By Latheef Farook –
Accusing the media of criticizing the government, President Maithripala Sirisena stated recently that media personnel had forgotten the sufferings they underwent during Rajapaksa regime. He claimed that it was his government that freed the media and had given the freedom now enjoyed.
Of course, it is common knowledge that there are plenty of Rajapaksa stooges all over including in the media. The talk has been that there are plenty of Rajapaksa mercenaries, stooges and ghost writers exploiting every possible opportunity to discredit the government.
However, the media in general is telling home truths for which the government is fully responsible. Media today is reflecting the mood of the people who voted for the government in the hope they would bring to book all those who brought the country to the misery.
People and the media which supported the government alike remain deeply disappointed with the government’s dismal failure to fulfil its pledges to prosecute those responsible for high profile fraud, corruption, crimes, murders, looting of nation’s wealth and the list continues. If we are to go by reports in the media, the so-called patriots only developed themselves under the guise of developing the country.
These include Hambantota port, Mattala airport, stadium, conference hall, Colombo port and the so called financial city projects which virtually sold out the country to foreigners. These projects increased the country’s debts beyond its financial capacity to repay. Country was financially mortgaged to foreign countries. This is one among many of the reasons why the Rajapaksa government was thrown out.
Now what has been going on under the present government has caused deep disappointment as they do not want the collapse of the government. Now the question is why is the new government which came to power on the slogan of good governance not taking firm action to deal with all those who ruined this country?
Most responsible media personnel who do not want the return of Rajapaksa government point out that the media is not trying to topple the government. Instead highlighting the government’s failure to ensure that even at this late stage the government wakes up, fulfil its pledges and avert any potential disaster which could bring unpredictable consequences.
Unfortunately, the current policy of doing nothing has resulted in people losing confidence in the ability of the government to deliver on their pledges to the nation. This means the government, willingly or unwillingly, playing into the hands of those who are suspected of plotting and conspiring to topple it. This is what the media does not want and thus highlighting burning issues in the hope that the government would wake up to the realities.
The often-raised question in almost every social gatherings and functions is that why can’t the government arrest the rogues, thieves, frauds and looters who flourished under Rajapaksa government. Why don’t the government bring to book those who committed crimes such as the suspected killing of rugger player Wasim Thajudeen and those from the media, whose soul would continue to haunt not only those in the previous government but those in the precent government too.
To cite an example time and again, the media raise questions about the wisdom behind government approving millions of rupees to import cars for parliamentarians at a time when the almost bankrupt country’s economy is run by International Monetary Fund with foreign debts exceeding $ 60 billion, almost 83% of the GDP, while the people are being subjected to immense problems and hardships in their day to day lives.
People are fed up of empty slogans such as turning Colombo into a financial center between Singapore and Dubai. Sri Lanka was more than a financial center in the early 1950 when late Singapore prime minister Lee Kwan Yew said that he would make Singapore a Sri Lanka and Dubai then was an unknown desert strip used for drying fish.
Almost every organization is mismanaged and the island today is one of the most mismanaged countries in the world despite all its natural blessings but turning more disastrous than ever heard of before.
They point out the need to sort out problems such as the dispute between doctors and the government over SAITM issue. This issue coupled with repeated students protests caused immense hardships to people. These are issues which need to be sorted as early as possible. However, that was not done. Instead the government leaders are travelling worldwide signing bilateral agreements which so far failed to bring any fruitful results including foreign investments. Yet up to date neither the president nor the prime minister thought it fit to visit to Gulf states which provides employment to around a million Sri Lankans whose annual remittances is more than seven billion dollars helping to sustain the economy from collapse.
There was a time when decent and responsible elements in the bureaucracy kept the corrupt politicians in check. However, in the recent past especially during the Rajapaksa regime politicians and large section of the bureaucracy joined hands to plunder the country and ruin several vital establishments.
For example, during Rajapaksa regime there were reports of politicians and bureaucracy jointly looting around $ 3.5 billion tsunami aid while tsunami victims continue to live even today in temporary shelters.
The situation is such Is that seven decades after the independence the country couldn’t find a solution to dump its waste while an airline is almost grounded due to mismanagement.
The government came with a pledge to stop the hate crimes and bring about reconciliation within divided communities. However, when racist thugs began attacking mosques and Muslim owned businesses the government remained indifferent with many accusing it of giving a free hand.
This is the reason why the media and the people alike are critical of the government and it is time for the government to wake up from slumber and save the country and save the government itself.