14 December, 2017

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Beyond “Bizarre!”

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

With a presidential election very obviously in the cards in the near future, there has been a flurry of activity – at least in the media – connected with the expected event.

What should fascinate anyone observing the Sri Lankan scene are the various scenarios being predicted, all based, seemingly, on the fiction that elementary standards of democratic practice will prevail during this event.

To describe such an expectation as “bizarre” would be to understate the case when every bit of evidence points to the fact that the government and its acolytes cannot, in any shape, form or fashion, even consider the prospect of losing political power and, with it, protection for the criminal enterprises that they have conducted with absolute impunity and success during the tenure of the current regime.

What are the real implications of the bandits who are involved at every level of political power simply losing that power to a similar group of a different political hue?  While it might cause tremors of seismic proportions for some, that scenario, at its simplest level, will not mean a change for the better for the vast majority of Sri Lankans forced to live in the steadily-worsening slough of despond which its rulers try to pass off as some kind of democratic paradise.

Consider what being subjected to “governance” by people adhering to the same pattern of absolute lawlessness that prevails today really means: a new bunch of thieves and thugs usurping the authority of those currently practicing the same dark arts.  What that will amount to is a transfer of impunity from one lot to another with Joe Public in the crossfire of a conflict which has the prospect of setting new standards in the matter of violence and brutality.  Add to that mess the prospect that those removed from the hog-feeder of privilege that passes for a national treasury will not go gently into the good night while they still have access to one of the largest armed forces in the world!  As a side-bar, I’d suggest to those readers still living in a fool’s paradise where putting flowers in the barrels of guns pointed at them, seeking to turn swords into ploughshares etc.,etc., will only  work in a situation where some element of civil discourse still prevails.  That is not the reality in the Debacle of Asia!

Yes, I am suggesting the obvious: that a relatively well-looked after “security service” under the absolute control of a man considered the most powerful in this country will not hesitate to shoot down anyone having the temerity to insist that the ballot is more powerful than the bullet.  What was done to Sarath Fonseka when he ran against the head of the junta, what happened in the Free Trade Zone, what happened to fishermen protesting their livelihoods being put at risk by Chinese vessels being “legalized” in their plunder of fish stocks under the Lion Flag, and what befell the peaceful protesters at Weliweriya could look like a Sunday school picnic compared to what lies in store for us if the current bandits are dethroned at the ballot box with anything less than  a landslide victory for decency, honesty and good governance..

You might well ask why I am making the prediction that there will be gang warfare on the streets and byways of this land if that scenario just described comes to pass. The answer is very simple: because this is the ONLY means of livelihood available to the thieves that that are running amok in our country. THEY KNOW NO OTHER MEANS OF EARNING THE KIND OF MONEY THAT AN “ORDINARY” CITIZEN CAN ONLY IMAGINE IN HIS WILDEST DREAMS. To go from the kind of wealth in which they currently wallow to nothing, overnight, is obviously beyond unacceptable. The reaction to anything or anyone so much as even potentially presenting such a challenge is easily predictable. Consider also the fact that each and every one of the hierarchy from Ministers at the national level to the pandankarayas in the Pradeshiya Sabhawas, have  armed “security” personnel at their disposal and the picture should get a little clearer.  What they have to continue to impose their will on an unarmed and peaceful population is weaponry ranging from relatively old-fashioned side-arms to sophisticated assault weapons.  This is not some science fiction scenario that I am describing.  It is the simple mundane reality that faces any Sri Lankan desiring a return to the rule of law (if you still remember that term!), peace in the country and a minimum of honesty in the conduct of public affairs.

There is also the prospect of revenge-taking by those who were perceived to have stood in the way of those who have ravaged this country over several decades past, some of whom have already paid a significant price for such dissent. Apart from journalists, such as Lasantha Wickrematunge, who were terminated with extreme prejudice, as that nasty expression has it, there are those who were forced to seek political asylum away from their country of birth, those who were deprived of their livelihood if they had the gall to continue to live in this country and one who went from (Eelam-war) hero to “zero,” literally overnight. It is only reasonable to expect that they are going to seek their pound of flesh if they see the opportunity as presenting itself.

There are also those who have already been marked to walk the plank of the Rajapaksa galleon of state for whatever reason and feel they’d be well advised to exercise whatever skills they’ve cultivated to reach dry land. This seems to have led to a mad rush to seek something akin to PhD’s in “spin-doctoring” in their rush to both have their cake and eat it too, trying to protect their behinds from the current gang of bandits (if it returns to power) or a new band of similar orientation but different political hue. I can only suggest they check on what befell a fellow called Sarath Fonseka and another (uniformed) one called Vaas Gunawardena (and his son). By the time this piece sees print, they might well have to add the Rev. Rathana Thero, the dissident spokesman of the Jathika Hela Urumaya, to that list. On the other side of that coin you might examine a shooting star named Grero who won an election as a UNP candidate on one day and joined the Rajapaksa Regime the next in a jet-propelled “conversion!

But what about the seemingly sane and intelligent majority of Sri Lankans who don’t belong in the preceding categories?

Spending time theorizing about how this ethnic vote will split or how that religious group is going to react to a Pontiff’s state visit to Sri Lanka is simply a waste of time.  The reality is that any election will be made yet another charade by our governing junta and will, then, be hailed as (yet another) “triumph of the people” even if the vast majority of those people have neither sought nor so much as participated in that “triumph.”

No change worth its name was ever brought about by a bunch of ninnies who sat around contemplating their navels and regurgitating polysyllabic words to lend “respectability” to that exercise.  We need to devise strategies to take back the power that it is ours to wield and that task is going to be difficult enough without the opportunists and navel-gazers getting in the way.  In any case, time is of the essence and, as a first step we need to create critical mass by bringing together all those individuals and organizations who are minorities when they stand alone but are a huge majority if they come together.  Think of those needing a restoration of minimum standards in education, those seeking a similar outcome in health services, pensioners who have been devastated on every front, the working people who’ve had their EPF and ETF funds stolen.  The list goes on and on. Enlightened self-interest can and must drive action for sea change even in the face of assault rifles. There is potential for a juggernaut of democratic change to be set in motion if people in this country simply realize that it can be done and choose those politicians who’ve proved their honesty to fulfill their hopes (and there still are a few of those around!).  Once there is a massive groundswell of realization that this violence and theft must and can be stopped, not even assault rifles can stop what comes out of a ballot box full enough of pro-democracy votes.  The biggest enemy of those opposed to the wholesale corruption and violence that is our lot at the moment is defeatism: a belief that any election can and will be stolen with ‘jilmarts’ of one kind or another.  This does not have to be so if we get out in large enough numbers and cast our ballots for clean government and basic competence.  We can and will win because we are the majority, a vast majority.

To the obvious question that the previous paragraph will probably provoke: “Isn’t a violent overthrow of this government the only solution to our present predicament?” my answer is simply that any such change will simply create chaos and violence and bring about yet another round of the very things we are trying to get away from. Our predicament calls for more than such simplistic solutions.

We cannot wait any longer. Now is the time to bring together every voice for honesty, peace and good governance, making every one of them heard loud and clear.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    Emil vdp. An inspired contribution I must say. From today Ranil Wickremasinghe, Sarath Fonseka, AKD, CBK, Sobitha, and others must prepare to battle and vanquish a coup d’état by Gora, as much they do their utmost to educate and convince the electorate of the devious ways in which it is being raped.

    • 4
      12

      “…there will be gang warfare on the streets and byways of this land.”

      This is the hope and prayer of a bankrupt, evil mind. Is it not?
      [Edited out]

      • 2
        1

        Other Poota:
        Aw, Shucks!
        What would we all do without intelligent comments like that!

    • 4
      9

      “…on the fiction that elementary standards of democratic practice will prevail during this event.”

      What? If holding a presidential election two years before it is due is not democratic practice, what the fook is it?

      This writer seems to have his own versions of democracy and how he likes it.

      What a looser. [Edited out]

      • 2
        1

        Cohen:
        It seems certain that you are “looser” than anything I can put together and I don’t mean less tight!
        I am sure that the edited part of your contribution to which readers were not made privy by those monitoring these comments contained even better spelling, grammar and syntax, not to mention indecencies!

      • 1
        1

        Other Poota and Koha,

        You have highlighted the underlying theme of the above crap. Do you also notice the similarity in language to one Titsaranee?

        Speak of conspiracies, speak of the fifth column of left overs.

  • 12
    0

    Well articulated, Emil!

    There have been a spate of protests and strikes against the policies of MR and Co Ltd recently and one wonders why the ‘opposition’ do not visit these gatherings to urge the participants to ‘spread the word’ , (giving them significant details) regarding the blatant corruption, impunity and amassing wealth that belongs to the country, among their families and friends and others in their respective towns and villages. The University students would be particularly fertile ground for such an effort. This would be one way of enlightening the ‘masses’ about how much we all stand to lose if the usual suspects return to rip us off once more. After all, most of the ‘news’ they are able to access is from the government controlled media…

    I heard Anura Kumara address a meeting in the hill country and the details he gave regarding the innumerable ‘sins’ committed by MR and his coterie of thieves certainly had an effect (from what I gathered from some who heard him) on the crowd.

    What we need is a groundswell of grassroots participation to end the debacle that has befallen the country.

    • 6
      0

      ‘What we need is a groundswell of grassroots participation’

      True. The problem is apathy; but what can you do about it? :)

      • 10
        1

        Paul

        “but what can you do about it?”

        Keep hope alive.

  • 3
    7

    You are repeating the same things Titsarranee Gunsekera said just a few days ago.

    What is going on? (As Jerry Springer would ask).
    [Edited out]

  • 2
    9

    Poorten got a point.

    Fonny and Ranil set up the Joint Command Centre at the Hilton to arrest the President and the siblings hoping the Ballot would work in their favour.

    Fonny then had his bandit Army of deserters plus a few Boys still left in the real Army.

    Ranil left early as usual leaving Fonny to be the Dummy..

    This time Rail or Fonny or Sobitha won’t be messing around the current leadership even if the President loses the election .

    Because the brave soldiers know that their lives are at stake as well as their leaders.

    Last time when Ranil was just the PM,the whole Brigade of Army Intelligence personnel were sacrificed to please Lord Prabakaran.

    And it was under the pretext of a perceived threat to the PM.

    Just imagine what Ranil or his stooge President do to the current leaders as well as the Army if they try to protect their leaders.

    We should thank Emil for telling us the obvious.

    • 5
      1

      Sumane, once in a blue moon you say something sensible. Thanks.

      Yes the Army will not like a change of Government. But of course due to your advance warning now RW and the Opposition can start cultivating the rank and file in the Armed Forces. It is well known that for Sri Lankans the ‘pothe gaana’ is an irresistible temptation and can be bought anytime. Make it known that the Brigadiers, Generals and other high ups, generally the lickspittle of the Rajapaksas today, will be brought to trial (even on trumped up charges)and ignominiously disposed of. Make it known that a large number of named individuals lower down will replace them with unbelievably high rewards.

      A corollary to this would be to identify high rankers in the other branches of the government muscle. For example publicly threaten Mohan Peiris and a couple of others in the Judiciary known to be Rajapakse stooges with dire consequences, and also great rewards for members of the Judiciary who “maintained high standards”.

      Similarly with the Police, Civil Service and Corporate Sector. Regarding the private sector, eg Apollo Hospital called by some other name today – promise to nationalize it. Similarly with large commercial establishments owned by the Rajapakse cronies, threaten nationalization, closure or what have you, and threaten the stooge owners with tax enquiries, and prosecution for illegal business transactions . Promise to hand over the management of these enterprises to Cooperative Societies, with profit sharing by the public. I know these ideas are loosely worded but we have plenty of experts in Sri Lanka who can make them work.

      The Opposition Parties must promise from today and make sure, that from seven days before the presidential elections, all the airports that include, minor airstrips, will be occupied by hordes and hordes of demonstrators to stop the terrorists running the government from fleeing.

      The secret is to name the individuals who will lose their heads and those whose head will be crowned. CT readers do not need to tell me this is bribery and intimidation. I know. But one has to use the methods of the marauding terrorists in the Government in order to get rid of them. “Set a thief to catch a thief”. No Choice. After the shit is wiped clean, we can set out to reinstall law and order.

      The other condition is to make the people angry and frothing with the ruling regime. Make them compare the misery they go through on a daily basis just so they keep body and soul together, with the decadent opulence of the Rajapakse family and cronies. Use the AKD formula. When all of the downtrodden suffering masses start salivating with the prospect of the new order, the Rajapakse crown will already be lost.

      Thinking people know this will be a do or die battle. Our side has to win: otherwise Sri Lanka is doomed for disgrace and annihilation.

      RW, Sobitha, CBK, AKD, are you up to this? If you are not, please retire from Politics. Because then you will be nothing, and you will be able to do nothing.

    • 7
      1

      K.A Sumanasekera

      Is Sobitha Thero an Anglican Vellala?

    • 9
      1

      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Poorten got a point.”

      “We should thank Emil for telling us the obvious.”

      I am worried.

      Please go back to being usual self.

      On the other hand welcome back to earth.

    • 1
      1

      K.A. Sumanasekera:
      You have missed your vocation in life: as a fiction writer. If your handlers are prepared to pay for someone to completely re-write whatever you put down, I am sure it would prove entertaining to those interested in reading delusionary rubbish. And, who knows, in this age, that might prove a wide enough readership.

  • 6
    0

    dear Emil. Thanks. Very invigorating reading notwithstanding the outcome. Bensen

  • 4
    1

    All the ingredients for setting up a dictotor ship are there. The army, navy, and the police have been politized and under the control of that phycopath Gota. Unless and until the people and those in the army navy and the police rise up and vote these SOB’s out of power you will,end up with a North Korea dictatorship. The sooner the good people of Sri Lanka realize the better. You don’t know what you are in for.

  • 0
    4

    Pooty .

    [Edited out]
    Cheers

    Abhaya

    • 6
      1

      bla, bla blAbhaya the plonka,

      “Pooty . [Edited out] Cheers “

      Why do you cheer for an edited out comment?

      • 1
        1

        I have no idea . may be you can answer why you edit out nothing .

        Cheers

        Abhaya

  • 4
    0

    Thank You Mr van der Poorten for your uncluttered take on the pestilential time we are in.

    I feel that most people know what we should have for the good of country, but, alas, there is a hard core out in the hinterland that will vote with their hearts, and they are not going to abandon someone who has been acknowledged as a Sinhala-Buddhist hero, a defender of the faith, a slayer of ogres, a winner of peace. To them, carte blanche to the King and his family, and the cronies, sychophants and thugs who make up his regime, is but a small price to pay for the holding peace that we now enjoy.

    You have rightly and wisely scotched the ideas harboured by the hotheads and their disciples who advocate ‘violent overthrow’. That is NOT the way to go.

    It is utterly inconceivable that we do not have enough goodwill within the majority of our people to bring about reconciliation with the down trodden and hurting, and to build a nation founded on fairness and justice for all regardless of race, caste or creed. To restore law and order for all, and put in place an independent judicial system.

    The need of the time is for capable men and women of good faith to step up and identify those worthy leaders still among us (Yes, there are still some left!) and work to ensure that good triumphs over evil. Perhaps this coming New Year will bring a new dawn for us all.

    • 6
      1

      Spring Koha

      “Perhaps this coming New Year will bring a new dawn for us all.”

      You mean the clan is planning to abandon this island for greener pasture elsewhere.

      You can share the secret with me.

      • 3
        0

        On the contrary Native Vedda. The good times will surely bring all those hesitant birds back to our (your?) beautiful island. In the timeless words of that legendary Scot, Sir Walter Scott, we all remember the words of the poem we learnt at our old school (at a time we not only the learnt the language of our colonial master, we excelled at it too)

        Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
        Who never to himself hath said,
        This is my own, my native land!
        Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
        As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
        From wandering on a foreign strand!

        etc etc etc…………….

        One day, Native Vedda this land will truly become a peaceful home for all our heroes to live in. Hope springs eternal!

      • 0
        0

        On the contrary Native Vedda. The good times will surely bring all those hesitant birds back to our (your?) beautiful island. In the timeless words of that legendary Scot, Sir Walter Scott, we all remember the words of the poem we learnt in our old school (at a time when we not only the learnt the language of our colonial master, we excelled at it too)

        Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
        Who never to himself hath said,
        This is my own, my native land!
        Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
        As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
        From wandering on a foreign strand!

        etc etc etc…………….

        One day, Native Vedda this land will truly become a peaceful home for all our heroes to live in. Hope springs eternal!

  • 4
    0

    A real good and true situation description and a possible turn around for good thinkers. It is sad in the history of Sri Lanka after independence, the selfish opportunist always lets down the Country. Let us wait and see if the recent crimes and denial of justice will be taken as a lesson or it is used as a tool in the upcoming election.

  • 2
    0

    “This does not have to be so if we get out in large enough numbers and cast our ballots for clean government and basic competence. We can and will win because we are the majority, a vast majority.”

    I wish I could share your optimism. We may be able to change the goverment using the ballot box interspersed with huge spatterings of violence, but asking for clean government and basic competence from Sri Lankan politicians is simply asking for the moon. Dream on Emil.

  • 1
    0

    What Emil ven der Poorten has said is fundamentally true, however distasteful it may sound in our ears. I do not know whether there will be fighting on the streets, but I share the forecast that our society has been corrupted and criminalised beyond recall. Even if by some chance there will be a “democratic” change in “government” the next scenario will be worse that the current one. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with the Executive Presidency, with the Constitution or even with MR and his gang. They are all the expressions or the effects of an Evil power which is hidden from view but which is really ruling the country.

    That Power made its fist landfall after the 1970 General Election, led by Mrs B. The winning gang, the UF, (which included “intllectual” Marxists) went on the rampage. The aftermath of the 1977 elections was worse than that of 1970. It was on the UNP’s 19 years watch in government that most of the evils that we are battling with today, were spawned. CBK merely followed and accelerated the downward trend. Who can forget the horrors perpetrated at the bye-elections under her regime!

    MR and his gang have merely imparted more power and momentum to the Evil that was first unbound post 1970.

    What is in issue is not the Economy, nor the Presidency, nor the Judiciary, nor the Media, nor Gotabhaya, nor any of these things. Seeking to abolish the constitutional mechanism of the Executibe Presidency as a way of solving the country’s problems is the measure of the country’s dominant moronic mindset. It is like wanting to dump the family Rolls Royce becasue all we have been able to produce to drive it are carters fit to drive thirikkala (ox carts)

    Van de Poorten is right. At the root, the problem facing SL is the degradation of the SL human being. We may have excellent roads, ports, and all the external paraphanelia, but of what use are all these goods if the human being is rotten to the core. There is nothing to choose between one set of politicans and another, in government or in the oppostion. They are all waiting to gorge themselves at the trough. Except in the instance of a few hundred individuals, who unfortunatly cannot make a difference to the outcome, on the whole, and as a society, S/Lankans can no longer distinguish between right and wrong, between good and evil. It has become a society of rouges, fit only for the worst human types to live in.

    I cannot see a way out. A Dark Age has settled on SL and even our religious leaders, far from providing light and wisdom are proving to be a major part of the problem.

    “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity”

    APAKSHA

    • 0
      1

      Neville:
      Thank you for that thoughtful and historically-accurate contribution. However, despite my reputation among the sycophantic horde that seems let loose on CT’s readership, as the eternal pessimist, I do believe there is hope for democracy in this country. Still flawed, but certainly a quantum improvement over the current reality!

  • 1
    0

    Emil, I agree with you that Hope is to be welcomed and always to be encouraged, but not at the cost of turning away from reality. That is whistleing in the dark! Over the past 6 decades I have witnessed how in almost every aspect of our national life in SL, while there has been a steady quantitative growth, there has also been a steady qualitative decline. Our GDP per-capita has gone up from $300 in 1960 to $3500 in 2014. Likewise all our developmental indicators have improved phenomenally – life expectancy, literacy, university outputs, infant mortality, protein consumption, housing, employment,etc, etc.

    At the same time our public institutions which should provide the iron framework for a vibrant democracy have been in steady decline – the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Media have deteriorated abysmally. Roads, ports and bridges do not ensure democracy. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy had much better roads than Britain! I hope you see the distinction I am making here. Quantitative growth that is not matched by a corresponding qualitative improvement does not ensure democracy. Democracy is priamrily about human beings, about human relations and the institutions they build to raise a civilized order. Democracy is about values. What values do we seek to embody in our SL society? Individual and personal integrity? Tolerance? Respect for the rights of others? Freedom of expression and assembly? Kindness and forgiveness? Truthfulness? You see evidence of our degradation in every public institution. Merely hoping for a quantum change does not produce it!

    However, to be realistic, this has been true not only of of SL but of almost every nation across the globe, although in different proportions. The steadily expanding global economy is fuelled by corruption and to succeed within it a human being has to be avaricious, grasping, exploitative and corrupt.

    So you see, we are dealing with more than a SL problem. Off-hand I can name at least two dozen “developed” countries with GDPs twice or four times that of SL whose public institutions are no less corrupt than those of SL!

    While protesting about the steadily deteriorating public morality in SL, let us also get the problem into perspective. We are witnessing a steadily disintegrating World System which neither the UN, nor the US, nor the EU, nor China, nor even the Pope or any other religious order can do anything about. They themselves are serving as its agents!!

    To ensure a quantum leap we must first realise that we are in a trap, a squirrels whirring away in their respective cages, going nowhere! Merely screaming or protesting will not help. Contrary to what Marx et al said, revolutionary or quantum changes start not with institutions but with individuals. If even a dozen individuals in SL can realise this truth, and themselves serve as demonstration models of the new order, they can serve as catalysts, like grains of salt in a bowl of soup. Such catalysts were Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. They produced quantum changes in their respective environments. Let us look around and pray!

  • 0
    0

    Most articles on this Web say that Mahinda Rajapaksa can not win the next PE but the prestigious Forbes investment Magazine published in USA, in its 30th October issue emphatically notes that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will win the January elections; the political stability has been cited as a reason to invest in Sri Lanka.
    Giving Ten Reasons to Invest In Sri Lanka, a Forbes editorial states that from an investor’s point of view, the case for Sri Lanka is getting strong.
    Sri Lanka has one of the best cases for an economy with the stars aligned in its favour,……..
    I would like to know your comments.
    Thanks.

    • 0
      0

      Richmond Peiris

      “Forbes editorial states that from an investor’s point of view, the case for Sri Lanka is getting strong.”

      Here the government of MR has openly invited foreigners to come here and grope and rape this country.

      Want of much awaited stability in this island was one reason as to why 30 countries under the leadership of Hindians decided to get rid of LTTE lock, stock and barrel. For them stability could be established at any costs including the death of many thousands of innocent civilians. Similar situation arose in the late 1980s and JVP uprising was put down ruthlessly with the support of the West and Hindia.

      Stability cannot be maintained unless the state is reconstituted/democratised.

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