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Do our leaders deserve the praise or the despise?

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

I wanted to write an article about the government and the people with authority in Sri Lanka. So first, I got my laptop, typed in, “the role of a cabinet minister” and hit search.

A Cabinet minister's role includes: directing government policy and making decisions about national issues. Spending a lot of time discussing current national problems and how they can be solved. As well as presenting bills and proposing laws – from their respective government departments.

That’s what Google gave me at least. I don’t know why, but the first image that popped into my head after I read this was how one “minister” took a handful of chilli powder and threw it at a police officer’s face inside the parliament. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time something so silly and utterly childish has happened. There’s almost no one today who thinks that ministers are good and honest. The people that we have voted to be our leaders. There are some leaders who genuinely care for the people, the country, the various religious groups and who actually do their part but the majority don’t really care. Secret handshakes, bribes, injustice happens everywhere in the world, but my focus for this article is the Sri Lankan government and the role, we, as the youth play.

If the focus was appointing a person who is educated about how to develop a country and someone who knows about strategies to overcome difficult times as a leader, we could have prevented certain incidents in the past that corrupted the whole country. The presence of weak leaders and members of the cabinet wasn’t something that started out yesterday or last year. It has been there for some time. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that, because our country has experienced a downward spiral which everyone felt start from the rising cost of our daily staples. It happened due to an unfortunate chain of events that I will briefly go into.

Sri Lanka had a very strong economy and was on its way to become an upper income nation, before the war ruined things. Now it’s a middle class developing nation. Yes, we won the war with the guidance of great minds and the strength of our brave forces. But despite the 26 year civil war ending in 2009, due to the emotional attachment people have towards certain leaders, they keep voting for them, forgetting that when they take control, everyone else around them, either good or bad also gets that chance to control what’s going on. That only one regime or the other is holding power constantly.

The problem is that almost everyone is so scared to speak up. There are some leaders that are dying, some have been here since forever but we keep going back to them. This situation has to change. That’s where the youth have to step in. Use the platforms they have, voice their ideas, use their precious votes on the person who will truly work for the improvement of the country and make this country a safe place to live for the 21.7 million people in it. The youth, the next line of leaders, should use their precious vote on someone who is truly deserving to be a leader of the country, not someone who would take the chance to switch to the winning side for a pay-cheque or visits your town to build a bridge only when the elections are close by.

Giving us hope towards reconstruction and growth, the Sri Lankan economy grew at an average 5.6% from 2010 to 2019, but the April terrorist attacks and the COVID-19 outbreak has weakened the already challenging macroeconomic situation of low growth rates and significant fiscal pressures. Here comes the same old question: Is the government to blame? Or is it us who are to blame, for giving the power to them? I’ll let you think on that for a second.

However Sri Lanka has raised enough foreign currency funds to manage immediate debt repayments and refinancing requirements, but high indebtedness and weak fiscal buffers make the economy at risk to unresolved financial conditions. It’s hard on most people in the country with the current economic status and the additional charges on daily supplies. The indifference of the leaders cost the helpless, ordinary people their jobs and their futures. There are still some parts of Sri Lanka that are only slightly above the poverty line. And yes, we have faced many challenges for a little island. But if we had a stronger support system, aka the government, to steer the country into developing and strengthening the economy, we could have done greater things in the world and had a bigger impact not only within the nation but globally.

But we are not too late. As the youth, we have to help lift the veil we have been under these past few years. We have the capability to stop the ability certain regimes have to give a green light on unfair deals, fake policies and propose candidates who have been corrupted for the parliament. That way, the press in this country will stop working for leaders and start televising the truth. And the members of the parliament will not work for a scoreboard but will use their brains to work for the people. We need to have hope for the country, for genuine leaders and a bright future. I hope the rest of 2020 can become the start of that. With the election that occurred just recently in Sri Lanka, us, the people of the nation, had a chance to appoint better leaders. I hope you used your vote for the country well and did not sit this one out.

Disclaimer – This isn’t an attempt to show that the writer of this article is biased towards any political party. They are just shedding light on one approach to politics in Sri Lanka with the platform they have been given.

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