1 July, 2022

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A Cabinet Of Patriotic Opportunists

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Just as the term honest politician is an oxymoron, so is the coinage of patriotic opportunism especially in Sri Lankan politics. What Lord Palmerston said in the 19th century that “we have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual friends”, in the context of British relations with America, was later translated as there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics. Does this mean that opportunism should be the weft that is woven through the warp of political fabric? It need not necessarily be so in a parliamentary democracy with strongly disciplined political parties. But in Sri Lanka’s seven decades of parliamentary democracy political opportunism had flourished. The so-called All-Party Government’s desperately constituted cabinet and headed by an unelected Prime Minister is a perfect embodiment of Palmerstonian political aphorism, but with one difference. That is, political opportunism had been given, in the words of one of them, “a true patriotic perspective”. RW’s is a cabinet of patriotic opportunists.

The nonelected Prime Minister Ranil Rajapaksa, pardon me, Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) had been quite forthright in presenting the true picture of the country’s dire economic straits. By August this year, according to him, the country would face food shortage, if not a dreaded famine. The man who engineered this shortage is still there at the helm against a nation backed aragalaya’s call to quit, and appointing ministers and other aficionados. Petrol, gas, diesel, food, medicine, and, in other words, the vital ingredients that make the people and the country remain mobile and active would be in critical shortage, because of an absence of the almighty dollar to import them. How to earn this foreign exchange when the nation’s exports except labour are losing foreign markets? Even tourism which is actually the export of the island’ beauty, history and culture, is losing attraction because of political chaos. IMF and friendly countries may help up to a point. But for how long and how much? (I was discussing the economy’s situation with an academic colleague from Bangladesh. He confessed that his country unofficially reckons that the dollars lent to Sri Lanka would never be returned and would be part of his country’s bad debts. I was caught between feelings of shame and gratitude).

In this dire situation, the Governor of CSBL Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe had boldly threatened domestic dollar hoarders to deposit their hoarding in the banks or exchange it for rupees at a bonus rate or face outright confiscation. This is a call to all wealth accumulators in the country to openly demonstrate their patriotism. It is surprising that NW’s call did not receive sufficient publicity in the country’s official news media. Hoarding is not saving, which also has its own paradox of thrift. Hoarding money involves an unhealthy obsession with the accumulation of financial reserves, and hoarding in any form is detrimental to the flow of economic activities. But hoarding foreign currencies at a time like this in Sri Lanka hijacks the economy and is unpatriotic. To add meaning to NW’s threat therefore, would all those 225 in parliament, and particularly members of the All-Party cabinet, demonstrate their confessed patriotism by heeding to the call and deposit their hoarded dollars in domestic banks? In addition, would they also advise their family members, friends and catchers do the same? Above all, would RW add meaning to NW’s threat and activate the necessary government agencies to provide information about hoarders? Actually, NW has thrown a gauntlet to RW. Would the PM dare to respond?

This is certainly not going to solve the country’s dollar crisis. But it would be part of a mission to end corruption in the country, which is a cancer that has sapped the vitality of the nation’s economy, and which needs to be removed if the economy were to revive. One would remember the long queues in front of banks in 1970/71 when Dr. N. M. Perera as Minister of Finance demonetized currency notes of larger denomination to catch the hoarders and tax dodgers. What a sight it was to witness people in normal times appeared like beggars standing in the ques to cash their hoardings for new notes? What NW had proposed adds substance to the system change that lies at the crux of aragalaya’s demand. Once hoarding and corruption are eradicated powers of the mafia could also be crippled. Even if IMF’s plan of financial stability is implemented in full, without structural changes to the economy, stability and economic growth would remain illusory.

This is the challenge facing RW and his so-called cabinet of patriotic opportunists. Does he have the mindset and resolve to embark on a structural change in the economy? With the reappearance of Rajapaksas in the legislature the struggle to preserve the status quo would gain new momentum. With that momentum aragalaya’s original demand, “Gota-Go-Home”, would face the danger of being betrayed and sidetracked by patriotic opportunists who would start appealing to the protestors to work within the system to bring about systemic change. ‘If one cannot change the system join the system’, according to these betrayers. Will the country ever get out of its rot with this type of politicians?

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 9
    1

    Almost all the politicians are true opportunistics whether it is SLFP or SLPP or UNP or SJB or Other MPs. I understand that Ranil said no salary for Ministers but Salary is just only 1% of the total.

    • 5
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      Dr Ameer Ali

      “A Cabinet Of Patriotic Opportunists”

      It won’t be complete if we do not include smart patriot Dayan.

  • 9
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    Ameer Ali, I find your title, very appropriate for this comment. 1) MR cronies are staging sob dramas in parliament, Geetha, P.B.G, Kekeliya, Sabry told, they worked hard and never made a single rupee illegally. Geetha, Sabry have promised not to return.2) Here is a list of current pseudo patriotic opportunists.3) Nalin . F was arrested in 2018 at BIA , while trying to flee country. As Sathosa head in 2014 he stole 39 million on purchasing indoor sports items. 4) Tiran . A, as head of reconstruction and development agency ( RADA) was arrested in 2018 for stealing 125 million, he also received 645 million after Tsunami to rebuild houses and not a single victim received. 5) Kekeliya . R payed personal phone bills by using 230,000 from state printing corp account, he used 1,000,000 of Rupavahini money to purchase GI pipes for his personal use, he defaulted SEB , not paying 12 million. 6)Wijedasa prevented AG from arresting Gotha in Avant Garde scandal, where treasury lost 11.5 Billion. 7) Nimal. S made deal in 2007 to import expired meds for government hospitals and treasury lost 0.5 Billion. 8) Susil . P as minister made deals in oil hedging and took bribes for school admissions. 9). Prasanna . R took 64 million bribe from a businessman to reclaim his own land in Meethotamulla, by fraud documents.

    • 1
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      There are many more looters, both powerful politicians and political appointees to senior positions such as late minister Gamini senanayake and his brother in law Secretary Wickramanayage QC jointly looted Mahavali diversion project’s money to Australia and bought huge land; similarly, even Maithripala Senanayake also became a millionaire. All Rajabakasas Ranil with Archuna Mahendran with Ravi Katunayake frauded funds from the Treasury and Central Bank and let Sri lanakan begging for food, medicine, etc .

    • 0
      0

      This one is good, because it happened just a few days ago. Arundika . F claimed his important flying logs as cadet officer in SLAF were destroyed in recent arson. SLAF came back reporting he was never ever a cadet officer in SLAF. As per records he once attended flying aptitude test and failed in that.

  • 0
    3

    “A Cabinet Of Patriotic Opportunists”
    That seemed a tautology as all parliamentarians are opportunists, and hence the cabinet would invariably be one of opportunists.
    Is the author suggesting that we have a cabinet only of “Patriotic Opportunists”, which means that the unpatriotic ones have been left out?

    • 3
      0

      What a wonderful discovery?

      • 0
        0

        Regret not doing it before me?

  • 0
    0

    We need the world body to grant us the money to have general elections asap! From donations to gambling bids, diaspora (Tamil included) can contribute much towards US$24-million for elections. Maybe Gota-Go-Gama can have a FundMe page.

  • 1
    1

    Ranil was appointed as PM because, while the Royal family pretended that they had relinquished their controlling authorities, but one to be in the controlling seat to protect and manage their Belarus, Seychelles, Dubai…….. dollar accounts to increase the economic benefit for the Royal Family.
    If this Karava Royal’s property is confiscated, it will right away pay the 50% of the foreign loans, $55B. Why is this new member of the comedy club of CBSL governors Nandalal is skinning the poor foreign workers to swindle their small servings? Other than Coomaraswamy, all recent CBSL other comedians openly protected Royal properties. Out of recent CBSL Loonies, Coomaraswamy obeyed Ranil’s orders because he needed to save his John Keels. That was one of his reasons he too protected Royals’ wealth, not taking any action on their assets through CBSL. Nandalal Weerasinghe is only another incarnation of earlier Cabal. His sole appointment is to let the country go bankrupt if needed but only save the swindles of the Royals.

  • 0
    0

    This CBSL lead comedian cracked a joke that he is going to resign if the government is not stabilized. But pretended like he changed his mind when Ranil was appointed as the PM. Come on guys, who does he think is fooling that a man who could not continue and finish his PM position 6 times in the past, is the best candidate for Nandalal to return to his job after he decided to resign? After the appointment of Ranil and Nandalal, Rowdy Mahinda and Son Prince comfortably returned to Parliament. Is that the stability Nandalal was looking for? Does that new comedian at CBSL read the news? Did he hear today that the protesters were heading to protest in front of SLCB and Rapist police and Army beat them and chased them with tear gas and Gopal Baglay donated water cannon? Is that the damn bloody, comedian of CBSL is calling as stabilization? By demonstrating to go to CBSL, even the least politically savvy protestor in that march have proved he/she doesn’t believe anybody in the present recycled Ranil’s Yahapalanaya government.

  • 1
    1

    Merciless Ranil Rascal wasted and watered the efforts of Ceylonese poor, during their darkest painful days, to oust the Royals out of the Diyawanna Lake Palace.
    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67dv1J-SgHk watch how this poor woman is lamenting at the 225 burglars.) This is what he did to Tamils in UNHRC in 2015,2016… Junius Built this Bawdy House For elites in Diyawanna Lake. Rowdy Percy built a luxury prison in Galle and a big campus house in Keerimalai for his last days. Then why are some educated people are lamenting on building White Elephants like Suriyawlea or Pahadu Tower? What makes me bother is, practically, all foreign countries’ embassies stood with protestors for their right to protest the tyrannical Royal government. The important matter we need to observe is the answer to the question: why the sympathy of these foreign governments and UN agencies are shown towards the disappointed poor Ceylonese is not translating into cash for their relief?

  • 1
    2

    Well, I show a small news piece of two or three lines of tweets from the Canadian High Commission, which explain like a volume of encyclopedia. He said that if somebody cracks a path open to play in foreign countries with all the comedy shows going in Diyawanna Lake Palace of Appe Aanduwa, a lot of badly needed dollar exchange can be earned. Please don’t take it as another joke on Appe Aanduwa and laugh at it one time & forget about it. Here is an unmissable clue is present for our above question. Here is an absolutely, important lesson is going on. “Sorry Ceylonese, our people’s hard earned taxpayer money cannot be given on the hand of a pack of wolves in your Parliament, in the name of relief for you.” This week, American media cited industrialists’ opinion that America may falling into a recession. Not much time left for Comedian Nandalal, Rowdy Rambo, Deal Dasa, Hitler King & Ranil the Evil Emperor to reign and serious guys are seated to get some badly needed foreign aids.

  • 1
    2

    This dilemma has practically rendered the Ceylonese as UN-less, international community-less, Neighbor-less nation, let alone freely go on sale for China & India. I don’t know whether the protestors have ability to break the combined ability of the Shakuni & Kooni team, the Hitler King and Ranil the Evil Emperor, but if not the Augean Stable of Diyawanna palace is not cleaned by protestors, the tragedy that stroke Ceylonese is going to be hurting them for a long time to come, until Ceylon turn into another Haiti, Sudan, Afghan….

  • 3
    0

    “Politics is the art of the possible”, and our politicians have cheated our voters forever. This means, it is not about what’s right or what’s best but how much is there in it for me.
    Whatever excuses Harin & Manusha give, are not acceptable. They were fierce critics of Gota while Harin openly implied that Gota was behind the Easter massacre. Now in cabinet with Gota presiding, will Harin bring this up or Manusha find fault with Gota at their Meetings. They had some credibility till they sold themselves.

  • 1
    0

    HOW CAN YOU CALL THIS A CABINET.IT SHOULD BE CALLED HOME FOR THE AGED CABALNET.

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