By Vishwamithra –
“He who slanders the victim aids the executioner.” ~ Leon Trotsky
The rate of increase in the Covid cases in Sri Lanka is alarming. It is no exaggeration. The extremely apathetic attitude with which the rulers approached this pandemic is as laughable as it is unforgivable. A country that needed to be put on a war-footing in relation to confronting this deadly epidemic and defeat this global enemy that came in the form of an infectious virus, was treated by the corrupt Rajapaksa cabal as another bazaar where they can make a profit for the ‘Family and friends’. That is indeed an awful consequence of the fashion of the response to the pandemic shown by the corrupt, incompetent and dishonest set of rulers we have today. This is what shadows when the people follow their misguided hearts instead of an informed mind at the polling booth.
Naiveté on the part of the voter can be even more dangerous and deadly than an all-consuming pandemic. However much we hurl criticism at the government generally and the Rajapaksa cabal specifically, the ultimate responsibility of reinforcing the Rajapaksa machinery rests on the voter who willy nilly chose to repose faith in a most corrupt family ever to govern Ceylon. With access to a reservoir of ill-gotten cash, to an army of henchmen whose only aim is fortifying the defenses of the government machinery with alluring slogans and salivating promises wrapped in sweeter pledges, the Rajapaksas are more than capable of defeating any political opposition at the elections. Their political engine is so well-oiled and serviced and time-tested, Sajith Premadasa cannot even hold a candle to the might of the Rajapaksa political juggernaut.
The political smorgasbord currently in display in Sri Lanka is such, the anger at Ranil Wickremesinghe and the barren field he left behind, especially in the domain dominated by the United National Party (UNP), could not have been starker and more speckled. The survival of the Rajapaksa dynasty owes more to Ranil Wickremesinghe and his close cohorts than to any other political manifestations. In fact, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sagala Ratnayake, the then Minister of Law and Order, one of his main political bedfellows, not only failed to follow the overwhelming evidence available to them at the time to prosecute the Rajapaksa corruption practices to a finality, they willfully impeded the investigations. Ratnayake is alleged to have been keeping a key Rajapaksa co-criminal at his own residence in the Deep South, away from the prying eyes of his own Ministry officials.
When the Rajapaksas were spared by the coalition that was formed to get rid of the Rajapaksa-generated corruption, the writing was on the wall as far as the 2019 Presidential Elections were concerned. Ranil Wickremesinghe played the same dishonorable game which he did in the 2009 Presidential Elections at which General Sarath Fonseka was the UNP candidate. When you sleep with dogs, you have to rise with the fleas. That’s the choice Ranil Wickremesinghe made and he seems to be happy living with that choice. Ranil made this stupid and immoral decision to allow the Rajapaksas to go squat-free. Before that, Ranil made the blatantly diabolical decision in proposing Maithripala Sirisena’s name for Presidential Elections. Had he had the rudimentary wisdom of nominating UNP’s own Karu Jayasuriya for the Presidential Elections, most of what followed as collateral damage would not have occurred. Karu would have won and a UNP government and a coalition between the UNP and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) could have been easily avoided.
Then, pursuit of justice, especially in the context of the Rajapaksa-corruption saga, would have been much smoother and more consequential. Ranil Wickremesinghe aided and abetted the Rajapaksas in their grand disappearance act from the mix of dastardly killings of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Prageeth Ekneligoda and numerous others. In the absence of justice being served whose lives that were sacrificed at the altar of Rajapaksa greed seem to have been utterly in vain.
But a greater misfortune was waiting in the wings. The main executioner of all the murders and disappearances that were executed so mercilessly during the Rajapaksa days prior to 2015 assumed the throne in 2019, thanks mainly to the treacherous and devious conduct of Ranil Wickremesinghe, once again. As a matter of fact, Ranil Wickremesinghe was the enabler-in-chief of all the atrocities committed by the Rajapaksa cabal. Ranil’s lip service to democracy and fair play fell far below the standards adopted by dictators in some Banana-Republic countries. His marked failure to lead the UNP to a defined and tangible political goal enabled the resuscitation of the Rajapaksas. The country must hold Ranil Wickremesinghe responsible for each and every sin and crime committed by the Rajapaksa cabal and its present leader Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
That culpability should extend from the time Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President in 2005 and up to the time they were ousted in 2015. The great Tsunami that caused so much havoc in the country, devouring thousands of our men, women and children, also played a role in defining the regime yet to master its fine art of attuning the state-machinery to extract every rupee and cent from the national coffers to enrich their personal wealth. The irony is that yet another national disaster, the Covid pandemic, is being put to this same corrupt and murderous practice by the younger brother, Nandasena, and the shameless exploitation of the national trauma and making the crisis a profit-making venture for the ruling cabal and its henchmen.
Dante’s Inferno is not punishing enough to accommodate these willful merchants of corruption and dishonesty. That is why it is totally abhorrent to turn the other side when one sees this horrendous exhibition of treachery and lack of patriotism. Being carried to the throne on the shoulders of the brave soldiers who fought so hard and without any reservation for a unitary state does not lend a license to plunder the country, nor does it justify any killings in the name of sovereignty and independence.
The Rajapaksas are here. They may assume that they are here for good; but the reality is far from it. Nothing is permanent and nothing lasts forever. Neither would Nandasena’s narcissism deliver a quick prescription to the Covid; it’s dollars and cents that would deliver the much needed vaccine. Beg, borrow or steal, and provide the vaccine to the people and do it under strictest of medical, scientific and professional supervision. Banish the politicos and military imbeciles out of the ruling circles. Executive Presidency was meant for quick resolution of issues when slow and painstaking debates have failed.
Mr. President, if you have to start anew, then start anew; do not fear to be simple and modest. Humility is one’s strength not one’s weakness. Don’t fear the perception; fear the consequences if you don’t act now. Remind yourself of what appears below:
Continuation along the same lines would not get you anywhere other than Dante’s Inferno. Unleash the religious leaders of all denominations throughout the country. Educate the people on Masking and social-distancing. Ask your henchmen and women to be patient; they can wait to make money, but certainly not at the expense of the country’s populace who has voted for you with utmost faith and fidelity. Make the country a heaven for true journalism and freedom of expression. If you can make a right about change, then there might be light and end of the tunnel. Not otherwise.
The people hoped for an efficient and honest Executive President; they never dreamt that what they were getting was an executioner-President.
In ‘Heart of Darkness’ Joseph Conrad wrote: “Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream–making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is the very essence of dreams…” I’m captured by that incredible impulse…yet I must write, as it appears to me, as it appeals to me. I have no other choice.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org