By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
I am not interested in the JO motion of no-confidence. That is merely another illustration of the Rajapaksa camp trying to play a hypocritical game of fighting for justice and honesty in politics. Ravi Karunanayake himself is in large measure a product of the political culture created by the decade of Rajapaksa misrule and impunity. Ravi’s miscalculation was that he considered he could act with similar impunity being in the ranks of a government that rode to power under the noble banner of good governance.
It is in the nature of all revolutionary movements that counter revolutionary pressures emerge from within the ranks. In office, the new order begins to show strange resemblances with the old. Ravi managing to hold on, simply highlights the counter revolutionary crisis within the yahapalanaya government. Those of us who work for the civic campaign are left both bemused and bewildered. What is more, this case portends that the future course of yahapalanaya is also fraught with reactionary possibilities. For some time, stories and gossip have been floating around inferring that powerful persons within government are responsible for delaying to act on cases against men of the previous regime. Ravi Karunanayake’s successful tenacity tends to add credence to such stories. Concurrent with such possible counterrevolutionary manoeuvres it becomes important that the civic movement must get more firmly organised and be more demanding. At the end of the day, we the people are the transformative leaders. With the revolution of January 8th we face a transformative moment in the life of our country. “In this transformative moment, everybody contributes to, and in fact co-creates, the world we live in, whether conscious of their agency or not. Every choice, every action, every discussion, every interaction is a reflection of how we are leading our own lives,” said Alfonsu Montuori of the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Let’s make it all clear: At this stage, there isn’t any need to have a discourse within the sub judice space of Ravi’s case. That is prohibited by law. On the other hand, one could discourse on the ethical impropriety and serious moral conduct that is implied in Ravi’s own defence before the media after the court case. The ethical dynamics of this operate independently of the issue of guilt with regard to any crime involved in the bond case. The ethics of impropriety alone clearly give the red signal that Ravi must go- and go without any further hesitancy. Every day of hesitancy and waiting for something to fall off from the sky only compounds a bad case of political ethics. There is another substantive issue and that is that the Minister clinging on to high government office can be perceived as having the potential to influence the proceedings of the case itself. This makes up a substantial two-fold reason why Ravi must go without playing a cat and mouse game.
Take a look at the stupid statement the besieged Minister made before the crowd outside court and relayed to the public by mass media: He said he was “discharged.” This is a lie. The question of discharge does not arise when someone is summoned and questioned by the Commission and released thereafter. Even Wimal Weerawansa and Basil Rajapaksa have been “discharged,” in this sense. One is discharged only against formal charges made in a court case. This wasn’t the case here. It is not befitting for a Minister of government to make such a glib statement meant to fool a gullible public or to throw sand in our eyes. Plain deception! Second, the Minister said that this is a clear case of mischief on the part of officials in the Attorney General’s Department. It is not done for a Minister to attack a key department of his own government and pass the buck. He knows the AG is not in a position to refute the Minister in a public statement. This is deception number two. Third, Ravi says he is not expected to know about what his wife does in a company run by her-making reference to the lease and subsequent purchase of the Penthouse by a Company belonging to his wife and daughter. Dear reader, just jack up your imagination to the utmost capacity- level and try and visualise this scenario: Ravi is aware that the family is to move to the luxury penthouse. He does not bother to ask the wife how the deal was done, how she funded that. He goes at least every night to sleep with his wife in this luxury apartment but never for a moment does it occur to him to ascertain how it all came about. Next, the same penthouse was subsequently purchased for Rs 165 million. It is not Ravi’s business to enquire how she got such a large block of money. Hence, he never asks the wife but simply goes on living there. He has no natural curiosity to ask that.
Now, can you ever believe in this fairy tale? Even a Kinder kid would have his curiosity aroused; but Ravi’s curiosity isn’t forthcoming. And, he was the Minster of Finance!
What made matters worse was when Ravi is reported to have constructed a case that Anika Wijesuriya, the witness who testified before the Commission had been a former lover of Arjun Aloysius, the benefactor of this house. That lowered the case toward a kind of porno level.
All such considerations can legitimately occupy the ethical space in discourse. The issue of sub-juice doesn’t apply at this level.
It is as clear as daylight: Minister Ravi Karunayake, if he has any decency in him, must resign. Go now, Ravi. Right now!
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org