Persons with Disabilities Integral Players in Determining Innovative Solutions to Fully Inclusive Societies

Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Development & Aid, Headlines, Health, Human Rights, Labour, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

BANGKOK, Thailand, Oct 14 2022 (IPS) – Ten years ago, the Asia-Pacific region came together and designed the world’s first set of disability-specific development goals: the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities. This week, we meet again to assess how the governments have delivered on their commitments, to secure those gains and develop the innovative solutions needed to achieve fully inclusive societies.


Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Ministers, government officials, persons with disabilities, civil society and private sector allies from across Asia and the Pacific will gather from 19 to 21 October in Jakarta to mark the birth of a new era for 700 million persons with disabilities and proclaim a fourth Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities.

Our region is unique, having already declared three decades to protect and uphold the rights of persons with disabilities; 44 Asian and Pacific governments have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and we celebrate achievements in the development of disability laws, policies, strategies and programmes.

Today, we have more parliamentarians and policymakers with disabilities. Their everyday business is national decision-making. They also monitor policy implementation. We find them active across the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Türkiye. They have promoted inclusive public procurement to support disability-inclusive businesses and accessible facilities, advanced sign language interpretation in media programmes and parliamentary sessions, focused policy attention on overlooked groups, and directed numerous policy initiatives towards inclusion.

Less visible but no less important are local-level elected politicians with disabilities in India, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Indonesia witnessed 42 candidates with disabilities standing in the last election. Grassroot disability organizations have emerged as rapid responders to emerging issues such as COVID-19 and other crises. Organizations of and for persons with disabilities in Bangladesh have distinguished themselves in disability-inclusive COVID-19 responses, and created programmes to support persons with psychosocial disabilities and autism.

The past decade saw the emergence of private sector leadership in disability-inclusive business. Wipro, headquartered in India, pioneers disability inclusion in its multinational growth strategy. This is a pillar of Wipro’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Employees with disabilities are at the core of designing and delivering Wipro digital services.

Yet, there is always more unfinished business to address.

Even though we applaud the increasing participation of persons with disabilities in policymaking, there are still only eight persons with disabilities for every 1,000 parliamentarians in the region.

On the right to work, 3 in 4 persons with disabilities are not employed, while 7 in 10 persons with disabilities do not enjoy any form of social protection.

This sobering picture points to the need for disability-specific and disability-inclusive policies and their sustained implementation in partnership with women and men with disabilities.

One of the first steps to inclusion is recognizing the rights of persons with disabilities. This model focuses on the person and their dignity, aspirations, individuality and value as a human being. As such, government offices, banks and public transportation and spaces must be made accessible for persons with diverse disabilities. To this end, governments in the region have conducted accessibility audits of government buildings and public transportation stations. Partnerships with the private sector have led to reasonable accommodations at work, promoting employment in a variety of sectors.

Despite the thrust of the Incheon Strategy on data collection and analysis, persons with disabilities still are often left out of official data because the questions that allow for disaggregation are excluded from surveys and accommodations are not made to ensure their participation. This reflects a continued lack of policy priority and budgetary allocations. To create evidence-based policies, we need reliable and comparable data disaggregated by disability status, sex and geographic location.

There is hope in the technology leap to 5G in the Asia-Pacific region. The implications for the empowerment of persons are limitless: from digital access, e-health care and assistive devices at affordable prices to remote learning and working, and exercising the right to vote. This is a critical moment to ensure disability-inclusive digitalization.

We live in a world of volatile change. A disability-inclusive approach to shape this world would benefit everyone, particularly in a rapidly ageing Asia-Pacific region where everyone’s contributions will matter. As we stand on the precipice of a fourth Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities it remains our duty to insist on a paradigm shift to celebrate diversity and disability inclusion. When we dismantle barriers and persons with disabilities surge ahead, everyone benefits.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

IPS UN Bureau

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Uyghur Violations a Litmus Test for Global Governance & Rules-based International Order

Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Crime & Justice, Democracy, Featured, Global Geopolitics, Global Governance, Headlines, Human Rights, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Protesters in Washington, DC, march against the alleged killing of Uyghur Muslims. June 2022. Credit: Unsplash/Kuzzat Altay

NEW YORK, Oct 3 2022 (IPS) – This week is a momentous one for the world’s premier human rights body. At stake is a resolution to decide whether the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva can hold a debate on a recently released UN report.


The report concludes that rights violations by China’s government in its Xinjiang region ‘may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity’.

Unsurprisingly, China’s government is doing everything in its power to scotch plans for a debate on the report’s contents. Its tactics include intimidating smaller states, spreading disinformation and politicising genuine human rights concerns – the very thing the Human Rights Council was set up to overcome.

The historic report, which affirms that the rights of Xinjiang’s Uyghur Muslim population are being violated through an industrial-level programme of mass incarceration, systemic torture and sexual violence, attracted huge controversy before it was released on 31 August 2022, minutes before the end of the term of the outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The report was supposedly ready in September 2021 but so great was the pressure exerted by the Chinese state that it took almost another year for it to be aired. Absurdly, the 46-page report includes a 122 page annex in the form of a rebuttal issued by China, rejecting the findings and calling into question the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Office of the High Commissioner has asserted that the report is based on a rigorous review of documentary evidence with its credibility assessed in accordance with standard human rights methodology. The report’s recommendations are pretty straightforward: prompt steps should be taken to release all people arbitrarily imprisoned in Xinjiang, a full legal review of national security and counter-terrorism policies should be undertaken, and an official investigation should be carried into allegations of human rights violations in camps and detention facilities.

Nevertheless, a proposed resolution to hold a debate on the report’s contents in early 2023 is facing severe headwinds. A number of states inside and outside the Human Rights Council, united by their shared history of impunity for rampant human rights abuses – such as Cuba, Egypt, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Venezuela – have already rallied to China’s defence in informal negotiations on the brief resolution.

What is most worrying is that China appears to be leaning on smaller states that make up the 47-member Human Rights Council by inverting arguments about politicisation of global human rights issues and projecting itself as the victim of a Western conspiracy to undermine its sovereignty.

If China were to have its way, it would be a huge setback for the Human Rights Council, which was conceived in 2006 as a representative body of states designed to overcome the flaws of ‘declining credibility and lack of professionalism’ that marred the work of the body it replaced, the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his ground-breaking In Larger Freedom report, lamented that states sought membership ‘not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others’.

Human Rights Council members are expected to uphold the highest standards in the protection and promotion of human rights. But our research at CIVICUS shows that eight of the Council’s 47 members have the worst possible civic space conditions for human rights defenders and their organisations to exist. In these countries – Cameroon, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan – human rights are routinely abused and anyone with the temerity to speak truth to power is relentlessly persecuted.

Regimes that serially abuse human rights may be motivated to block findings of investigations being aired on the international stage, but the international community has a collective responsibility to the victims. Civil society groups are urging Human Rights Council members to stand firm on the call for a debate on the China report.

Human Rights Council member states that assert the importance of human rights and democracy in their foreign policy are expected to vote in favour. Nevertheless, the influence of regional and geo-political blocs within the Council mean that the issue will essentially be settled by the decisions of states such as Argentina, Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Senegal, Ukraine and Qatar.

China will undoubtedly pressure these states to try to get them to oppose or abstain in any vote that seeks to advance justice for the Uyghur people.

The stakes are particularly high for China’s mercurial leader, Xi Jinping, who is seeking to anoint himself as president for a third term – after abolishing term limits in 2018 – at the Chinese Communist Party’s Congress, which begins on 16 October.

Recognition of the systematic abuses to which Xi’s administration has subjected the Uyghur people would be considered an international affront to his growing power.

If China were to prevail at the Human Rights Council, it would be another blow to the legitimacy of the UN, which is already reeling from the UN Security Council’s inability to overcome Russia’s permanent member veto to block action on the invasion of Ukraine. So much – for the UN’s reputation, and for the hope that human rights violators, however powerful, will be held to account – is resting on the vote.

Mandeep S. Tiwana, is chief programmes officer and representative to the United Nations at global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.

IPS UN Bureau

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Women Advocates for Harvesting Rainwater in Salinity-Affected Coastal Bangladesh

Asia-Pacific, Climate Change, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Environment, Featured, Headlines, Humanitarian Emergencies, Innovation, Natural Resources, TerraViva United Nations

Humanitarian Emergencies

Lalita Roy now has access to clean water and also provides a service to her community by working as a pani apa (water sister), looking after the community's rainwater harvesting plants. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Lalita Roy now has access to clean water and also provides a service to her community by working as a pani apa (water sister), looking after the community’s rainwater harvesting plants. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

KHULNA, Bangladesh, Sep 23 2022 (IPS) – Like many other women in Bangladesh’s salinity-prone coastal region, Lalita Roy had to travel a long distance every day to collect drinking water as there was no fresh water source nearby her locality.


“In the past, there was a scarcity of drinking water. I had to travel one to two kilometers distance each day to bring water,” Roy, a resident of Bajua Union under Dakope Upazila in Khulna, told IPS.

She had to collect water standing in a queue; one water pitcher was not enough to meet her daily household demand.

“We require two pitchers of drinking water per day. I had to spend two hours each day collecting water. So, there were various problems. I had health complications, and I was unable to do household work for lack of time,” she said.

After getting a rainwater harvesting plant from the Gender-response Climate Adaptation (GCA) Project, which is being implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Roy is now collecting drinking water using the rainwater harvesting plant, which makes her life easier.

“I am getting the facilities, and now I can give two more hours to my family… that’s why I benefited,” she added.

Shymoli Boiragi, another beneficiary of Shaheber Abad village under Dakope Upazila, said women in her locality suffered a lot in collecting drinking water in the past because they had to walk one to three kilometers every day to collect water.

“We lost both time and household work. After getting rainwater harvesting plants, we benefited. Now we need not go a long distance to collect water so that we can do more household work,” Boiragi said.

Shymoli revealed that coastal people suffered from various health problems caused by consuming saline water and spent money on collecting the water too.

“But now we are conserving rainwater during the ongoing monsoon and will drink it for the rest of the year,” she added.

THE ROLE OF PANI APAS

With support from the project, rainwater harvesting plants were installed at about 13,300 households under 39 union parishads in Khunla and Satkhira. One pani apa (water sister) has been deployed in every union from the beneficiaries.

Roy, now deployed as a pani apa, said the GCA project conducted a survey on the households needing water plants and selected her as a pani apa for two wards.

“As a pani apa, I have been given various tools. I go to every household two times per month. I clean up their water tanks (rainwater plants) and repair those, if necessary,” he added.

Roy said she provides services for 80 households having rainwater harvesting plants, and if they have any problem with their water tanks, she goes to their houses to repair plants.

“I go to 67 households, which have water plants, one to two times per month to provide maintenance services. If they call me over the cellphone, I also go to their houses,” said Ullashini Roy, another pani apa from Shaheber Abad village.

She said a household gives her Taka 20 per month for her maintenance services while she gets Taka 1,340 (US$ 15) from 67 households, which helps her with family expenses.

Ahoke Kumar Adhikary, regional project manager of the Gender-Response Climate Adaptation Project, said it supported installing rainwater harvesting plants at 13,300 households. Each plant will store 2,000 liters of rainwater in each tank for the dry season.

The water plants need maintenance, which is why the project has employed pani apas for each union parishad (ward or council). They work at a community level on maintenance.

“They provide some services, and we call them pani apas. The work of pani apas is to go to every household and provide the services,” Adhikary said.

He said the pani apas get Taka 20 from every household per month for providing their services, and if they need to replace taps or filters of the water plants, they replace those.

The pani apas charge for the replacements of equipment of the water plants, he added.

NO WATER TO DRINK

The coastal belt of Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change as it is hit hard by cyclones, floods, and storm surges every year, destroying its freshwater sources. The freshwater aquifer is also being affected by salinity due to rising sea levels.

Ullashini Roy said freshwater was unavailable in the coastal region, and people drinking water was scarce.

“The water you are looking at is saline. The underground water is also salty. The people of the region cannot use saline water for drinking and household purposes,” Adhikary said.

Ahmmed Zulfiqar Rahaman, hydrologist and climate change expert at Dhaka-based think-tank Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), said if the sea level rises by 50 centimeters by 2050, the surface salinity will reach Gopalganj and Jhalokati districts – 50 km inside the mainland from the coastal belt, accelerating drinking water crisis there.

PUBLIC HEALTH AT RISK

According to a 2019 study, people consuming saline water suffer from various physical problems, including acidity, stomach problems, skin diseases, psychological problems, and hypertension.

It is even being blamed for early marriages because salinity gradually changes girls’ skin color from light to gray.

“There is no sweet water around us. After drinking saline water, we suffered from various waterborne diseases like diarrhea and cholera,” Ullashini said.

Hypertension and high blood pressure are common among coastal people. The study also showed people feel psychological stress caused by having to constantly collect fresh water.

Shymoli said when the stored drinking water runs out in any family; the family members get worried because it’s not easy to collect in the coastal region.

SOLUTIONS TO SALINITY

Rahaman said river water flows rapidly decline in Bangladesh during the dry season, but a solution needs to be found for the coastal area.

The hydrologist suggested a possible solution is building more freshwater reservoirs in the coastal region through proper management of ponds at a community level.

Rahaman said low-cost rainwater harvesting technology should be transferred to the community level so that coastal people can reserve rainwater during the monsoon and use this during the dry season.

He added that the government should provide subsidies for desalinization plants since desalinizing salt water is costly.

IPS UN Bureau Report

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Monster Monsoon: “Pakistan and Its People Are Paying the Costs of What They Are Not Responsible For.”

Aid, Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Environment, Headlines, Inequality, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Credit: Pakistan Development Alliance

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sep 1 2022 (IPS) – Pakistan has been going through the worst time of its recent history due to unprecedented colossal monsoon rains and devastating floods. The current floods would have been expected less than once a century, but climate experts claim that what we are seeing today is just a trailer of what’s in store for us if we don’t pay heed to climate change. More than 112 districts are currently afffected and around 30 million people; their property and land are totally devastated. Across the country, where hundreds of thousands of cattle died due to the Lumpy Skin Disease, now more than 727,000 have perished due to floods and rains. The number is increasing rapidly.


We were in the countryside conducting a study on the rights of women farm workers, when the Monster monsoon hit the country. We had to cut our field mission short and we are now relatively “safe” here in Islamabad, busy organising emergency relief and rescue operations.

Pakistan and its people are paying the costs of what they are not responsible for. For the past 20 years, Pakistan has consistently ranked among the top 10 most vulnerable countries on the Climate Risk Index. We are facing such climate change aggression and devastation while contributing only 0.8% of greenhouse carbon emissions to global warming. We are squeezed, geographically situtated between titans China and India, who are the top two emitters of greenhouse gases. This impacts the glaciers of the Himalaya. In Pakistan, our 7253 glaciers – more glaciers than almost anywhere on Earth – are melting faster than ice-cream in the sun due to climate change. Since the whole country is situated in the downstream of the Hamalaya, heavy floods have become the norm. To this scenario, you need to add flawed developement interventions, absence of rule of law and the lack of policy priorities towards the management of “everyday” disasters. This results in risks being left undone instead of being treated as full-fledged national security emergencies.

Today, the horrific scale of the floods are not in doubt, but the catastrophe is still unfolding. Rehabilitation and reconstruction activities need to be initiated immediately. Pakistan is already facing food insecurity due to this manmade disaster. In the long run, this crisis will increase poverty, inequality and economic instability in the country if we – supported by the world at large – fail to respond quickly.

Being part of a civil society network I see with my own eyes how civil society is vehementally engaged in rescue, relief and emergency activities through local resources and philanthropic initiatives. The international community and INGOs have not yet initiated their field operations. Although the government has officially appealed for the support of the international community and has levereged restrictions, the intensive regulatory frameworks are still working against rights based NGOs.

I have a message for the international community. Please support flood affected communities as early as possible. Local civil society needs to be strengthened and financed as well, as they are on the frontlines, they are the first reaching affected communities. In the future, there needs to be serious investments on addressing the impacts of climate change, particularly in vulnerable countries such as Pakistan, where climate change adaptation mechanism and infrastructure support should be mainstreamed. Now they are at the periphery, and it shows.

IPS UN Bureau

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Gender Equality & Women’s Rights Wiped out Under the Taliban

Armed Conflicts, Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Featured, Gender, Gender Violence, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Peace, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

The writer is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

Women receive food rations at a food distribution site in Herat, Afghanistan. Credit: UNICEF/Sayed Bidel

NEW YORK, Aug 15 2022 (IPS) – In the year that has passed since the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan we have seen daily and continuous deterioration in the situation of Afghan women and girls. This has spanned every aspect of their human rights, from living standards to social and political status.


It has been a year of increasing disrespect for their right to live free and equal lives, denying them opportunity to livelihoods, access to health care and education, and escape from situations of violence.

The Taliban’s meticulously constructed policies of inequality set Afghanistan apart. It is the only country in the world where girls are banned from going to high school. There are no women in the Taliban’s cabinet, no Ministry of Women’s Affairs, thereby effectively removing women’s right to political participation.

Women are, for the most part, also restricted from working outside the home, and are required to cover their faces in public and to have a male chaperone when they travel. Furthermore, they continue to be subjected to multiple forms of Gender Based Violence.

This deliberate slew of measures of discrimination against Afghanistan’s women and girls is also a terrible act of self-sabotage for a country experiencing huge challenges including from climate-related and natural disasters to exposure to global economic headwinds that leave some 25 million Afghan people in poverty and many hungry.

The exclusion of women from all aspects of life robs the people of Afghanistan of half their talent and energies. It prevents women from leading efforts to build resilient communities and shrinks Afghanistan’s ability to recover from crisis.

There is a clear lesson from humanity’s all too extensive experience of crisis. Without the full participation of women and girls in all aspects of public life there is little chance of achieving lasting peace, stability and economic development.

That is why we urge the de facto authorities to open schools for all girls, to remove constraints on women’s employment and their participation in the politics of their nation, and to revoke all decisions and policies that strip women of their rights. We call for ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

We urge the de facto authorities to ensure that women journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society actors enjoy freedom of expression, have access to information and can work freely and independently, without fear of reprisal or attack.

The international community’s support for women’s rights and its investment in women themselves are more important than ever: in services for women, in jobs and women-led businesses, and in women leaders and women’s organizations.

This includes not only support to the provision of humanitarian assistance but also continued and unceasing efforts at the political level to bring about change.

UN Women has remained in country throughout this crisis and will continue to do so. We are steadfast in our support to Afghan women and girls alongside our partners and donors.

We are scaling up the provision of life-saving services for women, by women, to meet overwhelming needs. We are supporting women-led businesses and employment opportunities across all sectors to help lift the country out of poverty.

We are also investing in women-led civil society organizations to support the rebuilding of the women’s movement. As everywhere in the world, civil society is a key driver of progress and accountability on women’s rights and gender equality.

Every day, we advocate for restoring, protecting, and promoting the full spectrum of women’s and girls’ rights. We are also creating spaces for Afghan women themselves to advocate for their right to live free and equal lives.

One year on, with women’s visibility so diminished and rights so severely impacted, it is vital to direct targeted, substantial, and systematic funding to address and reverse this situation and to facilitate women’s meaningful participation in all stakeholder engagement on Afghanistan, including in delegations that meet with Taliban officials.

Decades of progress on gender equality and women’s rights have been wiped out in mere months. We must continue to act together, united in our insistence on guarantees of respect for the full spectrum of women’s rights, including to education, work, and participation in public and political life.

We must continue to make a collective and continuous call on the Taliban leadership to fully comply with the binding obligations under international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party.

And we must continue to elevate the voices of Afghan women and girls who are fighting every day for their right to live free and equal lives. Their fight is our fight. What happens to women and girls in Afghanistan is our global responsibility.

IPS UN Bureau

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Sri Lanka: Why a Feudal Culture & Absence of Meritocracy Bankrupted a Nation

Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Crime & Justice, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Credit: Sunday Times, Sri Lanka

BROMLEY, UK, Jul 19 2022 (IPS) – Sri Lanka is officially bankrupt and a failed state in all but name. How did a country of 22 million people with a level of literacy on par with most of the developed world end up in such a dire position where the state coffers did not have the measly sum of 20 million dollars to purchase fuel to keep the country functioning beyond the next working day?


Whilst the vast majority of the population have concluded that the blame for this economic armageddon is due to the gluttony of corruption and greed, instigated and enabled by the Rajapaksa family , its acolytes and sycophantic nodding dogs, my own assessment is different.

It is a fact that vast sums , amounting to billions of dollars, were indeed stolen and moved overseas through various illegal networks by the Rajapaksa clan and their accomplices.

Many billions were also squandered on gargantuan white elephant vanity projects in order to glorify the Rajapaksa legacy. However, the seeds for the bankruptcy were sown when the country attained its independence from Great Britain in 1948.

Sri Lanka proudly proclaims itself as one of the oldest democracies in Asia which has had a functioning democracy since 1948. The democratic process has functioned like it should do and parliamentarians elected as they should be and the leaders who represent the aspirations and values of the people appointed as they should be.

Why then has the country reached this abyss?

For democracy to enrich the lives of the people and bring about economic prosperity, two essential and fundamental criteria have to be satisfied. The election of individuals based on merit and the adherence to a universal justice system.

In the absence of meritocracy and a universal justice system, democracy becomes meaningless – an utterly futile process which will not achieve what it is intended for.

Meritocracy is however an alien concept in Sri Lanka!

A universal justice system does not exist in Sri Lanka!

Meritocracy does not exist in Sri Lanka because the cultural DNA is that of a feudal society. Sri Lankan culture promotes race, religion, nepotism, old school connections, social connections, social influences, political influences and servitude (where one class of people are held in perpetual bondage or servants for life ) over and above the attributes and qualities of the individual.

That is a primitive mindset and a recipe for disaster.

In Sri Lanka, people are judged not by the content of their character but by their race, their religion, their socio-economic background, their family connections, the schools they attended, where they live, and who they know. (with apologies to the Rev Martin Luther King for using his words in a manner he did not intend)

When a society functions in such a feudal manner, such values permeate throughout and has a direct correlation with the workings of the justice system. The justice system replicates the culture and ultimately ends up being not fit for purpose.

If a justice system is unable to function based on facts and objectivity, the fabric of society slowly starts to tear apart because the checks and balances needed for a society to progress and for nations to grow, slowly start to dissipate.

Since 1948, Sri Lankan democracy has existed on the basis of nepotism, feudal, racial and religious criteria.

The feudal culture masquerading as democracy has elected the Senanayake family, the Bandaranaike family, the Premadasa family and the Rajapaksa family into the highest offices of the land.

The singular qualification that Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake had was that he was the son of the father.

The singular qualification Prime Minister Mrs Bandaranaike had was that she was the wife of the husband

The singular qualification President Chandrika B had was that she was the daughter of the father and the mother

The singular qualification that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (now acting President) has is that he is the nephew of President JR Jayewardene.

The singular qualification that Sajith Premadasa has is that he is the son of the father

The singular qualification Gotabaya Rajapaksa has is that he is the brother of Mahinda

The singular qualification Namal has is that he is the son of the father

The singular qualification Basil has is that he is the brother of Mahinda and Gotabaya.

The singular qualification Thondaman had was that that he was the son of the father.

And this is called Democracy?

This is a banana republic in all but name where Nepotism is the ultimate passport to success – and all done through the ballot box !

This is a culture of entitlement masquerading as democracy , which in turn has given birth to a nation whose leaders are elected not by the content of their character but by their name and association.

It is the equivalent of death by a thousand cuts for what has been spawned is a society where quality has been superseded by mediocrity at best and incompetence at worst.

The end result is the economic armageddon that has destroyed the country.

When leaders of a nation are elected in such a manner, those who serve them and the very fabric of society itself replicates the structural fault line that promotes feudal nepotistic values. It becomes self-fulfilling, promotes mediocrity, encourages malpractice, and creates a culture of corruption.

The legal system, which on paper is there to oversee the rule of law, sadly becomes an extension of the structural fault line which then ensures that impunity and immunity against corruption , theft or even murder, becomes standard operating procedure.

Einstein’s definition of “insanity” is where he states that if we do the same thing over and over again, we end up with the same result. Sri Lanka’s sham democracy since 1948 has been exactly that. A culture based on feudal nepotistic values which enables the same results over and over again.

The people of Sri Lanka must break this vicious cycle if they are ever to escape from the death spiral they have created for themselves.

The critical mass of people who have recently demonstrated for structural change and the complete transformation of government and governance, have achieved more in the last few months than most of the corrupt incompetent deluded half-wits in parliament ever will.

A fundamental new approach to governance based on competence and the rule of law is a pre-requisite to stop Sri Lanka disintegrating into anarchy and chaos.

Does real democracy exist in Sri Lanka ? No !

Real democracy in Sri Lanka doesn’t exist because the culture prevents those with real ability and competence from being elected on merit alone. The vast majority of the electorate simply doesn’t understand that real democracy that provides a positive outcome is based on merit, first, second and last.

It is also unlikely that the majority of the electorate will understand this any time soon.

Can the country find a leader that replicates Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew ? It is imperative that it does find such a leader who leads by example and who creates a structural transformation of society itself where honesty, integrity and the adherence to the rule of law becomes sacrosanct .

However, does such a leader exists within the current crop of parliamentarians? If not within in parliament , then where ?

A leader who will also ensure that all those who have been culpable in this bringing about this catastrophe are forced to change their ways as well as bringing to justice those who have systematically looted and stolen the countries’ wealth – politicians and non-politicians .

Does a universal justice system exist in Sri Lanka – No !

A justice system in a secular democracy has to be independent of parliament. The justice system is meant to be independent of state machinery and should not be influenced by state operatives.

However, in Sri Lanka the parliament overrules and effectively instructs how the justice system should act which in turn makes the whole system corrupt and not fit for purpose.

The country has huge numbers of legal eagles with more qualifications than they have had hot dinners and who know the finer points of the law better than most in the world.

However, they are rendered impotent and toothless because they are beholden to the political masters they serve – either through choice or otherwise.

The corrosive and toxic nature of a feudal culture which promotes false values over merit and the rule of law ensures even the greatest minds of the land are reduced to corrupt sycophantic nodding ponies.

The legal system in Sri Lanka is also an organised money printing racket where the ordinary citizen or client is entirely at the mercy of the corrupt and dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Those who operate within the system make the equivalent of monopoly money by effectively fleecing the unsuspecting and manipulating a system that is not fit for purpose.

As I write this , the elected leader of the country whose policies and incompetence were the catalyst for the economic meltdown, has fled overseas – the ultimate ” runner viruwa ” !

The man appointed as the acting leader of the nation is one whose party has a single seat in parliament – his own ! And that too not due to electoral votes but due to a corrupt system which enables ” grace and favour ” appointments to parliament.

Such is the abyss that Sri Lanka is in.

What truly beggars belief is that there are millions in the country who still believe that this corrupt rotten s–t show of a system can still be tweaked here and there and made to work.

It cannot and the saddest reality of all this is that millions of Sri Lankans will still cling to their delusional sense of self-importance and righteousness and even at this point where mass starvation is a real possibility, carry on repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

A country whose majority population follows the teachings of one of the greatest philosophers the world has known, is simply incapable of understanding some of the most basic lessons the great sage from Lumbini taught – honesty, integrity, introspection, reflection and truth !

If however, a NEW set of leaders with competence, honesty and integrity, whose primary purpose is to serve the people, can be found within parliament, within the Aragalaya movement , within the commercial sector or a combination of individuals from all three , there is still hope for Sri Lanka.

If however the same corrupt incompetent rotten thieves who still occupy positions of huge powers are allowed to maintain the status quo , the failed state that is Sri Lanka will descent into complete anarchy and bloodshed.

At the end of all that, arising out of the ashes, there will be a breakaway part of the country ………called Eelam !!!!!!!!

Charles Seevali Abeysekera, a semi-retired sales and marketing professional, has worked in the UK mailing industry for over 35 years. He also scribes a blog on current affairs as well as reflections and thoughts on his own life journey “

IPS UN Bureau

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