By Emil van der Poorten –
Those of you who’ve read what I have written over the years could, justifiably, experience a sense of déjà vu as you read what follows.
That said, I will make no apology for the burden of this piece because it will, again, state the eternal verities the mention of which have, hitherto, fallen on deaf ears and, perhaps, caused a certain glazing of some people’s eyes!
Anyway, the recent local government electoral debacle that the Yahapalanaya government brought upon itself has given fresh political life to the most corrupt and violent clique in the history of post-independence Sri Lanka and has encouraged that most venal of television news channels to embark on a fresh round of fact-twisting intended to achieve the personal ends of its totally unscrupulous owners. That knowingly or stupidly, the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led geniuses contributed to their own devastation would be evident to anyone with even a cursory interest in the political affairs of this country. It is hard to deal with a convoluted mess such as this without mentioning individuals and their conduct.
To indulge in a digression that has relevance to all of this let me refer to a conversation I had a few years ago with someone extremely close to the late Lasantha Wickrematunge.
When I asked him how Ranil Wickremesinghe could clasp to his bosom, politically speaking at least, a man whose relationship to Mahinda Rajapaksa was as close as personal propriety would permit, he told me that Ranil saw “no problem” with such friendships. Suffice it to say at this juncture that, as someone who has spent more than half a century in the political minefields of two continents, I found it hard to understand, leave alone accept, such a relationship. It simply did not make sense on the most simplistic and crass basis.
Those chickens came home to roost on February 10th when, as a corollary to the thumping that the Yahapalanaya lot took at the polls, the subject of the very conversation referred to in the previous paragraph was proven to have played a double game that contributed significantly to that political debacle.
I will not seek to pass a value judgement on Ranil W, his morality or intellect. However, let me refer to some other unchallenged information that should reinforce the fact that, even in the medium term, you cannot permit (encourage?) your closest political associates to consort with the hare and hunt with the hounds, politically speaking. This is not simply the application of a moral or ethical principle, it is plain common sense.
For many years, an individual no longer among the living and whom I cannot name due to editorial policy of the media at large, held pivotal positions in the UNP, by virtue of having had a father whose loyalty to that party and applied intelligence was never doubted, worked in a senior position at the Maharajah Corporation. Since he wasn’t considered by even his close associates to be a business genius, there had to be a reason that “Killi” Rajamahendran kept him on the Maharaja Corporation payroll at a time when that business empire was cozying up to the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, setting up huge posters in Colombo, the alleged UNP heartland, with the simple intent of totally destroying Ranil Wickremesinghe politically. What explanation could there be for the fact that the Maharajah Corporation was running such a campaign while holding in its embrace a senior functionary of that very Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP hierarchy? On the other side of that political coin was the fact that Ranil Wickremesinghe continued to maintain the very same individual in the upper echelons of the party over which he exerted such very tight control. Was the Maharaja Corporation very smart or was Ranil Wickremesinghe’s political megalomania such that he chose not to realize the implications of a situation which were as clear as the light of day to anyone taking even a cursory look at it? Both, I’d suggest.
But, there is no reason that all of us Sri Lankans should have to pay the price of the last vestiges of democracy in this land that was once the beacon of democracy in Southern Asia being destroyed because of such venality and/or stupidity.
Once more let me repeat the mantra that has eternal relevance: we can and must return this country to governance based on morality, ethics and principles. NOTHING less will suffice because those three elements are not simply philosophical concepts that reside in the craniums of a select few. They are a sine qua non for efficient governance and the very existence of a democratic system.
J.R, “Yankee Dick,” Jayewardene, was responsible for a chaotic version of the US system of bicameral government but that is no reason for us to continue on that terribly destructive path, particularly given the fact that we have recognized it for what it is as evinced by the attempt, however flawed, to reverse that disastrous course through the mechanisms that governed the recent local government elections.
We need to get back to the basics of democracy rather than return power to some snake oil salesman parading as a (reborn) saviour of our land!