Colombo Telegraph

Can Sri Lanka Survive Endemic Corruption?

By Shiny Wijesundara –

My heart bleeds for Sri Lanka. 70 years of Independence has but reduced this thrice blessed nation to wallow in it’s own spittle, unable to extricate itself. The rainbow revolution has faded, not extinguished fully but well on the way to self destruction. The cause is clear but politicians are unwilling to trod the path set out for them by the people in 2015.

This government was given an open cheque to change the course of history. What better platform than to have the two main protagonists joining to steer the country on an even keel. We were fooled.

Colombo, considered to be the most affluent, learned, well informed, better than other districts in infrastructure, schools, hospitals has always voted with the UNP. One could safely assume that the informed judgement is for the UNP. The rural areas has not recovered from the fib SWRD played on them. True, more Sinhala and Tamil children from rural areas have got greater opportunity to enter Universities and thereby secure better jobs both in Sri Lanka and away. That however, has come at a price.

It was in the sixties that the Z score was introduced in order seemingly to level the playing field for Districts with less facilities in schools to have a lower mark to enter Universities. Fifty years have gone by and the system is yet in place. Successive governments have not improved the facilities in these Districts to the level of Colombo, Kandy, Galle and Jaffna. Unpardonable. Colombo and other empowered District’s children are being discriminated by continuing the Z score system The government may say that there is no funding available to do so. But, there has been funding to build new Airports, Harbours, Cricket Stadia, Lotus Towers etc. Perhaps to the politician these are more important than building a Nation’s human resource capital. Will the next generation be allowed to reach their true potential or would they have to go abroad to achieve it? Even little infants adopted at a tender age of two fortunately clutched from their poor farming parents by foreigners have achieved dizzying heights as evidenced recently. Shame on us the people. More shame on you, the politicians who were trusted by us.

President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, please listen.

You were given the responsibility to change the course of history. It was not an individual victory for either of you. It was meant to be for the people who by then were confused, robbed off, misguided, murdered, abducted by a most dastardly of regimes. All the rhetoric you used against that family of black guards during elections, we know were true. But you have failed. You cannot say it is the system. The people were with you to change the system. You are not able to do so. We do not believe there is a Macron moment to save Sri Lanka. Only because the larger majority have been fooled to think their lot is to suffer and kneel before the politician. So pull up your socks…..for our sake.

We have seen our people continue to vote in larger majorities the rogues, drug peddlers, murderers et al. These poor voters have seen the humble beginnings of the politicians who subsequently build palaces in their village, buy palaces in Colombo and overseas and live extravagant lives.Yet they vote them in on larger majorities at the next election. We are a clever nation (are we?) and foolish too at the same time.

Why are the Rajapaksa’s still roaming free? Most of the other politicians against much corruption charges were levelled are yet free. The most dastardly of crimes committed by the so called “war hero’s” under illegal orders are not pursued purely because the Sinhala Buddhist heritage they seemingly saved would make the present lot lose votes. What a country to have a leadership consisting of the two main parties unable to carry the people to see right from wrong. This government was voted in on the path breaking work done by journalists such as Lasantha Wickremetunge, Keith Noyarh, Poddala Jayantha et al who were made to pay a price for their efforts. Lasantha, paid the ultimate price. The perpetrators are on bail and so is The One who gave orders. So it is with Rugby player Thajudeen. Reports say that over 90 investigations are before the Attorney General for advise. Tosh. Does the Police send files to the Attorney General when a man robs a bicycle? Knifes someone? Does the IGP’s of other nations take orders from the Minister? Is the Inspector General incapable of leading his Department without political advice? Why on earth are Independent Commissions, for?

We find this government gasping for breath on the back of the Bond scandal. There appears to be a prima facie case. Ravi Karunanayake seems to be knee deep along with former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and his son in law Arjun Aloysius. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe giving evidence before the Commission for now appears to have been given the benefit of the doubt but certainly soiled his image built over time. No one called him dishonest but truth be told his judgement of people has been found wanting time and again. His ability to listen to advice (if he ever does) therefore would come from the wrong sources.

It is a well known fact that the majority of our politicians are corrupt. There yet remain a few new entrants and young bucks who mean well. For the corrupt it is the art of the possible to remain/grab power with the attendant riches to be got illegally. The private sector businesses too are hand in glove. They are corrupt too. Corruption is now endemic in Sri Lanka.

We need to accept it if we are to move against it. There is a low rate of convictions through the judicial process and politicians use this to their advantage. Innocent until proven and till such time get elected and claim riches, over and over again.

So, where do we move from here? Some are rooting for the return of the Rajapaksa family. Be it Mahinda or Gotabaya. That would be falling from the frying pan to the pyre.

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