I was intrigued to read Dr. Asoka Thenabadu’s article about “Sri Lankan drivers, good, bad or ugly”? He refers to the drivers in UK and Singapore being polite, disciplined, courteous and considerate. Why pretend? In UK, there is definitely road rage. As an expat, Dr. Thenabadu could compare Britain to Sri Lanka; not only to the driving conditions, but also compare Sri Lanka with Western countries for many other situations.
Sri Lankans who have gone to Western countries to better themselves have forgotten their beginnings. They have today, many privileges over those Sri Lankans who have not had the advantage of going abroad to earn their living. Those expats have had their entire education and enjoyed the free higher education at universities and medical colleges. Those who have remained in Sri Lanka despite obtaining higher education qualifications have had to, over the past three decades, overcome all the trauma of the cursed terrorism, bombs going off at different times of the day, including discourteous drivers.
The expats living abroad are famous for criticizing the various governments in power for lacking in good governance while sitting in the comfort of their armchairs or discussing the drawbacks in Sri Lanka at social gatherings. Some expats have donated funds during the crisis of the tsunami and to the war victims but the majority of them only know to pay lip service and to make criticisms.
Today the expats are coming to Sri Lanka in plane loads to enjoy the peace and tranquility prevailing in their birth country for three to four weeks at a time. They enjoy the food, travel widely and book into three or five star hotels. They are privileged enough to spend their dollars and pounds but what do they do to give back to their mother country? Some expats help less-privileged homes and their relatives, but the majority of those who visit Sri Lanka only know how to complain.
They have the audacity to criticize the pot holes on the roads, garbage piles, including inconsiderate drivers. They cannot accept that this is Sri Lanka. They do not want to admit that conditions in Sri Lanka have improved since they left the shores. They decided to get away to greener pastures and ‘hats off’ to them for making a success of their lives but please do not look down on our birth country Sri Lanka.
We too lived in Britain for many years and have traveled widely in Europe and US and know the difference in living conditions. We both drive during peak times and yes we have been stopped and licences taken for unknowingly breaking the traffic rules. Never have we offered a bribe to traffic police. If this type of corruption is taking place, then the giver of the bribe is the offender as they would dare NOT do this in the Western countries. Why do it in Sri Lanka?
There are many questions that need to be answered by us Sri Lankans living here and abroad. What are we doing to eradicate the bad and ugly and make Sri Lanka good for us all in order that the younger generations could live in the so called “former glory and respected position” and make Sri Lanka a fruitful country? The answer lies with each and every one of us without pointing fingers at others!