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Kings For Bureaucracy (Opinion)

Jul 30, 2010 5:26:42 AM - thesundayleader.lk

Looking at Sri Lankan politics and searching for a method to the madness let alone a science is no easy feat, and certainly it is beyond me; a mere armchair based channel flipper loath to immerse myself in everything but the juiciest of political gossip.

But as a representative then, of the vast majority of Sri Lankans I reserve the right to pass comment on our political sphere by virtue of my ignorance of it. That’s a neat little loophole I challenge anyone to disrupt. I am ignorant, therefore I am. Most of us are ignorant save for a few therefore it is us who are and you who are not. Us who are. Who are? Who’re? Whores.

People deserve the politicians they get. This is true. If the people demand salary hikes from an overly bloated government sector completely ignorant of the damage it will do to the country then they will only ultimately elect a person who can deliver what they need. And that person is a politician completely devoid of understanding of how to run a country. It fits nicely: the only thing completely and fatally under a free market mechanism appears to be democracy.

Suppose the people do elect worthy statesman by some luck then what the intelligentsia can hope for is that person be perpetually in power. But the majority is quick to catch on to what the intelligentsia want, mostly because intelligentsia can’t shut up about it, and is also very quick to become suspicious of what the intelligentsia says. The opposition catches on, and fuels this suspicion and takes down said statesman in next election.

So maybe what we really need is a benevolent dictator? Both in tune with the individual man to keep him happy in the present and also in tune with what the nation needs for economic development? History has shown that true development happens when governance is constant. Note that I didn’t say ‘government’ but ‘governance’.

The US changed governments pretty often. But they stuck by strong ideologies that dictated a constant direction to all their activities that they maintain to this day. More recently India: same. I.e., their system had constants that pushed them along. But some countries have hit the big time by more dubious means. By dubious I mean anti-democratic and we only have Churchill’s word that it is the best system discovered yet. China and Singapore for e.g. rose to staggering power through autocracy.

In Sri Lanka we just keep building up and then tearing what we built down to start all over again. As governments change and each pooh-pooh at their predecessor’s achievements. So in the face of a lack of a perpetual ideology/direction to governance, maybe our next best hope to hitting the big time is to have an autocratic leader with no incentive to engage in short-termist crowd pleasing development. Maybe what we really need is a king, of sorts, like a CEO.

But is Mahinda a Lee Kwan You or a Mao? The intelligentsia are not sure, neither are the people. Seems like a good start. Personally, I’d rather he be a Lee Kwan than a Mao, no cultural revolution for me thank you very much; a sound management of the country will do (lest we may all be forced to don amudeys and drive the buffalo along idyllic paddy fields). But as Spiderman will tell you; with great power comes great opportunities to enrich yourself. Or was it something else? Can’t seem to quite pin it down.

syndicated with permission from Going Global.