Miracle In The Making
It is the first week of December and what has been quite an eventful year is coming to a close. As such, a little reminiscing of the year that was, is in order. Kicking off the year 2010 was the acrimonious presidential election, which was held on January 26. Mahinda Rajapaksa comfortably won that election but contrary to what he promised pre-election he has done the opposite January through to December.
The budget, the icing on the presidential cake for 2010, is now being debated in parliament and if nothing else, it goes to show the absolute contempt shown to the electorate ever since January 27.
Picture this scenario. The date is January 25, 2010 – one day before the presidential election. Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa gets on an election campaign stage and states the following:
‘I will bring in an amendment to the constitution (18th Amendment) where instead of abolishing the executive presidency as promised so far by me it will enable the president to carry on forever with full immunity from legal action.
I will take measures to put in jail ‘’the greatest army commander in the world’’ for daring to contest me at this election.
I will present a budget in November where government servants will get a salary hike in the form of a non-pensionable allowance of 5 percent of basic salary and a Rs. 600 increase in the cost of living allowance. Pensioners however will be given only Rs. 250, which will be added to their cost of living allowance. I will not bother about private sector employees who outnumber government servants by 5:1.
In November I will appoint 95 ministers, most of them having nothing to do, but I will provide them with maximum luxuries. They will have nothing to do, as I will place over 80 government departments directly under the Rajapaksas.
But these ministers will behave like royalty and as and when they feel like it, like King Akbar, they will disguise themselves as ‘normal’ people and mingle with the public to find out their problems.
I will also allow these royal ministers to tie government servants to trees to teach them a lesson when they don’t do what we order them to do.
I will scrap all the independent commissions and appoint a new set of commissions totally dependent on me. There will be a parliamentary committee just to attach some veneer of credibility to the whole process but I will not listen to them and I will do what I want. For my convenience this will be specified in the new law.
I will ensure that government owned entities will be put on the Colombo Stock Exchange and sold to the public. This is a novel way of privatising government institutions and no one will oppose this, as it will take some time for them to figure out what is happening. By this time the government will be laughing all the way to the bank.
I will ensure that the cost of living will match the income of my ministers with a coconut at Rs.50 and bread at Rs.50. With the cost of living increment I have given the people in the 2011 Budget, they can buy 12 coconuts for Christmas (12X50=600).
I will organise banquets, parades, carnivals and other tamashas spending millions and millions for the slightest excuse. I will also create the world’s biggest five star kiributh and feed it to 65,000 people.
I will kick out 65,000 people (coincidence or what!) who have for decades been living in the city, out of Colombo. If they have deeds for their dwellings they can throw it to the Wellawatte canal which I will clean up anyway.
Colombo will get flooded week after week and I will provide Armored Personnel Carriers for MPs to visit parliament and navy boats for ordinary people. Beyond this I do not propose to do anything else.
Student protests will be a thing of the past, as I will lock them all up in remand prison.
On every foreign trip I will take a minimum of 100 persons and house them in the poshest hotels.
I will introduce legislation in parliament where casinos can be opened in any part of the country with the only requirement being permission from my royal ministers. As you know the proliferation of casinos will provide night-time employment for our young women and the extra consumption of liquor at these places will lead to increased excise/tax revenue for the government. Just to be sure I will raise the tax on liquor.
Also, to ensure we have enough workers at these places in the future I will reduce the allocation for education for next year.
All these will help make Sri Lanka the Miracle of Asia, so please vote for me.’
This is not a hypothetical situation; it is present day reality in Sri Lanka. All these ‘developments,’ for want of a more appropriate word, took place during the course of this year – certainly a most eventful and colourful one.
Having witnessed all this in the space of just 11 months post election we cannot help but wonder what would have been the outcome had candidate Rajapaksa in all sincerity promised the above to the electorate on January 25. It can be safely assumed that the number of votes he managed to obtain, jilmart aside, would have been drastically less than the 6,015,934 votes or 57.88% of the vote he got in the end.
For those who often speak of the ‘massive mandate’ the President got at the last election it would be good to keep in mind that Rajapaksa got his mandate for quite the opposite of what he has done throughout the year. Let’s hope at least in 2011 he will revert back to the Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma.