Colombo Telegraph

There Is No Alternative To The Principled Conduct Of Government

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

The phrase that constitutes the pith of the title of this piece is probably one that has been used and abused by the self-righteous more than any other in the realm of political comment.

However, that said, in practical terms, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE to doing things in a principled manner. If you deviate from that straight and narrow path you are going to end up in chaos. It is as simple as that.

The whole Mahendran brouhaha which doesn’t exactly promise to make the Rajapaksa regime (MR1) look like the epitome of principled civilized governance is still just the tip of an iceberg that has definitely been forming thanks to the behaviour of the leaders of the Maithripala/Ranil (MR2) lot.

The real slide began a while back with the toleration extended to some of those from the previous regime who defy polite description, several of whom had also been defeated at the last polls. They were enlisted and given (well-paid) positions of authority and prestige by the MR2 lot in the name of necessary political expediency. I have referred to several of these over the past months and they have included one who has pronounced, essentially, that it will be over his dead body that any of the Rajapaksa clan will face justice in the courts of this country, following that up (or was it preceding it?) by impeding the Avante Garde investigation. Then you had the other senior functionary who is contributing – there is no other word for it – to the poisoning of the citizenry of Sri Lanka’s hill capital so that the peace and quiet of the custodian of the tooth relic will, in no way, be at risk. Apart from weird and wonderful proposals for subjecting the Kandy lake to some kind of “flyover,” a corollary to that hare-brained proposal was to put a Rajapaksa-type super highway through Udawattakelle. Even if both of these schemes were beyond ludicrous, they served the purpose of diverting the public’s attention from what was really going on – pandering to the whim of someone who, with the active support of the previous regime, had ensconced himself as the custodian of what has been described as Sri Lanka’s most important place of worship.

These are but two examples of those who seek to protect crimes that have and/or are being committed against the people of this country because the theft or diversion of resources that should go towards health care and education (among other essentials), obstructing justice and pollution leading to serious health problems for thousands of people are simply CRIMINAL OFFENCES.
If the preceding sounds repetitious, I make no apology for that being so. We need to pursue accusations of these kinds against the guilty until they are removed from positions that give them the authority to do such evil.

I would submit that, given what has transpired in this country since January 8th of 2015, even the massive boondoggle that Arjuna Mahendran’s son-in-law is accused (allegedly with his father-in law’s connivance) is a great deal less damaging than it would be under normal circumstances and could, in the final analysis, provide cover for the greater ongoing injustices and crimes committed by those in the seats of power.

The Mahendran Fiasco should not simply provide cover for the injustices, deceit and theft that the citizenry of this country has been subjected to for far too long. I hope it will provide the lever for a general cleansing of what is swiftly approaching Augean proportions in the matter of stables of those in the seats of power.

The utterances of our head of state which led directly to the resignation of the head of the most important Commission entrusted with inquiring into bribery and corruption in this country certainly set the stage for a seriously precipitous slide into the mire from which we thought we might be emerging. If anybody should have tendered their resignation it should not have been the lady concerned. At best those comments about her conduct were less than sagacious. At worst they cloaked issues of abuse and theft of national resources in procedural gobbledegook. No matter how you cut it, it was NOT the lady who was certainly on the side of those who had been victimized by years of violence and embezzlement of public resources who should have resigned.

I trust I will be forgiven for not holding my breath in anticipation of change that we thought was on the cards prior to the “Affaire Mahendran” because it now seems that that contretemps will simply provide a means of diverting attention from the need for punishment for the mass theft of public resources, both past and present, and from the cruelty, injustice and violence visited upon this country by the regime that preceded MR2. That, unfortunately, appears to be the current “reality” of politics in the country we call home.

To put a positive spin if such is possible given the circumstances, on the most recent and massive boondoggle, it does provide an opportunity, no matter how slender, to further provoke those of us who are insistent that some degree of decency, principle and that most elusive of attributes in Sri Lanka – good governance – into continued agitation and pressure. For those of us who are in serious danger of giving up the good fight let me close with a quote of which I will never tire by Margaret Mead, the eminent anthropologist who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

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