By Sarath De Alwis –
This picture with its insightful wording below it, is a cultural production of our current social, political spheres. The writer received it on a contraption called ‘WhatsApp’ installed in the tab by a daughter determined to expose her father to digital literacy.
Should we not agree, that this picture is an eloquent expression of our present popular zeitgeist?
President Maithripala Sirisena at the second death anniversary of Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha thero, informed us that a small faction within the government has unleashed a campaign of calumny against him for appointing the Presidential Commission that is now probing the ‘Bond Scam in the Central Bank.’ He also said something significant which has not received accent and emphasis it deserves. In indignant exasperation he said that this “Boondoggle” was enacted within three months of his historic swearing in at the independence square.
Therein hangs the tale of a journey of three wasted years. A convoluted journey which failed to make even a semblance of a disposition towards a ‘just society’ or ‘good governance’.
The picture was sent to this writer by a CEO of a listed public company. The writer was suitably impressed that the Sinhala idiom had registered with that dense mind. He, by sending the message was mocking this writer’s pronounced partiality to this dull witted consensual coalition that replaced the Mahinda monolith.
President Sirisena must realize that he cannot do what the Sinhala Sangha seems to be doing with great élan. They are running with the spiritual hare and hunting with the political hound. They are successful because they promise to deliver in the next world.
You Mr. President, are in a different ball game. You cannot run with the good governance hare while hunting with the pack of wolves who diddled the land in cahoots with the Rakapaksas. Take Susil Premjayanth. His heart is with Mahinda. His arse – derrière is on his seat in the cabinet. His cranium is in New Jersey.
You are expected to deliver here and now. You were elected to unite the country. Uniting the SLFP under your leadership is desirable but not the top priority in the next two years.
Your Prime Minister is damaged beyond repair. He has lost believability – the imperative of political leadership.
He may or may not have been wise to the ‘Bond Boondoggle.’ The term ‘Boondoggle’ fits – an unnecessary, wasteful, fraudulent project. [Oxford Concise 10th edition]
That said, Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe single handedly, unilaterally installed Arjuna Mahendran as Governor Central Bank and at the fist whiff of sandal put a process in place to bury it. What it did achieve however is different. It demonstrated the resilience of an involved unfettered civil society and the ingrained decency of a core cadre of professionals in the Central bank who helped to remove the shroud the Prime minister’s three-member lawyers committee attempted to cover it with.
Professor Sarath Wijesuriya publicly informed the President, that the Minister of Law and Order impeded investigations and protected wrong doers. The President agreed. He assured the good professor who now leads the movement to keep the ‘Sobhitha Idea’ of a just society afloat that he would raise both hands in support of his proposition. That raises a consequential dubiety – a state of doubt. He has then agreed with the good professor’s opinion of the Minister of Law and Order which also happens to be the popular perception of many privy to the doings of powers that be.
Surely, the President should know that the Minister of Law and Order is also the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s office. Why blame the monkey when the role of the organ grinder is obvious to any Dumbo who can spell ‘Royal College.’
Surely the President should know that Prime minister has made it comfy for the former Minister of Finance. He can now hop from his penthouse to his new office in Temple Trees before the President can say ‘BOND’.
The President must not resort to horse-trading to adopt a new constitution. The Bond Boondoggle has nearly derailed the constitutional process. The only positive seems to be that our James ‘Jayampathy’ Madison has got himself a duty free Land Cruiser or whatever four-wheel contraption that he fancied. This writer fervently bids Godspeed to him to ride in to what Leon Trotsky described as that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!
The President should not listen to advisors who may tell him that the internet can be contained. Gotabaya tried it and failed. We have now come a long way since those dark days.
A website has been blocked. It is also reported that the measure has been taken on a court order. Unless the government sets up an office of the internet as in China, it cannot be done. China is a one-party state. Xi Jinping has been consecrated as China’s most powerful leader since Mao. His political thoughts and his name have been incorporated in the Chinese Communist party’s constitution.
We rejected the Mahinda Chinthanaya which was our de-facto constitution for ten years, thanks to two people – Velupillai Prabhkaran and Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The boss now peddling push cycles was then happily peddling things not on two wheels but on two of better and shapely things. Give the man a break.
This is not about right and wrong in reporting news, making commentary and expressing opinions.
This is about exponential changes that have turned the world topsy-turvy making the virtual and real indistinguishable. There is an irony in this. Politicians in the past hid the real and got away with the virtual. It is now their turn to be paid in the same coin.
The choice of a ‘lorry’ that is ‘Kota Uda’ is either an elitist aberration or an authentic satirical device. It conveys a powerful message. Can the President deliver. The President promised good governance and a path to a just society. The Prime Minister promised Paskeralingam, a million jobs, Charitha Ratwatte, Arjuna Mahendran and pony tailed Athauda. His ITN TV did not telecast the full proceedings of the event that brought the ‘Yahapalana’ regime to a vital cross road.
Director of the Institute of Behavioral Science and Professor of Psychology of Singapore Management University David Chan explains why cyber humour is infectious. Cyber jokes go viral because they are incredibly creative, incisively sarcastic and people just feel amused with something funny. Then the first impulse is tap the machine and forward it to another.
Popular humour should not be dismissed as an irritant. It should be regarded for what it is – a signal emanating from the people, a sharp expression of public sentiment.
The innate strength of social media is its strong connectivity among users. With social media, it is easier than ever to share news, focus on social issue, and exchange opinions in real time to a massive audience. Internet anonymity should be discouraged by ignoring it. Banning, brings it to focus, driving the curious to reach for proxy servers. Social Media does not circumvent censor ship. It subverts censorship.
A, P.S. For the Editor of Colombo Telegraph: Please separate reader comments under names and pseudonyms. That should discourage internet anonymity.