Colombo Telegraph

Coming Out Of The Woodwork: The Re-Emergence Of Opportunism & Opportunists

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

One of the noticeable changes in the content of published material in the English-language media since the re-emergence of the Rajapaksas and their acolytes have been the mushrooms of opportunism popping out of the sodden turf of national publications. These range from ersatz “revolutionaries” to the “education mudalalis” who have made a financial killing in secondary education thanks to the wholesale privatization of a commodity the acquisition of which was NEVER meant to be determined by the size of one’s father’s bank balance and which must have someone like the late C. W. W. Kannangara turning in his grave. Their signatures are writ particularly large on the tired platitudes they mouth about the need for “non-interference” by foreign elements” in any investigation of alleged crimes against humanity and “disappearances” during the Rajapaksa hegemony. Their claim of Sri Lankan governments demonstrating an impeccable commitment to the even-handed dispensation of justice over years past, speak for themselves in the face of the hard facts that have emerged despite the violent efforts to destroy evidence and suppress dissent as evinced by the transfer, overnight, of a police officer with impeccable credentials out of a position where he was pursuing investigations into the torture and murder of a young rugby player and the execution of a dozen young people for non-payment of ransom demands, among other heinous crimes.  One prominent advocate, in the education sector, of this dogma of “non-interference lauded the Rajapaksa Regime when it was in full cry and then went silent over the last three years. It would be redundant to describe this conduct as the typically unprincipled behaviour of someone whose primary concern was the accumulation of wealth rather than the imparting of values to the young and impressionable. However, it perhaps needs repeating and emphasizing that people who display that kind of unmitigated self interest at the expense of principle have no business imparting such values to the impressionable youth of this country in a forum such as a secondary school. The absence of principle and the exercise of untrammeled greed is bad enough in any business, but when it is coupled with mandated authority to impart those values to young, impressionable Sri Lankan minds it is totally unacceptable.

Another voice that has been squawking recently is that of one whose command of the English language was such that the paper for which he wrote and which was then considered the only voice of opposition to the Rajapaksa regime was forced to dispense with his services because of his sub-par command of the English language, its grammar and syntax. It now transpires that that termination should have taken place on the grounds of his monumental lack of principle, not just for his execrable English because, simply put, his subsequent conduct has proven that he was little more than a fifth columnist at that paper. Now, he, sensing an impeding change, has begun delivering paeans of praise to the Rajapaksas, defining them as the epitome of sweetness and light in the matter of Sri Lanka’s governance. This man’s recent history in assisting that other self-styled purveyor of the “truth,” Victor Ivan, when the Ravaya newspaper’s finances were “re-organized’ leaving Mr. Ivan with a substantial financial “residue” served to confirm what I was warned against at the time my support was solicited in that endeavour to “democratize” an often interesting newspaper.

Let me pause in midstream here to make the observation that, with very little resembling investigative reporting in this country, the new storm-troopers seeking to take over our highest elected body, make the Bond scam-burglars look like a bunch of “pikers.” It does seem like the choice presented to us is between the bad and the worse. Or is it between the bad and the worst?

The real tragedy for us as a nation and as individuals without stashes of greenbacks in offshore accounts is that the nation that has the most authority over us – China – will not, as a matter of its demonstrated precedent and policy, times without number, in several developing countries, choose to accord this mountain of corrupt practice the attention it so desperately demands as long as its own narrow objectives are met. This is not some conclusion arrived at after time spent in front of a crystal ball.  It is simple statement of bald fact, an acknowledgment of the reality that what China has visited upon its client states, starting from Malaysia and extending into Central America, is on the cards for us in Sri Lanka. In fact, the plan of action had progressed during the Rajapaksa years to the point that the Sirisena/Wickremesinghe government was forced to “lease” to China some of our most strategic and valuable assets in order to apply such lease-income to the payment of the interest on loans that China had given us to construct those very facilities in the first place, thanks to rates of interest that were astronomical compared to those prevailing in the world at the time. Just think of that simple fact in the clear light of day, dear reader. Would you mortgage to your creditor what was left of your assets after having spent your capital on some hare-brained enterprise dictated by that very lender and meant to serve his interests?

The tragedy that awaits us is without precedent and it will take something akin to a miracle to save this land from the truly terrible fate from which those who have stashed huge amounts of dollars offshore will be spared and a fate being encouraged by the unmentionables that are coming out of our national woodwork. Yes, Chicken Little, the sky IS falling!

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