By Emil van der Poorten –
The title of this piece is in no way intended to be simply provocative but poses a question that is more than legitimate in a nation that, all protestations of a cultural heritage going back a few thousand years aside, has become, as one wag proclaimed it, “The armpit of southern Asia!”
The temptation to say, “I told you so” is great and is one I will not ignore.
I am not the only person writing for the electronic and print media that has consistently decried our slide into amorality and unprincipled and simply opportunistic behaviour. However, that does not preclude me from harking back to the fact that some of us at least have insisted that good governance can only exist where morality, ethics and principles guide our political institutions and functions.
The fact that all the mainline political parties, bar perhaps the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, have only sought to rationalize their behaviour doesn’t make it okay or even permissible. A Sri Lankan as close to the late Lasantha Wickrematunge as he could possibly be, responded to my query in an obvious context by saying that Ranil Wickremesinghe saw nothing wrong with the very close business and personal association of one of his right hand men with the Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR1) regime. This was at the time that the MR1 regime ruled the roost and the UNP was, supposedly, mounting a principled opposition to it. It should be noted that that “right hand man” has achieved even more importance as a member of the inner cabal within Ranil’s current Cabinet.
I had more than a passing acquaintance, as a senior member of the Kandy Sports Club, one whose association with that organization goes back to the ‘fifties’ of the last century, of the kind of coziness between the MR1 Regime and prominent UNPers. I have, even today, a CD provided to me by the single most powerful member of the Kandy Sports Club which provides ample evidence of the mayhem that was visited upon the (working class) Kandy supporters by Namal Rajapaksa’s personal security and some of the hundreds of navy personnel, transported to Kandy at state expense in buses that also carried the poles that were used as assault weapons. Subsequent to the Rajapaksa “supporters” hospitalizing several dozen Kandy fans after the Navy team, containing all three of the Rajapaksa progeny, had lost a rugby game at Nittawela, I was delegated to write the official complaint to the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union on behalf of the Club.
To cut a long story short, the letter “disappeared” after the draft was sent to the Club’s office for signature of the President and onward transmission to the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union. On a subsequent occasion, when a letter did reach the self-same SLRFU after an Air Force player discharged an assault weapon on the field of play, hitting the broadcast booth at Nittawela, and we collected the spent cartridge casing as evidence, the complaint was never so much as acknowledged. The only reference to it came from one of the Rajapaksa stooges at the Rugby Football Union who, long afterwards, made passing reference to the incident in the most dismissive of comments to the print media. I expect that further comment is hardly necessary save to challenge anyone to point out a similar incident in the annals of rugby football at any time in its history, anywhere in the world!
The foregoing is simply proof, if proof be needed, of the collaboration of the forces of darkness and those that claimed to be one of “sweetness and light” that emerged after the Presidential and General elections of 2015.
What we are seeing in the racist carnage of recent days and, probably, more to follow, is the result of political opportunism at its highest level. The MR1 and the MR2 coalitions are two peas in a pod. The fact that those who’ve orchestrated the anti-Muslim mayhem have succeeded, one more time, in reducing our political discourse to the gutter has only been possible because of the “politics of accommodation,” to put a respectable name to it, between MRs 1 and 2.
The worst of it is that after the total destruction of democracy and communal amity in this country, those responsible for the hell on earth that will be our lot will walk away, continuing to collaborate on the continuing rape and pillage of Sri Lanka or, in the absence of anything to pillage, enjoy their stolen wealth in some salubrious foreign clime, preferably one that welcomes laundered money.
In their public utterances the broad mass of political movers and shakers don’t seem, any longer, to even indulge in the traditional hypocrisies about law and order, honour, fairness etc. etc.
The practice of hypocrisy has been much reviled over the centuries and deservedly so. However, the fact that it is an accusation that is leveled in countries with a tradition of civilized behaviour is deserving of more than cursory examination.
A hypocrite is one who pretends to a higher standard in the eternal verities while acting in contravention of them and what they stand for. However, the positive side of the practice of hypocrisy is the clear admission that the standards in question are the right ones and those that are required to ensure the very survival of civilization as we know it.
I would reiterate that both the MR2 and MR1 are indistinguishable one from the other in the matter of ethics, principles and morality. For the mistaken belief that one or the other is fit to govern us we are going to be paying the steepest of prices.