10 August, 2022


Sri Lanka Today: Whither Bound?

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

I am not about to open this piece with a synopsis of progress within the first one hundred days that the current government set as the time-frame within which it would achieve a set number of goals. The reason? I didn’t think then and have no reason whatsoever to change my mind now about the fact that those kinds of timelines make absolutely no sense given the quagmire of corruption out of which it was necessary to extract this country.

Those stupid timelines have proven to be what anyone with commonsense felt they would be: a useless suicidal snare in any attempt to attack the fundamental realities that the new dispensation faced. In hindsight, I’m less critical of those conspiracy-theorists who claimed at the outset that this was simply a smokescreen to cover a simple changing of the guard when one set of crooks would take the place of those who set new standards in the matter of how much of the public purse could be appropriated and how quickly!

Not to put a fine point on it, what anyone with half an ounce of political intelligence anticipated has come to pass: those I have on past occasions referred to as “insurance buyers” have had a field day. The Lakshman Kiriellas and John Amaratungas have been offered the opportunity, on gilded plateware, no less, to obfuscate and cover the immoral and unethical behinds of those to whom they were beholden for past favours.

The first priority of a government claiming to be reformist in any shape, form or fashion was to commence cleaning the Augean Stable with the utmost dispatch. While some valuable and necessary steps have been taken by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe who were faced with a mountain of criminality and corruption built by the previous regime, progress has been unacceptably slow.

I will advance no argument for the arbitrary arrest and incarceration of those against whom there is only hearsay or vague circumstantial evidence of theft and criminality. This government was elected to restore the rule of law and chucking people in jail or “disappearing” them (as did the Rajapaksa dispensation) doesn’t fix the primary problem it only makes it worse. And in terms of “moving in the right direction,” the general direction the government has taken cannot be faulted.

That said, the pace at which the government has moved has been totally unacceptable. My conversations with some in significant decision-making positions has been frustrating, to say the least. Suffice it to say that I do not buy the argument that advancing the rule of law must have, as a concomitant, the snail’s pace at which this process has proceeded, if it has moved at all. “Connections,” “past obligations” and even blood relationships appear to have intruded. Not even the application of some distorted “realpolitik” could have explained the inclusion of Rajiva Wijesinha in the very first list of Ministers. How many members of his “party” did he bring onside? How many members does that joke of a political entity even have?

That is the ludicrous end of what is happening. The more serious is exemplified by the total lack of progress in the matter of a coup allegation, made to the Criminal Investigation Department by Mangala Samaraweera, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs. NO PROGRESS OF ANY DESCRIPTION appears to have been made in that connection. If there isn’t a case to be made, the charges should be dropped and a public statement issued to that effect. If there is, it is obvious that the unthinkable (to John Amaratunge and company at least) should happen and Mahinda Rajapaksa and the rest of his co-conspirators should be taken into custody and charged. How long did it take Mrs. Bandaranaike’s government to apprehend and remand the large number of those accused in the first attempted coup? Yes, they were, ultimately, found not guilty but their being discharged had nothing to do with the manner of their arrest and remanding, if memory strikes me right. There is a crude but appropriate expression to deal with this kind of situation and it goes, “S..t or get off the pot.” While I am not given to using language of that quality (or lack thereof) as a general rule, I do believe that this is one of those occasions on which it is warranted. When I view all of this more-than-kid-glove treatment of miscreants, I cannot but recall, very vividly, the “sucking up” that I personally witnessed by one of the leading lights of the current dispensation whenever he was in the company of Mr. Rajapaksa or any of his entourage, progeny included. Good manners on the part of a host is one thing: genuflectory conduct is another! More recently, when I made reference to one of Mr. Kiriella’s “insurance purchases” in a piece I had written to Colombo Telegraph, I had (the first ever) telephone call from a member of the family that was allegedly soon to be linked to the Royal Rajapaksas questioning what I had written! While I was previously acquainted with that gentlemen, he obviously didn’t comprehend that there are some people, even in this country, who don’t operate as “journalists” in a manner that keeping your head below the fire from the “powerful” is the primary and, perhaps, only consideration. As a side bar, I do hope, that in the interest of civil discourse, he will never consider the prospect of a similar phone call in the future!

THERE IS NO PLACE FOR THE KIND OF CONTINUING EQUIVOCATION WE ARE SEEING AT A TIME SUCH AS THIS IN SRI LANKA’S HISTORY. IT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE THAT CONSIDERATIONS OF MORALITY, ETHICS AND PRINCIPLE should be driving the process. If this sounds like the voicing of “absolutes,” so be it. I’d challenge any reader to suggest how else the Sri Lankan version of a giant Augean Stable can be cleansed and this country returned to the rule of law and for the restoration of a semblance of decency and self-respect to its people.

You have a very large number of lawyers, judges and support staff in this country. You have a positively enormous police force, not to mention army, navy, air force and Special Task Force, the totality of which rivals the entire Russian Army in numbers. Apply those resources, set up additional courts if such are required, employ more judges and prosecutors and support staff, if you have to, and use those in uniform to assist them in carrying out their legal duties. It is a matter of record that we had “the forces of law and order” being applied to suppress anything resembling peaceful, unarmed opposition to the government long after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were completely defeated. Remember the killings at Rathupaswala, the Free Trade Zone and at the fishermen’s protest? Why cannot those very resources be applied in a legal manner against those who have brought this country to the brink of total destruction? “If there is a will, there is a way” it used to be said. The irony of the current situation is that “the way” exists but “the will” appears to be conspicuous by its absence.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    If any or all of the current leaders do what you ask in the last paragraph, it will be political suicide. None of them will want to. Even if they take that risk, the whole of Colombo and Polonaruwa will see a sea of Saffron Robes – real and fake.

    • 0

      Emil, thanks for this.
      The corrupt governor of the Central Bank – Arjuna Mahendran has just reduced interest rates to boost the corrupt Stock market aka. rich man’s casino in Sri Lanka.,

      People who worked all their lives and saved money hoping to earn interest enough to live decent lives are being penalized by the corrupt CB govenor. Ranil Wickramasinghe’s economic management is pro-rich and CORRUPT, not pro poor or the hard working and honest middle class… Bloody joke this Yahapalanaya!

      Interest rates have been cut and immediately the stock market casino which was crashing turns around so that Mahendrans corrupt son-in-law can make more money

  • 8

    “….changing of the guard when one set of crooks would take the place of those who set new standards in the matter of how much of the public purse could be appropriated and how quickly!…” Come! Come! Emil, dear chap. Don’t be daft. Changing of the guard is a whole set of guys being replaced by another lot. Whereas Jan 08 was more of the same rotten set changing their jerseys and coming in different ones. No one knows today who is UNP, SLFP, LSSP and what have you – and this includes the guys themselves.

    Loot at Sirisena himself. How clean is he? What was the declared Assets of the man and his brothers 20 years ago and today. Where did they get all that loot – so much and so soon. Who is the man pontificating to. As to little Daham putha, looks like he has to be accompanied by over 2 dozen people-paid-for security retinue when he takes his gals to the night club. As the man in the street would say in sheer disgust “mung okkama patta horu”

    It is no longer the Resplendent Island. Our politikkas have made it the Cursed Isle. That is what it is from 1956 to date. Let’s not put the blame on the Tamils for all this. Presently, they are trying to save themselves from this unending holy mess.


  • 1

    Needed – Proven social architecture blueprints

    Read another. One in a thousand sounding offs.
    I went into reading because of the fine words that covered a hook.
    Yes – the words turned out to be fish bait.
    Deep analysis of this hook placed by the cult of selfishness promoted by the West, has been attempted. See, for example, [Edited out]
    Off with the heads of the criminals? Multiply the solution of Jan 8 ten times?
    After the analysis we seek effective, practical solutions.
    Germany and Japan ceased being nations of war criminals because they found solutions. How nice if the editor featured thoughts on such constructive, productive plans for S. Asia
    [Edited out]

  • 9

    What the writer says is absolutely right. On paper Sri Lanka is a democracy but not in practice. The flawed Opinion expressed by Mr Mohan Peiris P.C., having denied the citizens any opportunity to express their views and usurping the powers of the Office of the Hon’ Chief Justice, with all the other Judges in the Supreme Court agreeing, on the two questions referred to the Supreme Court by the former President Mahinda Rajapakse, in respect of a private matter affecting him only, in his personal capacity (not a matter of national importance as specified by Article 129 of the Constitution), is one of the best examples one can cite in this regard. Surely it caused tremendous damage to the trust and confidence placed in the Supreme Court by the people whose inalienable judicial power it exercises purely on trust [(Article 4 (c) of the Constitution]. See the terminology used by the Court advising the President that he should seek election for re-election for a further term.

    “Thus Your Excellency shall exercise your right and power vested in you by virtue of Article 31 (3A) (a) (i) of the Constitution and seek re-election for a further term and there exists no impediment for Your Excellency to exercise the right and powers accorded to you under the Constitution to offer yourself for a further term’.

    In my view the Court has simply violated its social contract and has dishonoured its constitutional duty to the people whose Judicial power it exercises purely on trust as set out in the Article 105 of the Constitution, which provides that the Administration of Justice ‘which protect, vindicate and enforce the RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE’ shall primarily be the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Sri Lanka.

    Still Sirisena Govt, insists that it will retain the very same Judiciary with no change whatsoever made to the composition (See Section 54 of the 19th Amendment).

  • 3

    Those stupid timelines have proven to be what anyone with commonsense felt they would be a useless suicidal snare BUT was GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE GULLIBLE VOTERS LOOKING FOR GOODIES.

    instead of continuring the development work soecially the Port City Project and querrying and rectifying matters as it goes along, its has come to a Full Stop & workers out of jobs.
    Its the same with the Akuregoda D/Ministry Construction work.

    While some valuable and necessary steps have been taken by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe who were faced with a mountain of criminality and corruption built by the previous regime : WONDER HOW COULD ONE CLEAN UP WHEN CBK IS MANUVEOURING MAITHRIPALA AND ATTEMPTING GET A FOOTHOLD IN POLITICS. What the criminality & corruption of her doings and simultaneously getting hooted & jeered and retarding maithripal’s charisma.

    Mangala’s success in politics is through deceit. He practices Goebbels. IT IS NOT EASY TO DROP CHARGES CHARGES as the CID will have to file a charge against him for a false complaint.
    It appears the Govt is like an empty vessel making just noise to the gullible voters.

    LOOKS LIKE WE ALL HAVE BEEN TAKEN FOR A RIDE but they dare not renagade on what was promised to the Northerners. CBK/Maithri/Mangala must do well to keep in mind.

    • 4



      You are right since 1948 and countless times.

  • 9


    It’s not a perfect world. Take it easy and learn to relax. It looks like it’s going to take much longer to reform Sri Lankan politics than we thought. People like you and me with the end of the road fast approaching have no choice but to spend our remaining days in peace by turning to a good book during the day and a stiff drink of coconut arrack in the evening watching the sun go down behind the hills of Galagedera. Cheers.

    • 3

      Off The Wall,

      Your advice is good. Emil will be well adviced to take it. I am in the same boat agewise but samewhat slightly different in opinion with regards the future for Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans are too far gone for any real reform – well that is my opinion. It is like waiting for a rotten fruit to reripen again. No point in trying to resurrect a terminally ill cancer patient. Occasionally the cancer patient shows some promise but the cancer unseen is diong its damage. Sri Lankans are rotten to the core.

      Make space guys, I think I will join Emil and you down Galagedera way with my bottle of Pol.

  • 2

    Though my familiarity with the English language spans more than 50 years, this is the first time I came across that profound expression, “Shit or get off the pot.” I guess we live to learn!

  • 3

    Good one, Emil.

    I guess all we can do is ‘hope for the best’ with the current lot appointed to safeguard the interests of the country and us all. The up-side is that the dark period (the one that followed the war) in our history came to an end (hopefully for ever) and hopefully the perpetrators of the crimes and felonies will have to pay for their actions, although, as you put it so succinctly, “Suffice it to say that I do not buy the argument that advancing the rule of law must have, as a concomitant, the snail’s pace at which this process has proceeded, if it has moved at all. “Connections,” “past obligations” and even blood relationships appear to have intruded. “

  • 2


    It’s all about connections. They may paint themselves Blue, Green, Yellow and Red to fool us. When it comes to their personal dealings, there are no colors just deals.

    The snail’s pace of prosecutions is about protecting and hiding as much as can be hidden and whatever spills out is disposable.

    Either they have he evidence or they don’t. It is now apparent the evidence has taken a hike, or is being destroyed as it is being discovered. Convenient for all concerned.

  • 0

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  • 0

    The coup of Srimavos time is different from what occured on 9-1-15. With the backing
    of 5.8 mil.voters and the side taken by the Forces it would not have been prudent to
    make arrests as compared to the past incident. The delays are of course more detailed
    as hereunder:
    Source Lanaenews 13/4) “It is none other than the Attorney General and his department that are impeding the meting out of punishment to the crooks and culprits involved in corruption ,and therefore militating against the implementation of the policies of the government of good governance , charged the chiefs of the CID conducting investigations .
    Based on the investigations conducted into the alleged corruption , frauds , murders etc . committed by Gotabaya Rajapakse , Ms. Shiranthi Rajapakse , Basil Rajapakse , Vasantha Karannagoda and Tsunami fund fraudsters , although there are copious and cogent evidence to arrest them , but because the files sent to AG’s department for their advice to arrest them are being put in cold storage and are languishing there , the arrests are obstructed ,the CID officers who are toiling and conducting these investigations revealed in utter disgust , to Lanka e news.

    It is significant to note that based on the investigations conducted into the illicit weapon deals and the conspiracy against the State , there are ample concrete evidence to arrest Gotabaya , and a report had already been sent to the AG’s department seeking instructions ,however owing to delays there , arrests are inordinately delayed , and the CID having no other option are awaiting the AG’s department response- it is a cruel irony when the AG’s department should be taking initiatives is on the contrary delaying its action.

    The CID had sent the relevant files to the AG’s department requesting for instructions to make the arrests pertaining to the charges already filed of misappropriation of State funds during the elections by Basil Rajapakse ; misappropriation of funds by Shiranthi Rajapakse through an account for women under the name of Sirilya after furnishing bogus information ; white van murder squad operated by Karannagoda the ex naval chief; the misappropriation of Tsunami relief funds collected ostensibly to build houses for Tsunami victims by the chairman of RADA establishment without building a single house. Yet because of the dilatory and lethargic attitude of the AG’s department , the CID is compelled to wait unendingly to take action . Tragically ,the present AG’s department which has become offensively comical is still asleep.

    Meanwhile the people are furiously and unrelentingly questioning ,’did you apprehend the culprits ?’ from the government of good governance . The criminals and their accomplices are on the other hand scot free .

    It is well to recall during the Rajapakse brutal barbaric reign , the AG’s department was under Mahinda Rajapakse, during which period criminals facing charges were freed after exonerating them of all charges. Rapists who committed rape on young girls were also freed similarly, and the AG’s department was abounding with the Rajapakse unscrupulous stooges and bootlicking henchmen. However , the new government brought the AG’s department that was formerly under the president within the purview of the justice ministry duly . Yet sadly , the ex Rajapakse regime lackeys and lickspittles are still stuck in their places like the Rajapakse spittoons and fixtures serving the sordid biddings of Rajapakses.

    It was Field marshal Sarath Fonseka who forthrightly and publicly accused the AG and his department who are Rajapakse shameless stooges .He directly accused the AG that the latter and his department flagrantly acted against Fonseka in violation of the laws in his case pertaining to the denial of his MP post . Nevertheless, the AG Yuvanjana Wasundara Wijetileke had still not given an answer nor remedied the situation.
    No matter what , the government of good governance cannot blink the fact that the people who elected it are most earnestly and anxiously awaiting until these criminals , crooks and their cronies are flushed out from their nooks and crannies like mice for gassing once and for all , and meted out the maximum punishment so that the others will be well and truly a deterred and daunted from following in the footsteps of these traitorous scoundrels who while parading as paragons of virtue have been committing the worst of treason against the country after making the poor docile gullible Sri Lankan masses the scapegoats for their monumental corruption and frauds”

  • 2

    Thank you – Mr Emil van der Pooten for you comprehension of the REAL.

    You have identified the cause of the REAL problem. What we need now with that comprehension is a solution – A Fix !

    To the best of my knowledge – The former president is responsible for a PONZI scheme of corruption. He being the all powerful executive – gave orders of a criminal nature to the people below him on the PONZI pyramid.

    It is human nature, where – when people get orders (that are deemed legal) from the person above them (in responsibility), they feel justified in carrying out them orders however absurd it may seem (without question?)

    People who carry out the death sentence; the judges who decide the sentence; The Police who are obliged to follow orders; Ditto to the other forces; The people who genuflect to power; etc. etc. …… etc……. ALL of them state that they were just following orders OR the LAW as per their interpretation of it- However UNETHICAL it may have been. ( Chief Justices’and Attorney Generals’ the BASL included).

    ALL of them truly believe that they were following orders and as such do not want OR cannot comprehend that they were personally responsible, in allowing the absurdities that have taken place – Hence, they concoct various justifications ( to them selves) to continue to back the rogue head – Fearing that else, they would be held personally responsible – Which is a NO! NO! – they in their mindset, were just following orders to the best of their ability. Having said all, no matter WHY – they are guilty of ailding and abetting a ROGUE President.

    This probably accounts for the massive number of votes that the former President received – Most of them were from those who had aided and abetted the ponzi scheme of corruption; their families and their cronies or dependents.

    Most of the corrupt people on the different tiers of this ponzi pyramid still remain in their positions and would do everything they can to prevent their involvement in the pyramid.

    Hence, the vision of the incumbent President and the Prime Minister is being derailed by the very people who they expect to assist them in their mission – The Judiciary; The Police; The Parliament – The Diplomatic corps – All of who have been compromised in one way or the other for FEAR or FAVOUR.

    I am yet to see – Intellectual discourse on any of these internet forums; The Media – As in the Newspapers or the TV / Radio – All we have in incompetent politicians CRYING out ALOUD.

    The JVP and A. Kumara has the rhetoric to wind up the mediocre – He seems to know all the problems and shouts it out LOUD – I am sure – that if he has an iota of how to solve these same problems – he would be able to get whatever it takes to be a part of the solution – BUT – NO – he prefers to howl from the sidelines. Sure signs of Bankruptcy and how compromised he is – in the PONZI Pyramid of yesteryear …….

    Many of those who have been a part of this PONZI pyramid would be willing to risk all to have the former President back in power – so that their wrongdoings would be mitigated.

    So, we have all the people currently holding responsible positions who have in one-way-or-the-other been a part of the PONZI pyramid —— So they wont assist in the ongoing investigations wholeheartedly.

    The 2500 years of culture that Sri Lanka boasts about – surely, we would have had similar rogue Elephants who were corrupt to the core, amidst them 2500 years – then history should tell us how we overcame such situations –

    Thanks again EMIL – for bein a person who comprehends.

  • 4

    If My3 was serious about any of the changes they wanted to bring the two vital and immediate changes that should have been carried out is
    1) Changing the CJ to someone who respects and fosters the impartiality of the Judiciary.
    2) an astute Attorney General who is familiar with the head of state’s plans and objectives and one who will help him to achieve it within the prescribed time frame.
    This is the first change any democratic Government anywhere in the world would have done.
    My3 and Ranil swiftly did the first but never understood the importance of the second. They left in post a spineless idiot of an AG who has done sweet nothing in the last three months except sucking up to the past masters!

  • 1

    Emil do you expect any response regarding the matters raised in your article?. They are all a bunch of crooks scratching each other’s back. So long as Ranil is the Prime Minister, nothing will happen to the Rajapakse clan. There appears to be a sinister understanding between Ranil and Mahinda. Plotting a coup is a very serious matter. It is treason. Hence why has no action taken against the plotters. If Mahinda had won all those who worked and voted against him will be behind bars, tortured and made to disappear except Ranil.

  • 0

    go to the GOSL’s Dept of Project Management and Monitoring, http://www.pmm.gov.sl, and look at the 100 day progress Matrix B4 pontificating please !

  • 2

    A well written essay that brings it to the point.

    But we all seem to forget that the fact is, Sri Lanka will always be as it has been since Independence, a country stiffled with a load of corruption, ignorance, arrogance and a deficit in intelligence.
    You can take a pig and wash him, but he goes back to the dirt, as that is where he belongs.
    We have noticed it in the last 60 years of cheap Politics in SL that has been unfortunately been run by a bunch of Sinhalese machos with little grey matter. And as so long as this race rules then all of you in SL can watch Sunsets and sip their Kassippus.

  • 1

    i have hope, because there are men like you who still write so that we can hear the voice of reason resonate in this otherwise desolate land.

    • 1

      That praise was certainly likely to go to an old man’s head! While I thank you, we ALL need to keep the faith and keep pressure on this government to deliver on its promises.
      What I find increasingly disquieting, though, is the fact that many who appear to be in the know speak to some kind of pact between Ranil and Mahinda R. Does this go beyond circumstantial evidence?

  • 1

    MS may be overgenerous to MR. But if MR returns he will not leave MS alone; there will not be enough friends for MS to hde. He will not be spared.

    Remember what the ogre did to SF

  • 0

    Did DN dude have a go at you mate…That is bad.

    Fair enough you want Rajapaksas in the Slammer or preferably, bumped off,, Right,

    The problem is the 58 Million who didn’t tick off your mates Ranil and Cousin..

    Ranil, Mangalan and Whisky Madam may have the Illangakoon Police under them.

    And BASL must be licking their lips to ensure Rajapaksas ride in Rice Lorries to the Hague.because White Vans have disappeared.

    But the brave Armed Forces, the majority of whom come from those 58 Million may find it hard to fulfil your desires.

    Although in opposite corners both Daves and even Eddy boy would love you man …

    BTW,, I should mention that all three gentlemen above are descendents of the people who destroyed our Land of the great Kuveni people…Comprehende…

    • 2

      K.A. Sumanasekera:
      Still no access to an “English tuition teacher?”

      Not only are you linguistically-challenged, your arithmetic too appears to leave a great deal to be desired when you claim “58 Million” voted for your paymaster,Rajapaksa. I suppose that kind of calculation could be within the realm of reason of one who exulted over a ‘jilmart’ of an election after which boxes of ballots marked for Fonseka were found in assorted drains in all sorts of places for months and years after the event!
      I didn’t cower in assorted corners during a time when perceived opponents of your paymaster (and his family)were being “disappeared” in white vans and “committing suicide” while in the custody of uniformed murderers. Trust me when I say, I am not about to start doing because of threats from a member of the sycophantic horde to which you seemingly claim leadership!

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