20 May, 2022


Horse Trading While Sri Lankans Are Drowning

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

The contents of the middle pages – reputed for balanced commentary –  of an English-language Sunday newspaper contrasted very starkly with a piece on the travails of those who were inundated by flood-waters in many parts of the country on the very next page. Both pieces were authored by respected journalists who have a reputation for accuracy and objectivity, eschewing bombast.

The centre pages contained a description of the sniveling to and fro-ing of political “brokers” in the current coalition trying to hold together an agglomeration of discredited politicians who have displayed a penchant for doing little other than promoting their own well-being.

The work of one Wickremesinghe confidante in particular in running back and forth trying to put out this fire here and that fire there, can only provide amusement to someone with a penchant for gallows humour. The fact that Kabir Hashim – one of the few UNPers who has hitherto displayed at least a smidgen of principle – ended up with the short end of the stick in the matter of departments under his Ministry being taken away and delivered as some sort of peace offering to another high-profile Minister affected by the shuffle did not surprise me. Mr. Hashim stands to lose several pivotal departments in his Ministry to a man whose connections to the head honcho of the previous regime came to the fore again when our wannabe-potentate was the first (and only?) prominent politician to commiserate with the high-profile Cabinet Minister rumoured to be in line for what amounted to a demotion of sorts.  The scurrying back and forth of Hashim (the biter who got bit!) and Malik Samarawickrama has to be viewed against the backdrop of a nation reeling under the devastation of a flood of historic proportions. It epitomizes the “Nero fiddling while Rome burns” predilections of this government. Worse yet, it provides proof, if proof be needed, that we are governed by a group of self-seeking and unprincipled individuals to whom personal aggrandizement takes precedence over attending to a national calamity. 

How else can the conduct of our ruling politicians be described against the backdrop of current events?

The other column in the same newspaper provides a harrowing picture of what is happening in some of the areas devastated by floods and landslides. 

It is cause for some amusement (again invoking gallows humour!) that some of the key players, or those who should have been, were out of the country and displayed no great urgency in the matter of returning to their devastated home turf.  That our Prime Minister should be in the Excited States of Amnesia accessing private medical opinions not available to the rest of us, the great unwashed of this country, epitomizes the status quo in Sri Lanka. It did provoke a wry grin in one who, not so long ago, underwent the travails of treatment in a Teaching Hospital in this country, putting him at death’s door for almost a week because a consultant chose to “outsource” a procedure to a less experienced doctor who proceeded to make a “non-surgical procedure” into a life-threatening situation! 

Let me, at this point, disassociate myself from any suggestion that I am one of the lynch mob howling for the blood of Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. To do so would be to simply find a (very eligible) scapegoat for the sins of an entire government (and its predecessors). No, that would be only too simple and would beg the real issue: a government (and opposition) totally lacking in principle, morality and ethics. I will not hesitate to repeat, ad nauseam if necessary, the need to bring those three elements into this discussion once again because, without their practice no democratic government can fulfill what those who elected it expect of them.

This is not some theory advanced by some Einstein of governance. It is a simple fact that a liberal democracy can only exist and serve those within its jurisdiction if the rule of law prevails. Not a law only for some poor drunk brawling with his neighbor but for any man or woman so much as contemplating dipping into the public purse to meet private needs, or, rather, private “wants.” That principle must be practiced without any equivocation because it is the only way in which we will be able to survive as a civilized society. A tall mountain to climb?  Perhaps so, but do we have any other choice?

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Emil, does the horse-trading include Rohita being allowed to go to Aus, Anura Senanayaka getting bail? What is the punishment for Namal indictments and the CID grilling of Gota? Should we the civilians made to suffer a fire immersion ceremony?

    • 7

      The issues that you raise appear to be part of the emerging pattern but are not, unfortunately, all of the story.
      For starters, I find it incomprehensible that the so-called Minister of Justice has not been sacked for his sins of omission and commission. Again, that is part of the pattern of permitted impunity, I expect.

  • 6

    It is the Sinhala-Buddhist hating foreigners like you who promoted this gang of thieves over the Rajapakse brothers with CIA and MI6 aid. You should be held to answer for this vile behaviour. You clamoured over Rajapkse promoting his brothers and sons, but do not see the similarity in Maithripala giving his brother the rice monopoly, appointing others to head state bodies and getting his (elephant of a) son and daughter mixed up in state affairs. You have nothing to say about Rajitha (the lying mouth) promoting his idiotic son with the crooked finger, a CIA trained ‘colour revolutionist’ (fortunately burying himself with his own stupidity) in his attempt to become a national leader. You are not outraged about the viagra-charged old bull reminding the mothers of the questioning media, and his son-in-law eyeing the governor of the central bank job with his biography writing of the napunsakayas. The diplomatic service is stacked with unqualified henchaiyas like mentally-retarded Anula Wijewardene, Sonali Smarasinghes and Lal Wickramatungas who keep qualified diplomatic service officers out of their jobs they deserve.The list is too long to mention. These are much worse than the Rajapakse era sins. At least poor people did not go hungry then! It is the lack of principle on your part that prevents truly accepting your guilt in pushing the country and its people in to this calamity. You can now only bend down and sniff your own rear end.

    • 4

      What delightful prose – “You can now only bend down and sniff your own rear end” – with a whole bunch of lies and half-truths in the matter of attribution. One can be forgiven the suspicion that this has been composed by a half-wit who perhaps bent down…in pursuit of a career in some part of the world provided by the Rajapaksas.
      Why am I not surprised by this rubbish rant considering the obvious orientation of the author?
      The priceless line, though, could be ” These are much worse than the Rajapakse era sins.” I am sure that when you make such a statement you have taken into account the execution of Lasantha Wickremetunge, the assault on Keith Noyahr reported in this very publication and all the other killings and white van disappearances. One could hardly accuse you of not being honest or objective given all of that!

    • 3

      “It is the Sinhala-Buddhist hating foreigners like you who promoted this gang of thieves over the Rajapakse brothers” ………………………. Well said. Exactly my thoughts; indeed! ……… I am just about to open a webpage to collect money to build a shrine for people to worship the Rajapakse brothers. …………. Just one more shrine to add to all the others jotting the landscape. ………….. I hope this one doesn’t get burned down. …………… Anyway remember to reach deep for contributions. No contribution is large enough for the good they have done for our country. ……… A $18 billion shrine is just a small token of our appreciation. ….. Yeah, I promise to account for every penny collected.

    • 0

      Ebenezer, the reality is Lankians cannot develop the island because it has never spawned an intellectual duo like late Mr Lee Kuan Yew,and late Madam Kwa Geok Choo
      To raise the standard of living of their citizens, all countries face a choice on whether to grow internally through production of new goods and services, or externally, through the conquest of other countries and territories. Britain traditionally has colonised and looted to boot so its primary export item is Arms.

    • 0

      …..’It is the Sinhala-Buddhist hating foreigners like you’…….

      Nice bit of frothing and foaming by Sniffer Scrooge. As far as I am aware, EvdP is a full-blown Lankan born to the dulcet tones of the Koha, and bred in the cool climes of Hill Capital. Methinks our Scrooge is a tad xenophobic; alas, there is no cure for that affliction.

  • 4

    sri lanken politicos are jack asses. nothing new.

  • 1

    Emile very thought provoking write up keep it up.

  • 0

    ……’we are governed by a group of self-seeking and unprincipled individuals to whom personal aggrandizement takes precedence over attending to a national calamity.’…… Well said, Squire! Our blessed country is mired in mud and floating shit, and all we have is the coiffured simians entrusted with our well being running around trying to cover their backsides. Alas, the capable and competent of the land will never come forward to take us to the promised land as long as the thugs and shysters continue to rule this now cursed Dharmadveepa.

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