By Emil van der Poorten –
Particularly since the Weliveriya atrocity, there has been a surge of “Ranil Wickremesinghe is the only hope” thinking! Many moons ago, in an article in the now-defunct Montage magazine I explored the same theme – of Ranil being “Hobson’s Choice” insofar as the Sri Lankan electorate was concerned – and, despite the total ineffectuality of the Wickremesinghe-led official opposition United National Party, that thought (concern?) has not deserted me as my friends who had given up on RW a long time ago will vouch for!
As that fabled voice of wisdom in American baseball had it, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”
I do not apologise for returning to this theme one more time because what is left of the “dissident media” is becoming more insistent about this possibility; not so much writers of bits and pieces of journalism, but, perhaps more significantly, commentators on those pieces.
How can or does one read those particular tea leaves with regard to what could succeed the current brutal and corrupt regime under whose whip (and I use that term advisedly) this country exists and which regime is showing decidedly suicidal tendencies insofar as its future is concerned?
To me the rotten root of the current regime is the combination of monumental corruption and violence, one consistently complementing the other. The window-dressing that the indescribable Dayan Jayatillekas, Rajiva Wijesinhas and, now, Tamara Kunanayakams provide is just that, window dressing meant to dilute a brutality that is approaching, if it has not already surpassed, that of the unlamented Bokassas, Saddam Husseins and Idi Amins of this world. This poison has infected every element of life in this country and I do not exaggerate in that regard and invite any reader to look closely and objectively at every “issue” that effects his or her daily life for confirmation of the fact that the greed of a coterie of individuals in this country is affecting the most basic levels of life in Sri Lanka. I am constantly being told by apologists – there is no other word to describe them – for the current Monarchy – that all sins cannot be laid at the feet of the Rajapaksa family and their hangers-on. I beg to differ, they can and they must because simple examination will reveal that every one of the major maladies affecting our lives today issue from the corruption that “our” government assiduously promotes in its own personal, financial interest.
A Senior member of this country’s current Rajapaksa-acolyte cabinet once accused me of being an “angry man.” Suffice it to say to him, as I did then and I will repeat now, I have no apologies to make for being angry at the robbery of a country’s wealth and the brutality that has been visited upon its people by those whose total focus is on doing whatever is in their interests in the matter of self-aggrandisement, absolute and total.
While there seems no suspicion with regard to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s personal honesty insofar as matters financial are concerned, I do continue to have very serious misgivings with regard to those around him, many of whom will play a disproportionately important part in where the country will be taken under a Ranil Regime. It might be old but it’s still valid: “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”
When members of the UNP’s inner circle are personally beholden to Mahinda Rajapaksa in the matter of favours involving everything from overseas travel through suspension of suspended passports to favoured business deals, I would suggest that it is unrealistic to believe that they will ever so much as countenance the “house-cleaning” essential in the matter of identifying, prosecuting and punishing those who have been and continue to rob the National Treasury and commit violent crimes upto and including the capital one. What these perpetual peregrinators between the United Peoples Freedom Alliance and the United National Party have done might not be equivalent to the greatest excesses of some members of the ruling political alliance, but they have been active participants in what amount to economic criminality against the nation or, at very minimum, contributed actively to that criminality by their sycophancy. Their crimes might not be as dramatic as those committed by the protagonists at Nanthikadal but they are of a magnitude economically equivalent as far as this country is concerned. Is Ranil going to be capable, at the very least, of sidelining these people? Experience here and elsewhere in the world would suggest not.
These people have survived by stooging to whoever is in power and to expect them to change their habits would be equivalent to expecting a cat to raise its hind leg every time it passes a hydrant or a dog to dig a hole for its excreta and I would suggest that not Ranil Wickremesinghe or God almighty is capable of affecting that kind of behavior modification!
What then lies in store for those of us anticipating a “lesser of two evils” Ranil Wickremesinghe regime?
Not a hell of a lot, I’m afraid. If that 21st Century miracle does occur in a country where viciousness, deceit, dishonesty and death have become the rule rather than the exception, we are going to be looking forward to another slow grind to bring about even a sliver of civilization and remember that, in the event of a change from a Mahinda Regime to a Wickremesinghe one, even the glimmer of hope that the present situation provides will be absent!
Prophet of doom and gloom I might be but isn’t one constrained to tell it like it is in the interests of basic honesty?