Politics is Most Sacred | Daily News

Politics is Most Sacred

It is with the end to prevent the accumulation of wealth, abusing and misusing the country’s resources, by rulers that Plato in his Communism, in an extreme case, makes two main proposals for the abolition of the family, for them. In this context says G. H. Sabine in ‘A history of Western Political Theory’ that “Plato’s Communism takes two main forms which meet in the abolition of the family. The first is the prohibition of private property, whether houses or land or money, to the rulers and the provision that they shall live in barracks and have their meals at a common table. The second is the abolition of a permanent monogamous sexual relation and the substitution of regular breeding at the behest of the rulers for the purpose of securing the best possible offspring”.

Pedagogy is called the noblest and the most impecunious profession as it was practiced in the old world. Other occupations such as politics, medicine, nursing etc. are more so especially because an oath is taken before taking them up.

Politics is the most sacred out of them because it was initially an honourary service done by those who had the means to live. Those who entered politics also had the people’s confidence as those doing a sacred duty by the society.

If those in politics in Independent Sri Lanka are taken into consideration, apart from those among the living most of those who are not living today could be classed as honest people who have not earned by unjust means, living strictly within their income.

As the salary and pension they get is modest it is presumed that they live simple lives conforming to the adage “Plain living and high thinking”.

If these norms are not adhered to, they are not fit to be in politics. The President has to live with a salary of Rs. 95,000 and others with less.

Politicians of this country not among the living today who had not lost their reputation by earning unjustly are in their hundreds. Among them have been D.S. Senanayake, Dudley Senanayake and those of their clan and even some of those who bore their surname such as Maithripala Senanayake.

Then there was S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and his kinsman S. D. Bandaranayake of Madugaswalawwa, Gampaha to whom his electors gifted a motor car and of whom there is an interesting story to do with another of such honest men as J.R. Jayewardene who ate godamba roti and seeni sambol at a modest tea kiosk whenever he walked to Colombo Town Hall to cast his vote.

Whenever JR went to Gampaha for meetings he invariably visited Madugaswalawwa and spent some time there but did not talk a word with SD which baffled him. The reason was to go to the toilet; SD was so reliable a political enemy!

Sir John Kotelawala was honest to a fault and was famous for serving egg hoppers to everyone who called on him at Kandawala Walawwa. He is supposed to have given a kick to M. S. Themis for addressing him as “Hullo John”! When Themis complained to SWRD about it he had said: “Why did you do that? Even I call him Sir John!”

There were many leftist political leaders of untarnished character such as Philip Gunawardena and his brother Robert, William Silva, Dr. N. M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Anil Moonesinghe, Cholmondeley Gunawardena, Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe, Pieter Keuneman, Sarath Muttettuwegama, D.C.R. Collure, and Herbert Sri Nissanka KC of Kurunegala.

There were politicians who were so unassuming as to not recommend their qualified sons and daughters to posts under their purview; one of them was Finance Minister U. B. Wanninayake who refused to do so.

The South was famous for honest politicians, Member of State Council D. M. Rajapaksa being the first of such men. He was called the Lion of Ruhuna for his noble qualities. On his sudden demise his younger brother D. A. Rajapaksa succeeded him uncontested, signing the nomination papers washing his hands with water from the paddy field. Although he was a qualified Accountant he preferred to cultivate his paddy fields. On election as a Member of Parliament he too like S. D. Bandaranayake received a motor car from his constituents. His kinsmen Lakhsman Rajapaksa and George Rajapaksa and latter’s son Shyamlal Rajapaksa were also politicians liked by the people for their honesty.

Another politician loved by the people of Ruhuna was Charles Edirisuriya, a wealthy land owner and coconut mill owner who gave all his wealth for the common cause, helping farmers to come up in life. He was elected as a Member of Parliament from S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party but crossed over to the United National Party to topple the Government in 1964.

The dictum “Justice must not only be done but must also seem to be done” applies mutatis mutandis to politicians. It is the people who decide their fate and Abraham Lincoln’s saying “You can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time” always proves right in democratic forms of Government, at elections.

Again as Abe Lincoln said “Democracy is Government of the people, by the people and for the people” and not the rulers’ so that if the people’s aspirations are not met no amount of do-gooding would do as very well seen in 1977 when the socialist experiment failed and the suffering people overthrew a regime that was elected 1970 with a landslide victory.

In British colonial Sri Lanka Government servants including teachers were prohibited from purchasing property with a view to prevent unlawful accumulation of wealth thereby making the requirement of a declaration of assets superfluous.

Only Heads of Government Departments were able to get commissions out of import of items such as flour and sugar. The question of ministers getting commissions on foreign loans did not arise as the country had not begun to take such loans.

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