Sunday, June 29, 2014

Freedom and liberty

The denizens of the land that is referred to as Sri Lanka are supposed to be "free". The British ruled the territory until 1948 but since then it has been self governing and it's inhabitants, supposedly free.

Are we really free? Free to think? Free to write? Allowed to go about our affairs unmolested, secure in the knowledge that we cannot be falsely accused of wrong doing, of being questioned or detained without reason?

In the event of being detained, being assured of due process, the right to a fair hearing, the right to basic justice, not subjected to victimisation at the hands of the police, politician or indeed the Government in general?

Do we have real freedom of association, to meet and talk to people we want to? Do we have the freedom to practise our own beliefs, or non-beliefs as the case may be, unhindered, as long as we cause no nuisance to others?

Are we allowed conduct our business affairs in peace, to carry on lives in our own way, free from obstruction or interference?

The people who lived here before 1948 or before the rot set in, somewhere in the 1960's will probably tell you that they enjoyed these freedoms and liberties. Do we enjoy them today? Are we really free?

Our leaders are thought to be modeling the country's development on Singapore, witness the sprucing up of the city, the streets, the pavements and the park. These words, from Singapore's first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew are prophetic; will our leaders continue to drive us down the path to ruin?

Ceylon was Britain's model Commonwealth country. It had been carefully prepared for independence. After the war, it was a good middle-size country with fewer than 10 million people. It had a relatively good standard of education, with 2 universities of high quality in Colombo and Kandy teaching in English, a civil service largely of locals, and experience in representative government starting with city council elections in the 1930s.

When Ceylon gained independence in 1948, it was the classic model of gradual evolution to independence. Alas it did not work out. During my visits over the years, I watched a promising country go to waste....

….....It is sad that the country whose ancient name Serendip has given the English language the word "serendipity" is now the epitome of conflict, pain, sorrow and hopelessness.

(From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, p414, 418)

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