No, this is not Argentina that has gone to town, but good old Sri Lanka, my beloved homeland. The only thing missing is a flamboyant Evita to come and sing the haunting ‘Don’t cry for me’ to complete the carnival. The day has dawned again for the political leaders to gather and discuss who should represent the swans, bells, elephants, betel leaves, weighing scales and such symbols and we, the minions, like fools await the dawn of reckoning on August 17. Man! I am even scared to write the who’s who of this situation as things change like monsoon skies and many a modern-day Humpty Dumpty gets toppled from the wall. But there is a difference; all the king’s men in this fairy tale are putting all the Humpty Dumpties together again.
Let us ponder a while about this mega comedy called politics. Where is the corruption that was spoken of in the loudest decibels and flashed in brilliant neon before the January regime change? What happened to the billions that were supposed to have been stashed overseas and who drove away the flashy Lamborghinis? What about those who did not settle debts to the Air Force for joy rides in helicopters? This report was called for and that inquiry got completed, they came, they saw and nothing was conquered and everything slid out like drain water. COPE findings and Weliamuna conclusions, man! Didn’t we really ‘go around the mulberry bush’ to cleanse the country? Sannasgala interviews with hopes eternal and sastharakarayas barbecued for wrong predictions and all that rigmarole of change, what happened? Hundred days were ear-marked to incubate a ‘born again’ new Sri Lanka. Where did it all end? Oh what a circus, oh what a shame?
August 17 will come and they will all go back to the parliament, the same seasoned ‘so called’ saviours of our motherland. And they will start playing marbles again. A few changes, just so fools like us can grin and keep our mouths shut. We kept silent yesterday and will stay silent tomorrow too. The ‘clear as crystal’ parody is that the common man’s inconceivable passivity of surrender and acceptance of the political muck that is thrown at us makes us all guilty of the total ruination of this country. And so the powers that be will rape Mother Lanka again and have another election and continue the sacrilege. Oh no! It is not one party; it is all of them who call themselves the leaders of this country, who we elect repeatedly to rule us.
There has to be some who wear the motley garb of honesty. But the numbers are small, too small to make a difference, and even among them, most turn a blind eye and stay glued to power, perhaps knowing that ‘rock-solid’ principles and undentable integrity is a poor compensation to the prominence and pomp of being in power, however tainted such maybe.
There lies the dilemma for the common man, how to escape this dreadful political paradigm of parasitical leadership that is lacerating our God-gifted paradise. Is there a solution? I wish, I do really wish, but sadly I can only write to share my frustration at the forthcoming election, hoping to reach some audience and silently whisper ‘Cry the beloved country.’
Let us go back and see what good
White elephant: Mattala Airport
Let’s look at the perennial white elephant Mattala Airport. Four-lane highway to bring and take out passengers, but no passengers. Runway strength and length to land the heaviest and the largest modern skybirds, but no planes. Fancy appearance and fancier electronics with instrument landing systems, but some fool forgot to have a taxiway for the jets to enter the runway without doing a 180- turn at the end. That is unbelievably stupid as whoever made that decision sure did not know anything about international aerodromes. I am not even mentioning the runway alignment and cross winds that are trivia relative to the ‘no taxiway’ construction. I read in the papers someone advising COPE that the airport earned a lot of money from over-flying traffic as airlines flew the route because Mattala was there to land in case of emergency. Tomorrow you set fire to Mattala, the planes will still fly the same route without batting an eye-lid. That I know for sure for I have been in that sky for a very long time flying very heavy aeroplanes all over the world.
Just for comparison, San Francisco International (SFO) has many runways and the longest is 3,600 meters in length and 45 meters wide. Mattala is 3,500 meters long and 60 meters wide – wider than SFO and only short by 100 meters – but brilliantly designed taxi-way – my foot!
Now let’s get back to a simple argument, kindergarten style.
Someone built Mattala and another closed it and the cost was borne by the coffers of the motherland. Well! One of them has to be wrong, either the builder or the ‘shut it down’ man. But looks like no one is at fault? The reason is simple, in politics “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”. So the Mattala saga continues, maybe the regimes will change and we get back to square one and Mattala will strive again. But I still like to know who built that stupid taxiway in a modern airport for aeroplanes to do 180- turns to line up for takeoff.
Take another angle.
Remember ‘Mathata Thitha’ that came with trumpets blaring during the opening rounds of the Mahinda Chinthanaya? We dreamt of bars being closed and padlocked and moonshiners getting skinned alive in their ‘kassippu’ dens. Bacchus was to be wiped out of the shores of Mother Lanka for sober ‘non-alcoholic’ serenity to reign. Well! What happened was the exact opposite. According to statistics, the liquor sales have currently multiplied and they have even added ethanol to boost the market. Now we have a new theme song from Yahapalanaya. ‘No alcohol in the budget and a clean booze-less land in the year 2020’. Newspapers have full page advertisements and speeches are made at jam-packed auditoriums. Wish that energy was spent on telling the proletariat who’s contesting the election under which symbol and who has allegiance to whom and who is going to rule us and ruin us again in the next six years. It is great to curb alcohol, but then what about drugs? What about mega corruption? What about all the promises that were made to create a
Mighty can fall, change
I read in the newspapers that some people refused to give nomination to a prominent politician stating that he is associated with drugs and some others are promoting him saying he has a valuable vote base. I do not know the truth or the exaggeration or the lie in all this. However, if such be the argument, why keep ‘Wele Suda’ behind bars? He must have been a brilliant organiser to bribe the authorities himself to run drugs. I am sure he would be a worthy ‘team-mate’ to carry a baton and run a lap for some political party in the August 17 race? Man! We sure are a wonderfully democratic country, definitely a land like no-other.
I did hear a PhD politician in green pleading on TV for people to forget the parties and think of the country. He did sound genuine, but then we have heard them before. Nevertheless, let us give him respect and ponder on what he said. Think of the country, that is the need of the day. Think of those poor servicemen who died to give us peace after 30-long horrendous years. Think of those who lost limb and sight and became invalids to make this country war-free. After all, that struggle, where are we heading? Party politics and corruption and that brush can paint with all colours in the competition. No, I must correct myself as so far the leader of the JVP has been an honest politician. Sure there will be others too, if one can find them.
I see a faint hope of citizenry objections by committed people waking up to protest the political ruination we face. It is a start. That is how changes come about, the collective voice of the common man, the ‘power of one’ moving slow like a weed-clogged wave to gather momentum and come across the Diyawanna Oya and wipe them all out. January 8 showed how the mighty can fall. Hundred days showed how another mighty can change.
6.2 million people did not vote for the reigning president. They cast their vote for good governance, to rid the country of a corrupt regime, to right the scales of justice to punish the powers that took the law into their own hands and rode rough-shod over the masses, to give the right place to the right man and eradicate nepotism. They all voted to resurrect their motherland from ruin. Many were the promises of the Swan and people believed. More were the hopes of the common man where his faith in the new face multiplied at the onset of a new era after January 8. What happened? Let’s make it simple without any fancy rhetoric – NOTHING HAPPENED. And the sastharakaraya was dead right, MR won. MS won and RW won and they all won – sadly it is the country that lost. (By Capt. Elmo Jayawardena can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org)