By Suranimala –
The current financial crisis that our small nation is facing is due to a single reason. Yes, a single reason called the Rajapaksa family willfully assisted by others who have benefited financially and otherwise during the successive terms of this family when in political power.
Starting with the Tsunami funds the Rajapaksa elder has shown that his greed has no bounds. The bigger the project the better it was as the deciding factor for large kickbacks depended on the value of the exercise. Look around at the vanity projects that have had zero returns, nay negative returns. The commissions mattered to him nothing more. The country, his people, the Sangha, Buddha’s word did not. His style was not that of the classic cases of tyrants who ruled across the globe in the past. It was a suave operation by deceiving a gullible voting public to believe that being a Sinhala Buddhist in Sri Lanka is the ultimate goal for them even if it was to live in utter poverty and want. Added to that sentiment was to show up the minorities as the stumbling block or Billas (Ghosts) that the Sinhala Buddhists must hate. All the while the politicians were happiest to collect the hefty kickbacks from minority businessmen from large projects/ contracts as they were considered Safe Bets vis a vis the Sinhalese. What has happened to Nadesan billions? Why were they safe bets? Because they were the vulnerable groups now that the majority hated them. They would dare not squeal. The people were deceived to hate them.
Are we to believe that the senior public servants are not aware of the grand larceny? Either they too benefit or are compensated in someother form. Lower down the order they are set against each other for the crumbs that fall off the high table. Others are simply frightened to rock the vessel and are content to get the benefits/promotions/children’s schooling and the pension at the end of their service.
There is never a case of robbing forever recorded in our known history. The chicken has come to roost. There is no money in much-needed foreign currency or local. The Banks are in trouble. Imports have dried up. Loans are chasing after non-existent finds. Sections of the people who are “I’m alright jacks” can continue to live it up. But for how long? Soon their larders will be attacked. For existence by the Sinhala Buddhists and even the lower end of the minorities. There is an eerie feeling that this phenomenon is not far off. The ruling family is vilified publicly in the strongest language and even using the crudest possible language. The people have nothing to eat. Nothing to look forward to in their lives. A majority that was led to believe that three meals of rice and Buddhism were the end goal is threatened with even garnering a single meal. A people fooled by these vile politicians to give vent to their inherent baser instincts did not imagine the wolf would be knocking at the door this quick. They are smart at looting. Billions the better. Not smart enough that unfettered greed has limits. No food (let alone three meals) means YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. NOW GO. The loudest voices are from the 69 lakhs. You cannot shoot nor imprison them. Can you?
Go they must and the sooner the better. What should follow such scenario? Same game different team? God help Sri Lankan people if such were to take place. If so a perpetual revolution cannot be ruled out. A hard road lies ahead. Unfortunately, the people at large will have to pay the price over a number of years for the folly of allowing one family to pilfer at will. Religion will not bring prosperity. Buddha’s teachings whilst being followed must remain in the hearts and minds of each adherent and not on political platforms. Respect for each human being must be inculcated. Every individual must take pride in his/her work irrespective of occupation.
The financial state of the nation may have come as a shock to the Rajapaksas. Of course none within that family is intelligent or wise enough to have predicted that grabbing power at the last election was going to show them up. Being cunning is not the same as being wise. One must necessarily lay the blame squarely at Mahinda’s feet for having thrust his brother Gotabaya to run for President. Why? Mahinda knew his brother since birth and should have had ample knowledge of what his capabilities were to be President of Sri Lanka. The people have come to realise that it definitely was not Gotabaya and Mahinda who won the war. They did help but the action men were others. They were sidelined or thrown away for one family to create an illusion of being the sole warriors. That has paled. Why? They cannot run simple everyday issues of governance. No food, no gas, no imports. no medicine, no jobs, no cars and trucks and no money. But of course we have new ports, new cities, new cricket grounds, new highways, new convention centres and new tall columns. Eerie and empty.
Let us dig a bit deeper. It’s not only the peasants who were fooled. Others in noble professions contributed in bringing about the current state of the nation. Not only did they help in doing such but by ommission allowed the ruling family to filch as much as possible by veering the minds of the majority into useless and nonsensical paths. Take the journalists around. Seniors such as Iqbal Athas, Shamindra Ferdinando, C.A. Chandraprema et al. have been concerned mainly in supporting the Sinhala Buddhist thrust of the Rajapaksa family. Are we that daft to believe that they did not know of the magnitude of the pilferage that was going on? Of course they knew of the Bond Scam and the stuff that was highlighted nonstop during the Yahapalanaya stint. They blew loud and clear then, which was good. What about the Rajapaksa clean up? Nary a whimper. You too are to be blamed Sir. All of you and others who kept out of the way for reasons of enrichment, inherent racist tendencies or fear. perhaps even a mixture of each.
The recent sojourn of Mahinda to Thirupathi has drawn a lot of attention. Manifold reasons have been adduced. With wife, son and daughter-in-law accompanying him the overt reason seemingly was that of a pilgrimage. Thirupathi kovil is a Hindu shrine. Northern Tamils are mostly Hindus. Hiduism and Tamilians are a set of trouble makers in Sri Lanka or so Mahinda and his family led the Sinhala/Buddhists to believe. The King can seek the blessings of the Hindu Gods, but his voting followers must not. The hallmark of a sanctimonious humbug or belief that his voting majority are foolish peasants at best.
I digress. What is in store for Sri Lanka now? Who will lead the recovery? Will the public put their shoulders to the wheel knowing it will take years or even decades to recover? Is there a leader in sight who will inspire the confidence of the people ? Certainly it is not Ranil nor Sirisena. Both knew that the Rajapaksa family robbed this country and her people bigtime. They did naught. Ranil went through motions hoping he could move in after Sirisena to the plum post. He sat with his Attorney General and dilly dallied till people forgot about Rajapaksa robbery of their money. Sirisena simply changed his mind to run a second term despite a promise not to do so. Some say that Ranil is afraid of the Rajapaksas. Nevertheless the need for Sri Lanka is to find a leader with guts to put all politicians who have robbed us away in prison. Find the looted money and confiscate, dismantle the investments in land and businesses that some part of the loot has been laundered into. Without such action the children of these robbers will become leaders in the future and the cycle will begin. Harsh lessons must be taught and learnt.
Take the Jet aircraft that landed at Ratmalana to haul the Rajapaksa brigade to Thirupathi. It is revealed that this craft set out from Uganda but is registered in San Marino. Recall that Mahinda Rajapaksa is a keen visitor to Italy. His recent visit to Bologna to attend a meeting (where plastic chairs were set for the attendees) which even a lowly government servant may have not got approval was shrouded in mystery. San Marino is a principality known well as a tax haven (read illegal money) across the world. Now tie this up with Uganda where Mahinda’s pet is the High Commissioner. Velupillai Kananathan is on his second stint as High Commissioner. Though the aircraft records unearthed via limited exposure by the JVP does not name the owner, research unveils the owner’s name which begins with first letter as K and the last as N. Elementary Watson.
Velupillai Kananathan is a close associate of the Rajapaksas. Mahinda being the closest, but do not discount Gotabaya and Basil. He had attended most of Mahinda’s visits to Italy. The recent visit to Bologna too. He did attend the climate conference in Scotland as well. It is common knowledge that Kananathan is a slick talker and is a close friend of the Ugandan President. He lives in Uganda and was first involved in manufacturing garments in that country. Uganda is a country known to spawn corrupt Dictators. Be that as it may, are the Rajapaksas buying insurance to make certain of a quick getaway if the devoted followers go further than the hooting that has started? Is that the reason for the jet being parked at Ratmalana with a few forays to India and back?
On past record it appears that Sajith Premadasa is well placed to win at the next election in 2024 or earlier if the people get on the streets to chase the Rajapaksas. Does Sajith have strong knees to prosecute the rogues, imprison and confiscate the stolen billions? If not please Mr Sajith Premadasa make way for Anura Kumara Dissanayake or by default Gen Sarath Fonseka who certainly will. Sri Lanka must set the record straight even at this last gasp or we are doomed to be led by the progeny of the biggest looters this country has ever known. As for the Buddhist Clergy and the Cardinal included, please stay within your Temples and Churches. Your followers will come to you. This country needs to be saved from the robbers and not from anyone else.