By 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?
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?