In Conversation with S.G. Punchihewa
Planting Distrust & Drowning in Myth
S.G. Punchihewa, a senior lawyer discusses current social issues while working to guarantee people’s right to information.
S.G. Punchihewa is a senior lawyer who actively works against the struggle for democratic rights and is presently a member of the Information Commission. He joined this interview with The Catamaran to discuss current social issues while working to guarantee people’s right to information.
We repeat what we have read in our history books. Are these readings useful? Three pogroms have befallen this country in recent times. They happened in 1971, 1989 and during the war in North. Yet, after the Easter Sunday attacks, we give rise to suspicion and destruction again
THE CATAMARAN – Why is that? How did a minority overwhelm the opinions of an intelligentsia consisted of pioneers like you?
Our education system is designed to accept the consent of a popular minority as truth. Therefore, the majority can be won by beautiful words. Children must be taught justice and equality, and practice reconciliation. Unfortuately, the current system creates slaves who work towards salaries If we ask children a question about future, they say they will migrate out of the country after education.
Education must create true scientific thinking. Create a reasoning child who cannot be misled by falsehoods. But even religion teaches beautiful words that benefit the minority. Science is also taught in that way. There are innovators among children. Did any government develop a system to help them? If do so, children will start to think for themselves.
Media is the other reason. Whatever we say, the majority use mainstream media.
THE CATAMARAN – Moving beyond criticism, from where must we start to change the path towards destruction?
We need a non-formal education system that build up a discerning thinking pattern. We need massive organizational structure to do so. Small group discussions have taken place in regard to this, but the problem is that they are undermined at grassroots level. These small groups have no financial power
That does not mean the collective efforts are useless.
THE CATAMARAN – How can we solve this economic problem?
Economic freedom is necessary for assuring freedom of expression. We cannot rent a place for a meeting or storage without money. People are ready to help other people. People can serve education, literature and art. Artists like Chekov and Gorky did so. We have seen how people are awoken through struggles. But we don’t have a collective organization structure to keep these men continuously aware and impassioned. The problem can be solved only through a collective effort.