From Gold Coast to not-so-gold Hambantota
Daily Mirror Editorial
Nov 14, 2011

For those who are laying out plans to make the country an eternal carnival for the enjoyment of a privileged minority, losing the bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games was a massive blow. Yet, contrary to the sad picture drawn by the crestfallen Lankan delgation that the country’s 20 million people grieve over the loss, they are actually rejoicing over it.

Despite millions that were spent on the promotional campaigns, Hambantota fell short while Gold Coast finished the race with a clean lead of 16 votes. The bid alone that devoured a huge chunk of public money raised concern among many whether the expenses would be drawn out of public pockets had Sri Lanka won the host city status.

No doubt, it is commendable the efforts taken by the government to bring out the country from the post-war mould. Yet, in achieving the target, the areas that have been focused on are far from what the public need to see improved. However, it is sad that the authorities deliberately or otherwise are blind to the clear writing on the wall that Sri Lanka needs a proper mechanism for poverty alleviation and livelihood development rather than pomp and pageantry.

Those who are at the higher echelons should understand that a model cannot always fake a smile for a tourist brochure cover if the country’s people are forgetting how to smile. If they continue to burden the people with the cost of living, skyrocketing prices of consumer goods and thwarted fundamental freedoms, it gives them a very little right to represent and reinterpret the needs and aspirations of such people at world podiums. Such duplicity is to ignore their cries in the home soil and talk of them with affection in front of the international community cannot be tolerated for long.

If the authorities are hell-bent to make the country a land of festivities, they should have proved Sri Lanka’s consistency as a host nation through a gradual process. Bidding for Commonwealth Games when the country did not have the chance to host a complete Asian Games does not give much credit to the vaulting ambitions of the decision-makers. In fact, the bid would have been for the 2019 Asian Games, which looks more attainable with the money the authorities are willing to allocate.

In fact, the high-heads of the government who seem to think such grand events should be prioritized over the dire needs of people that demand immediate remedies, should first take to the roads and understand their agonies before painting fairytale pictures of the country. After all, painting a good picture and painting a wrong picture are two different things.

Before entertaining the guests from other corners of the world, the happiness of the hosts should be assured and safeguarded. After all, the people will never want a carnival, they can be only a little part of.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka