29 May, 2022


Musings Of An Opinionated Citizen

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Auditor General’s report is an opinion: Kiriella – News report 2nd July 2015

Opinions are tentative conclusions open to dispute. It is my opinion that the Auditor General reports his findings, detections and discoveries to parliament. It is therefore my opinion that the honorable Minister is in grave error. That said here are some informed opinions.

When University Dons prominently associated with the ‘Movement for a Just Society’ pass by, it has become routine for students in the Colombo campus to simulate coughing. Their wicked fun draws inspiration from the Sinhala expression ‘Kahinawa’- a derisive term that infers a futile advocacy of lost causes.

These are days of fading hope and overwhelming despair for those who toiled hard for the ‘yahapalanaya’[Good governance] which Mahinda loyalists now call a ‘Jadapalanaya’[ rascally governance] and the disenchanted call ‘Gong Palanaya’[Bovine Governance]

police attack_1For a vast majority who voted for change on 8th January 2015 it mostly stirs a brutal sense of déjà vu. When stripped of its French sophistry, it means they have ‘already seen’ it so many times before. The term is unavoidable because déjà vu conveys the painful blurring of lines between promise and aborted delivery, between dreams and reality.

On 5th January 2015 I wrote in the columns of the Daily FT that politics was essentially a fluid process. I said ‘new issues, new personalities create new circumstances. ‘Politicians’ I said who accurately and dispassionately read the patterns of evolving circumstances can fame strategies that fit the new landscape. I explained that the Maithripala Sirisena candidacy was the result of such intuitive reading of public discontent by political leaders determined to topple the incumbent. I also emphasized that the then opposition was at war with itself and the incumbent was anesthetized by its own absolutism.

My opinions were expressed three days before liberation day. In those days, I did not contribute to Web journals. I did not know how to. I wasn’t sufficiently savvy with proxy servers to access web sites that were not in the good books of ‘Gota’ who won the ‘war. It was particularly scary because he was in a serious battle to draw blinds at high noon.
This digression was necessary, lest a condemnation of the present be construed as a plea for a return to insanity and the populist tribal state.

At the last Presidential elections, citizens had a simple menu of choices. The Tamils and Muslims decided between digestion and dyspepsia. A sizable but a less than impressive minority of the majority Sinhala voters were exasperated with the monotony of incumbency. It was no revolution of the type of great October uprising in St. Petersburg as claimed in a chronicle of events of 8th January 2015 by one of the recent aspirants for the top job in the Central Bank.

That there was a clear divergence of opinion between the President and Prime Minister in resolving the succession at the central bank is no secret. The standoff between the Common candidate and the UNP leader has exposed the fragile nature of the alliance between civil society that hoped for a transformational change and the political class whose priority was the electoral defeat of the incumbent President. To the pragmatists in the UNP, the ‘Just Society’ was just another slogan coined by an inconvenient priest who offered a convenient path to bell the cat and conveniently passed away in to the mist of memories of the anguished, oppressed and the distressed.

What civil society activists did not know then and know now, is that in representative democracies, coordinating responses of voters to a specific political choice remains the exclusive domain of political parties.

Elections are won or lost through competition among political parties no matter which sage or savant preaches in the amphitheater of public opinion. Political parties draw strength not from pious declarations but from incentives to their core members whose prize is the control of government. It is they who form strategic alliances with interest groups and then set the post elections agenda.

For Mahinda Rajapaksa, disadvantages of incumbency after two terms in office outweighed his contempt for accountability in electioneering. One of these, it may be found that distribution of ‘Sil Redi’ is a perfectly reasonable act for the state that is constitutionally obliged to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana. The exasperation with the political class negatively impacts the party in office. The pervasive voter discontent also affects the party in power. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

It is a sobering reminder for all well-meaning but naïve do-gooders, your truly included.

This writer remains convinced that the trajectory of the Sirisena Presidency was framed in the early hours of 8th January 2015 when the anointed agreed to renounce the crown. The Political Correspondent of the leading Sunday English Broad Sheet makes a cryptic one line disclosure on Sunday 3rd July – “Strange but true, even some very noteworthy players in the opposition including a former VVIP, were privately supporting Mahendran’s continuation in office.”

What happened in the Bond fiasco was that information continued to flow for the sake of information. Messages were exchanged to mobilize public opinion. It is the first tangible demonstration in this country that technology has substantially swelled the ranks of citizen journalists and whistle blowers in high places.

The unprecedented public scrutiny of and engagement with the Central Bank’s handling of the Bond controversy holds lessons for the ruling oligarchy that has replaced previous oligarchs who unlike the present lot, operated quietly in the shadows. The perceived pitiless repression of their patrons kept agitation off the streets and controversy off the front pages and evening television.

Today we have a government that has reneged on some promises and delivered on some. Due mainly to their blind allegiance to liberal free market economics camouflaged clumsily in meaning less assertions of a social market Economy they have removed the lid on public discourse and politics of protest. Social media have flattened hierarchies and removed barriers in communication. The vibrant engagement in social media provide citizens with unlimited information on any specific issue.

The alleged extracts from the report of the Auditor General prompted the Leader of the House and the new keeper of the Conscience of the UNP to declare that the Auditor General has only expressed an opinion. With deliberate panache, the noble manor born politician from the hill country told the press that Arjuna Mahendran was innocent because in none of the cases filed against him had he been found guilty. He said Mr. Mahendran was educated at Oxford and Harvard Universities. He is a person with international contacts. He knows what international trade is. He is a big asset and he construed the refusal by the Supreme Court to grant leave to proceed on the fundamental rights application by three civil society activists as an exoneration by the apex court. Then came the immortal pronouncement. “The Auditor General’s report was only an opinion,”

Politicians are entitled to their opinions. We citizens are entitled to informed opinions precisely because the purpose of politics is to shape public opinion.

The Kandyan Dance performed by muscular male dancers is the authentic classical dance of Sri Lanka. The traditional male dancer exudes sheer physical joy of dancing when he leaps up and swirls in midair, gracefully descending clanking his anklets. The pirouetting of Honorable Lakshman Kiriella between fact and opinion strikes all reasonable citizens with the inescapable thought that he is a flat footed Kandyan dancer!

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Latest comments

  • 9

    You are an absolute gem ! Keep it flowing , please .

  • 7

    Very well written comrade De Alwis. “LUNACY Of An Opinionated Citizen” is what it should read when referring to the lunatic minister “K*rriella’s kassa”. These kind of remarks are not the “Kahinawa” (Coughing) trait but what in pristine Sinhala we call the “H*kanawa” (screwing) trait. Sorry for the language but this is what these Kiriella type of meeharaka’s understand. I know gentlemen and comrades like you would not pander to. However, this is the sad state of affairs here in yakko Sri Lankaway Deshapanaya.

  • 2

    Mr. Kiriella is right that all audit reports are opinions of the auditor based on the findings of the audit.

    The auditor can state or bring to light whether what was done is a violation according the GAAP based on GAAS. But if no laws were broken then its difficult to anything based on ethics.

    Like Cabral buying Greek Bonds, reason only he knew. But it did not break any laws.

    • 0

      What was wrong with Greek bonds? Foreigner bought/buy Sri Lankan bonds don’t they? At least the Greeks had EU cover,what do we have? Still people invest in our bonds.

  • 3

    Ah but Kiriella is just one such flat footed dancer. Why single him out when all others in this Jadapalanaya are all flat footed dancers. But then why blame the ‘gon palanaya’ mob for their flat footedness when the whole population of Sri Lanka are also caught flat footed at every election by the roguish politicians.

    What the flat footed voter deserves is flat footed dancers in the shape of Kiriella and ilk – that is all there is to it.

  • 3

    Kiriwalla’s sole purpose is to be the ‘laughing audience’ for the PM’s crude snidey comments made in Parliament in reply to opposition questions. And how did this man qualify as a lawyer if he has no understanding of the Auditor General’s functions ?

  • 1

    The man displays such arrogance it is quite nauseous . Unfortunately we Sri Lankans are saddled with many of these ‘born to rule’ types , who make all the decisions on our behalf .We are a nation of sitting ducks.

  • 2

    This is poetry.

    I wish I could write (rather come within a mile) like Sarath De Alwis, Vishvamitra and, to give the devil his(her) due, Thisaranee Gunasekara.

    Thanks CT


  • 1

    Some folks seem to entertain false hopes.

    The bondage ” I made you President and you made me Prime Minister – I made you Prime Minister and you made me President” will never break.


  • 1

    Auditor General or any auditor acting on his behalf express the opinions, of fraud,or lethargy, allowing siphoning of funds etc.It is for the officer at the helm to take effective action.In this bond scam conflict of interest can never be ruled out.Mr. Prime Minister should have got his”Royal Phobia” friend to step down honorably with out killing time and earning the disrespect of the country folks.To add to this Kiriella spoke about an opinion.Can we believe this?He is a senior Cabinet Minister.Has he never read an audit report.If he is such ignorant he should resign, asked to resign or sacked, because he is not fit to hold responsibility, such a dxxb.
    I was a regional director of a large state organisation.How many had to answer the audit querries,how many were surcharged, how many were terminated, and a few ended up in jail.
    Thanks to Mr. President,he took not timely, but at least belated action to appoint the govoner and to appease the phobia another eminent royalist.
    In such events even in the future Mr.President/Mr Prime Minister adopt a drop dead policy ( not waiting for a Minister to return appoint an acting) and fill the post.That is proactive efficient management and that 1st priority for nation building.

  • 0

    Kiriella,s statement on AG s Report stating that it was an Opinion. It is the
    Opinion of Kiriella When we go to a physician on one of our ailments He gives an opinion. When we are not happy with that Opinion we go to another and another until we get some one to confirm our own Opinion.But we need to pay unlike Kiriella’s Opinion given free.
    Same with the Lawyers. All are giving Opinions. But we have already formed our own Opinions
    One day a friend of me returned my opinion given to him free of charge saying that he does not want it, as he had already got so many opinions on the subject

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