The Sunday Leader

Some Wonder Of Asia

by Emil van der poorten

I have, from time to time, referred to the ‘camp followers’ of the Rajapaksa Regime (MR1) who  made their wallets bigger and were involved in destruction and death upon those who were seen as enemies of their patrons.  Those references have, generally, been “in passing.”

Also, given a grossly over-burdened judicial system in this country, it is understandable if the main aim was to ‘net’ the big sharks first and deal (or not deal) with the acolyte remoras that survived (very well!) on that body politic.  However, what has clearly emerged in the past year has been that it has been an infinitesimally small number of even those sucker-fish who have been prosecuted while their host monsters continue to swim free.

One that fits into the category I describe was taken into custody for signing cheques worth hundreds of millions for the building of houses in Tsunami-ravaged parts of the country, houses that, up to now – more than ten years after that calamity – have not seen the light of day.  After a period in custody- spent mostly in rather comfortable “digs,” at state expense, in one of those places referred to as a “private ward” in Sri Lanka’s premier public hospital, he was not only set free as the proverbial bird but employed, presumably at a salary “befitting his status,” by the very government that had taken him into custody in the first place!  As to what happened to the very serious charges that would, in similar instances, have been laid for the alleged crime, suffice it to say that your guess is as good as mine.  The indications, though, are that they have disappeared much as humans dragged into white vans did, not so long ago.  The exhortation to “Put up or shut up” is surely deserving of modification to “Prosecute or exonerate,” in this context.

Cheques worth hundreds of millions were signed for building houses in Tsunami-ravaged parts of the country, houses that, up to now – more than ten years after that calamity – have not seen the light of day

Incidentally, this individual’s defence at the time of his initial apprehension was something to the effect of, “I only signed the cheques.  I didn’t know anything else about the whole business.”  If this came from the office peon it might have been credible.  However, emanating from a top-rung functionary with the kind of financial authority he obviously possessed, it seemed, at the least, a bit bizarre. But “the powers-that-be” obviously bought his response because he has been re-employed by the very government – Maithripala-Ranil (MR2) – that took him into custody in the first place! “Only in Sri Lanka you say?” Well, we are “the wonder of Asia” after all, aren’t we? And this government might well have felt obliged to indulge in practices even more weird and wonderful than their predecessors in order to maintain that status!

The benefits reaped by sycophants in uniform are epitomized by one of the high-flying brand who, after his retirement from the wide blue yonder was appointed (and re-appointed) to head the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union as, in point of fact, some sort of “security” to the Presidential progeny while those delightful young men, all three of them, sought to treat the rugby field as some kind of Sri Lankan sports slaughterhouse.  Before he reached this position that carried a plethora of perks, this gentleman (I use the term with generosity) reportedly built himself a holiday home on land that had been designated as part of a World Heritage Site in the Knuckles mountain range, using the resources of the service he headed to do so.

Then, even the genuflectory local media ran a few “minor scandal” stories on the subject and the kerfuffle, such as it was, ended there.  Before it did, it was evident that all the relevant authorities were aware of this brazenly illegal act but have not seen fit to do anything about it. Then or since.

The other instance I wish to refer to has far more sinister underpinnings. It is of an individual who was an integral part of the well-organised campaign of total obstruction of information and deliberate obfuscation that was a feature of government policy during the final – “Nanthikadal” – phase of the conflict between the Sri Lankan security forces and what was left of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), obscenely titled “The Humanitarian Operation” by the man who only recently departed his Empire.  The services provided by this man to the Emperor were of the most obsequious kind at all times but, nevertheless, distinguished by their ruthlessness, when required.

When the Tigers were finally vanquished on the battlefield and the surviving civilians “rescued,” among those “rescued” were the four doctors who had more than lived up to their Hippocratic oath under truly unimaginable conditions.  Subsequent to a threat made against them when they were successful in getting their appeals for a cessation of incessant bombing attacks on supposed “no fire zones” out to the world, they were, on the record, threatened by the head of their service.

While I don’t recall the specific punishment threatened, there was no doubt about the gravity of its nature given the impunity with which this man’s patrons were carrying out a variety of extra-judicial sentences.

I distinctly remember the time that these four members of the medical profession were presented to the nation at a media conference.  This was after they had been held in custody for several days and to describe their appearance as “bedraggled” at the time they were put before the TV cameras would be to overstate their well-being.

I understand that one of these doctors who chose to follow the most important part of their Hippocratic oath – “Do no harm” – has since had a complete breakdown that prevents him continuing in the profession to which he was, very obviously, a credit.

The upward progress of the medics’ boss in the matter of very highly-paid employment continued unabated, however, a reward, not only for his stout defence of the MR1 regime in the final days of the war but, perhaps, also for his conduct relative to post-mortems in the Action Contre La Faim execution atrocity, something which also refuses to go away thanks to its very enormity.

The first of these steps was into the office of an international agency located in one of Asia’s major cities. Here he proceeded to draw a salary (and perks) befitting an international civil servant, traipsing the globe at no expense to himself or his spouse.

However, like all good things, this phase of his upwardly-mobile  career ended.  The “official” reason advanced for his contract not being renewed was, I understand, that he was an “unwitting player” in some internal politics involving the government of his host country and Sri Lanka.  However, that this man’s past might have emerged in the continuing, unrelenting controversy over the suppression of information and the carnage relating to the end of “the war” and associated events, his public pronouncements relative to them and the potential embarrassment that might have ensued if his contract was extended, are factors that could well have played a part in the parting of the ways.

However, talk about falling in you-know-what and emerging smelling of roses! On his return to dear old Sri Lanka, the man lands a job with a multinational drug behemoth in his home country with a monthly salary that exceeded what most Sri Lankans probably earn in a lifetime.

The man’s continuing easy access to the halls of power along which Mahinda Rajapaksa then strode is not likely to have hurt his chances of securing the position he did!  After all, Sri Lankan society is no exception to the old adage that “it’s whom you know and not what you know” that matters and this man’s “connections,” very obviously, had commercial value, particularly in the most profitable of capitalist enterprises.

This employment being in the private sector, the chances are that, now that MR1 is out of power, this man’s bosses will find someone else that has similar entrée into the MR2 halls of power, suggesting that the adage I quoted in the previous paragraph can sometimes have its down-side!

Of course, this man, like the one I referred to earlier, may simply display his chameleonic skill and change his political colours and/or be simply accommodated, as have so many other square pegs from the MR1 regime, who now occupy the round holes of the MR2 regime.

As redundant as it might seem, I cannot resist the temptation of another old quote in closing: “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

 

7 Comments for “Some Wonder Of Asia”

  1. Emil van der Poorten

    It is unfortunate that the “Editorial staff” of the Sunday Leader has chosen to alter material submitted by me. (inclusive of mis-spelling my name!).
    This appears reminiscent of what happened to selected journalists subsequent to Frederica Jansz being fired and having to seek asylum in the U.S. and I hope is not indicative of a similar scenario unfolding!

    • Sena

      I saw your thundering original and was surprised to see even this edited version. Even a comment of mine on another thread was deleted. I do not belong to any side there because like you we grew up in a different society at Colombo where even the gas came via pipes to our kitchens.
      The press has never been a free press and in today’s world context it’s at its worse.

  2. Trevor Jayetileke

    Some one once said with regard to salaries of Top Bureaucrats that “If you pay Peanuts you get Monkeys” but now if you pay the Top Dollar to these Decision Makers what you get is Monkeys without a Head or Tail but can talk the Hind legs of a Donkey. They boast of experience for the job they undertake but don’t bother to apply for the job when it is advertised but appointed to the job because they are sycophants who do the dirty work of their Political Masters. Having educated ( he himself has admitted to me ) the Man the Onions of his task but tells others that he has no time to Educate me and that I am just a Businessman from Oz ( I have by a stroke of luck got that e-mail when he tried to cover up of of his misdeeds in Houston,TX which I arranged for the PRDS to bring back the Yanks for Joint-Study.
    I found him lacking TRUST with the likes of that famous Sri Lankan in the UK Emil Saundranayagam., who took a lot of Mugs for a joy ride in the Motor Insurance Industry. Unfortunately this man is paying the price for his hubris trying a cheap trick on me an is now eating humble pie “Named and Shamed” for alleged fraud and bringing down his Master as well. He is having a “Schlumber Party” at the PRDS for the past four years just clutching to someone elses straw in the “Mannar Basin” which finally may break his back he said he was having trouble with as a excuse to be in a Medical Ward which is a ploy to avoid be in remand and bailed on an application which stated that his knowledge and negotiating skills are required for our oil exploration program but just California Dreaming spooked by Ghosts for his misdeeds. Unsuspecting Sri Lankans may be easily taken for a ride with smooth talking on a subject they know little but taking International Oil Exploration Companies for suckers is not possible when there is no Authenticity ,Credibility or Clarity of Conventional Wisdom ( 2 D Seismic Data ) we have to offer in a industry which is high rick and high reward like Oil Exploration. The reality is that the climate is not suited for oil exploration.
    Sri Lanka is economically unable to raise its head and even George Soros says its a Upstream Task but believe me its a Downhill Task at the moment and we must follow the Singapore Model of Oil Refining when the Crude Oil Price is low.
    I am willing to accept an apology and start a new for the sake of my Country., and my comment is in good faith for a Man to whom I tried feeding Caviar but he tried to eat my hand at the Table I laid for him and now eating huble pie. There is a adage that Pride sometimes comes before fall and if one stoops can conquer.

  3. exey

    A stupid northern Tamil vote that saved the sinha le from economic embargo.
    they quarrel like 2 women (Bangladesh) and only a rat that can please them both would work all this out.- that itself would be a wonder.

  4. gabriella

    What are Emil and Trevor trying to convey to the reader ? Seems like they have been sharing the same bottle of “kassipu”.

  5. Trevor Jayetileke

    Malaysia put up its Twin Towers only after they found their Crude Oil but even without finding anything worthwhile so far we have got not only a Rising Tower but also several Wonderful Condos and Palaces up for those who want to see in Colombo. A Minister of Power and Energy has written a Book captioned “Power and Power” and that would provide material for thought of what goes on there.
    The PRDS has to be investigated as it is a “Can of Worms”. The all Powerful DG acting also for the Minister and Secretary ( they have no time for oil exploration ) moved his office from humble surroundings in 80,Flower Rd., to the posh 6th floor of Ceylinco House with probably good intentions but little realizing that the “Bust of Justin” lies on the Ground Floor with other Marble ornaments. What looks to be happening in a land of superstitious believers is that Ghosts of Justin could be holding back any progress in oil exploration as his skeleton must be turning in his grave wondering what on earth happened to the Empire he built. While Justin’s son laments about the stripping of his father’s Empire and the Golden Key depositors and Tsunami victims await justice for their lifetime losses the DG of the PRDS is playing the Lead Role ( wearing a Mask ) in the Musical Comedy the “Phantom of the Opera” . Even though he assumes he is the last word in oil exploration in Sri Lanka and has advise from the World’s Best Consultant IHS , I am the only one that can and will eventually find the Crude oil for SL which even George Soros says is a Upstream Effort against many odds.
    The difference between me and those looking for the “Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow” for Sri Lanka is that I only work for One Master MY MOTHERLAND.

    • Sena

      Oil is a past boil that you are living in. Today you can never repeat Nasser Suez Canal weapon that Saudi is experiencing. Its fracking technology 2- which you can never dream of- patent right and US is number 1 exporter.

      Keep dreaming or you may end up like the Sinha Le part 2.

      Natural drinking Water is the new weapon that Putin is desperate in tapping.

      Go back to school man.

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