By Leon Berman –
In a few days time we will be celebrating two years of “Yahapalanaya” and maybe it’s the wrong word, “celebrating.” After all, what is there to celebrate as an ordinary citizen?
Two years ago, there was great expectation. A brutal government composed of family and friends had been miraculously overthrown by the ballot. A wave of optimism washed over all who voted to bring in a change. The hundred-day program seemed to herald a new day of transparency, accountability, economic growth and peace.
But, before we knew it, the “Bond Scam” hit us all in between the eyes. Transparency, accountability and good governance all went out the window and straight into the thrash heap. They were mere words, slogans at best, to gain a victory at the elections.
And worse was to come. The August general elections resulted in no single party gaining a clear majority. The UNP, that should have easily won a majority fell short. In all probability, the Bond Scam took its toll and came back to haunt the UNP. Consequently, a hotch-potch coalition inappropriately called a “national government” was put together with the very rascals of the former government. This led to a mammoth cabinet and soon it was the same song but sung by a slightly different bunch of singers along with the old singers.
Since then, “Yahapalana” has become a joke, a sad joke. I have yet to meet a friend of mine that voted for “Yahapalanaya” in the August general election who expresses nothing but disgust at the government that he or she voted for. They are all disillusioned and see no hope of a change. Their only comfort is, “At least we don’t have any white vans and can speak a bit more freely!” This then is the greatest achievement of the present government; the absence of white vans.
The economy is largely stagnant and the cost of living rising due to unclear economic policies and corruption. I asked the manager at a large supermarket chain for his analysis of the Christmas shopping and his answer was, “People are spending the same amount of money as last year but we are noticing that the size of the baskets is definitely smaller!” So, the common man understands it no matter what the pundits say.
Then recently I read that the cost of building the highways is no different to what the former regime that was accused of mammoth corruption paid. So, this indicates that we replaced one corrupt government with another. As the Sinhala saying goes, “Kahina gahni dhila hotu gahin gattha” (You gave up the woman with a cough for one with a cold.”
We also heard a lot about bringing justice and about bringing to book all those wrongdoers and all we saw was a revolving door being installed in the prison that swung open and closed more frequently than that in a bar room. The people have grown tired of all these drams that are being played out because they now realize they’ve been fooled and no one, absolutely no one will ever be prosecuted. Even Karuna who allegedly killed 500 policeman is taken into custody for misusing a vehicle!
Finally, on the peace process, so far, it’s all talk. Mere rhetoric is nice but only for a time and soon the Tamil people and the Tamil politicians will get restless. It is said that as a country we lost USD 200 billion due to the senseless war but it looks like the government is prepared to risk that including innocent lives once again by dilly dallying about making a genuine attempt at a long-lasting peace.
And now we hear that Rajapaksa has stated that his goal is to topple the government in 2017. Well, does he have to do anything topple the government? Isn’t the government doing a marvellous job at toppling itself?