By Emil van der Poorten –
As one who has been admonished for my criticisms of the regime that has followed the Reprehensible Rajapaksas, I would like to revert to some of what has been published under my name and expand on it even if such criticism of the Sirisena/Wickremesinghe government is considered an attack on Sri Lanka’s last hope as far as a return to democracy and governance of a democratically-acceptable quality is concerned.
At the outset let me state, very categorically, my conviction that anything short of a government committed to human rights, the rule of law and all the other benchmarks of democracy is absolutely and completely unacceptable. This is not a matter of degree. It is simply a question of absolutes in the matter of the essential principles associated with democracy and democratic government. (And I hope that I don’t have a suggestion from Ranil Wickremesinghe that I should read some tome on the “art of the possible in governance” or some such claptrap.)
I have previously drawn attention to the absolute unacceptability of several appointments to Cabinet and quasi-Cabinet positions. Let me reiterate what I said then and add a few more specifics to those criticisms in passing.
That John Amaratunga and Rajiva Wijesinha had no business in anything claiming to be a change from a time of corruption and sycophancy has been proved – ‘in spades” as that old expression has it – by recent events. That Rishard Bathiudeen, whose conduct as a sterling member of the Rajapaksa cabal with absolutely no respect for the law, should never have been even a token representative of the Muslim community goes without saying. That his fellow token Muslim, Rauff Hakeem, belongs in the same category hardly bears repetition.
The more I look at this lot, the more I am beginning to believe that it is wedded to the traditional Japanese cultural concept of hara-kiri, no matter how unknowingly, the only difference being that it is we the citizenry of this country that are expected to sacrifice our lives, while they live happily ever after! How else could you explain why, instead of going after Wimal Weerawansa whose transgressions are a matter of public record, they have chosen to have his wife taken into custody, complete with media coverage of a weeping daughter understandably distraught by a mother being put behind bars?
What explanation is there for a Minister (of some description) making excuses for Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s explanation of unauthorized custody of a baby elephant (and one gifted to him by Royal Edict)?
What explanation is there for the fact that when the same Mr. Rajapaksa was required to provide information to the Criminal Investigation Department, officers of that department had to make a house call on him while, for every other citizen of this country it would have required a visit to the famous Fourth Floor under one’s own steam? Mahinda Rajapaksa has recently claimed that political vengeance is being visited on his family and supporters. Given the facts, I would beg to differ. On the contrary, the evidence is that the category to which he refers is being afforded privileges beyond ANYTHING available to the average Banda or even his local MP if he happens to belong to the current ruling coalition.
The question is WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
Why did Ranil Wickremesinghe issue a statement to the media that Mahinda Rajapaksa had surrendered power voluntarily, following the noblest of democratic traditions when his Minister of Foreign Affairs held the view that Mahinda Rajapaksa and a cabal of supporters had conspired to retain power after his electoral loss by means of a coup d’ etat and confirmed that belief by making a formal complaint to the Criminal Investigation Department of this country?
No matter what is said about Ranil Wickremesinghe, even his enemies have never accused him of stupidity or of running off at the mouth, going off half-cocked etc. (take your choice). If he wasn’t covering up for the conduct of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabal, why did he deliberately issue such a statement that ran in the teeth of a formal complaint by one of the most senior members of his government? He did not have to make any statement of any kind and chose, instead, to make a statement that was COMPLETELY CONTRARY to what Mangala Samaraweera had to say to the CID. Mind you I am not even suggesting that there appeared to be a prima facie case for prosecution of those concerned for probably the most serious crime that’s known to exist in a democratic state.
A recent piece of “insurance” bought by Minister Kiriella has been brought to my attention and it involves people I know pretty well and whom I don’t blame if this Minister of a government claiming to represent all that was correct and honourable chose to buy some “insurance” in a now-familiar manner from or through them. Typically, the “premium” for this piece of “insurance,” as with every piece of “insurance” being bought under these circumstances was paid out of our pockets, but then what else is new?
I have previously spoken of those who have bought and continue to buy “insurance” in the event that there is a return to the “good old days of Rajapaksa (mis)-governance.” That whole business appears to be growing by leaps and bounds and the IMMEDIATE result is that the very foundation on which the new government was to be built is being irretrievably destroyed.
If that sounds like dramatic overstatement, dear reader, please look at the headlines in the very papers that are owned and operated by those near and dear to Mr. Wickremesinghe, not to mention the justifiably-much-publicized recent statement on television by the Ven. Sobitha Thero using a folksy example to illustrate the very point I have sought to make before and am laboring again!
It is no longer only the “English-educated middle class intelligentsia” of this country who are sounding the alarm bells. The “rural hoi polloi” are beyond that stage and are simply saying, “This is not what we voted for. We want the guilty charged and jailed, we want the corruption to stop, we want the favours to the rich and famous to cease. We want fairness to prevail and to be allowed to lead lives of dignity, no matter how poor we are. We did not vote for a Yaha Palanaya to be given another dose of the same thieves and murderers that we thought we had got rid of.’
Mr. Wickremesinghe and Mr. Sirisena, I’d be only too happy to take you around any village in Tumpane or Harispattuwa to hear what rural people have to say about what you are doing and their very real fear that you are taking all of us back to even worse violence and corruption that we’ve already experienced.
You might have bought your “insurance” with the Rajapaksa Regime but that is not a luxury available to us even if we sought to go that route