Colombo Telegraph

When Professionals Give License To Despotic Regimes

By Gotamini Hathurusinghe

One of the major reasons for a country to be subjected to bad governance is when its professionals do not speak out, but worse still these professionals actually gang up with those committing anarchy for their own benefit. What these professionals do not realize is that in the long term, they too would be subjected to the worst treatment by these despotic dictators whom they were keen to protect. Moeller’s theory being proved time and time again. Consorting with an autocratic regime is the worst act of treason against one’s country and its people.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

In Sri Lanka this happens all the time. Conversely in many countries and regions that had positive change, or when the country quickly got onto the right path after being diverted towards the bad even for a short time, it is the professionals who led the positive change.

Let us take some examples of ‘nivata’ or slimy, spineless behavior on the part of Sri Lankan professionals. Mind you the examples can fill several hundred volumes.

Dr Keerthi Gunasekera, well known chest physician was sworn in as the President of the College of Physicians a few days ago. He threw one of the most glittering parties at the Hilton, where there were almost a thousand guests. The writer also had the fortune to be there and the misfortune to be in the same room as Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Chief Guest on the occasion, Rajapaksa as usual played his gramophone record of misleading the people and professionals at that. Gotabaya, the master craftsman lied, in turn glossed over, turned tough with his words and at times even became diplomatic and persuasive!

One could see that blind following of the so called educated elite and nationalistic bigots hanging on his every word. There were others who knew exactly what the lies were and looked openly disbelieving. Yet, there were others who were totally disinterested as they knew a lie a mile away, but were too selfish to get out of their comfort zones to bother about changing even an iota of wrong doing. It is unbelievable that GR could spin the same content in different ways to suit the target group. This was a la diplomacy and the wrong doings of the diplomatic community. In rural Medamulana it is about “Rata akarmanya karana wideshiya balawega”. This “wideshiya” boogy man is as real now to the people of Sri Lanka as the white van that Gota sends around for the collection of dissenting “bodies’.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. In his speech on the 26th January, he said a few and quoted quite a few of these.

Lie No 1 – “Most people have been returned to their own place of origin except a few”. This is a damned lie, as well over 15% have had their land grabbed by the forces on the pretext of protecting villages from a possible resumption of activities by the LTTE. These people have been relocated and NOT resettled, very often with no plan by the government for rehabilitation and providing the necessary assistance.

Lie No 2 –  “Another key issue in the restoration of normalcy was dealing with the 12,000 former LTTE cadres who had surrendered or were captured by the Security Forces, and the nearly 5,000 LTTE members who had been detained during the war. As at today, nearly all of these cadres have been rehabilitated and reintegrated to society”

This two is a damned lie as at least 20% have been killed after the war in the regime’s way of dealing with its difficult subjects or have “disappeared”. The real statistics of the Asian Human Rights Council would vouch for that. Rehabilitation of these cadres have  not exceeded 5000.

Lie No 3 – “All the restrictions that had to be in place during the course of the war have also been lifted. The High Security Zones have been removed. Checkpoints, roadblocks and restrictions on travel have been lifted. Restrictions on the trade in certain items have been removed. As a result of the removal of restrictions on sea, the fishing industry in the North and the East has been completely revitalised.”

The livelihood of the Northern people is yet restricted in the areas of Mannar, Battialoa and Trincomalee as fishing has been restricted. Participants in a recent survey in the East, strongly mention the banning of fishing in restricted areas as well as the lack of access to lands in designated high security areas.

Every sentence in the speech of Rajapaksa can be dissected for the untruths that he has spouted in such as august gathering.

Yet other speeches he has given in the past show the insecurity about open communication and his structured action in clamping down on various forms of media, chiefly among these, social media.

An excerpt from an article.

“Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday said that the rapid expansion and development of social media is a threat to national security, adding that it can be used to cause problems by “propagating certain ideologies online and mobilising and organising people.”

Rajapaksa was speaking on Sri Lanka’s National Security Concerns under the National Interest Module of the inaugural MPhil/PhD Programme of the Kotelawala Defence University.

Referring to the involvement of India, Norway and the US in Sri Lankan affairs, he said that in today’s environment, “the possibility of foreign interference in our internal affairs remains a significant National Security concern.”

His concern obviously is not to assist his brother to govern in a proper manner. If a country is governed in a transparent and fair manner, with real democracy, no state needs to worry about the interference of others. A satisfied and content citizenry, would be the bulwark against all security threats to their country.

The globe needs to have a debate on social media. If it is indeed a threat to security it concerns the whole world, not only the security concerns of little Sri Lanka. It is more the case of social media exposing the doings of despots like the Rajapaksas and thus becoming a security threat to such regimes.

Many speeches have been given by Gota on spurring on the theory that somehow Muslim extremism must be curbed, while justifying the actions of the Buddhist extreme groups like BBS. This was mentioned yet again at the Defence Seminar held on the 3rd of September 2013.

Alas   people who are the calibre of Gota are insecure. Indicators of being insecure is to be street smart  without wisdom, arrogant and vain as well as being corrupt and cruel at the same time.

The message in this article is for the professionals in the country.

The Chief Guests and Keynote speakers that you invite for signature functions of professions and professional bodies are noted for who is speaking and what they are saying. August bodies such as the various colleges of the medical profession and other professional institutes and bodies must not give the wrong signals, by leading the people to believe that the professions are endorsing and supporting the actions of agents of bad governance such as Gota. You also have a large following of students, who are observing the landscape of current affairs and absorbing these elements.

Professionals must lead the country and its citizens on the correct path. In the same vein one must ask “WHERE ARE ALL THE PROFFESIONALS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHILE THE COUNTRY IS BURNING? Why cannot the OPA go beyond the mere statement now and again in the newspapers and lead a national struggle to put the country on track? Why was the FUTA struggle ultimately defeated? The 6% required to lift the Universities and schools  out of the mess is still a dream. ARE professionals so selfish, that it is your pocket and professional kudos that are important? Will you consort with the very devil for your own ends? Where is your professional integrity? Where is your dignity?

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