The Sunday Leader

Complicity To Chaos And Corruption, ‘Al Capone’ Style

It is now officially announced by the Military Spokesman, Ubhaya Medawela, the defence establishment has 50,000 army deserters on its hands, to deal with. The amnesty period for voluntary surrender over, they remain to be tracked down, arrested and prosecuted, according to the military spokesman, as quoted by AFP. There is no significant change in the pattern of desertions, even after the war is over, he has further confirmed.

Mahinda Rajapaksa

What is 50,000 army men for the military? It is around 25 per cent of the total strength of the military, that fought the war. It means, one quarter of the military has deserted their positions and or stations. It also implies, desertions will not come to an end that fast, or any sooner.
What is 50,000 army men on the prowl, for society? It is 50,000 men trained in using a variety of assault weapons, trained in armed combat, used to a brutal war that saw an abundance of human blood and mutilated bodies. It is 50,000 frustrated men, probably with arms in hand or access to arms, ready to commit any crime for their own personal or group needs and existence.
Proof of it is in the rising crime rate and involvement of army deserters in crimes. A week ago, police had a running battle with an armed gang in Kegalle, that ended with six gangsters killed and four of them identified as army deserters. There had been reports of deserters committing rape, robbery and murder, in the past. There had been reports of suicide as well. With 50,000 such men used to guns and blood on the free, can a regime seeping in corruption and accused of war crimes, afford to track down deserters, arrest and prosecute them as told by the Military Spokesman?
Already there are video clips and photos with gory scenes of crimes committed, running on YouTube that raises more voices for war crime investigations. Some claim the “clips” have been from military persons. Will a crackdown on deserters provoke more “leaks”? Will this regime risk more accusations? That looks too hot and risky, for this regime to handle the deserter issue.
Added, the latest media reports reveal the biggest “rackets” happen with police and political connections in town, and at the top. The Liberty Plaza raid on “Madam G’s” luxury sex service apartment had exposed, according to the media, that it had thrived with patronage from top police personnel and politicians. Reports said, there were understandings that any who interfered, would have transfers to remote stations. That in fact, is an accidental exposure and what goes without any, is far more seriously corrupt and complicated for society to live with.
Corruption and crime are not two different vices in any society. They live and grow together and this regime is ample proof, despite its heavily publicised puritanical statements on tobacco and alcoholism, pornography, child abuse and drugs. Often, high moral publicity is a forerunner to the dirtiest of all vices. Often restrictions and raids lead to and nourish crimes all round. That in fact is what an “Al Capone” regime is about.
It is rather weird though interesting to note that the rise and crowning of Al Capone as the gangster lord of American history has a “Prohibition” law under the most infamous “18th Amendment” to the American Constitution that banned manufacture, transport and sale of alcohol in the US from 1919 to 1933. A law that gave Al Capone an eminently luxury life, Marilyn Bardsley had this to write about.
“There had never been an outlaw quite like Al Capone. He was elegant, high-class, the berries. He was remarkably brazen, continuing to live among the swells in Miami and to proclaim love for his family. Nor did he project the image of a misfit or a loner, he played the part of a self-made millionaire who could show those Wall Street big shots a thing or two about doing business in America. No one was indifferent to Capone; everyone had an opinion about him…” (Al Capone / p – 18)
Life in Chicago that gave Al Capone his self made millionaire life was all about bootlegging, gambling, prostitution and contract killing during the “Prohibition” period. That life was also about recruiting police officers, judges, legislators and politicians for all things illegal. That was most evident at funerals, as written by Laurence Bergreen, the biographer and historian of repute. [quote]…..the last rites became a gaudy demonstration more appropriate to…a powerful political figure or popular entertainer…an event that priests and police captains alike attended to pay their last respects to the sort of man they were supposed to condemn. Colosimo was universally recognised as Chicago’s premier pimp, yet his honorary pall bearers included three judges, a congressman, an assistant state attorney, and no less than nine Chicago aldermen.[unquote]
This society we live in, is no less different. Its an Al Capone society. Puritanical at its best in political rhetoric and vulgar to the core, in corrupt existence. With that, will the deserters be brought to book, or will they become part of the system that would keep them safer and richer? It would be both, for sure. There will be cases of arrests and legal proceedings initiated. That would feed the public palate, with well garnished news by the media. That’s also the puritanical side of Rajapaksa politics. The fuel on which they keep the regime running.
From what the military spokesman had said, punishment would be decided on their past record. The records of deserters. There would thus be pardons given and re inductions possible. There would certainly be many unknown and unheard of cases of deserter “absorption” for personal security of especially Sinhala Al Capones, also. Those needed to run the system as an arms twisting, muscled regime that silences all critical and dissenting voices. That would be “prohibition” politics of the regime.
Will such politics be challenged any where? In parliament? Seriously never. The parliament, the “left” and the “right” sides of the Speaker have enough corrupt members, who are accused of even selling their duty free vehicle permits to dealers. There are enough rough and rowdy members, who only know to twist and squeeze the opposition members physically, but never to debate and discuss. The Chief Government Whip proved he is only a Mariyakadey product, even in parliamentary debate.
The opposition would take another 120 days to have their leadership selected, after agreeing on a reformed party constitution, at the convention just held. They are never serious and would not know what they would do, even after they decide on the leadership as declared at media briefings.
Will there be any escape from this politics? That seems the only unanswerable question, for now. Although the in-flight SriLankan Airlines magazine Serendib is all glamour and glory about a regime that’s racing with development projects towards an Asian Wonder, official numbers say 300 of the 600 odd projects are well behind schedule. Only 54 per cent has been disbursed till the end of the third quarter of year 2010. What these projects are and how effective they are in terms of necessary development, is better left without questions.
This certainly is not real life in Sri Lanka. This certainly is not unknown beyond our shores. I met a World Bank consultant on a flight to Colombo a few days ago, who was to meet Sri Lankan officials on development projects. The talk obviously shifted to this regime’s corruption and lapses in implementation. “Why does the World Bank assist corrupt regimes? Does not the WB take up governance issues ?” was a pointed question I posed. And pat came the response. “You choose a decent regime and we would appreciate very much….This is what you chose for us to work, for now.” Thus the merry-go-round goes, complicity, chaos, corruption and all. Where do WE desert to, now?

13 Comments for “Complicity To Chaos And Corruption, ‘Al Capone’ Style”

  1. Jane Warrant

    The army deserters are used to certain life of rape and pillage in the North and East. That will be very hard to give up especially when one is without a job. This is something all Lankans will have to deal with now, not just the people of the North and East.

  2. Sumadha

    Proper governance of a country starts at the top.

    Today we have a president who has given a minister in Public Relations to a person who has tied govt. servent to a tree, talks filth in pubic, has assualted citizens in public, who has said that he wants to drink milk from an actress etc.

    It is baffling beyond belief. Forget about punishing, he has been given a promotion! If a president is so impotent even to stand up to such creatures how can he punish other errent MP’s, take action on bribary/corruption. How can any one expect justice and fairplay !

    Today we have MPs who do not have to serve an electorate to win votes next time. They do not have principles, policies, decency but the only purpose is ‘ plundering the country’ to fill their pockets. They could be bought over simply by showing money. And they know that the law will not touch them what ever they do, as history will tell that not a single govt. MP has been found guilty over many decades !!!

    Examples are endless-
    -65 MPs sold their vehicle permits for sums between 13-17 million
    -40 ministers own residencies but claim Rs 100,000 for housing allowence, in addition to electricity and water ( up to Rs 35,000)
    -20 ministers having overspentr budjets asks for supplimentary Rs2.5 billion part of which to buy vehicles!
    -Minister employs 13 of family members and collects salaries but none come to work !
    -Ex JVP minister spends Rs 250,000/month for car and Rs 108,000 as his telephone bill
    -SL foreign employment agency fraud over 100 million- part of costs for vehicles for 15 co-ordinators etc who never stepped in to office
    - Ministers friend uses sports ministry office for ‘Alsaka job’ scandle

    Such lists are endless…… Not even a single proper investigation……….. No wonder not a single MP been found guilty and punished?????????

    If the President is so back boneless and impotent…. what chance of prevention of chaos and corruption ??????

    • raj


      I totally agree with you. Sri Lanka will become South East Asia’s somalia or Pakistan where violence is a routine. Until you educate the mass, you cannot change this pattern. Without freedom of expression, you can educate mass what is good and bad. If your writing expose bad side of the administration like Lasantha did,, the government will target you like they did Lasantha by using thugs like Ministers Mervin, Karuna, and Douglas in the government.

    • raj

      I totally agree with you. Sri Lanka will become South East Asia’s somalia or Pakistan where violence is a routine. Until you educate the mass, you cannot change this pattern. Without freedom of expression, you can not educate mass what is good and bad. If your writing expose dark side of the administration like Lasantha did,, the government will target you like they did to Lasantha by using thugs like Ministers Mervin, Karuna, and Douglas in the government.

  3. raj

    well said.

  4. Sie.Kathieravealu

    Corruption is due to the FAULT of the system of governance which was easily manipulated by the shrewd, over-greedy, insincere and incompetent politicians who were mistakenly elected to manage the affairs of the country by the unsuspecting voters who were ignorant of the character of the person recommended by the party they voted. The existing system of governance which is labeled as “democracy” by persons who call themselves as “political scientists” is not democracy at all. It is “autocracy” – one persons rule in all the so-called “democratic countries”.
    So it becomes obvious that the present system of governance must be changed to true democracy – one with collective leadership IF we are sincerely interested in ERADICATING CORRUPTION.
    In a civilized society, the people must be empowered to directly participate in the governance of the country and the best way for the people to empower themselves is, a system of governance that would address the problems faced by various sections of the society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the various categories of “minorities” who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations and thus throughout the country (a small fraction of the Parliament with defined powers and duties functions in each and every village, division, district and region)” to perform the different, defined and distinct functions of one and the same institution – the Parliament – like the organs of our body – heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose, ear etc. – performing different and distinct functions to enable us to sustain normal life

  5. Two years ago, the sri lanka delegation to the UN Human Rights Council annual sessions, revealed that 500 members of the armed forces and police have been indicted by the attorney general for human rights violations. But so far, there are no reports on the progress of these cases.
    700 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were expelled from Haiti by the UN for sexual abuse of haitian females, mostly children. A female major general went to Haiti to investigate. But so far, there are no reports of any legal proceedings about this matter.
    All these lapses in law enforcement encourage the deserters in their criminal enterprises.

  6. Henry Leto

    Now that the decisive battles are done and over with, the government would be well advised to drastically downsize its army to maybe a third of the present force. For a country your size a 100.000 men in arms should be more than sufficient to provide security. This way new funds would become available to help the people in the north to rebuild and secure a living for themselves.
    Of course demobilization costs money too. The men who take leave of the army should be offered a transitional income, professional training and access to a small loan with lenient conditions (2 % rate perhaps for a five year period) to set up a new business.
    This would prevent that more men desert and turn to crime.
    As for this big number of deserters, it shouldn’t be difficult to trace them down, however, not to punish them but to properly demobilize them (offer them help to provide for themselves by the measures mentioned above), especially to see that no lethal arms are left floating in the country. Tracing them down shouldn’t be difficult as most people return to their family and villages or towns. Pick them up, offer them professional training in a secluded setting and send them home with a transitional income and low-term small loan to give them a chance to survive in a competitive world.
    Now, for the people in the North – yes, we know they are mostly Tamils – the government could send agents to them to offer them cheap loans to buy seed to sow, means to build or rebuild their homes and to buy farming equipment. That would help. Next it should invest in railroad, roads and water management (building or restoring tanks!) and setting up small factories (cotton, rubber, cokenut processing) and maybe even production units for export. Apart from Colombo the harbours of Jaffna, Trincomalee and Batticaloa should be opened for export (and import) products. Fancy yourself that all this could be done by releasing funds through a drastic demobilization! And a government that is serious in using the wealth of the country for development of the north only (at least as long as there is an unbalanced development between the north and the south).
    As for the World Bank (i.e. international foreign financial aid), although it is a UN institution offering reasonably soft loans, it is an international operating bank nonetheless, and in time the country will have to bleed dearly to repay its loans and interest. This may be acceptable but only if these funds are distributed to the right places and people i.e. to those that are in need of being enabled to using new opportunities to develop growth.
    Can you trust that the government will be doing just that? For this you will need a strong opposition to oversee its actions and all of you to be steadfast enough to send the government home (when the opportunity arises) if it doesn’t. (and choose a better one)
    I wish you all courage and wisdom, health and a little more wealth in the new year.

  7. Maxie

    No wonder people are staying away from visiting SL. SL is now regarded one of the most dangerious places to visit.

  8. Ran Bandara - Kelaniya


  9. chelvashan

    What a Nation with people of majority in the country who still have not realized the value of Democracy and are engulfed in hatred and Racial slur created by the Government for the people and grasped by the people creating a jungle instead of a democratic country with discipline.

  10. Kichi Banda

    ohoma yamu ! Ohoma yamu Lokka ! Devasape wedunadata rattatama hena hathma wadei !

  11. Ok ive made my decision, im subscribing, this is awesome, keep it comin.

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