By Emil van der Poorten –
The recent attention paid to an event designed to promote the Presidential candidacy of the man constantly accused of orchestrating the violence of the Rajapaksa Regime is fascinating, to say the least. An extensive description of the event titled “The Shindig at the Shangri-La” by the much-respected journalist Sarath de Alwis has appeared both in the print and electronic media to wide acclamation and hardly needs embellishment here, being an excellent piece of commentary.
That Tamasha, if it has done nothing else, appears to have paved the way for various individuals to crawl out of the woodwork.
It didn’t take a crystal-gazer to explain why “Dirty” Harry Jayawardena was there. By the looks of it he had not had adequate (in his book) access to the goodies of the Yahapalanaya lot and didn’t have anything to lose by running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. After all, isn’t that the time –honoured strategy of businessmen all over the world? As for the multi-millionaire tea-magnate in attendance, one need hardly go beyond the motivation of “Dirty” Harry to explain his presence.
Out of the shadows of Singapore emerged the ersatz academic, Rohan Gunaratne, whose “fronting” for the last regime ceased for a while, when the Sri Lankan populace dislodged his Rajapaksa patrons. Back he is, though, having picked up the scent of the goodies of power and one can expect a stream of pronouncements from that quarter given front-page prominence by the servile Sri Lankan media because, going on their track record in the past when they let him off the hook every time he talked rubbish on behalf of his patrons, they will do so again.
Seemingly conspicuous by his absence was Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka. If that absence was in fact the case, it could be attributable to the fact that the son of Mervyn de Silva hardly had to prove fealty to a regime when he had licked his wounds and returned to the ranks of the Rajapaksa horde after Mahinda had unceremoniously demoted him from a high profile posting that offered him all sorts of opportunities for puffing and preening and dropping Fidel Castro’s name at every opportunity.
Then there is the sycophant from the “free lap-top and interest free loan time” who ended up at the apex of the journalistic dung-heap by virtue of being the head honcho of a newspaper. To put that particular rag in context, it was owned and operated by a man who provided the conduit for funds transferred to the late Mr. Prabhakaran to, successfully, prevent those under his control from voting for Ranil Wickremesinghe in the only Presidential election which that worthy would have won. This guy has emerged out of temporary retirement with his journalistic six-guns blazing! The bullets include calling anyone who disagrees with his sycophancy “idiots” and “morons” and insinuating that their births were “illegitimate”. Such delightful people we have writing and receiving awards for their literary efforts in this country!
The JVP’s claim that “They are all the same” (Unuth ekai, munuth ekai) appeared to be confirmed by the fact that one from the upper echelon of the current regime has (proudly?) proclaimed that the keynote address constituted a ringing endorsement of the current Yahapalanaya government’s economic policies. “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings (and UNP movers-and-shakers) come forth words of wisdom!” because, unwittingly or otherwise, it has confirmed the fact that the proposed policies of the new Third Force were the same as those of the ruling coalition! Two peas in the same pod, don’t you think?
It has been very apparent over recent months, that all the loud proclamations notwithstanding, there has been no real effort to bring to book those who pillaged this nation’s treasury. The reason is very simple: they are all in this together and there is a very obvious pact which requires merely going through the motions of being on the side of the angels while pursuing the same satanic agenda of embezzling the Sri Lankan people’s wealth or looking the other way when their buddies do so.
To refer to all of this as the emergence of a “Third Force,” given the behaviour of its purported leader, as czar of all he surveyed when Mahinda Rajapaksa ruled the roost, is beyond ludicrous. Does one have to detail the MiG purchase, the Avante Garde scandal, the White Vans (minus licence plates) that had free rein on the roads of this nation, the assault of Keith Noyahr, the death of Lasantha Wickrematunge, and the response to it in the public media, the fact that one newspaper editor, Frederica Jansz, had to seek political asylum overseas to avoid persecution by a so-called legal system that was controlled by the Rajapksa cabal, the unresolved mystery of the 300-body mass grave found in Matale dating back to the time that the icon of the Third Force had military command of that area during the second Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna insurrection and other actions that would never have been countenanced by any other democratic jurisdiction?
Conspicuous by their absence at The Shindig at the Shangri La were Ranil Wickremesinghe and our President. Given what is happening in Sri Lankan politics at the moment, let’s say that such absences could well have been described as inexplicable, because not only are they reading from the same script but are, in fact, ln the same staged production. Also, perhaps Sirisena’s meeting with Mahinda Rajapaksa a short while ago at Basil “Mr 10%” Rajapaksa’s lodgings, made his presence at The Shindig redundant, matters of substance, probably, having been settled on the earlier occasion.
The true significance of the gathering was that it served to confirm the direction in which this country is being inexorably steered. It seems fated to become the Philippines of South East Asia where, in the name of eradicating such evils as Federalism, drug-dealing, and child rape, your opponents can be liquidated and, since the vast majority of the population wouldn’t even have known of their existence in the first place, would leave scarcely a ripple on the waters of Sri Lankan history. The only crime of those who will be “taken care of” will have been opposition to a violent and corrupt regime. This is not some wild and woolly theory. It is a simple statement of logical fact borne out by what has happened and is happening in other jurisdictions and was already here when “tire-ing” people who had seen neither hide nor hair of anything resembling a judge and jury was accepted as a means of dealing with “the enemy.” Since 1971 we have cultivated a readiness to allow extra-judicial executions and to accept them as “normal.” If what began at The Shindig at The Shangri-La reaches fruition you are going to see what is not supposed to happen – history repeating itself.