6 July, 2022


Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves: From Where Do Sri Lanka’s Problems Emanate?

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

I have, during the time I have written for this and other publications sought to differentiate between problems and symptoms, the deliberate refusal to make this differentiation being one of those things that bedevil and bemuse those of us who try to observe and comment on affairs Sri Lankan.

I think that, rather than pursue this futile exercise, this Sunday I will revert to what I did many moons ago in Montage magazine and seek to trace some of the more vexatious issues facing the people of this country to their source.

Let’s join the dots and see where they take us, shall we?

In the matter of the disappearance of law and order and their replacement with a dog-eat-dog, devil-take-the-hindmost culture where do our dots take us, assuming of course that they have not been picked up by 21st century scavengers much like the bread crumbs that Snow White left behind her in a different age!

We have several members of our legislatures who have had charges for capital offenses either held in abeyance or, worse still, dropped completely.  I believe, in fact, that there are at least two members of our national legislature who were charged with capital offenses who have not so much as had to make a court appearance for several years now.

Why is this and who is providing them with this kind of protection?

We have had massive frauds, running into billions of rupees where there has been no investigation done or, as in the case of the largest of these in Sri Lanka’s history, the issue disappeared completely from public view, never to be heard about again.  This is the scam where a huge sum of money was “refunded” to businesses and individuals who had not paid it in the first instance!

Why did this happen and who gave the orders to drop the investigation?

In last week’s column, I referred to justice ignored and justice delayed in the matter of horrendous murders and rapes.

Who is responsible for the sins of omission and commission in these instances?

The invasion of the Dambulla Mosque and the threat to the Hindu Kovil near it were matters of religious persecution without precedent in this country.

Why has nothing been done about these matters and who has given orders that this inactivity should prevail?

There has been a scandalous explosion in “treasure hunting” and there has been no progress made in apprehending the thieves who are robbing national archaeological treasures or destroying them at will.  Anecdotal evidence suggests, very strongly, that these are not “rogue elements” of the security forces but those with a significant level of “protection” from those wielding power in this country.

Particularly given the mammoth security forces still in uniform in this country, why haven’t at least some of them been deployed to apprehend and bring to justice those causing irreparable cultural damage to Sri Lanka?

The response to every new scandal, such as at the Stock Exchange has been to keep hiring new heads, presumably in the hope of finding one who will, rather than act in an honest, ethical and competent fashion, dance to the tune of the powerful manipulators of that body and countenance the misappropriation of public funds from such as the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) and the National Savings Bank (NSB).  Who was responsible for the appointment of Mr. Karunaratne (and for his resignation) and who placed Nalaka Godahewa in his place and has thereby placed the seal of approval on the misuse of public funds inclusive of Mr. Godahewa’s absolute rejection of the term “mafia” that Mr. Karunaratne used to describe manipulators of the CSE?

Who is responsible for appointments to the various national sports organizations which seem to do little but promote individuals with Royal connections, hand out lucrative broadcasting contracts to private companies led by some of those handing out the contracts to begin with and, in a variety of other ways, damaging the reputation and the future of Sri Lanka sport and those who participate in it?

Who has placed the seal of approval on the “sporting extravaganzas” that Sri Lanka has indulged in?  Who okayed the delegation of baila dancers and ladies in waiting (for what, you might ask) who went to the Caribbean for the vote on who was to get the Commonwealth Games when every mother’s son knew it was going to be the Gold Coast in Australia?  Why was Sri Lanka Cricket bankrupted in order to build and maintain the Hambanthota Stadium, resulting in our players not being paid for months on end?  As for Sri Lanka staging the Asian version of the Monaco Grand Prix, at night no less, let’s just leave the question and the Lambhorginis parked for now.

Who was responsible for Roshan Goonetilleke getting an “extension” of his term as President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union when his singular achievement was presiding over a violence-filled season which peaked when a player discharged an assault rifle on the field?  Rest assured that mine is not the only voice of criticism of this man’s tenure.  On assuming office, his successor stated very simply that Goonetilleke’s reign was a lesson in how NOT to run a sports body!  In fairness to Mr. G., however, it might well have been that he was too pre-occupied building a holiday home in a World Heritage Site to give rugby his undivided attention.

It seems that everything from the passage of the single worst piece of legislation in the history of this nation – the 18th Amendment to the Constitution – to the attempt to impeach the Chief Justice has been rushed through at breakneck speed in order to satisfy the Ruling Family in this country.

How about even a minimal sense of urgency being applied to stem the wholesale destruction of the Miracle of Asia and its very fabric?  Or is that like asking Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves to take an oath of poverty?

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Dear Emil,
    The title should have read, “Ali Baba and the family of 300 plus thieves.” ;)

  • 0

    Mr Van der Poorten, the people of Sri Lanka are well aware of what the Ryajapaksa brothers are doing to the country and it’s institutions and how criminality has become so widespread among their proteges, hero worshippers, out and out arse lickers and shameless sycophants. Yet, no one or no political party or grouping is able to do anything about it. The regime has amassed so much wealth, power and and continues to show two fingers to the few who dare to protest. Some, such as Kumar David have suggested a Sri Lankan spring of protests to unseat the Rajapaksas from power but the people are sleepwalking into a disastrous future for themselves and their country. What is your solution?

  • 0

    yes, it emanates from the top alright…. how long do they think they can fool the sri lankan silent majority? the above list is less than 1% of misdeeds of the madamulana clan and their kleptocracy.

    the madamulana morons have finally met their waterloo trying to interfere with the judiciary!

    november 2012 will go down as the turning point in history that will unite the sinhalese, tamils, and muslims to take Sri Lanka to the rightfully respectable place in the world. it is going to be a few tough years to get their though – we need to keep the focus!

  • 0

    are any of these articles published in the Sinhala and Tamil news papers?. The majority seem unaware of the disaster riding Sri Lanka.
    “behold a Pale Van and he who rode in it was Death and Hell was his companion” .

    • 0

      Which is Which? He is not a Vijaya’s, Kallathoni Mutti, nor a Panankotte product but from a well to do Dutch Burger background and has served for the Canadian government in Canada for long. He is a retired man who knows that he is writing on the border and what he is writing.

  • 0

    I am no expert in law, but I have always wondered why the judges who hear cases cannot hold the police / CID / AG responsible and punish them and/or give them binding directives when it is blatantly clear that police / CID / AG are working to bury cases that are not to the liking of the government and it’s stooges? I will give just one example – why is it not possible for the judiciary to direct police / CID / AG to put an Interpol alert on Duminda Silva? May be someone who knows the law better than me can answer.

    • 0

      Ruki – you don’t have to be “an expert in law” to realize that the ‘powers’ that Emil is writing about simply will not allow it. End of story! How do you think Duminda got to where he is in the first place?

    • 0

      With the introduction of the new draconian law (18 th Amendment ) , AG department falls under the direct purview of the executive , Duminda silva’s arrest warrant needs to come from AG !

  • 0

    The trail for all this villainy and skullduggery leads to the very top. When law is construed to mean the satisfying of the conscience of one man, what can we expect. No doubt his conscience behoves him to appoint his kith and kin to all the top places in the public sector just as he doles out public money as if it is his priveate purse.

    Then his conscience may motivate him to keep quiet as his sibling Gota misuses the PTA, armed forces and police to harras people in Jaffna? Also his conscience tells him to propose a budget which allows import of duty free racing cars by his children. After all “all work and no play makes Namal a dull boy”.

    • 0

      You are dead wrong in you final sentence. It isn’t “all work” that makes the heir to the throne a dull boy!

  • 0

    The ill-smelling trail of rackets and the list of crooked deals under this regime should have no place for a non-descript thing like the struggle for the Rugby head. While I am myself an avid rugby fan I know it takes much more for us to reach the global level. There may be a chance if our proposal (Kavan Rambukwela?) to play international rugby on the basis of weight is ever considered. Rugby affairs is not without ill-odour. I was surprised to see in a London-Colombo run when the then Rugby Chief, a former Havies man in the Tea business, travelling 1st class. In line with the finances of the Rugby association he really should have flown Economy if his visit was related to Rugby administration. I saw similar lapses in respect of a high-up in a Trade Chamber related body, where he was travelling to North America 1st Class Return when his body was near-bankrupt.
    Inside sources told me he was using funds from an Aid Donor to upgrade
    the activities of his organisation. My point is this virus of corruption has entered almost all sections of our society – including some sections of the Clergy. In brief, is there any doubt our society is terminally ill?

    Any society that choses to depart from the safety and protection of its hitherto safe law and order culture is surely risking a journey into the depths of the law of the jungle – which is where we are now.
    The tragedy is ours uses the fragrant name of a great religion to achieve its evil goals.


  • 0

    You say,at the beginning of your critique, “The ill-smelling trail of rackets and the list of crooked deals under this regime should have no place for a nondescript thing like the struggle for the Rugby head.” However, later in that same contribution you say ” My point is this virus of corruption has entered almost all sections of our society – including some sections of the Clergy. In brief, is there any doubt our society is terminally ill?”
    It is because I sought to show how this corruption is all-encompassing that I spoke of the SLRFU shenanigans of this government.
    Thanks for what you’ve had to say and I hope you now understand the reason for my having referred to a seemingly inconsequential issue.

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