Colombo Telegraph

Kleptocracy To Kakistocracy

By Grusha Andrews

“Kakistocracy: noun, plural kak·is·toc·ra·cies: a government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power. Origin: 1829, coined on analogy of its opposite, aristocracy, from Greek kakistos “worst,” superlative of kakos “bad” (which perhaps is related to the general  word for “defecate;” caco-) + -cracy.” Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper.


President’s Secretary Austin Fernando has thrown in the towel. It appears that even the most experienced, patient, persevering and shrewdest of strategists cannot take it anymore. Fernando, one of the last living Humphrey Applebys in Sri Lankan civil service has lifelong training at keeping his marbles together under extreme circumstances. Even he seems to have lost it. He is no political celebrity and if at all, an outcaste in the equation of modern ethno-religious politics. At best he will be footnoted in history. But his alleged departure has serious connotations, apparently soft, yet, sinister ‘end of an era’ of sorts. According to Colombo Telegraph, the touting for a new President’s Secretary is apparently carried out by the sorry political charlatans of the caliber of Shiral Lakthilake who has approached Hemasiri Fernando with the job. Whether it is Austin Fernando or Hemasiri Fernando who continues is immaterial. The seriousness lies within the crux of the matter. Hemasiri Fernando would be the tragi-comic end to a tragi-comic Presidency. But, then, Hemasiri Fernando is actually smarter than the President of our Republic. He will not, in all estimate, immerse himself in this putrefying political mess that we call the Presidency of Sri Lanka.

Someone just can’t get along with others

Here we have a President, with eighteen good months of his Presidency left, on his third bid for a President’s Secretary. The highest office in Public Service is not an appointment to be made casually to test on the run. What was he thinking when he appointed much maligned Palitha Abeykoon  with an alleged murky history to the highest office in Public Service? That this office will suddenly transform the man in to the administrative face of Yahapalapaya? What was he thinking when he appointed Austin Fernando, ultra-liberal 75 year old at the time of appointment? That his ex-boss was going to change his ways? That his belly was going to turn black?

The inability of the President to get along with others is symptomatic of the dearth of intellectual sophistication on his part. It may be Fernando’s failure too. Did Fernando seriously think that this was going to have a Bollywood ending? That Sirisena was going to wake up one day and exhibit Presidential qualities? That with his anomalous and perverted plotting to merge with Gotabaya Rajapaksa at a conjoined 2020 bid, Sirisena was not going to block Facebook, websites and TV stations? Sirisena, whose recent verbal torrents bewilder even people with little sophistication and finesse, cannot be expected to fathom constitutional or administrative complexities or logic. Sirisena appears intellectually and temperamentally in-equipped for the office of President.

The class clash of Sirisena with anyone outside his reality is not limited to Fernando. Sirisena has consistently exhibited an abysmal inability to grip the seriousness of his office. The President of our Republic is fundamentally unable to tolerate reason. In a co-habitation government, he is repeatedly proclaiming that he will ‘claim the economy’ from the UNP with the help of the ‘economist aid’ Lalith Samarakoon, the famed wannabe Governor of the Central Bank in Sirisena’s imaginary second term. He is shuffling the cabinet like a dysfunctional poker addict. He is appointing a Catholic Karawa man as Governor of Central Province today and retracting the appointment tomorrow when the Mahanayakes agitate. He neither has the foresight to avoid such blunder, nor has the strength to stand his ground. He is unaware of the 100 day Programme. The freshly appointed General Secretary of the SLFP is proclaiming to move “forward towards victory of SLFP with Mahinda Rajapaksa” with its actual lame leader standing right next to him. He ought to understand that he’s been unceremoniously and lovelessly removed from the hearts of his electorate. Worse, no one fears him. Niccolò Machiavelli famously wrote in The Prince “better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both”. The man can evoke neither love nor fear.


Prime Minister Wickremesinghe can take the elephant’s share of the credit for solidifying Sri Lanka’s position as a post January 8th kleptocracy. Rallying millions of citizens under the banner of Good Governance to oust the demonized Rajapakse kleptocracy tainted with MiG deals, nepotistic looting, day light economic robbery and deal making, Wickremesinghe and his “Royal Boys” lost no time in executing the Bond Scam which perhaps surpassed the magnitude of the cumulative Rajapakse lootage over 17 years in just 100 days.

The smug confidence with which the kleptocrats of the government, namely Deputy Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe and ex-Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera own up to taking bribes from Arjun Aloysius with mirth and disrespect can only be paralleled by a dead Marie Antoinette. This should make Wickremesinghe hang his kleptocratic head (which was once considered a clean aristocratic head) in utter and desolate shame. But neither Wickremesinghe, nor the kelptocrats – Senasinghe or Jayasekera seem to be even tilting their heads.

The well rootedness of the kelptocracy established with Prime Ministerial sanction is further denoted by the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya appealing to the media to not vilify the MPs on ‘unfounded’ allegations of receiving monies from the Aloysius’. Jayasuriya, one of the lamest living humans in Sri Lankan politics, with his throat slash Brigadier defending son in law left the UNP with 17 other members to ‘strengthen Rajapakse’, crawled back to the UNP alone, sniveling. He remained a consistent under-cutter of Ranil Wickremesinghe since return. He’s a man devoid of moral authority and is actually a bad example of a politician. The Speaker himself is a thief of something more precious than money. He has thieved the hope of the nation as the third citizen of the country, defending thieves. The politicians of our paradise island have looted much more than money by stealing money. They have stolen the spirit, hope, pride, belief in democracy and the will of the hard-working, honest, tax paying citizens of his country. They have stolen the future of our children. These kleptocrats of this kleptocracy should go. Just go.


The disassociation of Sirisena from political sanity and fundamental reasoning send shivers down the collective spine of the nation. Sirisena appears to be at greater odds with his Prime Minister with whom has the un-easiest relationship, currently almost not on ‘talking terms’. Like teenage lovers fallen out, these two leaders of the nation are enacting “Mean Girls’. Here essentially is a silly puny version of Donald Trump wannabe in a low and middle income little island who doesn’t seem to understand that he is not the leader of the free world to be tiffing with all and sundry. He is inviting international investors to Sri Lanka today and hugging the President of Iran tomorrow. He does not understand the message it sends the world. He wants to get on a jet plane and travel. Because he can. Like a spoilt child. He threatens the Secretary of Foreign Ministry for recalling the cut throat gesturer The Brigadier for doing so. He still does not understand. He continues to beat his chest outpouring emotion reminiscent of Mahinda Rajapakse. His citizenry despise him. They call him the scarecrow full of hay and some even say he is full of human excreta. He has plummeted in approval rates and more dangerously, he has plummeted the Presidency to depths of ridiculousness. And he wants to be President, again, in 2020!

The President and Prime Minister appear to be failing at what an average school boy at the age of 8 can do: simplygetting along.Prime Minister is the political oasis for the major looters of the government. The President appears uncomfortable with deep aspects of governance, unaccustomed to deep thinking, intolerant to laborious paper work and the unpleasant and relentless decision making his position demands. The unending business of Presidenting seems to have taken a psychological toll on the First Citizen. You only have to follow his recent unstable and chest beating speeches to verify. The conspicuous absence of governance doesn’t seem to bother the Prime Minister either.

Sri Lanka is, by definition today a kakistocracy, a government run by the worst imaginable misleaders who share no pain, misfortune or the discontent of the masses. The Prime Minister is an open protector of the Aloysius’ and the infamous Rajapaksas. Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the MiG deal’s sword hanging over his head is trying to emerge as the next political messiah branding himself as a technocrat and ‘gentle’ dictator. The President appears to be setting the stage, priming the mind of the citizens to build the environment to make a marriage with Gotabaya Rajapaksa for 2020 which will self-actualize the word ‘death’ for him. Meanwhile in this same country the rupee has plummeted to an astounding 160+ per dollar. The brat sons of Ministers run amok literally driving in to citizens complete with swords and all. How many days before the brat is transferred to prison hospital?

At this time of final transition of Sri Lanka from a long standing kleptocracy to a final version of a kakistocracy, one faint dream remains. That somewhere unknown to us all some kindred souls with some sense of purpose and integrity may be, just maybe, imagining a different country. A different, just end.

May that not be a dream.

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