By Sonali Wijeratne –
All the lights have gone out in Sri Lanka. It is an island wide power failure. In truth, it is more than a mere electricity failure. It is the dashing of the hopes of the People in the Government of the Rajapaksas. One by one all the light bulbs have burst leaving the People gnashing their teeth and rending their hair in darkness. They curse the folly of trusting and voting with renewed hope in a Government that was routed at the polls in 2015 inter alia for corruption, nepotism, and inefficiency.
It is the ordinary People of Sri Lanka who suffer the consequences of these actions. We have no doubt that the 225 Parliamentarians, who purport to represent the interests of the citizens are comfortably encased in their luxury SUVs and palatial apartments duly fitted with Generators that fire their electrical appliances and air conditioners during this trying period that the general populace endures!
Domestic Gas cylinder explosions, toxic seas and marine life disaster due to entry of unseaworthy Vessels, Fertilizer debacle from organic to chemical and vice versa leaving the Farmer in crisis, Foreign Exchange catastrophe, mounting debt burden, Commodity Scams, rising price of food stuffs, lands grabs, wild life and elephants in jeopardy, honest public servants resigning their posts, cover up of the true culprits in the massacre of Christians in April 2019, no further action on Bond Scam etc. The list is endless. It is the worst of times! Young people flock to emigrate to distant shores.
The Union of the Ceylon Electricity Board declared a few days ago that the entering into an arbitrary deal of divesting a national asset, the Yugadanavi liquefied natural gas (LNG) Power Plant to US based energy Company New Fortress Energy Inc l by the Minister Basil Rajapaksa Minister of Finance, brother of both the Prime Minister and the President is without due process and transparency and will result in their lack of cooperation for repairs and work in electricity power for the island after 4.30 p.m. It is the contention of the Unionists and other Civil Society and Political Parties that the deal with the US Company has been entered into without due process and transparency. The Public is aware, that such deals have been engaged in secrecy without worldwide tender procedure. In short, there is something fishy in the whole business!” There is certainly something rotten in the State of “ Sri Lanka!
It is not that the credentials of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa are impeccable. The respected Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith unlike most other religious leaders of this country has not failed to call a spade a spade. In recent times, he has fearlessly said what all reasonable and respectable citizens of this land already know viz. “We have a Cabinet minister who is notoriously known as Mr. Ten Percent. Imagine the shame on this nation when there is such a minister taking ten percent of commission from every project he passes”
The worthy Cardinal has further articulated, “The biggest malady our society is afflicted with is the commissions earned by politicians through various deals. They take commissions from companies by depriving the people of their dues. Such money has blood on them and they would not do any good to those who take them”
We the discerning public well remembers the spectacle of one whom the Nation can identify as Mr. Ten Percent slinking away through the Airport on a Jet Plane to Uncle Sam’s refuge at the time the Rajapaksa Government was denounced as inefficient, corrupt and no longer fit to rule after Elections of 2015.
It is an irrefutable fact that the Minister in charge of the country’s Finance portfolio and custodian of the Budget was under investigation for corruption and abuse of state assets until last year. In 2016, the Courts ordered authorities to auction a luxury villa and 6.5 ha (16 acres) of land in Malwana. Lest we forget, the Attorney General of Sri Lanka filed the Divineguma Case against Mr. Basil Rajapaksa and his officials in his former capacity as Minister of Economic Development under the offence against Public Property Act under five separate indictments for the criminal misappropriation of funds from the Divineguma Development Department. We have seen how the highly suspect conduct and performance of the Presidential Commission on Political Victimization resulted in exoneration of certain persons associated with the President and his family.
“The people may have a sense of displeasure towards me and the government for not delivering as they expected,” President Rajapaksa’s office quoted him as saying recently. This declaration should win a prize for the Best Understatement for 2021.
Mr. President, it is more than a mere delivery to the goal post that aggravates the people of this country. We can see family bandysm rearing its ugly head and rampant nepotism under your reign. Consider the enormous funds from the National Budget and the multifarious portfolios, Departments, Ministries given to the comparatively junior young stripling Namal Rajapaksa, your nephew! It is plain to see why the controversial dual citizenship clause was retained in the 20th Amendment to the Constitution while all other three Public Interest issues were amended. It was soon after the retention of the dual citizenship clause, that brother, Basil Rajapaksa was able to hold public office whilst holding allegiance as citizen of both Sri Lanka and the USA. The appointment of retired Generals of the Security Forces to Ministries, and Government Institutions have shown the level of “delivery” that mere obedient servants can deliver sans a meritocracy.
Nemesis comes by and in the words of the scriptures, “You reap what you sow”