to provide moral leadership.
Sri Lanka is No More a democracy as one family rules 75% of the country’s GDP. defence, law and economic is all under three brothers. the Eldest son of president Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapkse is a member of Parliment, his second son Yoshitha Rajapaksa is an admiral of Sri Lanka navy and the captain of Sri Lankan rugby, his youngest son Rohitha Rajapaksa is the head of the country’s space programme. His niece Chandra Tudor Rajapaksa is the Private Secretary to the Minister of Finance, his nephew Chaminda Rajapaksa is the Presidential Adviser, Co-ordinator for Hambantota, his Niece and nephew Preethi Rajapaksa + Lalith Priyalal Chandradasa is the Member of Securities & Exchange Commission, Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority , Member of Insurance Board, General Secretary of the Government Medical Officers Association, Chairman of PJ Pharma Care (Ceylon) Ltd, Chairman of MED 1 (Pvt) Ltd, Chairman of Employees Holdings Limited, Chairman of National Aquaculture Development Authority, Chairman of Ceylon Fisheries Harbours Corporation, his nephew, Shashindra Rajapaksa, who is the Chief Minister of the Uva Province. Shameendra Rajapaksa (second son of Chamal Rajapaksa), Director SriLankan Airlines , his cousins Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States, Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Russia, Prasanna Wickramasuriya, Chairman Airport & Aviation Services Limited Sri Lanka and Rajapaksa’s brother-in-law Nishantha Wickramasinghe is the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines.
Everywhere you go, There is a Rajapaksa!So the most crucial question then must be posted, Are we truly free? Under Rajapaksa rule, corruption has become systemic. It is ensconced at the core of the Lankan state as an indispensable tool of governance, a way to reward allies and punish enemies, a method of strengthening familial rule and promoting dynastic succession.
As Frederic Bastiat said, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
We have not gained the Independence yet!
MAY GOD SAVE MY COUNTRY
(Mohammed Jehan Khan is a Sri Lankan Independent Socio-Political writer, a Columnist at The Lahore Times, can read his column at http://www.lhrtimes.com/author/jehankhan/ and Follow him on Twitter @OfficialJehan)