By Ranjith C. Perera –
From the time present government came to power in SL, all the decisions and actions were taken for the benefit at least of one party of the Trinity. Very often they were beneficial to all the parties of the trinity. They had two main objectives to come to power. One aim is to save them from the legal actions hanging above like the sword of Damocles on some of the main actors of the trinity and other one is to bring prosperity to the trinity. They camouflaged their aims by forwarding very attractive slogans. But people were not blind. They could not be deceived. The truth behind the actions got exposed as soon as they were implemented. Let us look how they began achieving these two objectives.
What did the government do as soon as they came to power in 2019? Reduced the taxes imposed on the wealthy section of the country saying that will bring down the cost of living. Did it happen? No. Not to date. By that tax reduction the cronies benefitted and the government lost large part of its revenue which has become a huge problem for common man now. Then came the Covid-19. It is alleged that the importation of items necessary for Covid-19, such as masks, PCR test kits etc. have been given to cronies. Then poor expatriate workers mostly employed in middle east countries are compelled to stay and pay high rates during their quarantine days to hotels belonging to these cronies. Recent allegation related to the tax reduction for sugar and the heavy lose to the government in billions due to it also mainly related to a very close crony. Nobody knows by these types of transactions who get the lion’s share.
After the 2020 General Election more than 50 per cent of the ministries have been allocated to the clan members. Among them are the most economically important ministries of the government. (This happened in the government before 2015 also.) In other words the finance of the country is in the hands of the clan. Not only the cabinet ministry positions but the close members and cronies have been appointed to various positions in places like Sri Lankan Air Lines, Cricket Board etc which are big money earners. Before the elections, the pledge was that suitable learned and experienced people or members from the ‘Viyathmaga’ (Road of the Educated) will be appointed to such positions. But people now know how many from Viyathmaga are appointed.
When Covid-19 began its first spell a competent authority was appointed to distribute necessary food items to people. Who was he? He was neither a Member of Parliament nor a government official. You guessed right. He belongs to the clan. He boasted that Sathosa lorries will start distributing all the necessary food items throughout the country as the whole country came under curfew law and as a result all the shops got closed. But how many people could vouch that they saw Sathosa vehicles come to their areas to distribute the food items to people? Hardly any.
During this period suddenly the prices of Dhal and Samon tins got slashed. Sathosa had to buy that particular item from the whole sale dealers at the higher rate before the reduction and in turn Sathosa was supposed to sell at the reduced rate. Very clearly Sathosa must have suffered a heavy lose. However that price reduction had survived only for few days. The stocks Sathosa was to buy must have exhausted. Then the Competent Authority made an announcement to the effect not to eat Salmon from tins because they are spoiled and not fit for consumption. Who ordered this transaction between Sathosa and Whole sale dealers and who benefitted from it, is any body’s guess.
As mentioned at first the sword of Damocles hanged heavily on the clan members, especially on the head of the trinity. Avoiding the sword was the main aim of the head and the clan. Because amassed wealth from their previous regime (2010 to 2015) was already there. According to a news paper report in UK the loot of the head of state of that regime was in billions.
The gimmick to protect the head and clan was camouflaged in political and legal moves. In the 2020 General Election main request of the Trinity was to give them 2/3 majority in the parliament to protect the country from terrorist belonging to minority ethnic groups and to correct the mistakes of the Yahapalana government. The election results fell short of their demand. Then came the 20th Amendment to the constitution. In short the amendment was brought to provide required power to the head and the clan to bring in all the necessary legislations to achieve their ends.
The impotent opposition did nothing to prevent the passage of this draconian amendment. They as usual filled the air with boorish talks in and out of the parliament. They could have acted like the trade unions did in the case of the attempt to hand over the Eastern Jetty to an Indian Company. The Trade Unions of the Ports Authority could bring all the forces together against the move of the government and they managed to stop it. Instead in the 20th amendment situation opposition was day dreaming about the victory in parliament by government not getting the required 2/3 majority. They woke up from their slumber when amendment passing with the necessary number of votes, thanks to their own members in the opposition voting with the government. Had they resorted to a similar action as in the Eastern Jetty incident they could have avoided not only their own people voting for the amendment but could have prevented some government members vote in favour or at least staying neutral in the face of the mounting pressure from the general public. Anyway that is water under the bridge now.
With the legal immunity he got from the 20th Amendment the Head conveniently could avoid the sword hanging above his head. Now the next move is to save his clan and few of the cronies from the sword. Pat came action with the Appointment of a Presidential Commission on Political Victimizations. The report also now is out. It is alleged that the commission has instructed to take legal action against politicians and officials in the Yahapalana government on the charge of political victimization who were involved in bringing into books the clan members and cronies of the present regime. It also has instructed to announce court decisions given in some cases null and void. It is also reported to have been instructed to stop taking legal actions on some pending cases. A case has been filed in the Supreme Court by some opposition members and other groups against such decisions given by the commission. All are awaiting the court proceedings and final decisions by the Supreme Court. This will be a litmus test for the judiciary.
Amidst all these hullabaloo the Trinity: The Head, Clan and Cronies as the hilarious comedy film title says “Carry on Regardless”. The development strategy of the government seems to be environmental destruction or clearing jungles, economic strategy is printing money in billions and imposing or removing taxes for the benefit of cronies. This governance by an unholy trinity is not limited to Sri Lanka. It’s a common feature in various proportions of every past and present failed and corrupt states of the world.