Does Anybody Care – Anymore?
Jokers are very much alive in this land of Serendib. We have so much going on around us that we have become a nation of jokers. Anura Bandaranaike said he did not want to be party to a nation of clowns but he has taken the easy way out and has not had to put up with the “Sitch”. And what a “sitch” we are in. Many people indeed think that dying is the easy way out!
For starters we have a man wanted for questioning in connection with a murder, who is said to be injured himself and is said to be in hospital – well out of the reach of the Sri Lanka Police, in Singapore. Duminda Silva’s predicament has been variously described by some of as ‘divine providence’ or extremely poor luck. Clearly he is either hated or loved and there is nothing in-between.
The Police have not made any move to involve the international Police network, Interpol, saying they must first have the guidance from the Attorney Generals’ Department. Utter codswallop. Why is it that the Sri Lanka Police appear to want to hold on to some unseen hand in the hope that guidance will suddenly materialize almost magically out of thin air? Is it because Duminda Silva is perceived to be a person from within the inner sanctum of the Rajapaksa Factory? Perceptions apart, Duminda Silva is not immediately within the closer circle of the President and his family although politically the President has made strategic use of Duminda Silva.
For my British friends this is akin to the Metropolitain Police waiting for Downing Street to ask them to investigate why a few hundred Sri Lankans were carrying a LTTE flag for the whole world to see on the streets of London.
We then have the very strange case of Julampitiye Amare who appears to be a professional pain in the butt of the law. To make matters worse he is reported to have over a hundred warrants for his arrest including four orders from the High Court.
He was clearly a man the Police wanted to help with their inquiries. And the Magistrate in Tangalle revealed that – such was this man’s fear of Sri Lanka’s laws and its implementation – he had even visited the Tangalle Prison to visit an inmate.
Judge Chandrasena Rajapaksa stated in Court that ‘such acts could tarnish Sri Lanka’s image internationally and may even prevent us from getting aid’. So the question that the learned judge has posed is similar to what the rest of this country’s populace may well be asking: just how did Julampitiye Amare get away with this for so long.
It is almost rather like Houdini. Some may venture to say that he is perhaps quoted with an extra thick layer of Teflon. The main focus however ought to be to monitor just how long the learned judge will remain in Tangalle.
The Opposition in Sri Lanka is fond of saying that the government is in a continuous mode of ‘doing Sri Lanka in’ – with corruption and abuse of power. So one would imagine does not one, that when the Opposition has a modicum of authority to put matters right, that they would exercise and seize that opportunity with a rare relish?
Colombo’s Mayor, A. J. M. Muzzamil virtually ‘ate Ranil’s head’ until he was nominated as the Mayoral candidate. He professed that he would ‘do his job’. Yet as reported elsewhere in this paper, Muzzamil has failed and his dereliction of duty is unforgivable. It is so partisan – his actions – that he may as well join the government. At least that way the people of this country will almost expect him to have behaved as he indeed has.
The controversy surrounding Muzzamil is the fact that the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has not so much as bothered to charge any fees from the organizers of the ‘Carlton Sevens’ rugby tourney. Serious questions are being asked from the CMC as to why exactly they failed to collect the 10% levy on the face value of each ticket.
Further questions are being raised about the amount of tickets against which the CMC have collected for various musicals recently held. The CMC have the right to enter these venues and check if tickets carry their stamp denoting that monies have been collected.
Perhaps Muzza has not heard that “we are held responsible for what we have not done as much as for what we have done”. Evidently His Worship believes that he is doing such a wonderful job that he can even justify his ordering of a sleek new BMW as his Mayoral Limousine, at a cool cost of Rs 18 Million.
If this was the Corporate world, Muzza would have been escorted out of office by internal security. His inaction and his placing of the blame towards Commissioner Badrani Jayawardena is plainly inexcusable. Says former Deputy Mayor Azaath Salley, “it is important for His Worship the Mayor to display strength and exercise his authority. The people expect no less.”
T. H. White said “the most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else do it wrong, without comment.” Clearly Ranil Wickremesinghe is the epitome of that. As Leader of the Opposition he has been silent on many an issue grabbing a few here and a few there – all of which have great media coverage. But little else.
This has been the least effective opposition this country has had in all its 63 years of independence. Can you remember the last time that Sajith Premadasa took a serious stand on a national issue?
The murder of a British tourist in the Presidential hometown of Tangalle sent international shockwaves. It was like a tsunami for our fledgling tourism industry. The culprits are behind bars for the moment.
The chief suspect is the Chairman of a local council and continues to have his mobile telephone from where he conducts his business. On one known occasion he was allowed to attend a council meeting.
“There are serious doubts as to whether this case will actually come to a natural finish. After a while the people will be quietly let out on some pretext or other” – words from a lawyer in Tangalle who insisted that there was ‘no way’ he agrees to being named in the article.
The crème de la crème of all of this is this final tale I must share with you. In Embilipitiya Pradeshiya Saba, the leader of the UPFA was a Monk.
Fellow members asked the party Secretary Maithripala Sirisena to appoint someone else as none of them liked the Monk. “We can only go by democracy and will choose the leader according to the preferential votes, not by what his peers say”. Utterly democratic one would imagine.
But in Serendib – this land of the fairytale democracy, there are twists in the tale. In Colombo, the same principle applied soon after the results saw Milinda Moragoda given the non-existant post of ‘Opposition Leader’ in the CMC. He was even given an office albeit after forcibly occupying one himself before Muzammil acceded to a request and made it official. Now that Moragoda has stepped down the same non-existant position (there is no official role of ‘Leader of the Opposition at the CMC) would go to the person with the next lot of preferential votes. That is what happens in a real democracy.
Instead we in Colombo have been told – by Maithripala Sirisena – that a turncoat in the form of Mohammed Mahroof will be given that post.
Mahroof in fact now occupies that ill-fated office allocated to Moragoda. Predictably another turncoat Azaath Salley is crying foul – as he was the one who came second to Milinda Moragoda. Clearly this form of selective democracy is good enough only in a dream. By that same token, it is entirely possible that a large number of Members of Parliament from the UPFA may well write to their leader – President Rajapaksa – and ask that due to the Prime Minister’s ill-health and age, they would wish to see D. M. Jayaratna replaced with Basil Rajapaksa. What we wonder would that scenario entail? Or they may write and ask that Sarath Fonseka be permitted to re-enter parliament – convicted felon and all that notwithstanding. It is entirely plausible that due to these very partial, insidious and incoherent applications of democracy the people of Sri Lanka simply do not care anymore.
Instead politics has become a joke, politicians have become the ‘bite’ in any drinking session and Anura Bandaranaike must be dancing in his grave as he gleefully casts his gaze over a nation of clowns. Indeed death does seem the easiest way out.