Friday, July 21, 2017

Sri Lanka: SAITM issue: An FTZ solution

The violent destruction of the JVP during the Premadasa era did not end the movement or transform it into a social democratic force.

by Bodhi Dhanapala-Jul 20, 2017
( July 20, 2017, Quebec – Canada, Sri Lanka Guardian) I was a young student at the Vidyodaya University during the rise of the JVP, and I know how its activities polarized and ultimately destroyed many of the young lives of our times. It was my strong Buddhist upbringing that made me reject the culture of violence that was preached by these Marxists who believed that ‘the end justifies the means’. The JVP came from a seemingly less “gentlemanly” group than the Gramsci, quoting and ineffective left intellectuals of the English-elitist era. They were also hell bent on rebelling against the state and capturing power by violent means. But they did not have the guts to do it or the need to get off their privileged places in society. But they claimed that violent revolution is the only “valid” means for taking power off the hands of the capitalist class – so we were told to be a necessity according to “scientific” Marxism. It took us some time to realize that Marxism had nothing to do with science. The JVP even reduced Marxism to a mere five lessons given in student dormitories in closed rooms to selected converts. The armed wing came from the true believers, the erstwhile “Che Guevarists”, while anyone like myself who dared to express doubt were beaten up. We just had to shut up. Two Vice Chancellors (Batuwatavithana and Stanley Wijesundara) got shot and others (e. g, Chandre Dharmawardana) wisely left the country.
The violent destruction of the JVP during the Premadasa era did not end the movement or transform it into a social democratic force. During my student days, the professional faculties were the least affected by the disruptive call of the JVP. They could not convert those committed students into flag-waving, rioting and boycotting lectures.
Today, the SAITM issue has given the JVP an opening for creating radicalization, dissension and disruption among the medical students themselves. Entry to University is a privilege granted only to a small percentage of the 22 million people in the country, given that the annual admissions are of the order of 10,000 students. Their duty and indeed the mandate given by the tax payer who pays for their free education is that they devote that time to STUDY, and come back to serve the community as engineers or doctors, scientists or other specialists, teachers or as educated politicians. The JVP could not break into the medical stream effectively, before the arrival of SAITM, which has become a god send for them to radicalize not only the medical students, but also the doctors.
So today, even when the nation is at its knees because of the Dengue epidemic, and other epidemics like kidney disease and whatever else, even the doctors are ready to strike? Why? What is the catastrophic issue? Can you believe it? It is the issue of the existence or non-existence of a fee-levying medical school! If there can be fee-levying hospitals served by free-educated doctors, why can’t there be fee-levying medical faculties?
However, my objective here is not to present a solution so that socially destructive forces like the JVP could be held at bay. If the GMOA does not want the SAITM students appointed to government hospitals that is fine. Move SAITM and its teaching hospital into the free-trade zone, and make it only accessible to customers who are willing to pay in dollars. Invite foreign hospital operator companies to set up world-class hospitals in the free-trade zone, offering services at competitive prices (paid in dollars), and recruit doctors from any country to work in them. The SAITM students can work as interns in these hospitals and they can also pass out and work in the hospitals in the free trade zone. But they cannot work elsewhere in the country until the GMOA “recognizes” the hospitals and medical schools in the free-trade zone. The GMOA can have no objection to this scheme.
The JVP of course, will see that its plan to control the student body in the medical school has been thwarted. It will no doubt try to look for some other means of sowing dissension in society.
It should be noted that much of the lawlessness that developed gradually from about the 1950s, with constant strikes at the Colombo Harbour orchestrated by Philip Goonawardene, and the endless GCSU strikes, the asphyxiation of indigenous industries like the Velona Factory, all led to a breeding of a violent culture in a land that had been noted for a “Nihathamaanee” people with Buddhist values of cooperation, caring and compassion. Senanayake, Baron Jayatilleke and others obtained independence from the British using such methods, while the Leftists wanted to shed blood. N. M. Perera opposed free education when A. Ratnayake and Kannangara supported it. N. M. Perera held the view that free education should be introduced only after the revolution. In the leftist political tactic, cooperation was replaced by contentious dissension with the goal post constantly being moved forwards, until the only solution was violence. Such violence came to this country several times, and more recently with the JVP versus government goons, JRJ cracking the Trade Unions who were foolish enough to sacrifice their cadre to an inhuman leader, and with the LTTE versus government forces who also used methods that did not spare innocent civilians. Today, even the Buddhist monks have taken over the Leftist model of agitation and social struggle, forming the so-called “Bodu-Bala Senaa”, allegedly seeded by Norway and USA, to create a “Buddhist-spring” type of revolt in Sri Lanka.
Laksiri Fernando and others leap to see the “horror of a Sangha state” even when the Mahanayakes merely advises the rulers to NOT waste time on futile exercises. This is at a time when the nation is being suffocated by Garbage and corrupt misgovernment. Political “science” is not a science of the sort that I had studied; it is hot-air of individuals who can cite no evidence or use an empirical method. Instead, they quote Gramsci or Lenin. These “social scientists” should spend their time evaluating (if possible quantitatively) the social harm that has come to this country via the culture of violence and the “end justifies the means” ideologies of the Left “revolutionaries”. The opposition to SAITM is just another exercise in their bid to radicalize the youth and enhance their own power struggle, as far as the JVP is concerned. It has nothing to do with medical education, or maintaining health-service standards of the country.