By Emil van der Poorten –
One cannot but be fascinated by the material appearing in the media, particularly information released by The Regime’s disseminators of propaganda.
We had one poll, conducted within goodness knows what parameters, that said that Mahinda Rajapaksa had in excess of a 90% approval rating. Yet, even in elections in which the opposition parties have, according to the same sources, been decimated, the total opposition vote has not reflected that “fact.” This kind of reporting is typical of the local media which, by and large, has proved to be among the world’s most supine in their efforts to curry favour with those who wield power. Pray tell me how you arrive at a 90%+ approval rating by the population at large when the enthusiasm for a “hugely popular” President is demonstrated by a 60% turn out at the most recent polls and the President’s party, leave alone garner over half that vote, does in fact poll barely over 50% of the opposition’s? The math just does not make sense unless, of course, you were tutored by an academic of the quality of Dr. Mervin!
And talking of minorities, what about the minorities that are engaging in protests against the anti-social conduct of this lot, risking life, limb and incarceration?
We have the university students launching protests left right and centre, their leaders, literally, at risk of paying the ultimate price, against the chaos that is post-secondary education in this country. In fact, the Inter-University Students’ Federation have claimed that the most recent deaths of two of their leaders was not, as claimed, as a result of an “accident” and one newspaper reports that a vehicle had “swayed” (sic) at them forcing them off the road and on to a post resulting in their deaths.
We have the Federation of University Teachers, foregoing their salaries in a strike that has already gone on for nearly three months, resisting legal manoeuvres to paint them into a corner and force arbitration upon them. One must also remember that this strike is driven primarily, not by an “industrial dispute” about wages and conditions of employment but by the necessity for allotting an adequate portion (6%) of the national budget to education. Efforts to classify this struggle as one purely for a wage increase have failed, though for how long the government will resist the temptation to cut loose their usual extra-legal response in a losing battle is something known only to the decision-makers at this time.
You have the parents of students, monumentally wronged in the “Z Score” fiasco and in the Grade 5 Scholarship tests, going to the courts, seeking redress of terrible wrongs and demonstrating their anguish and dissatisfaction in a manner that even our “national media” cannot avoid reporting.
You have the doctors launching one token strike after another in protest against their colleagues being assaulted by government politicos.
These are only some of the formal protests and withdrawals of labour that one sees. The servile media of this country does not adequately report what sick people are going through by virtue of totally inadequate facilities in the hospitals, by state-supplied sub-standard drugs, by a paucity of trained staff leading to the shutting down of entire hospital wards. Note also that these are the most dramatic events in our medical services to which the occasional reference is made in the media. Don’t ever lose sight of the fact that, when you are referred to a specialist in one of the major hospitals in your district, you’d better be ready to line up outside his clinic before daybreak or, literally, sleep outside the building until the numbers are given out to those to be seen in the morning. And if you are unfortunate enough to be the forty-first on a day when the doctor is going to see forty people? Tough luck, buddy, go home and come another day!
What about drugs and medications in general. If, in the doubtful event that the prescribed drug is available in the medical institution from which you are seeking treatment, there is the very real possibility that it is sub-standard, thanks to some “higher up” being on the take in the matter of drug purchases for the state! This, of course, makes for an interesting situation in which the patient takes the drugs prescribed and when his condition worsens hears, via the grapevine, that drug X is little other than coloured chalk! “Average patient” has no one to complain to and if he or she does, how would they substantiate their complaint? They will not have access to any testing system because if they do, they’d belong to the affluent class that can afford to buy name-brand drugs at astronomical prices. Remember that all of this is under a government loudly proclaiming its “empowerment of the common man!”
What has been referred to in the preceding paragraphs is what keeps emerging from the less-silent majority when our gutless media deigns to report such dissatisfaction.
Consider the “silent ones” – I shan’t call them “the silent majority” because that would be statistically impossible when 90%+ of the population has been described as being, to all intents and purposes, charter members of the President’s fan club and subscribing to the belief that he and his government are infallible! The “silent ones” are in every village and town, bearing the brunt of an escalating cost of living driven to the levels it has by corruption and simple mismanagement. Of course, thanks to the monumental lies of those issuing “statistics,” people are told that they are paying less for essentials and living a life of luxury in every village and town in the Miracle of Asia.
Some have asked why people are seeking to cross the largest ocean in the world in leaky fishing boats to get to Australia, selling all their worldly possessions and, literally, mortgaging their futures to do so. I am sure everyone believes the official explanation that “these are economic refugees, mistakenly, believing that there is a pot of gold at the end of every down-under rainbow!” Simple explanation and if the interviewer insists on suggesting that things must be pretty bad for these people to risk their very lives on these perilous journeys, they are met with the suggestion that they must be out of their minds to abandon paradise on earth for someplace at the bottom of the planet!
At this point, let me emphasize the fact that I have only made reference to groups largely made up of the Sinhala majority. I have barely mentioned the minorities except in the matter of the “boat people.”
What should and obviously doesn’t concern this arrogant outfit is that, at some point (inevitably?) what they choose to term as “infinitesimal minorities” realize that they have a common enemy and choose to make common cause. While the concept of “critical mass” should have crossed the minds of anyone at elementary political science levels, it has obviously not occurred to this bunch or, in the alternative, it has only resulted in their readiness to fall back on a solution that was demonstrated in the Free Trade Zone of Katunayake or when the fishermen protested against the increase in boat fuel prices: the use of the gun to put down anything resembling dissent or resistance.
I have often been accused of being among the more pessimistic of columnists. Suffice it to say on this occasion that it is hard to abandon that view of the Sri Lanka situation when one is faced with the national tragedy unfolding before a nation whose government’s only response is suppression of dissent and the dissemination of fabrications.
PresiDunce Bean / September 30, 2012
Ha…Emil, you should have called it “Lies, Damned Lies And Central Bank Statistics.”
Emil van der Poorten / September 30, 2012
I thought the “Lies” category would automatically cover whatever Nivard Cabraal’s outfit had to say!
G1 / October 1, 2012
I thought the “Lies” category would automatically cover whatever Rajapaksha & Co outfit have to say!
Bruno Umbato / September 30, 2012
Emil Van has got confused … It’s not a big deal, Emil … One can not keep the mind pristine clean all the time …
MR’s approval rating of ..% does not mean that his party and all his ‘henchiyas” has the same rating … Only, presidential election could prove the rating …
I just have to add that the rating of him among ‘colombians’ would most probably be a single digit … That is where you lost your marbles …
‘Colombians’ are very active these days thinking that they have found ‘it’ … the lever to change the regime …
FUTA has lifted their spirits …
They thought the same when they found the real Sarath out of the two saraths … You know what happened ….
For the first time in recent past, real lever needed to change the regime is where it should be …. It’s among the people of the country … It is definitely not among the ‘Colombians’ …
‘colombians’ never care about the majority of the country … They always thought and think only about their needs and desires while worshipping outsiders …
Pacha Epa / September 30, 2012
You again! Considering what you get paid for putting this rubbish on this website, you should at least put your real name on your inanities. Or does that begin with an “R” and end with an “A” or an “E?”
gamini / October 1, 2012
Bruno it appears that it is not Emil who is confused, but yourself. You state that it is not possible to keep ones mind pristine clean all the time. Why not? That is if one is sane, that is how a human mind works. The ones who are unable to are the insane. So no wonder you rattle out in an incoherent manner.
You further try to differentiate the Urban Colombo sector from the village sector as what matters is the average villager who are the majority. You are wrong on both counts. The Urban Colombo sector are the Intelligentia in the society. So it really does matter the thinking of theirs as it is they who are intelligent and the govt. machinery revolvs round them. Secondly even among the villagers they are no ignorant fools anymore and the Urban Colombo sector is fed from them who qualify. The only thing is presently thanks to VP who helped MR to be the War Victor with the promise of addressing him, but dealt otherwise. In the process MR has laid the emphasis on the Forces, with slogans ‘Api Venuen Api’ who are keeping his sagging moral going, but for how long? So it is not a case of Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics, but a case of cooking up the books as well, if you have heard of this axiom. During 70 – 77 Sirima B also tried to project such popularity but learned bitterly the truth later. Here again MR will realise how popular he is very soon, notwithstanding the false facade.
ayanthirkg / October 1, 2012
Bruno has to be an opportunist. He has obviously got to suck up! He also does not know statistics ,if with all the gilmart and the free proper grandma they could only get these votes, imagine/ figure out what would happen otherwise. It is possible the megalomaniac ,you know who could even win!
Senaka / September 30, 2012
Emil, Thanks, keep up the good work!
Rajapakse like the Roman Emperors who fiddled while Rome burned is into ‘Bread and Circuses’ to keep the masses happy and distracted from his crimes and the striking Dons and students but this strategy is beginning to backfire.. There is grief and anger for the dead students at Kelaniya and Ruhuna..
But the Rajapakse sports show that subsidizes the fake tourism figures was all over Colombo – T-20 Cricket Games at the weekend, another bout of RED BULL car racing at Green Path meant that the road was blocked off and residents had to take detours and sweat in Trafic jams while the thumping music disturbed the whole neighbourhood – to keep the playboy offspring of the politicians entertained and in the Lucre.
Namal Rajpaakse is the sports advertizing and sports business czar of Lanka while Basil is the tourism Czar and Gota the White Van Goon the military contract kill czar..
Lanka Muslim, UK / September 30, 2012
Aslo deduct from the said 90%:- 1. Muslims who are dis-satisfied over the attacks on Mosques 2. Hindus who are dis-satisfied over the obstruction to animal sacrifice; and more to the negative list.
China Doll / September 30, 2012
The statistics are cooked indeed! Now the clown who is minister of Higher ed. claims that 60 percent of Dons want to return to work without a sufficient pay hike after all the BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS sans any concrete solution to the problems of students and teachers a like..
SB the uneducated clown seems to forget that the students deaths are on everyone’s mind and the return to business as usual in the university is not an option..
James Bond / October 1, 2012
Namal Rajapakse and his cronies has graduated from being a rugby thug to Sri Lanka’s top Formula One racing driver!
The folk including water-starved farmers are now waiting with bated breath for the wonder of Asia’s latest STATE SUBSIDIZED SPORTS EXTRAVAGANZA– Fomula One car racing to kick off in the Indian Ocean.
Forget striking dons, students, FUTA and impoverished education! The age of mindless consumerism, super luxury SUVs, and formula One racing has dawned in the wonder of Asia with Mahinda Rajapassa’s leadership in DEVELOPMENT! Bread and Circuses all the way to DICTATORSHIP!
Robin Hook / September 30, 2012
When the people are suffering on daily basis and the students are crying for their rights with FUTA fighting to rescue education from anarchy, MR regime is importing super luxury BMW’s Audi and others with duty free concession with poor expatriate workers blood money and with borrowed IMF loans to show off to the world that Sri Lanka is heading for prosperity.Bogus statistics are the norm of the day in fools paradise, but not in the educated and sensible class who are curiously waiting and watching at the drama unfolding.
Jim Hardy / October 1, 2012
Bravo Hats off to Emil for standing up against this corrupt rogue regime, where others & me concerned not enough, we must mobilize the Masses against this regime join forces with whatever organization that confronts like FUTA , IUSF or Trade Unions, lets rid this rogue regime & restore the 17th amendment & keep free & fair elections scrapping the bullshit preferential ( Manape) system.
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / October 3, 2012
Emil’s pessism is understandable in the context of the examples of woe described. In modern democracies, the leadership is often very much in touch with issues that impact on the common people. Otherwise they will not gain the acceptance of their subjects. However, if the system itself has been designed to protect the leadership rather than serve the interests of the country’s people, it would be a very arduous task to return to “normalcy”.