By Mahesh Senanayake –
If there has ever been a government in Sri Lanka post independence that fits the old Sinhala adage: “gored by the bull after a fall from a tree”, it is the incumbent government of all sorts of ostentation that fits the saying best from all dimensions; be it the bull that gored or the man who fell. Unsurprisingly, it is the people who are not inoculated from the acts of goring by a government that has failed by its own norms and that has caused dented in every layer of the socio-economic fabric. The nation is being taken towards very much possible catastrophic ends; from governance to international relations, from economy to society and from wellbeing to disharmony.
Coming into power using all kinds of well contrived methods that contravened hitherto known politically expedient tactics, today, the government has only been successful in receiving severe criticism for its failure to meet the above-the-average promises it made. Brandishing chauvinistic sword cutting the social harmony among the communities mercilessly, government first failed Sinhala Buddhists majority who were mislead that the SLPP government would never solicit support from Muslims or Tamils. Anti-climax started with the appointment of the personal lawyer of the president Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Minister of justice who holds sway not only with his ability to wax eloquently but with his special modus operandi with the main tacticians who act above the elected representatives of the governing party. Let’s not forget that the 2/3 majority the government mustered was the result of support from bunch of Muslim legislators. Rapid increase in turncoats disassociating themselves from a “Sinhala only government” either shows that they are angry for having no say in the governance of their choice or least they have begun to realize devastating results of hoodwinking the Sinhala Buddhists. Heavy flak government now receives from most of the monks who tenaciously worked towards forming the Rajapaksa-flavored regime is a case in point. It is the majority Sinhala-Buddhists wounded most .
It is true that the Covid-19 has caused economic crises across the globe. Whoever in power would have to face the bad weather. Whereas the way the current government of Sri Lanka manipulated the pandemic for its political gains is contrary to humanity and hallowed principles of democracy for which it appeared. First they claim that it was the only government who successfully fought the pandemic in the world, held elections violating all the laws while using government reliefs to the needy as a means of political bribe to grab the vote, allowed a business entity responsible for the second wave to get scot free, enabled unscrupulous business mafia that supported the government, to unduly earn as if “return on investment” is allowed in general business practice. Now, Sri Lankan government has plunged in the pandemic paving the way for economic collapses, mismanagement of ruling the country, and ever growing “fear of tomorrow” among people. Instead, government has succeeded in failing to present a genuine road map to rescue the country from the dilemma. Reportedly vaccination program is in disarray starting from government’s lax behavior in signing the second contract for free vaccines with India, political interference to allow private sector to import vaccines, to carelessly attempting to permit the import of Russian and Chinese vaccines ignoring local and international expert advice. VVIPS and allied groups are given undue “places” in the whole episode from quarantine to vaccination. Last minute decision by the government to grant a rupees five thousand relief to the needy families on the 12th April while the public sector is on leave, only shows the callous attitude of the government towards the people. Was there no person in government ranks to advise either to grant it earlier or use the funds to subsidize the essential items to bring down the fast sky rocketing commodity prices benefitting all Sri Lankans? By now, people have pawned their jewelries to celebrate an elusive festive period. It is again the people who are battered.
In a backdrop where the rupee faces devaluation every day and government is on a money printing spree, reportedly, latest being sixty billion in rupees, what hopes could one have on a government rampant with corruption to rescue the economy? Hurriedly announced massive tax reductions in December 2019 to pamper the business tycoons who helped gaining power , made the government to lose colossal amounts of tax revenue that has had no benefit on the masses. Least to say, such benefits are well reflected on balance sheets on some of the mega business hegemonies. Politically camouflaged scams from sugar to carcinogenic coconut oil, manipulation of finance grants to various industries, embracing Chinese debt trap further and grossly ignoring financial assistance from the international agencies at very low costs have lined up for the next onslaught on the people of this country. The only punishment for wrong doing Sri Lankans could see during recent times was the transfer of the chairman of CWE Mr Nushard Perera to Sri Lanka standard institution – from purchasing to approving authority – or sacking of couple of middle level public servants. No offender of ecocide has effectively been prosecuted, yet, sprawling extents of forest cover have been given to businessman to fell trees snubbing the interests of the traditional farmers. Rambakan oya saga is a case in point. Majority offenders are connected to the government, hence Powers that be are unable to take action.
Further, abysmal performance of the government in international relations leave posing dangers to the country’s image and future. Ego centric approach towards handling the recently passed UNHRC resolution has antagonized the international community at large and ended up creating ruptures with the long standing donors and friendly nations. Evident disagreeing views of the Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and his ministerial secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage have only brought disrepute to the country. UNHRC resolution dwells not only with the war crimes some of which are quite unsubstantiated. It draws attention inter alia to deteriorating human rights violations, crippling of freedom of speech, threats of democracy and scaled up militarization of the civil machinery. What is so worrisome is that the tendency of the governing types to concoct stories that disrepute the nation and create disharmony amongst the people.
The current plight the country is fast contracting has seemingly gone unaddressed by the government. It is quite doubtful whether the derailed governance can be restored in the remaining period or not. All the main pillars of a nation, society, culture, economy and politics have been shaken. Money makers make undue profits while the public suffer. Rulers indulge in falsehood taking people for granted. Every layer in society is falling into turmoil and the government continues to disappoint a nation who has now been brought to a plateau with possible deep falls both local and international. Is It not worse than being gored by a bull when fall off a tree ?