By Malinda Seneviratne –
There’s a word in Sinhala that is widely used for which there is no English equivalent. ‘Pevunaa’ is a word used by those who drink, mostly. Those who almost drowned also use the word to indicate that a certain amount of water was swallowed, clearly without intention to do so.
That’s the key here; lack of intention. Tipplers usually add a qualifier: ‘tikak’ or a small amount. So, if we take the claim literally, a small quantity of alcohol had got into their system without even the slightest desire or help on their part.
Inadvertently is a word that comes close, but it only suggests lack of planning. ‘Pevunaa,’ on the other hand suggests that the particular person had his or her mouth open and some alcohol fell into it. It’s not as though he or she tripped over a word as in the phrase ‘slip of the tongue.’ It’s more like getting wet in the rain.
It’s something like this that has happened under the yahapalana government.
The Central Bank was not tricked, it got tricked of its own accord. No, we are not talking about Arjuna Mahendran’s agency in the scam. It’s the building that robbed itself or allowed itself to be ransacked. And it was a ‘tikak’ matter if we go by the deliberate trivializing that the Prime Minister has indulged in since President Sirisena read out sections of the report submitted to him by the Commission of Inquiry he appointed. It was, if we are to believe Yahapalanists, a ‘tikak affair’ and even then it was of a ‘pevunaa’ kind of misdemeanor.
Arjuna Mahendran was not appointed as Central Bank Governor, he got appointed (almost as if no one appointed him, that he descended from the sky, literally and metaphorically). The Bank of Ceylon had no inkling that it was giving a massive loan to Arjun Aloysius’ company Perpetual Treasures. It happened. Just like that. Aloysius didn’t purchase a luxury apartment for the then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake; it got purchased. Karunanayake didn’t occupy it with his family; they walked into it in their sleep without any intention to do so. Sujeeva Senasinghe didn’t make dozens of calls to Aloysius after he wrote his book on the bond scam, the phone made the calls of its own accord.
The President and Prime Minister did not decide to dissolve Parliament just before the COPE report on the bond issue matter was released; Parliament dissolved itself.
The Attorney General did not, it follows, instruct his men not to grill the Prime Minister at the Bond Commission; they just lost their tongues and not due to any fault of their part either. The Attorney General did not sideline the most qualified personnel at his disposal in the matter of acting on the Bond Report; they sidelined themselves.
These are all little things or ‘tikak affairs’ and there was never an intention to do wrong. Tell yourself that. All the time. And see if you believe.
The President didn’t appoint his brother as Chairman, Telecom; the brother got appointed. The President didn’t take his son to the UN; Daham Sirisena was teleported to New York to his utter surprise and dismay. The President and Prime Minister didn’t accommodate in the national lists of their respective parties candidates who were rejected by the people; they woke up one morning and found that they were MPs.
It was not rank ignorance of global realities that prompted the Yahapalanists to badmouth China and grovel before the USA and it was not that they decided post-Brexit to look to the East (read as ‘China’); no, the earth started spinning the wrong way all of a sudden and they lost their bearings. Sorry, their bearings were made to be lost. Not by omission or commission, let us say, if all this sounds a bit confusing.
It’s not that Yahapalanists didn’t and don’t believe in Yahapalanaya; maybe Yahapalanaya didn’t believe in them. It’s not that they allowed Yahapalanaya to slip out of their fingers, but Yahapalanaya slipped out of its own accord (if it was in their hands in the first place, of course).
The issue is about responsibility and accountability. The outcome is clear. This Government cannot govern, doesn’t know how to govern and don’t care about governance. It’s as if they are claiming (without even the apologetic tone of the tippler) ‘pevunaa’ but the fact that stands out is intoxication. This means they can’t think straight, can’t walk straight and can’t get anything right.
So they might say that they didn’t want to make a kakistocracy and that they don’t know how they became kakistocratic, but kakistocracy is what we have right now. Just for those unfamiliar with the term kakistocracy refers to “a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens.”
The question then for the citizen is whether or not they want to mirror their leaders. Do they want to say ‘we didn’t elect this government, the government got elected (by whoever) for us’? Well, they voted. Their votes didn’t ‘get cast of themselves.’ They will vote. Their votes won’t be cast for them.
The follow up question is simple: ‘do you want to strengthen kakistocrats and kakistocracy?’ Do they want to play ‘snug and dumb’ and offer apologetically at the end of it all some political equivalent of ‘pevunaa’ that is an insult to their citizenship?
*Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.malindawords.blogspot.com