By Nishthar Idroos –
Many a tightly sealed lid is being opened with vigor, steam and importantly tonnes of inexhaustible determination. A multitude of weapons are being deployed at suspicious sites and on cankering vaults both locally and in distant lands. It’s a hive of activity and work is reassuringly in progress. Huge clobbers are meted out with weapons of diabolical thrust by an entire battalion of chivalrous soldiers. Sahodarayas from the Hela Urumaya fame, the rotund and world cup winning Captain Cool and the inimitable Rathu sahodarayas are surprisingly working in unison for the common good of the nation. They’re naturally goaded by the infectious Yahapalanaya syndrome, the vernacular slogan that has captured the imagination of all and sundry, a curiously experiential and ever permeating piece of vocab rapidly transcending all nooks and corners of mother Lanka.
It seems even the irrepressible His Excellency Dr Mervyn Silva has turned avid devotee of the Yahapalanaya contagion. The pint sized chandiya is at it again, this time dancing to an entirely different tune. He’s simply the most outstanding iguana in Sri Lanka’s political landscape today. This should certainly add to the phenomenal proselytization taking root vis a vis good governance. Leaders from the political left and others are extending direction and leadership quite admirably. One would venture to say that it’s poignant poetry to see unity in political diversity. It’s always intriguing to find traditionally warring factions notorious for their mutual loathing working together for the common good of the nation. After all much is at stake, its fervently hoped sanity and sensibility will prevail until the whole operation is successfully completed, if at all. A new leaf has to be turned for the betterment of the country.
Talking about forceful strikes on tightly closed iron lids, they’re engendering a menacing echo. The attendant commotion and cacophony is reaching fever pitch. It’s a delicate operation with possible environmental consequences looming high. What may eventually get released to the stratosphere might prove noxious not to mention the inherent pungent odor. The rabid stench of a decade long unbridled acquisition spree immaculately put in motion by inseparable brothers with indefatigable devotion is bound to get pretty intoxicating – that’s putting it quite mildly. The foul stench has slowly but surely begun to escape in relatively small measure, not to the point of nauseating the people; nonetheless the prospect is real. Sri Lankans are forewarned of a possible putrefaction of a colossal magnitude and are herewith cautioned.
Help is sought from international organizations too, World Bank and Interpol to name a couple. For the first time in post-independent Sri Lanka assistance is sought from international bodies to recover stashed lucre and apprehend financial fugitives. It seems the government has reliable information that a ton of currency and other assets are concealed both locally and all over God’s blessed planet. Top politicians of the current administration and concerned citizens are already meeting officials of the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Unit (StAR) trying ways and means to facilitate the return of stolen assets. Daily congregations outside the office of the Bribery Commissioner’s have become common site. Government servants and others from all ways of life and sizes throng these areas carrying loads of files containing incriminating evidence concerning corruption and malfeasance. It seems the CID too has questions for one of the key co-architects of this chimera named ascharya judiciously conceived and dangled with dexterity, finesse and hypnosis to virtually anesthetize an unsuspecting population in excess of 21 million, well, the rest is history.
The sheer scale of the ascharya robbery puts even the most brazen bank heist of the world pale into absolute insignificance. We’ve never heard of robberies that raked in a whopping 6 billion dollars yet it’s estimated such a staggering amount had been siphoned off from the nation’s wealth. A telling and re-defining moment for kleptocracy in South Asia. The ordinary Joe in the village will certainly not be able to reconcile the public image of the former president and the repulsive and repugnant reality that has characterised and coalesced his two terms as president. Even in the 1980’s in the then JR Jayewardene government there lived politicians to whom arbitrary percentages were derisively attached for projects that came under their purview. Ten percent was quite common but a thousand percent is petrifying and two thousand percent is permanently paralysing and five thousand percent? Your guess is good as mine. This is a brief glimpse of the reality of the Rajapaksa Ascharya.
Amounts evaporated to thin air even before the ink dried on the agreement. Loans apparently obtained to build roads could have been built by gold as keenly pointed out by some politicians. This will no doubt go down as the “golden” epoch in the history of Sri Lanka. How can the man wearing milky white dress with his hallmark kurakkan stole uttering heartrending words of patriotism, more than willing to perform genuflections in the presence of the statue of Buddha would so unintelligently and carelessly betroth this fleeting world for a price. In Buddhism greed is anathema. Greed is one of the poisons that lead to evil (akusala) and that bind people to suffering (dukkha). It also is one of the hindrances to enlightenment.
My very basic knowledge of Buddhism clearly recalls the eminently impermanent nature of this world as enunciated by Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. I am also reminded about an incident in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah exalt his mention) Jabir ibn Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah exalt his mention) happened to walk through the market place. Some people were gathered on either side of him. There he came across a dead goat with very short ears, of which he took hold saying, “Who among you would like to have this dead goat for a dirham?” They said, “By Allah, not even if it were alive, because its ears are too short; and now it’s also dead.” Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (may Allah exalt his mention) said, “By Allah, this world is more insignificant in the sight of Allah than this dead goat in your eyes.” Regardless of these lofty examples set by our religious leaders avarice and acquisition will not be able to be exterminated from this world, on the contrary it’s growing and growing exponentially.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim recently said “Every dollar that a corrupt official or a corrupt business person puts in their pocket is a dollar stolen from a pregnant woman who needs health care; or from a girl or a boy who deserves an education; or from communities that need water, roads, and schools. Every dollar is critical if we are to reach our goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity.” “First, we need to improve the way we share and apply knowledge about building institutions with greater integrity; second, we need to empower citizens with information and tools to make their governments more effective and accountable; and third, we need to build a global movement to prevail over corruption.” There is a lot of wisdom in what the World Bank President is saying, implementation on the other hand is a different ball game altogether. As long as banks and other lending agencies regardless of size and stature want just returns on investments sans the need for well laced protocols governing all processes corruption will continue to remain an issue.
How could leaders who famously assert equality, fair play, democracy, accountability etc, be so integral to egregious debauchery around them? How could leaders be so insensitive to the stark social malaise that negatively impact their nations? Alcoholism, drugs, suicide, kidney failure, cancer, road accidents are all real issues needing huge budgets in Sri Lanka. Daylight robbery cannot contribute anything positive in this regard. They’re huge impediments. Let’s not forget our beloved nation had to negotiate major and serious turbulence with most if not all passengers totally oblivious. The aircraft was dangerously losing altitude and heading to Mughabeland when providence intervened and changed course. People give me your ears – the task at hand is difficult, very difficult but not impossible. Let’s have the right man for the right job in this arduous journey towards recovery.