19 October, 2017

RK Drama – Only A Symptom

By Mohamed Harees –

Lukman Harees

There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men’ ~ Ludwig von Mises

Memory is essential for survival. The brain stores all kinds of memories, like the way to ride a bike, what happened yesterday and even the meaning of the word ‘memory’. But memories are fragile and when the brain is damaged by an accident or an illness, memories can disappear along with the ability to remember. However, Ravi Karunanayake’s recent memory loss is symptomatic of a special type of syndrome (The first victim being Duminda Silva) – ‘Mata Mathaka Nehe’ syndrome, which only afflicts corrupt criminalized politicians even today –Yahapalanaya withstanding. This comical circus will continue, as long as the corrupt system and political culture remaina and to expect it to vanish merely with the change of government is like expecting cure for the headache by changing the pillows. 

In January 2015, people  were gullible enough to believe that the political culture too will change radically once the name board changed to Yahapalanaya, in order to rid this country of corruption and racial hatred which became the bane in the Post War MR era. Of course there were positive developments. More than 2 years later, none can deny that there were few commendable measures taken such as more freedom of expression, RTI and some concrete steps to alleviate the suffering of the Northern people which earned international commendation. Even the Presidential Commission which is looking into the CB Bond scam would not have come about under MR rule. However, both MS and RW have been overall a sorry disappointment leaving the electorate wondering whether there will be any further democratic hope to usher in a corruption-free, hate free country, after losing yet another historic opportunity. Is democracy then failing in Sri Lanka ? What happened to transparency, to accountability which are the pillars of democracy ?

Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy remains the most intuitive essence of this form of government: government of the people, by the people, for the people. In many supposed democracies around the world, this has either completely changed, or is changing right before our eyes to the worse. And an increasingly disillusioned electorate seems to take a backseat approach in dealing with the offenders. Voter turn-out is the lowest it has been around the world in a generation. Voters have lost faith in politicians and are turning to demagogues like Donald Trump – and the things he represents. And who can blame them when we see what it has become? The less we trust our political elite, the more likely we are to take a gamble on one of Trump like demagogues. After all, can a fear-monger be any worse than the cronyism and lies democracy has become? 

Democracy was built on the power and needs of the people. It has since been sold out to money. And that, experts agree, is the biggest threat to it today. If the corruptive influence of money has left voter in the West disenchanted, it has been even more damaging in Africa and Asia, Sri Lanka included. Voters are no longer shocked by revelations of corruption. For a long time, oligarchs in the garb of democrats pretended to serve the interests of the people. But the veil of deception is lifting. People are starting to recognize that the dreams of collective prosperity promised by democracy are being turned into nightmares for the majority, and monumental wealth for the privileged ruling class and their allies. We should however not trust democracy without extremely powerful systems of accountability. Like in many so-called democracies today, in Sri Lanka too, that accountability – and the transparency that goes with it –  have gone missing.

It is said that a strong democracy is still the best anti-corruption tool. Unacceptable behaviour weakens social justice and fosters populism. Public vigilance is of utmost importance and should keep the government to account so that the government should step up the fight against corruption by promoting integrity and transparency in public life at all levels, in particular by adopting sound rules on the declaration of assets, income and financial and other interests, making such declarations easily accessible to the public and setting up independent supervisory bodies and regulating lobbying activities. The role of the media and also social media in denouncing corruption should be acknowledged, while ensuring that media regulation respects media freedom and responsibility. Besides , the Parliament should also develop a code of conduct covering guidance on the prevention of conflicts of interest, gifts and other advantages, while ensuring that parliamentary immunity does not protect members of parliament from criminal prosecution for corruption-related acts.

John Locke was, to English philosophy, the equivalent of Sir Isaac Newton in science. According to Locke, if a government created by society is not doing its job properly, that is, in the interest of those who created it, then it ought to be overthrown. There was nothing new in this idea. Since the Middle Ages and during the Reformation, kings and emperors had overthrown each other, claiming that their enemies on the throne were not governing justly.

Locke, however, went further by stating clearly exactly what a government’s role was. A government’s job, in Locke’s view, was to protect life, liberty and, above all, property. When it fails to protect these, it should be replaced. To prevent power being abused, Locke insisted that the legislative (Parliament), executive (king) and judiciary (courts) be independent of each other and constantly checking on each other. But it’s still not too late. To make sure this lack of trust in politicians does not translate into a complete lack of trust in democracy, we must now begin to focus on making transparency and accountability fundamental to our acceptance of a government as democratic.

Good governance (Not the brand of Yahapalanaya Sri Lanka has been accustomed to in recent times) principles if practiced as they should, can make it more difficult for corruption to take root. As we know, of many requirements of good governance, some key components are participation, accountability, transparency, and rule of law. It is the combination of the principles that can help stem corruption and build a stable society. And, in a system where rule of law prevails, citizens have an equal standing under the law regardless of their political affiliation, social status, economic power, or ethnic background. Public participation greatly helps mitigate conflict because there are legitimate public forums and mechanisms for peaceful debate. Public participation in politics (through elections, political parties and civil society organizations) can provide a check on the government and keep political authorities accountable. Such accountability is enhanced by the rule of law, which encompasses the processes, norms, and structures that hold the population and public officials legally responsible for their actions and impose sanctions if they violate the law. Although this may seem idealistic in Sri Lanka as things stand, this is the ideal we must go towards however difficult this journey may seem to the people.

Can Citizens Make a Difference?

There are all kinds of institutions and laws that can be put in place to combat corruption, but some of the most effective programs happen at very small scales. Citizens’ campaigns at the local level can, in fact, be one of the most effective ways to fight corruption. As stated, no progress can  be made until citizens are involved. To date, there has been an institutional approach to fighting corruption, but there has been a shift in thinking that this alone can’t make a dent. It’s important, but not enough. Civic organizations, neighbourhood groups, and community networks all have to become involved.

Initiatives that give journalists and citizens more access to government information is particularly important to ensure transparency. Fortunately , one of the laudable measures taken by this government has been to bring in the Right to Information Act. The legislation requires public officials to provide information to citizens in a timely manner and enable citizens to obtain details of any publicly funded scheme, project, or institution. RTI if effectively used could hold the politicians and the government officials to account and also result in a number of indictments. Only ‘Citizens initiatives’ can prevent future recurrences of comical circuses like RK loss of memory dramas and Wimal’s fasting antics to avoid prosecution for their corrupt track records. 

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    Duminda Silva got shot in the head & was unconscious. What happened to this guy?? He has no shame of repeatedly lying.

    • 0
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      Mr Mohamed Harees,

      Excellent piece!
      “RK Drama – Only A Symptom”
      It’s encouraging to find that some Lankans can see, that the fault is the system and not any single individual – or partisan politics played for advantage. The simple truth is, any of these individuals can fall dead tomorrow and nothing much will change. Others will take their place and carry on with the same set-in-place Lankan traits.

      Unfortunately for us, almost all systems that function well for the citizens in other societies have evolved through the social-evolutionary-process over many centuries. There is no quick-fire-fix. Just imagine where we would be now, if we were not conquered by the English and force-trained to come down from the trees – I know this statement will offend many who are now rabidly anti-English/White but have spent their entire lives trying to mimic the English; I have them in my own family, nothing new.

      Our apparent “advancement” is imposed on us by the colonial-conquers and totally artificial. And it’s a daily struggle for the primitive man to come to terms with it. We are so close to it, we are blinded …….. but can be easily observed in other former colonised countries, especially in places like Africa. At the subterranean strata, our problems are anthropological. That’s the unvarnished truth without the niceties of language.

      “To prevent power being abused, Locke insisted that the legislative (Parliament), executive (king) and judiciary (courts) be independent of each other and constantly checking on each other.”

      That’s the principle America’s founding fathers tried to “lock in place.” America is now more corrupt than Sri Lanka! Man always finds ways to circumvent/outwit.

      • 0
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        continued ……………….

        ………….. I feel the best systems going now are Canada, Australia and New Zealand …………… for one simple reason “academics” fail to see. The heads of their governments are not the prime ministers but the Queen of England. Even an old senile queen far away has an effect in keeping their heads of governments from losing their minds. And those systems have come into existence by fortunate accidents – more than by human design.

  • 5
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    Sri Lanka needs a radical political change…please see the vedio clips of all these people just before 2015 election…they talked too much about reforms and now this government is worse than previous one ..it looks that we need a real change..
    Only JVP could do something good for the country and nation ..
    No one else
    Vote for JVP and vote for SL.
    Vote for any others you vote of corruption
    Vote for any one except these crooks

    • 2
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      Exactly it is only the JVP that has the courage and commitment to change the fate of the country. People should rally around the JVP for a corrupt-free, peaceful, harmonious and prosperous Sri Lanka.

  • 2
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    Ravi Karunanayake was living in that penthouse since 2016. Now half of 2017 is also passed. Ravi K’s wife and daughter did not tell the father that they bought this new pent house for Rs 180 million. that includes the rent for the six months they stayed there to check the aprtment. RK’s daughter comes and tell why only my father is harassed. that means there are other thieves. Everybody know Kabir Hassim, Samarawickram, Ranil and RK were in the central bank meetings. SOme news media say aloysius has donated houses to Sena wijesinghe, Ajith Perera and to RK. Ranil says, if theives were caught he would remove them. That looks like “Horage ammagen Pena ahawwa wage” story. So now, Ravi K has who was known as Galleon Ravi now has become “I KNOW NOTHING RAVI”.

    • 0
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      Jim softy ,

      Onella asking ” why only my father ” basically means , Aloysius
      text message mentioning Hon PM and Hon Ravi K and some
      times Hon RK detected on his phone . Mr “I know nothing”
      repeatedly maintained the same answer. Kabir’s name has
      nothing to do here except RK saying to the commission that
      Kabir’s ministry needed 75 billion for projects . So do not
      mess up names without relevance simply because you are a
      member of anti-Muslim club . Now Jim , it is all about RK
      and PM and MR,BR,GR,NR,YR ,SR and their boot lickers from
      the other end . Jayaweva Jim !

    • 1
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      U guys comment like as if you all know anything n everything..This Govt is striving so hard to get the country back to rails, as Rajapakse’s has swindled to the country to the tune of 7 Billion $, and left the coffers high and dry..

    • 0
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      When it is the thieves are helping RW to hold on to the leadership, can RW remove them. Although there are quite a lot of young politicians in the UNP the dominating ruling clique will never give an opportunity to these young ones so that the clique can continue. RW pampers them in return.

  • 0
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    Yu are saying “can citizens make a difference ?. why media exposing not citizens. PResident is like ati kehel kaapu uguduwa. For every thing he is waiting. Ranil saying something else. He knows better thaefts than this. That is why. epeople say Ranil knows where Mahinda Rajapakse lowered the wealth full of container into the ocean.

  • 5
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    Thank you, Lukman Harees. As you say, what we see happening now is symptomatic of the way human society is evolving at this present time. We may soon end up destroying all life on Planet Earth. It may be that we are reaching a point at which there are no simple prescriptions that work. Solve one problem, and a dozen more sprout in its place. How many heads did the hydra have? Obviously, there’s no point finding out the answer to that question – it is the over-all drift of your thoughtful essay that counts.

    I’m sure that you would agree that if at the end of reading you, I say that the solution to all problems according to you is the Right to Information Act, then you have failed to communicate. The over-view is fine, but action must be taken to examine all the particulars that each of us has knowledge of. Not one of us can change things around, but all can contribute.

    What each can contribute is different. I myself feel like giving up. “My immediate family” having decided that the garden has overgrown has got a guy to clear it up. His solution: cut, slash, burn everything. That green leaves be composted, that earth-worms are precious, diversity of living things is essential, not understood: and I’ve been ignored. I guess I should be more firm.

    Tomorrow, I’ve got to somehow fight against subtle, creeping corruption in the “prestigious” school just yards away. Old Boys’ Association: controlled totally by the administration. No accountability whatsoever for what happens in this “Private School”. Each issue, very different. Each has to be highlighted differently. Dr NAS says vote JVP – may be, but it won’t solve all problems for ever. But acid test, right now is “Can we force Ravi Karunaratne out”!

    With greater complexity, living becomes more challenging. Death is one way out!!

  • 1
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    I am supporting Ravi Karunanayake. I am with him on this … fifty-fifty!

  • 1
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    Our Yahapalana leaders have been finally found out; they are in reality ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ simians. They tolerate crooks in order to save their political fortunes. ‘Forgetfulness’ has become an acceptable defence when charged with a serious accusations. A “mata mathaka nahe” society.

    All this points to the present overwhelming execrable quality of the political class. Unless these rogues are not replaced soon with decent and competent politicians, we will continue to suffer as a nation.

    Decent, talented people governed by rogues and shysters. What a comedown for a ‘two-thousand-five-hundred-year-old civilisation.

  • 1
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    Lukman Harees’ over the direction democracy I taking is getting universal- finally a serious flaw is surfacing but must be fixed.
    Lukman quotes Ludwig von Mises, “There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men”
    Humans invented government and we have been governed by “incompetent, corrupt and vile persons” all along.
    Lukman’s contention “RK Drama – Only A Symptom” is an understatement. The disease is corruption, nepotism and the culture of impunity. We thought we found the fix on 08 January 2015 but we were wrong – the problem is cancerous.
    There is however a silver-lining. The first victim of the infamous “Mata Mathaka Nehe” syndrome was Duminda Silva. Skeptics were given white-van rides!

  • 0
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    Many of the answers to the ills of the country are much like the description of the elephant by five blind men. Each is restricted to a single parameter.
    There are serious fundamental issues which are not immediately visible and therefore not commented on. Thus we are seeking to cure symptoms without altering very much in the existing system.
    The question is, are we ready for a cure even if the disease is correctly diagnosed.

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