By Vishnuguptha –
This Government cares two hoots for ‘good governance’
They think it’s their grandmother’s gift…
It is rumored in Colombo circles that Priyantha Jayewardene was once employed by a Sri Lankan business tycoon who was known to be very close to Chandrika Bandaranaike when she was President and when the current holder assumed office, this businessman managed to carve his path to the inner circles of the regime. He is a mega player in financial circles, not only in Sri Lanka but may be even in the entire subcontinent. His personal wealth, thanks mainly to the opening of the economy in 1977 by the United National Party Government, is enormous and some say beyond physical measure. Well, that is beside the point. Nevertheless, this tycoon’s money has virtually assured him of a semi-permanent place in any governing cabal, democratic or autocratic or even in a dictatorship. In a typical regime whose econo-political philosophy is ‘crony-capitalism’, this guy is undoubtedly one of the ‘star cronies’.
Catapulting one of his employees to the highest echelons of the Judiciary is no mean accomplishment, even for our business tycoon, with all his expendable cash and power. With many commercial and financial transaction litigations looming, favorable findings by the Supreme Court of the land could be made possible and even probable with his ‘agent’ garbed in a judicial cloak in court. The sinister planning and plotting, however crude and unsophisticated the whole process would have been, must have consumed a lot of forward thinking on the part of the players, bosses and subordinates alike.
Now it’s a fait accompli.
This Government is no foreigner to corruption; it’s no tyro in the art and science of nepotism; thinking that political power has bestowed on them the entire power one could possibly have in the Universe and they would be totally lost and forlorn the day that power is stripped from them. Consequently they would resort to any and all means to hold on to that power, come what may. Yet, unlike Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)-led coalitions in the past, these fellows seem to have mastered the craft so well. They have certainly studied the theories of Joseph Goebbels who was a German politician and Nazi Reich’s Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945 and other propaganda craftsmen of the Soviet-era. They are certainly not grappling in the dark. In their unholy pursuit of falsehood and deception, they have found the nerve-center of a great majority of Sri Lankans, especially Sinhalese-Buddhists. And that is this sense of false patriotism and phony Sinhalese-Buddhistness.
When the King thunders from his lofty heights of power that he is ready to mount a non-existent ‘electric chair’, for and on behalf of the Sinhala race, he is deliberately deceiving the naive listeners and viewers whose past generations have been brainwashed and conditioned for over two thousand years by the fables and fairytales of the Mahawansa. That military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam has granted them immunity, they think, to brandish that logic to gain acceptance for every one of their ill-gotten gains in sterling pounds, dollars and any other foreign currency.
But these guys in the regime seem to forget one cardinal truth that has sustained democracy and freedom-loving people all over the world: You simply cannot fool all the people all the time. When Hitler, Marcos, Mubarak, Kaddafi and the likes of dictators fell, it’s no rocket science to realize that such a fate would befall any ruler however mighty and powerful he or she is. Especially, no democratically-elected leader would be spared the wrath of electors once they realize that the power that the ruler exercises would ultimately be at the expense of the ruled, never ever the ruler. Although such realizations might come a little too late in the day, yet it shall come, sooner or later.
Yet history has shown us that rulers usually fall from grace at the end of a process and not as a final step of one or two landmark events. If the Rajapaksas and the current ruling cabal are to be replaced, that process needs to begin now- if it has not already commenced. Great events do not spark off, owing to one single glorious event although some wishful thinkers would like to envisage so. Such events exist only among fictional pages of literature and commentary; when these fictitious writing is mistaken for actual chronicling of history, it is incumbent upon true historians to lay them out in a different but more sensible perspective and clearly indicate without any prejudice or favor towards other historical and scientific evidence, for any party to get a proper understanding of these events.
The desecration of the once-hallowed Judiciary of Sri Lanka, in the most indiscriminate manner by appointing under-qualified persons to the Supreme Court of the land stands among the most diabolical acts of this regime. Usurping the powers of the Executive and abusing them to the limit to place their kith and kin in the country’s final court of arbitration of law is obscene, to say the least. Displacement of the former Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, appointing her replacement, physical intimidation of the Judicial Service Commission’s officials and arbitrary transfers of the members of the judiciary were all effected in this half-crazy environment and have become a serious matter for the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. Raping the Judiciary is a grave crime against the country, amounting to almost treason, for the ultimate victim at the tail of this rape is the country’s judicial sovereignty. When the country loses its judicial sovereignty, it loses its soul and spirit, the very foundation of our two thousand-year old culture and civilization.
Dictators who ruled countries with iron fists and arrogant grandeur had to resort to this basic principle of crushing free thought and independence of the judicial system. Subjecting innocent civilians whose only crime is opposition to the governing circle’s mindset and its modus operandi, to a spurious court system whose benches are occupied by cronies of the rulers might give a technical way out to the rulers; it may even legitimize the actions so pursued but it still is grossly unfair and blatantly one-sided. An uncaring judiciary is the midwife of chaos and anarchy and a breeding ground for extreme elements in society. If this deteriorating process continues any further without any checkmate, a situation may arise that would frame the gruesome and ghastly killings of the ’87-’89-era as a ‘picnic in the park’.
The rulers do not realize it because they are so engrossed in their own orgy of corruption and nepotism. An eerie gloom has enveloped the country and those who need to see have chosen to close their eyes. An organized galvanization of masses is not being undertaken; haphazard protests without a focus on the ultimate goal would not do the job of rectifying the errors. Unforced errors committed by the Opposition and its supporters are outnumbering genuine oversights and forced retreats. The ordinary Appuhamy, Mudiyanse, Mohamed and Selvarasa are too busy with making ends meet; they are concerned with their children’s schooling or their wives’ transfers or their lands’ government lease. And for each and every one of those tasks, he has to seek help from government quarters, so he needs the governing apparatus more than the apparatus needs him. Caught in that stranglehold, the average citizen feeds off and on the same corrupt system. Having recognized the essentiality of this perverse phenomenon, the rulers keep on strengthening and tightening the grip.
It might be apt to conclude with the following poem written by Sarojini Naidu:
CHILDREN, ye have not lived, to you it seems
Life is a lovely stalactite of dreams,
Or carnival of careless joys that leap
About your hearts like billows on the deep
In flames of amber and of amethyst.
Children, ye have not lived, ye but exist
Till some resistless hour shall rise and move
Your hearts to wake and hunger after love,
And thirst with passionate longing for the things
That burn your brows with blood-red sufferings.
Till ye have battled with great grief and fears,
And borne the conflict of dream-shattering years,
Wounded with fierce desire and worn with strife,
Children, ye have not lived: for this is life.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org