By Helasingha Bandara –
I was at a loss to choose between “kiss the hand that cannot be severed” and “bite the hand that fed” as the title for this comment because both titles are equally appropriate to represent the contents of it. Since the end of the war, quite regularly, Rajapakshas have bitten the hands that fed them. Sarath Fonseka, Dayan Jayathilake and even Shirani Bandaranayaka are a few glowing examples among a plethora of them. People like Rajiva Wijesinghe are on the waiting list. Present Rajapakshas would not hesitate to destroy any one who would not toe their line, no matter how much such people have done to bring the Rajapakshas to the helm of power.
Despite this and other misjudgements, mistreatments, misdeeds, mismanagement and the misrule of the miscreants, multitudes of people keep on kissing their hands perhaps being unable to sever them. It may be another blunder if Rajapakshas do not realise this before it is too late.
Is it not a misjudgement to believe that all those kissers or lickers are loyal to Rajapakshas? Some are, but the most do it out of the fear of reprisals. From 1977 with the coronation of the biggest conman in Sri Lanka’s history, Mr. Dharmister, the political psyche of the Sri Lankans changed irreversibly. The man who once claimed that the only deed he was unable to perform was to transform a woman into a man, had done irreparable damage to the mindset of the politicians and the people. He divided people along the party lines and enabled the politicians to wield so much power. This, transcended politicians to such heights that people are ready to assign godly status to them and worship them for personal gains. For the fear of the interference of the politician and his human machinery in the day to day lives of people, they have become subservient leaving no room for human dignity. There is absolutely nothing in the governance of Sri Lanka that can be dealt without the interference of the politician. An example from the lower end of the society is that even a poor farmer is not allowed to freely irrigate his small rice holding if the local politician does not consider him a supporter, water could be blocked. As the majority of the population is farmers, this is the best example to highlight how individual freedoms have been curtailed in our society by the unique brand of politics of Sri Lanka. At the top end, judges, lawyers, doctors, engineers, writers and the lot are prepared to betray any just cause or justify any misdeed for the fear of reprisals on the one hand and for the greed of perks on the other. The corrupt maneuverings of the politicians have become cancerous and their spread is wide and fast. JRJ may have misjudged the power of political corruption that he invented and introduced, particularly when it falls on evil hands. Rajapakshas are making even a graver misjudgement in letting what JRJ introduced to escalate onto new heights to which their own children and grand children would fall victim. No man, no party, no family would have permanent hold on power. Nothing is permanent, the last words of the Buddha.
There is outcry for the people to rise against the potential dictatorship. Sri Lanka is not Rome. There is no Brutus to effectively conspire to stop one person becoming the dictator. Sri Lanka’s history is studded with examples that Sri Lankan people have the inclination to betray common causes for personal favours. From Wibhishana to Udugampola to those lawyers who talked to The Island a few days ago, the country has seen traitors, not by Rajapaksha interpretation, but in the true sense of the word. In such a country an uprising is only suicidal. Rajapakshas know it. Who is in the opposition, Ranil of the spineless fame, Premadasa of the father’s ill repute and JVP and the rest of chameleon ability? Even together they are not a formidable force, divided they are no force at all. Rajapakshas know this too. With all that knowledge and assumptions, it still can be a misjudgement on the part of the regime not to address the needs of the poor, not to ensure equal opportunities to all, to nurture lawlessness on assumption that violence and the goons can save the day for them, to develop a massive perk culture and to subject the masses to indignity on assumption that they are all fools and cowards. People have the god given ability to forget. Twenty years passed with the UNP in the political wilderness. Because of the repression of this government, people have begun to forget the past and forgive culprits. At the opportune moment they can even replace ginger with chillies.
It again is a misjudgement to rely on the effectiveness of the abuse of concepts of race, religion, treachery and conspiracy. Race, religion and the “international conspiracy” are the strongest trump cards that the regime has been playing so far to rally support of a section of the society to cover their misdeeds. The masses would intuitively know that it is a trump when those cards are played quite frequently and regularly at every game and in no time the players may become ineffective in these games. If the hypocritical Tamil politicians, who are not any different to Sinhalese or Muslim politicians, stop pretending that the issues are solely Tamil, but treat them as collective issues, the regime will not be able to play the race card any longer.
Mistreatment of the very people that elected Rajas would have serious repercussions. A news-site carried a photo of an obese man with a club in hand standing in the middle of the road threatening the ordinary people who want to protest peacefully, while the police was standing by being unable to protect the people, undoubtedly for the fear of reprisals or losing perks, was the most appalling scene to witness in the recent times. The majority of those people who were beaten, intimidated, verbally abused and humiliated have voted for this government not long ago thinking that Rajas have rescued them from the clutches of the deadly LTTE. Humans are not immune to physical and mental torture. Even a retreating dog turns round and bites if it is cornered and denied any escape route.
Irrespective of whether Lasantha Wikremathunga was a traitor or a patriot, he was murdered in broad daylight and the killers are at large. Prageeth Eknaligoda surely had died, no doubt murdered, the killers roam the streets free. When no arrests were made, speculation is bound to be rife as to who is responsible for the murders . Now a Pradeshiya Sabha member is murdered. A minister stands accused. This minister is accused of many misdeeds. He is still free to rule in his terror reign.
The economy is in tatters. The poor truly struggle to make ends meet despite Banduala Gunawardena’s calculation that a family of five can live with 6000 rupees per month. Mismanagement of the state coffers is the primary cause of all ills within the country. A section of the society, namely politicians and their cronies, can steal as they wish. Politics has become the most lucrative business in the island. It was manifest in the ease of luring the MPs of the opposition to government benches. Individuals spend millions at their election campaigns , certainly not hoping to recover the losses with an MP’s salary . The system is geared to enrich the politicians, their kith and kin and the supporters . The controllers have double standards, one for the friend and another for the foe. A good example is that the CJ has been impeached for not declaring her assets while hundreds of politicians and others happily ignore the requirement being aware nothing would happen as long as they remain “yes” men.
Wimal Weerawansa had played a vital role in misleading thousands of young people of this country with his leftist ideologies to end up in mass-pyres or mass-graves. His luxurious life style including the living in a 70 million Rupee mansion is an insult to the tens of thousands of the dead who sacrificed their lives believing that they were led by sincere leaders. It is disgusting how he uses the conspiracy theory for everything. Sometimes children urinate on the tarmac to measure the length of their waters. For Wimalwansa, urinating on the tarmac too can be an international conspiracy against Sri Lanka.
Mervin Silva has taken to the filthy language, intimidation, harassment, abuse and allegedly even murder. A British tourist was murdered by a politician and his goons. Women are being raped and ordinary people are assaulted and intimidated everywhere in the island by the politicians. When their vehicles come speeding along , horns blasting , everyone else has to either stop and give way or jump into the roadside drain. If not , insult and assault are guaranteed. They are just a few examples to query what else these politicians should be called other than miscreants.
Summarily it is the misrule of this government. Obviously there is no credible opposition as a party or as an individual that the people of this country can rally around. The people still prefer Rajas if they can shift from misrule to just-rule. Rajas do not need to mislead people or do not need misdeeds if they can reform themselves sooner than later. People are still hesitant to abandon them against their earlier beliefs that the Rajapakshas could take this country and its people to a higher plane in which poverty and destitution alleviated, individual freedoms safeguarded , lawlessness eliminated and justice restored. There is still time for Rajapakshas to do a self appraisal.