27 October, 2020

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From “The Ridiculous” To What?

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

A popular expression talks about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. However, no one has suggested where you go after you’ve reached the latter destination. This is something that needs urgent attention by students of the English language in Sri Lanka.

I have, more times than I care to remember, sought to draw attention to the “rent seekers”, “insurance buyers” and similar political creatures who seem determined to destroy what is left of the fabric of this country, both moral and economic.

Now, along come “the Panama Papers” naming names and one individual whose name appears on the list of miscreants has the unmitigated gall to have his legal eagle call a media conference to issue a not-so-veiled threat against anyone having the temerity to so much as mention his client’s name in any story about the Panama Papers, the documentation of a monumental storage of stolen finances from around the world. Given the moral standards that his client appears to subscribe to, that man he should have been flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as some very senior Scandinavian politician who is in virtual hiding from the media, not to mention his fellow citizens!

Avant Garde boss Nissanka Senadhipathi with former Defence Secretary Gotabaya

Avant Garde boss Nissanka Senadhipathi with former Defence Secretary Gotabaya

The only response that rivals this is the abuse directed at one web publication for publishing a photograph of this lawyer’s client with the man who can very accurately be described as his mentor and boss: Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Interesting indeed, because the photograph in question was very obviously a “photo op” for the most senior functionary of Avant Garde with the man responsible for creating that private armed force and giving him authority over it. Please note that I didn’t use the term “private army” because to do so would do it a disservice to that entity in view of its arsenal being accurately described as a “floating armory.”

It is only in this new climate of impunity for those who revelled in such a state of affairs during the Rajapaksa Regime that this kind of ludicrousness is not simply “laughed out of court,” as that old saying had it but knowingly tolerated.

However, that’s about all that is funny about the status quo.

Let me state the obvious at this point: the Maithripala Sirisena/Ranil Wickremesinghe government (MR2) was NOT elected to shield those who sought to deliberately destroy the moral and economic fabric of this country. It is doing exactly that by shielding those who should be facing prosecution with the long, attendant sentences (at least) that their conduct has earned them.

Instead, the miscreants are running free, coming and going from this country as they please except for the odd, short term exception, which should hardly hinder efforts to move their ill-gotten loot from one suddenly-unsafe haven to another deemed more appropriate for stashing stolen money.

Avant Garde, amidst the horrendous implications of its conduct and the to which those controlling it were in the process of putting it, had disappeared from the public gaze after the very dramatic circumstances of its creation and management were brought to the public’s attention. However, as that old sage of US baseball said, “It ain’t over till it’s over” and the “Panama Papers” has resurrected the whole affair. That said, it shouldn’t be forgotten that, had not this international scandal featured the names of, literally, dozens of Sri Lankans, the ultimate reason for the existence of Avant Garde might well have been buried in the sands of time. The reason for that original burial was that it was patently obvious that there were very influential members of the current regime who chose that it should be so. Simply, a cover up which, it has been hinted, had significant bribery attached to it. A more charitable explanation for that might be that some now in one of the seats of power, “owed” those who should have been prosecuted in the highest courts in the land. The circumstantial evidence of soft-pedaling and covering up the wrong-doing of the late-unlamented lot gets more obvious as the weeks go by, notwithstanding the pretended political piety and association with the highest levels of the legal profession of one individual in particular.

I need hardly refer to the resignation-deserving behaviour of the human tent parading as a senior cabinet minister as an indication of what is, very obviously, acceptable conduct to the MR2 regime. The conduct of this piece of national-dress-driven mobile shelter didn’t so much as raise a whisper from the Unofficial (MR1-led) Opposition, one only too ready to raise its collective voice both in and out of the House and even physically assault their political opponents in what they claim is “the defence of all that is sacrosanct in the land of 2500 Years of Buddhism.” A little odd, you might say, until you hark back to the days of the MR1 regime when this mini-mobile-home used to be treated to free plane rides by you-know-who when the national carrier was primarily a mode of personal transport of our Emperor.

Then there is that unmentionable of senior cabinet rank prepared to destroy Kandy’s single forest reserve (Udawattekelle) and/or build a bridge (lengthwise) over the Hill Capital’s lake in order to curry favour with a Diyawadane Nilame who, together with the Ambassador-to-the Maldives and Officer-in-Charge of the Northern Province economic development father, were complicit in the activities of MR1, and whose opposition to opening the now-closed road by the Dalada Maligawa in order to maintain the peace and tranquility of his personal residence has taken precedence over dealing with the primary cause of Kandy’s air pollution that several years ago was measured at four times that of Colombo. After all, the health of the “ordinary” citizen hardly measures up to the chosen comfort zone of one who achieved his position by time-honoured methods!

There is also the matter of appointments by the Health Ministry that I have referred to previously where brazen acolytes of MR1, prepared to place their Hippocratic Oath on the back burner in order to “succeed in life,” have been placed in positions of trust and responsibility by a Minister of Health who, in his other garb as government spokesperson, has voiced contradictory nonsense befitting one with particularly ill-fitting false teeth.

These are but small pieces of the larger reality in Sri Lanka today which extends into even the sports of cricket and rugby, where those who have distinguished themselves as unprincipled and brazen pandankarayas prepared to resort to violence in defence of their patrons in the previous regime continue to enjoy or have been elevated to positions of significant eminence under the current dispensation.

On such a crass foundation is the life of this country being conducted by a government that achieved power with a pledge to do just the opposite.

Back to Avant Garde. It is now a matter of record that at least one senior member of government, in conduct far from exceptional for him, derailed the investigation into what was beginning to look like a scandal without precedent in Sri Lanka’s history. Anyone interested enough can trace this “legal luminary’s” career from the point of his resignation from the top position in his profession subsequent to a visit from Mahinda Rajapaksa, the circumstances of which resignation neither his professional colleagues nor the subservient media of this country investigated in any shape, form or fashion!

Let me state the obvious one more time: none of those who opposed the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, sometimes at considerable personal risk, unlike a seeming majority of the MR2 lot, did so with the intention of replacing one lot of looters of the public purse with a similar lot simply parading under a different banner. One would be safe in saying that there is not one person who voted out Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cronies who did so in the expectation that they would be replaced by their clones!

We need a third force because despite the lingering integrity of Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe as individuals, neither this country nor its citizenry is prepared to countenance the insurance-buying and rent-seeking that is continuing apace. If this sounds like a “call to arms,” so be it. However, from many of the responses I’ve had to material I’ve written, there is a substantial informed, intelligent and principled element of our society who seek relief from the current malaise.

We need to rally a wide spectrum of those who simply demand a return to the rule of law and equity without “special considerations” for anybody, be they from among the ranks of this regime or the one preceding it. This is a banner that those believing in principled governance can easily rally around because it is inclusive of all those of differing political and economic ideologies. It was such a coalition that drove out the most violent and corrupt regime that this country has ever experienced and it can, again, come together to cleanse the new stable.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Another excellent exposition of our current state of affairs!

    And as far as “A popular expression talks about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. However, no one has suggested where you go after you’ve reached the latter destination.”

    How about “from the ridiculous to the outrageously contemptible”?

    Particularly in view of those pre-election promises made.

    • 6
      1

      “I need hardly refer to the resignation-deserving behaviour of the human tent parading as a senior cabinet minister as an indication of what is, very obviously, acceptable conduct to the MR2 regime”.

      Ho, Ho, Ho. Can’t forget the fact that our good yahapalanaya minister Laxman Kiriella for disallowing the bogus claim of a rubber subsidy?

      Time to now forget that and file in the Durian subsidy application!

      • 3
        6

        Kiriwallah:
        No matter how many pseudonyms you use to repeal the SAME BLATANT LIE it doesn’t alter the fact that it is a fabrication.
        Haven’t you still learned that?

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

  • 14
    9

    Mate,

    you haven’t learned nothing, but to bag Rajapaksa from your so called sojourn in Old Indian land.

    The guy is a genius and an A list business entrepreneur .

    Had he started a business like that in the West, he would have been a Dollar Billionaire.

    Plus a national hero for who gainfully employing national service men and women who liberated the Nation from Thamil Terrorism.

    It is a pity a person like you go behind the UNP scumbags, who not only destroyed the lives of thousands of ex service personnel, but also deprived the nation of valuable FX which the country needs badly.

    Then again Batalanada Ranil’s Singaporean mate wouldn’t have been able get that 2.65 percent in to the Family Trust for the net 30 years…

    And the UNP commision agents would have been still struggling to make a living.

    My Elders tell me there were good people in Srilanka once, with foreign names, like Keuneman .

    But they never put the great majority down, and went behind the UNP elite, licking their asses to help them take revenge from the good people who did something good for the Nation.

    • 7
      5

      KAS wife ran away with a Tamil neighbor. So KAS is crying all the time. Poor fellow………………..hahahaha. Bloody loser

      • 7
        4

        Thamil from Scarborough.

        No offence mate,, My missus has better taste…

        • 4
          2

          KAS, so she ran away with a white guy? Ok no worries.

        • 7
          5

          KASmaalam KA Sumanasekera

          “My missus has better taste…”

          Really, who is the poor women?

          How much did it cost you to buy an adult doll?

          • 7
            5

            Excellent post! Keep up this type of intellectual posts.

            • 4
              2

              eusense,

              Get your lokka to buy him as he has no solution for anything practical.
              Then squeeze his ba**s and flush him down the sewer Later on, once clean get him to do your bidding. Offer a price that he can’t refuse because he got all the lungi guys across the straits.India does not need his type of knowledge because it has enough sausages.

            • 3
              1

              Nuisance, we read your drivel all the time. So what, laughing at Sumane’s expense is a good thing.

        • 4
          2

          KAS, if she had better taste she would have never found you.

    • 7
      3

      Here is a news item that will make this man happy –
      Buddhist monk hacked to death in Bangladesh
      – An elderly Buddhist monk was hacked to death on Saturday at a temple in Bangladesh. The body of Mongsowe U Chak, 75, was found at the isolated temple where he lived alone in Naikkhangchhari village, about 338 kilometers (211 miles) southeast of Dhaka, police said. No one had been arrested. The Muslim-majority beggarly nation of 160 million has seen a surge in violent attacks over the past few months in which Buddhists have been targeted by Islamist extremists.

      Can hear Poorten laughing!

      Now here is some news that will make the uyena unhappy –

      “A contest of anti-Israeli cartoons opened Saturday in the Iranian capital, with many entries deriding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s Middle East policies. The exhibition, totalling 150 entries from 50 countries, was launched on the eve of the Palestinian commemoration of “nakba”, which means catastrophe in Arabic, marking the 1948 creation of Israel.”

      What injustice, is it not, Poorten?

      • 1
        6

        Disciple:
        Would suggest you change your pseudonym to Loony Tunes. It would fit like a glove!

    • 3
      8

      Sumaney:
      Don’t you tire of your own endless drivel, provided without any attention to grammar, syntax etc.?
      Oh, well one must be thankful for the village idiots who let ordinary people look like geniuses, I suppose.

      • 8
        1

        Mr Poorten,

        Yahapalana Economy has gone belly up.

        Growth Rate this year won’t reach even 4 percent.

        That is a USD 6.5 Billion hit to our Economy, which the previous Govt built with a lot hard work.

        Causing thousands of more job losses for the Dalits on top of 17,000 in the CTB, to whom the Yahapalana Transport Minster has already shown the Red Card.

        Not even one new job in 15 Months of Yahapalanaya ,

        But Mr Kundanmal collected LKR 240 Million as Key Money from Yahapalana Govt.

        Now your new mate, Batalanada PM asks the MPs to justify his LKR 1200 Million, Two Car Fleet.

        MPs will find it difficult to say No, after that LKR One Billion spending money ( or is it Santhosam ) which they got recently….What do you reckon mate>>

        VAT is Up, Bread is Up, even Pol is Up with the VAT.

        And the poor Dalits are heading for starvation instead of reconciliation.

        And you are worried about Grammer & Syntax.

        How funny..

        BTW ,do you give your Durian Dalits free lunch at least during Harvesting?.

        Because they can stomach your insults , calling them idiots.

        But it will be hard still for them to hear their little ones’ cries of hunger, because Yahapalana VAT is making the Cow & Gate even more un affordable for the Dalits.

        • 1
          1

          Sumaney:
          After being an active participant of the robbery and pillage that your mentors conducted, you certainly have a nerve to act “holier-than-thou,” publishing downright lies about others. However, “What can you expect from a …but a grunt,” I suppose.

        • 3
          0

          KAS,

          “VAT is Up, Bread is Up, even Pol is Up with the VAT.”

          VAT is the only tax that works to some extent. Only 28000 have registered for income tax.

          “And the poor Dalits are heading for starvation instead of reconciliation.”

          Old news.

          “And you are worried about Grammer & Syntax. How funny..”

          Your “Grammer” gives me pain.

          “BTW ,do you give your Durian Dalits free lunch at least during Harvesting?.”

          They are provided free food or extra money to bring their own food. No difference.

          “But it will be hard still for them to hear their little ones’ cries of hunger, because Yahapalana VAT is making the Cow & Gate even more un affordable for the Dalits.”

          I sincerely hope that the poor and all others don’t waste their money on the products of Cow&Gate, Nestle etc. Feed children nutritious local food!

  • 3
    0

    Emil.

    With one expression,you have dissected this Land like no other!

    Anyway,there are two versions of this expression:
    1] The sublime is only a step removed from the Ridiculous

    2] From the sublime to the Ridiculous there is but one step.

    This expression has been linked to the Military Leader Napoleon Bonaparte.
    Activist and Revolutionist Thomas Paine.
    Literary Modernist James Joyce and Humorist Mark Twain.

    This info:was after a search on the internet!

    The Srilankan version of this beautiful expression could take the form- From the Sublime to the Ridiculous and then away and away to the Panama Papers.

  • 5
    3

    From the sublime to the ridiculous to disaster! The sad story ‘of Sri Lanka! Most times, all three co-exist and move in tandem.

    Dr.RN

  • 5
    8

    I must admit I hooted at the induced vision of a mobile-tent topped with the head of a belligerent minister.

    But, high mirth apart, EvdP has cut close to the bone in this chronicling of the low-life shenanigans that plague our political firmament.

    We all know that this Panama affair is only the tip of an iceberg of ‘hidden’ business.

    What our colonial masters sequestered during their sojourn is but petty cash compared to the avaricious sums that are being ‘extracted’ from the country in these present times.

    I blame it on the old eastern philosophy of ‘help yourself well when the serving spoon is in your hand’ (and don’t forget the relatives and friends who are happy to help you).

    How opportune that Mr Cameron called an ‘anti corruption summit’ in London where all the great and good now ‘fighting’ global corruption gathered.
    If only they had taken a tour of the old city of London they would have seen the repository of much global loot, safely invested in the desirable mansions that grace the tree-lined streets of that bastion of discretion.

    But, back to our Land Like No Other. The gap from Sublime, to Ridiculous, to….unmitigated bloody disaster is but short and quick. The majority of our politicians manage it without so much as a raising of their flowing garb.

    I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: 80% of our politicians are NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE. It is clear that each successive government is only another part of an unending circle of avarice.

    What we need is a surge of new blood, preferably young (under 50?) to build a new Camelot in the Sun. Best those who have learned that inclusiveness, merit, rule of law, etc are key to a strong and successful nation. AND, that one is elected TO SERVE the country, and not to serve yourself.

    Meanwhile, I am afraid, that barring a stroke of luck, we can kiss goodbye to the moolah that these Panama-hatted bastards have salted away.

  • 9
    5

    Pooty the burger half bred is at it again . I dont read this trolls shit . actually no one should . He should be shitting under his durains in Galagedera

    • 6
      9

      Kabbaya:
      ” I dont read this trolls shit . actually no one should.” You’ll probably have to share the “Loony toons” monicker with the other nutcase. Or are you both the same abject cowards hiding under a multiplicity of pseudonyms, reading what you claim is “shit” and seemingly enjoying it.
      I know that “there is a sucker born every minute.” Didn’t know the same was true of imbeciles.

  • 3
    2

    Emil, Tamil and Sinhala racists will never allow this beautiful country to come out of this nasty curse. Abhaya is a vile racist insecure pig. I admire the way you deal with these racists. Good on you Emil.

  • 1
    0

    Emil,

    “Let me state the obvious at this point: the Maithripala Sirisena/Ranil Wickremesinghe government (MR2) was NOT elected to shield those who sought to deliberately destroy the moral and economic fabric of this country. It is doing exactly that by shielding those who should be facing prosecution with the long, attendant sentences (at least) that their conduct has earned them.

    Instead, the miscreants are running free, coming and going from this country as they please except for the odd, short term exception, which should hardly hinder efforts to move their ill-gotten loot from one suddenly-unsafe haven to another deemed more appropriate for stashing stolen money.”

    Thanks for repeating the obvious fact. I am even more thankful because you are fighting against all of this using different methods. There should be more people like you!

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