By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“..when society loses a sense of right and wrong; a sense of justice, then all hell will break lose in a new dysfunctional dystopia where every man will be a wolf to the other”
Not in My Dreams
Duminda Silva, convicted murderer, has been pardoned and released to society. The way this government has been behaving, that was expected. That within moments this man would be installed in high office was not expected. The release was disastrous; awarding him right royal positioning into official respectability wasn’t in my dreams. A humiliating slap in the face of ordinary law-abiding citizens.
There are many other prisoners in death-row who looked askance and rightly demanded that they be released, too. They went on a hunger strike; but, then, what impact can prisoners in a closed prism have on the society outside? Government knows this and they decided to ignore that justifiable plea.
Power to Pardon
The president has the power to pardon but such a big step requires a manifest procedure; I repeat, that must be manifest. With every inch of power goes responsibility and accountability to the people. Government spokesperson, Keheliya Rambukwella, just tells us that the procedure had been followed but he refuses to establish that claim. Furthermore, Keheliya’s own record isn’t incredibly great and many of his public utterances do not deserve a ten rupee note (does such note still exist?) Keheliya called the striking “teachers’ kaalakanniyas” but some days after that he said that he really had referred to them as divinities. One needs divine help to understand this bearded dark man who, only less than a decade ago came here to Melbourne and, like a leopard sensing a victim, leaped from his hotel room to the adjoining one; fell and broke his leg
Well, that seems to represent the kind of material that Pohottuwa or Satakaya politicians are.The cliched adage ‘birds of a feather fly together,’ appears to be an apt description of a dynamic that explains the association of overwhelming numbers of Rajapaksa ministers and members of parliament.
A decent and impartial observer can see in all these a general phenomenon of a party and government that has hopelessly lost its moral compass. Wonder if they ever had one!
I still have the video of MPs of the Satakaya club during Yahapalanaya government, rampaging in parliament, throwing chairs and chilli powder toward the Speaker’s direction and shouting foul language. The then former President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not think of pulling up these boisterous morons or apologising on their behalf.
Absence of Moral Compass
The point is that Mahinda himself has been an amoral character; a person to whom issues of right and wrong do not matter. Such individuals are referred to as being amoral. During his tenures in office Mahinda Rajapakse and his corps have come to adapt to that way of conduct, and thereby convey to ordinary society the supreme truth that might is right.
Probably Duminda Silva himself is seen by Mahinda, by his President-brother, by many other relatives in the governing circle and, of course, by his cohorts in such a light. The cohorts gather 24 hours around him wagging their tails in order to evince pleasure at anything the masters utter.
This kind of ethic is infectious and can make even decently brought up learned scholars like Professor GL Peiris join the band wagon. GL is himself, sad to me and to those others who had a high regard for him, a convinced backer of this bandwagon of ugly men and women
The lack of a moral compass; the absence of feeling for what others may feel and the disregard for hurting others is a symptom that also distinguishes the psychopath and sociopath. These two close types in abnormal psychology have the lack of empathy or feeling for others as a common characteristic-the sociopath less immediately dangerous and the psychopath unpredictably dangerous. We hardly observe this kind of sociopathic disregard for others among politicians of the opposition today. The Yahapalanaya government never had it. On the other hand, the Pohottuwa behaviour has hit a new low in Sri Lankan politics.
The case of Duminda dramatically shows that, like Covid-19, all Pohottuwa/Satakaya types are dangerously infected by the dysfunctional and debilitating sociopathy. Like Covid-19, again, this infection will percolate down to society at large infecting and crushing the very moral fibre that kids from the days of their Dhamma classes/ Sunday School classes have acquired under the example of their teachers. Our temples, churches and mosques have for centuries been exuding a formidable ethos of civilised decency. The kids who were schooled that way, are now grown up to believe that they have been gulping bunkum. It doesn’t matter if you murder so long as you can get away. Getting away from foul acts is the new heroism.
This is the surest cause of our nation’s failure. True, Sri Lanka is in the doldrums as far as its economy goes. We are caught in a deadly debt trap; we have no foreign reserves; employment is falling; cost of living is catapulting; oil tanks outside in the harbour waiting to be paid in dollars; no economic growth despite minister Cabral’s periodic ‘forecasts’; Covid-19 is murdering our population with no end in sight. Yet, our people will survive, somehow. On the other hand when society loses a sense of right and wrong; a sense of justice, then all hell will break lose in a a dysfunctional dystopia where every man will be a wolf to the other