26 October, 2020

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Political Monotheism, Institutional Erosion And Moral Decay

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned….” – Marx and Engles (Manifesto of the Communist Party)

Strong Women of Sri Lanka’ is the title of a booklet published by Child Development and Women’s Affairs Ministry and given free to students visiting the recent Dayata Kirula exhibition. The book reportedly contains 144 names, the crème de la crème of Lankan womanhood, in Rajapaksa reckoning. According to UNP Parliamentarian Ajith Perera, this list has two notable absentees – Sri Lanka’s only woman head-of-state and sole female chief justice[i].

Mahinda RajapaksaImagine a list of outstanding Indian women which excludes Indira Gandhi or a list of outstanding British women which drops Margaret Thatcher. Not even the BJP at its most anti-Congress or the Labour at its most anti-Conservative would commit such an inane solecism.

According to Parliamentarian Perera, this list of top women-achievers, while excluding Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Shirani Bandaranayake, has included actress-turned-parliamentarian, Upeksha Swarnamali, alias Pabha,.

Juxtapose the exclusion and the inclusion and the reason for this political faux pas becomes clear. Sri Lanka’s only woman president and sole female CJ are excluded because they are anathema to the Rajapaksas. Ms. Swarnamali is included because she is a Rajapaksa acolyte.

That is how Rajapaksa Sri Lanka works: a Rajapaksa acolyte cannot do wrong; a Rajapaksa opponent cannot get it right.

Take the case of WD Rodrigo, former principal of the Law College. In 2011, he achieved notoriety for allegedly allowing Namal Rajapaksa to sit for an exam in a room apart, with internet facilities[ii]. In 2012, Mr. Rodrigo became the locus of another scandal; it was alleged that he favoured his own son in a similar manner[iii]. Eventually he was compelled to depart due to accusations of ‘examination irregularities’[iv].

Within weeks, in a quintessentially Rajapaksa move, the disgraced former Law College principal was appointed the Legal Director of the Presidential Secretariat. “As you are aware I am a President’s Counsel and the most educated lawyer in the country, having completed my Doctorate in law from the University of Queensland. I have been appointed by his Excellency the President to handle all his legal affairs”[v], an understandably jubilant Mr. Rodrigo crowed.

The triumphant resurrection of Mr. Rodrigo and the eternal damnation of Shirani Bandaranayake, in confluence, demonstrate that the most essential ingredient to a brilliant career in Rajapaksa Sri Lanka is not intelligence, ability or integrity but obedience to the Rajapaksas.

And this blatant favouritism, which is a founding principle of the Rajapaksa state, has compromised the integrity of another vital institution, the Law College.

In ‘Why Nations Fail’, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that countries which are “ruled by a narrow elite that have organised society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people”[vi] fail to escape poverty/underdevelopment. Using a wealth of historical examples, they conclude that ‘extractive elites’, greedy leaders who monopolise political and economic power, create weak institutions which impede economic progress. The solution is an inclusive-elite capable of producing inclusive institutions.

Sri Lanka, under Rajapaksa rule, is moving in the opposite direction. The country did have a handful of institutions which remained untouched by the depredations of even her worst rulers. This helped Sri Lanka to avoid Fourth World status, even with a three-decade war and two insurgencies.

The first premise of any monotheistic creed is the belief that there is no god but (that particular) god. In Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, the first precept, the primary commandment of life (even outside politics) is the acceptance of Rajapaksa rule.

Sri Lanka is suffering from the deliberate erasure of every line of demarcation between the state and the Ruling Family. Today Lankan state is geared towards fulfilling the needs/whims of the Rajapaksas and their kith and kin. Previously autonomous/independent institutions are being corrupted and occupied, one by one. From the Central Bank to the Department of Census and Statistics, from the military[vii] to the upper judiciary, from the Securities and Exchanges Commission to the Bribery Commission, institutions which were above partisan politics have become blatant Rajapaksa tools. Soldiers labouring to facilitate Colombo Night Races, a private venture, and senior civil servant Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s face staring from a thousand UPFA-election posters are symptoms of this national malaise.

The practice of making and implementing laws for the benefit of the Rajapaksas and their kith and kin is not limited to the strictly political. Take the cabinet decision to remove the licence-requirement for timber transportation. This has encouraged illegal timber rackets while having a punitive effect on furniture-makers who use legally obtained raw materials. As Ven. Beruwela Ananda Thero, who is campaigning on behalf of the affected Moratuwa carpenters, explained, “What happens now is these illegal dealers go into the conservation and reserved forest areas, fell the trees and make what they call manufactured furniture while they are in the forest….. (Then) it is impossible to trace the source of the timber. Since they get the timber almost free of charge they can sell the furniture cheaply to shops…”[viii] Ordinary and law-abiding carpenters lose their livelihoods; politically connected racketeers benefit; forests are denuded and environment is destroyed.

Imagine the effect of innumerable such misbegotten policies, repeated over decades.

Indecent, Immoral, Inane

A Presidential cameraman was caught stealing a camera in Dubai and Presidential Media Director was accused of stealing bed-linen in Minsk, while on official presidential tours. The former lost is job while the latter didn’t[ix]. Neither was prosecuted nationally.

Namal Rajapaksa, when he forwarded an obscene tweet, was violating ordinary common or garden decency. (Had he received a tweet half as gross about any of his family members, would he have laughed ‘light-heartedly’ and forwarded it?) With his attempts to justify this crudity as a ‘light-hearted joke[x], he is effectively attempting an upending of what is socially acceptable and what is not. Social media is a public – and not a private – space. Sharing such an uncivilised tweet would be the equivalent of making public the contents of a nasty anonymous letter. But then, that is precisely what a Rajapaksa acolyte did in parliament, during the impeachment witch-trial. Young Mr. Rajapaksa, when he pioneers a new moral-ethical commonsense which is crass, unkind and indecent, is following in the footsteps of his father’s ministers.

Is this oafish-vulgarity our miraculous future?

Had South Asia’s other political-scions, Rahul Gandhi or Bilawal Bhutto, acted in a similarly loutish manner, they would have been severely criticised not only by political opponents but also by leaders of their own parties and society in general. The fact that Namal Rajapaksa can act so coarsely, with politico-societal impunity, is indicative of how far we have fallen as a society.

Sri Lanka, under Rajapaksa rule is afflicted not just by institutional erosion but also from a severe morality-deficit, intelligence-deficit and decency-deficit.

The new JVP leader, parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake recently stated that like Vellupillai Pirapaharan, the Rajapaksas cannot afford to lose power[xi]. He is quite right.

And Sri Lanka cannot afford to let the Rajapaksas rule with impunity for long, because they are destroying the best institutions of this country and the best qualities of her people.


[iv] Ibid

[vi] Power, Prosperity and Poverty: Why Nations Fail – Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

[vii] Though the police was heavily politicized, the military was not, until Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa came along.

[viii] Sunday Times – 15.12.2013

[x] https://twitter.com/RajapaksaNamal

According to Mr. Rajapaksa, the obscene meme ‘makes him laugh’; that says it all.

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Latest comments

  • 15
    0

    Politics in third world countries (not a mid income level country yet even if some dont want to hear the other way around) like ours are complex. That is known almost to everyone. Sometimes even more complex than a maligant tumour with no curability can be achieved through various therapies available today.

    However, there are times, that few of these tumours can be healed off if treating docs diagnoses them basically and take all actions at least from the point they were very clear about the danger – if would not, the death is certain.

    So as the political situation inthe country today is very similar to this. If the lead was honest, genuine, pragmatic, intelligent only he would be able to shape up the situation, particularly, in the post war scnario – where no more dangerous concerns towards the human losses in the north, but the long journy towards the sustainable peace achievements.

    What have the MR regime taken to be called as GENUINE efforts focusing on PEACE and Reconciliation ?

    North Province election was held due to the pressure on the ruler by International COmmunity

    How many times have the MR administration made initiatives to hold regular discussions since then ? not even handful of… :(

    What fails here ? – is clearly seen.. even crystal clear – wholehearted efforts by TOPLEADERship.

    Can a carpentor (only qualified for that job) become an oncologist ?
    Never…. this is the situation in the country today.
    People, senior professionals, senior analysts are responsible to make MR administration very clear about this grave situation.

  • 16
    1

    Regarding Namal’s Tweet one CT reader here itself commented that people dont understand ‘humor’. I dont see any humor when some one pass a vulgar remark on a social site.
    TG – You are pretty right, the qaulities of the people drastically dropping thanks to this regime. Crimes became a day to day affair. Ministers’ bluders has become a common thing that people just laugh at it and forget the next day. No more seriousness in any fraud, deception, embezzlement, abductions, threats or even killing.

    Cant afford to Rajapaksa rule to continue, its high time they are gone.

    • 15
      0

      Mismanagement top to toe.
      An Ex 7 Eleven is holding a powerful top post only next to the president.
      An ex ‘comis kakka’ is Ministrer of Economy.
      An ex Security guard is country’s speaker.
      An ex Exam cheater & a weak orator is THE President.
      What else you can Expect from a cheap uncultured uncivilized family which is in power?
      Its abysmal.
      GL gave us a nice image yesterday to us. What a calamity.
      I am crying for my Ceylon. I need it back. Where are those elite?

      • 4
        0

        Senerath,

        All what you say is true.

        However, who truly is responsible for giving such a rogue clan the key to the country and watching the clan bankrupt the country, hoodwinking the masses with nothing but blatant psudo-patriotic ferver?

        The President didn’t elect himself; he did not take that positition by force. A vast majority of you gave that to him on a silver platter.

        So, the question is whether you guys are even capable of undoing your own folly, even after all this new-ound wisdom!

      • 6
        3

        We Sri Lankans must count our blessings. Are we not much better off than the separatist Tamils who were led by a Grade 7 dropout psychopath killer to their utter ruination, and are still unable to free themselves fully from that hellish legacy?

        • 2
          5

          Pointman,

          You sure have a rather low if not incredulously stupid “bar” set for your aspirations!

          Go party yourself while the Royals milk you dry while you stay in your great deep slumber!

      • 0
        0

        “I am crying for my Ceylon. I need it back. Where are those elite?”

        Yes, Where are they?

        Do you think that the People who made the Old Ceylon, could be happy in what Sri Lanka has become today? Where only the Corrupt and Second Rate Prosper?

        As Tisaranee says so succinctly:-

        “That is how Rajapaksa Sri Lanka works: a Rajapaksa acolyte cannot do wrong; a Rajapaksa opponent cannot get it right.”

    • 3
      0

      .
      Thought for NaRa….
      Today’s news is that Gaddhafi’s Son has been extracdited to Libya and in jail now.
      :-)

  • 10
    2

    The so called 2500 year old Sinhalese civilization has become decadent and is in decay now.

    New one will be in order.

    • 1
      0

      If you have your way it will be dominated by Tiger terrorists !

      Our problem was that we didn’t kill buggers like you when we finished of the LTTE.

  • 8
    0

    Check it by yourself:

    The Minister of Justice just criticises injustice activities of govt –
    as if he has no authority to react – this is the reality of MR regime…

    jaya wewa.. IC should study this closely

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzCR9YKCVNY

  • 9
    6

    “The new JVP leader, parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake recently stated that like Vellupillai Pirapaharan, the Rajapaksas cannot afford to lose power.”

    LIKE VELUPILLAI PIRAPAHARAN, THE JVP AND ANURA KUMARA DISSANAYAKE CAN NEVER GAIN POWER IN THIS COUNTRY.

    • 0
      8

      If one has no wish; there will be no will. If we wish a change there will be a change. If we do not wish we will remain as we are for ever and all will be OUTRIDERS.

    • 1
      8

      Then the masses will certainly suffer eternally !!

      No prblem to me, I am an elite.

  • 2
    1

    Very true TG!

    A quote to ponder on…

    “Experience has shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
    ― Thomas Jefferson

  • 4
    2

    To All my Tamil friends who wants a Separate state in Sri Lanka by a referendum,
    You need the support of Russia. Therefore, stop wasting time with the west and start your lobbing in Russia. Russia wants to have a referendum in Crimea to find out whether they want to separate from Ukraine.

    But this is what Cameron said today, “It is clear the referendum called for by Crimea would be unconstitutional and illegal and the European Commission is drawing up plans for travel bans and asset freezes against Russia if it doesn’t engage in talks”

  • 1
    0

    How the current regime dug their own grave by signing a joint-statement with Bankimoon on the 22rd May 2009 and incumbent were fools of them, Wjiedasa Rajapakshe explains it very clearly on the following videos.
    Only excuses that the ruling candidates bring are- if the UNP and JVP did it earlier…. etc..why not us attitude

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EslENVPxl8
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eXSnPrhNBE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW2cocwvxpQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bRkmOaOxic
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pjKueGvpPU

    • 0
      0

      They started biting nails or gaping while JVP and UNP are asking why the investigative reports on Rathupaswala and other incidents are yet to come. About these incidents UN authorities have posed lengthy questions in already available UN resolution draft.

  • 6
    1

    According to Ms T “It is immoral and indecent to try to pinch a duty free camera.”

    And it is not the President, not even a Minister, but one of the photographers hired to cover a official delegation?.

    What would Ms T do if our President was caught with a brunette sitting under his Oval desk and giving him some entertainment with a happy ending.?.

    Ms T always expects very high, in fact extremely high moral standards from our Politikkas, especially the one in power at present.. Doesn’t she?.

    Even our Vellala CM says he is now into Development and not to do politics with his non Vellala subjects.

    ( All Vellalas and even better educated non Vellalas have migrated to Colombo or Canada, according to Mr David Jeyaraj a well known Tamil journalist from Toronto).

    Although it took some time after he called the late Leader Mr Prabkaran a Hero , he certainly is on the right path now.

    Educate the poor kids in the North whose parents contributed big time for the current luxury lives of the Diaspora and the Vellalas.

    Give then a chance for a good education and make them also better educated so that they can migrate too.at least to Colombo.

    Who knows one of them may even become a another SC judge.

    In the meantime let Ms T keep regurgitating the same old stuff and make the Diaspora and Bishop Rayappu happy.

  • 0
    0

    Tisaranee Gunasekara,

    Moral decay starts with lies and institutionalized lies.

    Here is an example of Monk Manhaama lied and Moral decay of Sinhala Buddhism.

    You need to Challenge at every step of the way. That is your duty as a citizen. You are doing the right thing. You can expect the Judges to be more egalitarian and follow the law.

    In Sri Lanka there are TWO kinds of Buddhists:

    1. Those who follow the True Teachings of the enlightened Philosophy.

    2. Those e who follow the Racist Ideology and Teachings of Monk Mahnama in the Mahawansa.

    You may have to point out the difference and the Laws of the Country and the UN Charter now and then because some of those forget. The Police while seem to have been infected, they are being meddled by the Monk Mahanama Racists, that makes it difficult for them to do their duty.

    So, my suggestion is keep challenging the MYTH Holders, because in the Monk Mahanam Sinhala Buddhists want to practice myths, they can keep it to themselves, without interfering in the ability of others to follow their Myths.

    Anyway, those Sinhala Monk Mahanam Buddhists are Para- Para-Sinhala. What makes them more Para-Sinhala is that they are not following the teaching of Buddha. They call it is Dhamma Depaya, Faith Island, but the fact is that they have turned the Land of the native Vedda, Aethho, to a Mara Deepaya, Mara Island, who was against Buddha.

    It looks like, Monk Mahanama is Mara Reborn, if Rebirth is True, but need confirmation. The Mahawansa has a lot of errors and Imaginations, that is the root cause of Sri lank’s problem. According to a German Scholar, Mahawansa contains, Tissue of Absurdities. Deja Vu… Seen Sinhala Monk Maranama Buddhist Racism before.

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