By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Did any of you readers see the video of Deputy Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe going in a boat in a flood affected area in Colombo and distributing donations? Did you see the video of Minister Dayasiri engaged in cleaning up muck in a residential block somewhere? Both these gentlemen are well dressed with the cameras turned on them. Serasinghe,in shorts, looks like a Walawwe Hamumahattaya or like Loku Baby Mahattaya. Shifting to a serious note, aren’t you shaken up by Minister Rajitha Senaratne having an open duel with the doctors of the GMOA?
These blokes, (and I am sure there are many of them in the yahapalanaya government) if allowed to go on overdrive like this will surely blow up Yahapalanaya. Young Minister Harin Fernando mercifully apologised for his use of raw filth in Parliament.
The first two performances are all over Facebook and social media. One has to be thankful for these social media outlets. The word spreads like wildfire in a summer Australian bush country. At least social media is acting as a break where our civil society has gone to slumber. Democracy is predicated on one major premise,namely, that the broad populace are engaged with what politicians do. They watch them. They pull them up if they go wrong. Here, in Australia one reason why democracy works reasonably well is that civil society organisations and organised trade unions don’t let politicians off the hook. If even as simple as a prominent tree is felled down for “development” one witnesses hordes of protestors. The media,in turn, falls in line with a conscientious public.
Its not all lost in Sri Lanka, however. The Corruption Decade was brought down partly by Facebook and the civil society organisations. A huge salute to the memory of Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha! While other prominent monks were aligned directly and impliedly with the corruption regime this monk made the sacrifice. Praise to the monk and shame on others.
On the other hand when politicians like those three above dance the devil why don’t we have some civil society boys hooting them down. I remember in the old campus days boys hooted Sir John Kotelawala when he came as Prime Minister. A little hooting isn’t a dangerous thing especially when now we don’t have White Vans.
Dayasiri and Senasinghe distribute not their personal donations but the givings of others not in powerful positions like them. What are they doing but exploiting the situation for the upping of their political image? They should realise it is unethical to prosper on others’ misery. In these instances it was literally a case of “bora diye maalu banawa” (fishing in muddy waters). Shame on them.!Besides, aren’t these illustrations harking back to the Rajapaksa era when MR and his fellows became such accomplished actors whom Oscar winners would have envied? Kissing the tarmac at the airport. Hugging babies and touching old men and women with “compassion.” Didn’t Senasinghe criticise such episodes of acting and fooling around? I remember him on a TV program doing just that. As long as our people are naive and stupid these cheap tactics work. But why not lift the people from such a state of naivety and show the latter the respect that’s due to them?
And now we come to the serious from the jocular. In a way, it is jocular again. This is the unnecessary warfare waged by Rajitha against his doctor colleagues. The GMOA charges that Rajitha’s son is also unduly going about with Ministry resources. If true, this is another betrayal of yahapalanaya. Was Yahapalanaya gone wrong only when in the hands of the Rajapaksa family? And good when it is in the hands of Rajitha’s family? What a sensible Rajitha should have done is, firstly, to clear his personal life away from his public life. These are two different things which our politicians always conflate to their advantage. We had ten years to see the result. Secondly, Rajitha should have kept his ego behind and dealt with the GMOA with the respect it deserves. Every conflict can be sorted out on a win-win basis but for that, one must send one’s ego on holiday. The GMOA leaders, undoubtedly have been getting into political mode with inflated egos themselves. It spent a lot of unnecessary energy in battling against the ETCA without knowing even what the nature of that animal was. That was pure blunder. On the other hand, the Minister must be above the level of conflict and he must deal professionally and not like a Chandiya. In this instance, Minister Rajitha Senaratne does not appear in good light. His competence is in serious question. He has brought the conflict to the point of bringing in a mediator. That mediation might end his sense of pride.