Great Is Our Sin



The laws of nature takes its toll but most can come to terms with that.
It is but an act of God. What most cannot suffer gladly is when institutions cause them great pain of mind.
Take for instance this island nation. Can you name one institution that is doing its work without let, hindrance and succumbing to pressure? The Police Department is a case in point.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a jolly mood. Maybe the Opposition Leader could learn the art of smiling from him

So many cases remain on file forgotten not because they have no further avenues of investigation but because they have failed to receive the nod from their political masters. They write out tickets only to hastily void them faster than the time it took to write it up.
All it takes is a call. More serious investigations clearly do not stand a chance. At the risk of being repetitive may we remember that Lasantha Wickramatunge, the founder Editor of this newspaper, was unlawfully killed within meters of a security checkpoint and three years later the investigation is all but abandoned.
Why? Are the high, the mighty and the powerful so poorly behaved that they deem it unfit to investigate a blatant injustice where a man has lost his life and with that conspiring to ruin the lives of his family who are alive probably because they choose to live outside of this land? Is that how the nobility in this so-called serendipity behave.
The Ministry of Petroleum in this country has done little but twiddle its thumbs. They inter-alia have permitted the introduction of sub standard fuel into the system causing grave inconvenience to the people. Along the way it is a given that officials have been incentivised to under perform as opposed to delivering what the people need and want.
In a previous term at the same Ministry, Minister Fowzie oversaw a spectacular loss to the country when the CPC was coerced into entering hedging contracts much against the then Chairman’s ‘lack of appetite for losses’ as a banker put it at the time in an internal e-mail to colleagues.
A perfectly usable instrument to provide security against wild fluctuations was not utilised as it ought to have simply because of other interests, resulting in losses of over USD 450 million.
Quite apart from the negativity generated by this administration’s reluctance – perhaps immediate inability – to pay three international banks. The failure of Professor G. L. Pieris to reach an amicable settlement with Standard Chartered Bank when he met with its Chairman just as arbitration proceedings was starting, is one which the Treasury could have done without.
The resultant loss was exposed a month ago when a British Court ruled against the CPC and ordered the payment of USD 162 million plus interest. How can Ministers focus on the job the people have entrusted them with, when instead, they indulge in speculative transactions within the ambit of their personal finances – like the purchase of property for example, which is then leased out to state controlled institutions.
The people of the country genuinely do feel that the bulk of their misery is indeed caused by institutions and not by the laws of nature. Take for instance the expectation that every man, woman and child in this country has: to live safely and to dare to dream of better prospects for their children. In fact the people of Sri Lanka were as one when they gave their mandate to Mahinda Rajapaksa to learn and fight the war in order that our children can learn mathematics and philosophy.
Instead our children find progression utterly compromised by the antics of the Minister of Education and the fiasco that is better known as the ‘Z-score.’
Quite unfortunately the lead opposition party – also an institution – has not focused its attention in educating the masses as to what the real situation is. The peculiarity of the economic conundrum this country faces means that the effects of policy changes in terms of prices for example reach the rural areas very much after it has affected the Western province. And as any student of politics – that would mean all of Sri Lanka since politics is the national ‘bite’ and cricket is the national sport – will know, the masses have voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa at every election since 2005. They relate to him and perceive him as being a jolly good fellow. Unfortunately an Opposition Leader who has yet to learn the art of smiling and ‘chilling’ with the people and who does not have the pulling power of a man with a former beauty Queen for a wife and three action-loving sons, has found that he really is a poor match to take that message to the people.
Instead the Leader of the Opposition plots, plans and strategizes and appoints committees but nothing substantial to alleviate the suffering of the people.
And what a suffering it is: the prices continue to rise steadily; the wages have remained largely static and even that fine place to make a quick buck – the Colombo Stock Exchange has been hit with over regulation, under monitoring scaring away droves of investors.
It is little wonder that in Miraculous Sri Lanka one of the strongest growth industries appears to be prostitution and the alarming rise in cases of reported rape and abuse is almost unbearable to hear of.
A group of investors kick started the stock market with a novel idea: pump and dump.
It lasted for a while and all investors glowed with pride when the Colombo Stock Exchange was declared the best performing bourse all over the world. Reality has kicked in by 2012 and the capital market has shown a near 35% downward blip, interest rates are high, the dollar is high, importers are suffering and exporters love it but exports as a whole are not performing well enough. High interest rate regime has a dramatic influence on new capital investment projects like building of hotels – a much required essential to boost the leisure sector.
The unfortunate people of Sri Lanka who were battered and rammed by the tsunami 2004 have coped with that but appear to be bursting at the seams now. The interest rates must be brought down and exports must be encouraged. If the deals that are currently on the table show signs of paying very much less than what it is now, investors will look at making real investments in bricks and mortar, industry and take a pragmatic, medium to long term outlook. With those ingredients the economy will get on the tracks once again. Until our institutions get their act together and fire with gusto, the misery they caused the long suffering public will continue unabated. No greater sin than that exists. The conscience of this nation has not gone to bed. On the contrary the people are reeking with rage at each injustice meted out. They quietly remind themselves each night that if the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature but by our institutions, great is our sin. (Charles Darwin).

1 Comment for “Great Is Our Sin”

  1. bandu sena

    Well said. But these politicians and their stooges who run the institutions do not know the word ‘misery’. Since they were elected by the people it will be sometime yet before they get a chance to vote them out. At that point an Alladins cave wll open to satiate the publics’ desire to be bribed with solar power lanterns, cheaper import duties, public sector wage additions and so on

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