That is a loose translation of what the 12th century French theologian Alain de Lille said about the Eternal City. We, in current Sri Lanka, too have a similar sentiment but hundred and eighty degrees removed from what de Lille quoted.
“All roads lead to Rome” was about medieval times.
“All woes lead to Diyawanna-Oya” is strictly our own.
Now let me add some meat to the matter, some spice too, just to make it more palatable to the reader who like me is totally dependent on the print and electronic media to gather what is happening in this beleaguered country of ours. It is all about how decisions are made and objections are raised when the ‘rulers elected to rule’ meet, argue and run ‘the country like no other’ from the powerhouse that is parliament.
Let’s start with the lead story of the tableau from parliament – the mysterious and mind-boggling megabuck deal of the bond scam. Part one has been completed and the honourable gentlemen appointed by the president himself have concluded their fact finding. Tom, Dick and Harry were called to be interrogated. Tom and Harry came and Dick refused to honour the invitation sighting legalities coined by ultra-expensive legal eagles defending him.
“There by hangs a tale” will be a fitting quip for this soap opera and we have to await “God Father Part II” to see how the wind will blow and who will be found guilty and who will be punished and who will be whistling Dixie and walking out scot-free. How justice would prevail will be the best yardstick to measure the validities of our governing system. We still have hope as it was the president who changed the tide and clipped the wings of those who would have flown away. It is interesting indeed to see how justice will prevail.
Of course, the ruling powers seem to be submerged to their very necks in this bond debacle. If not, why would someone step down from his lofty ministerial pedestal and resign saying good bye to the pomp and pageantry simply because he didn’t remember the rent he paid for a top-of-the-range luxury condominium?
It will be interesting to see how the cookie crumbles when the bond scam returns for the second round and hits the headlines again. Knowing Diyawanna-Oya, there will be no surprises if they gather a few cans of weather-shield and whitewash the whole sorry story. It has been done before and that too, many a time by the political hierarchy of Diyawanna-Oya. Mind you, there is no one party that is guilty; it is a recurring embarrassment that has been practised by many who ruled the roost of power.
Tragedy for the young
Next on the agenda is the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) and Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) plus the university students who are caught in the middle of a muddle that is rooted deeply in Diyawanna-Oya. I am sure each party involved have their axes to grind and I do not know enough about this battle royal to point fingers.
But one thing is sure as the day that dawns; the entire cabaret was orchestrated by various figureheads from parliament wrapped in all colours of politics. The direct damage in its entirety is suffered by the students, be they from local universities or from those attached to SAITM. But the broth had been brewed at Diyawanna-Oya and all political parties associated in the melee are guilty of their vociferous voices or their politically motivated silence.
The net result of this scramble is a tragedy for the young. The local university students protest march and get water hosed and their SAITM counterparts rot in limbo, submerged bewildered in the hole they fell into due to no fault of theirs. Wonder who’s to blame?
A few days ago, I was at the Mattala airport to give an aviation talk to 27 graduate management trainees attached to the Civil Aviation Authority. It was a great interaction for an ancient pelican like me to teach young bright minds some things I knew of aviation. Here I was in Mattala and I did have a good look at the international airport – four-lane highway leading to an impressive terminal building where four flights a week operate flown by Fly Dubai. That is the simplified sum-total of this hitherto underutilised facility.
It is an old drum beat I am playing regarding the redundancy of this airport. The stupidity of it all is astounding, directly linked to Diyawanna-Oya in its creation. I have never seen such desolation in an airfield. Not a single aeroplane in the sky and not a single aeroplane on the ground. I only saw a mangy dog aimlessly wailing on the parking apron. He was the sole visible occupant of the international airport. This is a mortal sin committed by the previous regime.
What about now? For more than two years Mattala has come under the current rulers and absolutely nothing has been done to initiate some form of activity to keep the airport functioning. It is more like the beggar’s open wound that is kept festering to advertise the plight. “See what the previous lot did, the colossal mistake and we are inundated with the debts,” another repeated drum beat that we hear often.
Either way, it is the same Diyawanna-Oya that is singularly responsible for this merry-go-round of mistakes in aviation.
I have not even touched on Mihin Air and SriLankan. Let’s leave that to another day. I saw The Sunday Island reporting that Diyawanna-Oya has angrily woken up and wants to sack the chairman and board members running the national carrier. Not a bad idea if the Diyawanna-Oya sacked themselves and left the airline to manage its own affairs.
Mega-battle of parliament
Now we have the mega-battle of parliament about to explode – the changing of the constitution. All the knights in shining armour are lined up on the banks of the Diyawanna-Oya to fight unto death in defending Junius Richard’s once upon a time ‘Bahubootha Viyawasthawa’ as one ex-president scoffed it. Some want to kill the people who vote to change it and some want to bomb them and even juvenile J.R. Jayewardene has risen from the shadows and spoken defending his grandfather’s ‘not so grand’ legacy. Who am I to comment on this heavy-weight battle that is looming in the horizon?
The stakes are high whichever way you look at it and those in power want a change and those in opposing benches want things to remain the same. That is the essence of the argument from the proletariat point of view. Of course, on the sidelines are various cheering squads with vested political interests casting votes more for safeguarding their piece of the parliamentary pie than the validity or invalidity of the country’s current constitution.
That is Diyawanna-Oya for you – 70 years of betraying the trust of the people of this beautiful land and dragging the entire country into a quagmire totally and solely created by politics and politicians.
The election fever is crawling in like a weed-clogged wave. January is supposed to be the local government polls and that to be followed by the provincial version and whether it is parliamentary or presidential next is anybody’s guess. Candidates are getting ready to fix their halos and tune their harps to fly in angelic fashion to their constituencies to make their mythological promises whilst canvassing for votes.
Come 2020, we will elect a new president. Who that would be is a million-dollar question. Who governed best or who will govern best are scale-less measurements without valid answers. We hear names being mentioned but which candidate will represent which party is a hard call at this stage of the election game. Of course, the defending champion is sure to be there, wonder who his opponent or opponents would be? There will definitely be wild card entries too and they sure would take the contest to a different level.
New faces, clean slates and the people may vote for a change like they did in 2015. All depend on what happens between now and the day of judgement in 2020. Will we see some positive changes in the interim? People are starved for justice. People plead, if not for total eradication, at lease a visible reduction of the unabated and wanton corruption. The majority hope for at least a semblance of change for the better at Diyawanna-Oya and its disgusting modus operandi that has frustrated the average Sri Lankan man and woman who have lost faith in political democracy.
Apart from natural disasters such as floods and landslides, every other calamity the Lankan citizenry faces is firmly root-caused at Diyawanna-Oya. That is the covenant we have received from the day of independence.
Isn’t it time that something changed?
(Capt. Elmo Jayawardena can be reached at Elmojay1@gmail.com)