23 April, 2024


The Most Serious Shortage Is Competence-Deficit

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The term ‘devolution’ has an interesting Sinhala translation that makes for word play: 

බලය බෙදීම (balaya-bedeema, literally ‘dividing power’). Now bedeema in Sinhala can refer to division as well as distribution. Hence the caustic observation on the current crisis pertaining to fuel distribution, “බලය බෙදන්න ඉස්සෙල්ල තෙල් ටික බෙදන්න (before you distribute/devolve power, distribute fuel!” There’s a more cynical version of this: “ තෙල් බෙදන්න බැරි අය බලය බෙදන්න කතා කරන එක විහිළුවක් (It is funny when those who cannot distribute fuel talk of distributing/devolving power).”

Jokes and wordplay aside, we should not make mountains out of molehills nor reduce mountains to molehills either for that matter. Fuel shortages are not uncommon. What’s strange however is the fact that a government that is supposedly corporate-friendly and is, as were previous governments since 1977, thick-as-thieves with the corporate sector (not just on account of the Bond Scam) appears ignorant of basic capitalist notions such as risk-aversion, buffer stocks and insurance.  

There’s a communications deficit as well. The truth was not revealed. The nature of the problem was not communicated. Measures to arrest the artificial spike in demand due to rumours (again fed by official silence) came late and, again, weren’t communicated effectively. There’s navel gazing and passing the blame buck around. Adds up to gross incompetence and irresponsibility.

Still, it’s not the end of the world and hardly something big enough to bring down a regime. If things stabilize, it would be little more than a hiccup in the overall flow of the political process. At the end it might prove to be what it truly is — another one of those ‘crises’ typical of capitalism, manageable, forgettable and forgotten until the next one comes along. 

In other words, nothing more and nothing less than a distraction. Distraction from what, though?  

There’s the budget, due to be read this week. No one’s talking about it. There’s constitutional reform, talked of as the crucial exercise that would, according to its backers, deliver reconciliation, slay all the ghosts of the past and finally enable the country to move forward. No one’s talking about it. There’s also the Central Bank Bond Scam, the investigations and the all-important testimony of the Prime Minister. No one’s talking about it.

The petrol scarcity cannot be called a deliberate construct of a government desperate to distract the public from the important issues mentioned above. It helps, though.  

The government is muddling along with constitutional reform, this is clear. The government is muddling along with the Central Bank Bond Scam, this is clear. Whether or not Mangala Samaraweera will muddle through with his ‘Mangala Budget’ we are yet to see. The term ‘muddling through’ might indicate ‘with difficulty’ and that would be a positive.  

On the other hand, considering all factors, ‘muddling through’ may be the best option for the regime. This happens when people promise what they cannot or do not want to deliver and therefore have to ‘make a show’ of delivery so that at some point, after much huffing and puffing, something small can result and celebrated as a massive victory for the people, for democracy. To be fair, the Right to Information Act was not a small victory, it is big. Put that in bold type and upper case.  

How about electoral reform then? How about the Attorney General misleading the Speaker, who later all but acknowledged he was hoodwinked and expressed hope that the Supreme Court would rectify matters? In April 2015, Maithripala Sirisena thundered from an SLFP platform that the 20th Amendment would be tabled, debated and passed. The Maithripala-Ranil regime has muddled along on this electoral reform track with nothing to show so far. The Elections Commissioner himself has expressed grave concerns about the postponement of local government elections. A government that is scared to test the pulse of the voter through an election at the grassroots does not have the moral authority to talk about protecting/enhancing democracy.  

Muddling is also evident in constitutional reform pertaining to reconciliation. It began with a steering committee made of federalists engaged in an exercise designed to deliver a predetermined outcome rather than a dispassionate assessment of points of view producing a debate-wrought result. Naturally, the ‘interim report’ is federalist in substance. The state media is promoting this report and is conspicuously silent on the other 8 reports submitted by way of comment by interested parties including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Joint Opposition.  One cannot help but wonder if this trashable-document was submitted just so it would be trashed as deserved so that certain communities can blame the outcome on the intransigence of the majority community instead of naming the true culprit: a pernicious regime lacking political will of any kind on any subject except political survival. 

And then there’s the Bond Scam. As has been pointed out, an old woman who ‘robbed’ 3 magoes from a fruit-laden tree was fined and imprisoned whereas those who abused office, cost the Treasury and made billions, are being treated with kids’ gloves.  

The petrol crisis will pass, no doubt. Perhaps another crisis will be manufactured or else will pop up as is inevitable. They may distract. The bond scam issue will not go away. Constitutional-tinkering by federalists, with federalists and for fedaralists will not go unnoticed. The duplicity, incompetence, arrogance and anti-people character of this regime will not be hidden. It’s too sore a thumb. It’s sticking out. It is unmistakable. It can and will be named. It may even be shamed.

*Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. malindasenevi@gmail.com.  www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 4

    I may be right in guessing the competent people from Maharaja’s cabinet who are not in the present one. Wimal booruwansa, Mervyn Silva, Basil who was very clever Mr. 10%, Johnston, aluthgamage and so on. We are so unfortunate to miss these brilliant people.

    • 1

      Malinda Seneviratne, aka Mara Cronie/Shill,

      Yes, lack of competence , due to lack of intelligence and an over abundance of greed among the Paras.

      Malinda, can you interview the crooks?

    • 1


      Some good future titles.

      The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Crooks in the Land.
      The wealth of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Crooks in the Land.
      The shills and cronies of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Crooks in the Land,

  • 7

    Malinda types:

    “Perhaps another crisis will be manufactured or else will pop up as is inevitable”

    What is new?
    Isn’t manufacturing new crisis after crisis the historical fact?
    How did 1956, 1961, 1971, 1977, 1981, 1983, …. 1987-1990, 30 years, Sinha Le, Aluthgama, Welikada, Weliweriya, bribing the psychopath in 2005, ……………….?

    The question is, as a prolific typist what is your role in compounding unresolved problems? As you are a well known unrepentant public racist didn’t you contribute and cheer the most corrupt, incompetent and murderous regime we have witnessed in recent politics?

    The Hambantota harbour, Matala airport, Norchiacholai Lakvijaya power station, Sil Redda …… are some projects that were the envy of the world due to competence in constructing, running and maintaining, …………… and financial efficiency of the previous regime.
    You should celebrate as you have done in the past of those who were involved in those projects including Basil, Gota, Mahinda, …. and the clan.

  • 3

    Malinda Chinthanayas is a class unto itself. Malinda draws a parallel between the infamous Lankan predicament to the fuel shortage crisis. One is a few days old and nearly fixed. The other is seventy years old and thanks to MS-ilk, not fixed yet.
    Malinda recently claimed that Lankan Christians have 54 holidays/year. This is made up of 52 Sundays + two more days!
    Here he suggests the constitution is being revised “by federalists with federalists for federalists”.
    One wonders as to whether Idi Amin was the biggest clown or not!

    • 1

      Malinda is like that friendly gecko that climbs up my bedroom wall every bedtime going chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat. Regular as my bowel movements and just as reassuring. But hardly the stuff to make the top echelons quake.

      The one about the Christians and the 52 days is a laugh.. Malinda was in smelly nappies when we went down the road of a Poya and day-before-Poya week and ended millions out of pocket as we took sil when most of the rest of the world was working their butts off – and that included ‘Buddhist’ countries like like Thailand, Cambodia, China and Japan. Didn’t take long for us to jettison that lark. But guess what, our Buddhists got their 12 Poya days and also the 52 Sundays. You cannot make it up! The thing is that over the last fifty years Sundays has been less about Christians (see the fall in numbers going to church) and more about shopping and play days for the masses.

      Harmless stuff.

  • 1

    The successive Sri Lankan Govts and commentators and arse lickers like Malind and Dayan who come and go the through the rotating doors since independence had/have only one agenda anti Tamil! They never cared about the economy of the country or buildinh the country. The successive SInhala govts destroyed Tamil and Muslim business and in turn destroyed the Sri Lankan economy. Throwing the baby with the bath water. Now Malinda and Dayan have the guts to comment on the budget! what budget? fl

  • 2

    The most serious shortage is competence- deficit?
    I thought competence-deficit is in abundance ? Dayan, Malinda, Rajiva, Rajapakse clan, Ranil, My3 we had competence deficit since independence?

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