By Tisaranee Gunasekara –
“I think we are blind….. Blind people who can see, but do not see” –Jose Saramago (Blindness)
Miracles happen in the ‘Wonder of Asia’.
Last week, the lawyers representing Parliamentarian Duminda Silva – on the basis of multiple diagnoses by eminent physicians – assured a court of law that their client was a grievously sick man. The judge was told that Mr. Silva’s left side was paralysed, his brain function down by 40% and his recovery contingent on immediate quite retirement into the bosom of his loving family.
The AG’s Department – as much of a Presidential appendage as the post-Impeachment Supreme Court – had no objections to bail. Thus persuaded, the judge gave bail to this key suspect in the Kolonnawa quadruple-murder case.
Then the miracle happened.
When Mr. Silva left the hospital, amidst the cheers of his supporters, he was fully recovered. There was no sign of a partial paralysis or brain damage; he radiated rude-health and cocky-wellbeing.
Mr. Silva has been accused of child abuse and murder, but let none call him an ingrate. His first task upon leaving hospital was to pay his obeisance to the Rajapaksa Siblings – the God Fathers who saved him, twice.
In a lawful country, the lawyers and doctors who provided the court with false information about Mr. Silva’s health would have been hauled before a judge. In today’s Sri Lanka, no harm will come to those who helped a Rajapaksa-pet to escape justice. On the contrary, the lawyers and doctors who enabled this charade will be suitably rewarded.
Before approving bail, the judge warned Mr. Silva not to intimidate the witnesses. The Witnesses witnessing the miracle of Duminda Silva must be intimidated already. Any witness with an ounce of grey-matter would know that the Ruling Siblings are not going to allow any harm to come to their pet and that giving evidence against Mr. Silva will be almost as foolhardy as giving evidence against the Rajapaksas.
That would suffice to intimidate any witness, and make him forget what he saw, or remember it differently.
The miracle of Duminda Silva will be followed, sooner or later, by the miracle of Sampath Chandrapushpa, the main suspect in the murder of Khuram Shaikh. Plenty of witnesses will be found to swear that Mr. Chandrapushpa, instead of launching a murderous attack on a defenceless man, was actually trying to save him from some unknown assailants; or that he was never present at the scene of crime, but was at home all the time, gift-wrapping Christmas presents for orphaned-children, or at a temple meditating on the impermanence of life and worldly glory, in the company of Namal Rajapaksa (who is another meditation-buff, according to Sinhala papers). Whatever the tale, this other Rajapaksa-pet too will get away with murder.
And Mr. Kamalesh Sharma, he of wondrous insight into Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, can have the pleasure of shaking the hand of Mr. Chandrapushpa when he attends the Hambantota Commonwealth. Because, as the Chairman of the Tangalle Pradesheeya Sabaha, Mr. Chandrapushpa will be an honoured invitee to this Rajapaksa mega-show.
‘Be faithful to us and thou will be granted eternal impunity’: that is the First Rajapaksa Commandment.
Parliamentarian Duminda Silva may or may not be partially paralysed; but the Lankan judicial system certainly is. He may or may 40% brain-dead, but the Lankan society certainly is.
Had the Rajapaksas wanted, the Duminda Silva saga could have been handled slightly less blatantly. He could have been taken home quietly; there could at least have been the pretence of a gradual recovery. But the Rajapaksas are so intoxicated with their own power, so confident of their capacity to get away with any crime, so contemptuous of popular-intelligence that they do not see any reason to maintain appearances.
In England and France, before the discovery of germ-theory, people believed that the touch of a monarch could cure illnesses[i]. Do the Rajapaksas think a sufficient number of Lankans are gullible enough to gulp a similar tale about Duminda Silva? Or is it that they no longer care, because impunity has become second nature?
Will the Northern PC poll be held, actually, or will it be postponed at the last moment? If it is held at all, will it be another ‘Humanitarian Operation’?
Will the Rajapaksa regime fulfil the expectations of Commonwealth Secretary General or will Kamalesh Sharma join the long list of international players who were duped by the Siblings?
Will the President honour his promise to reduce the electricity bill next year?
Will they this? Won’t they that?
Reflect on the Duminda Silva miracle, and the answers to these and every other question about what the Rajapaksas will or won’t do will become crystal-clear.
The Rajapaksas do not want to leave power. Actually, they cannot afford to leave power. The Siblings also believe that power is their right, their due.
They will do anything to stay in power, to prevent anyone from violating their eternal right to absolute power.
That includes being licentious towards your die-hard loyalists. Since the Mervyn Silvas, the Duminda Silvas and the Sampth Chandrapushpas are willing to break the law on behalf of their masters, they must be allowed to break the law, now and then, on their own behalf. That is their reward for mindless obedience and perfect sycophancy.
The birth of the 18th Amendment constitutes the best case-study in Rajapaksa purpose and modus operandi.
When the proposal to remove presidential term-limits was floated immediately after the 2010 parliamentary election, the Opposition protested; top monks expressed concern and even some UPFA members demurred. Instead of steamrolling the opposition, the President deflected it by deliberately turning public attention elsewhere. He commenced negotiations with the Leader of Opposition, purportedly about a new constitution. Ranil Wickremesinghe, beleaguered in his own party by those who wanted to oust him, jumped at this opportunity of playing statesman. The President dangled the carrot of removing the executive presidency, and the UNP gulped it wholesale.
The eternal optimists dreamed of consensual politics and national governments.
While this drama was being enacted in the public square, behind the scenes, the Legal Draughtsman’s Department and the AG’s Department (both Presidential appendages) were preparing the 18th Amendment.
The stratagem worked. Believing that the Rajapaksas would not dare to remove the term-limit provision, the UNP occupied itself with endless infightings, when it was not engaged in meaningless negotiations with the President about replacing the executive presidency with an executive premiership. The fate of Gen. Fonseka consumed the time and the attention of the JVP and the DNA, understandably.
Then, suddenly, without any warning, the charade ended. President Rajapaksa informed the Opposition that he intends to remove presidential term-limits and run for a third (and, the Grim Reaper permitting, a fourth and a fifth…) term. The, Opposition, blindsided again, was unable to mount an effective campaign. And the 18th Amendment, one of the most anti-democratic pieces of legislations ever, was born.
The Rajapaksas lie; they cheat; they make false promises. Those are not anomalies but integral components of their standard operational procedure.
And whenever necessary, they engineer mass-hallucinations about a dire-threat or a diabolical-enemy.
They fashion miracles out of our fearful-gullibility; and thrive.
[i] Especially Scrofula, a skin disease also known as the King’s Evil.