“Our civilization survives in the complacency of cowardly or malignant minds -- a sacrifice to the vanity of aging adolescents. In 1953, excess is always a comfort, and sometimes a career.”
The Joint Opposition has knowingly thrown a challenge at the morality of all decent men and women in Sri Lanka. Announcing a ‘Shadow Cabinet’ that consists of those who once occupied the most rewarding portfolios of the defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa-regime and whose many dealings are being questioned at various commissions and committees today is simply preposterous and pathetic. The bare audacity to challenge the intelligence of the average voter is further proof of their appalling logic of judgment on the one hand a ridiculously impudent sense of cynicism on the other. The political bloodshed that they are attempting to draw at this crucial juncture of transition from a roguish government to a budding Yahapalanaya state is palpable and the consequences of their attempt could be profoundly damaging to the mindset of the nation. The consequences could be damaging because it would legitimize all the criminal activities alleged to have been committed by the bigwigs of the last regime. Making such criminal behaviour and acts to look like regular and normal would be dangerous to the socio-political character of the nation.
It would be futile to analyze the individuals named in that so-called ‘Shadow Cabinet’ one by one. Thanks to the Proportional Representation (PR) system, these political ruffians managed to get into parliament. Yet their collective psyche that is intensely warped and inflated has been driving them to a state of perpetual denial. In the interest of safeguarding their allegedly ill-gotten wealth and redeeming their lost glory, they continue to amaze the average mind of the people by engaging in campaigns claimed to be on behalf of the masses. When they could not deliver when they held the reins of unbridled power for almost twenty years, they now proclaim as if our people are either totally deficient in memory power or shockingly stupid.
There again, the extent to which these politicians have underestimated the intelligence of the average Pathmasiri and Pathiraja by itself is worthy of a separate study on human behaviour. Misreading the mind of the voter is the most irredeemable blunder a politician could commit.
The closeness of the results in the 2015 Presidential Elections, they might argue, speaks of an electorate whose separation is remarkably thin. But in the absence of any manoeuverings of a coup de grâce either in parliament or at a higher level of power, one cannot see a game-changing political intrigue in near future. For all obvious reasons, the Rajapaksas’ sole purpose seems to be an aversion of terribly embarrassing allegations of corruption and crimes of both white and black shades.
With wide speculation of some of the leading court jesters at the time such as Sajin Vaas, Mervyn Silva and DIG Anura Senanayake turning ‘traitorous’ to their then masters, it must indeed be a chaotic mindset battered by anxiety and uncertainty which the previous ruling cabal is wrestling with. Loss of cool was no rarity in that household, according to some who were very close to it. However, one must recognize the grit and stoicism they show when dealing with intense investigations and queries on their alleged misdoings. Yet the overwhelming number of allegations and accusations that have clouded their past activities coupled with regular visits to the courthouses and remand prisons would eventually take their own toll.
The memories of the vicious and malicious manner in which they dealt with the then presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka and Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake might be fading away not because their significance has waned, but the sands of time could overrun any and all things that are mundane. Powers of memory are intricately tied up with the passing of time. Yet, constant barrage of media battering, which the Rajapaksas have so successfully accomplished with consummate skill, is completely lacking in the current Government ranks. Whether it’s due to willful strategy or lack of application by the necessarily qualified men and women in the media business, it’s not a very complementary situation either for President Maithripala Sirisena or Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. I have written in my earlier columns on how the crucial role a properly manned and craftily conceptualized media campaign could harvest the support of the people towards the positives of the current Administration while stashing
away the negatives.
A positive and honest media campaign cannot be executed on an empty and hollow foundation. Nor could such a campaign succeed if it lacked solid pillars of principles. It’s time the Prime Minister and his Cabinet assembled a team of versatile media men and women not only to disseminate ‘good news’ but also prepare and launch a counter attack on the ceaseless onslaught executed by the so-called ‘joint opposition’. With enormous resources at hand, both of the state and private sectors, a tasteful and effective campaign needs to be embarked upon without any further delay. Each day, week and month’s delay means that much of lost opportunity and time. Time is not what could be redeemed at all. In politics it is extremely rare that a second chance is successful. It is relevant to the joint opposition as well as the current administration. For the first time in Sri Lanka’s democratic history, the two leading political parties have got together to form one government. Although a sizable component of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which is rallying around the Rajapaksas, not necessarily because the Rajapaksas were honest, trustworthy, efficient and charismatic leaders of the land but because the numerous allegations and charges of corruption, nepotism and plain ‘bad governance’ are held as true by the larger numbers of the electorate and the former first family would also provide protection and shield them from potential dangers of the corruption and dishonest practices they allegedly engaged in. In short, the joint opposition is a stage four malignancy that has eaten into the body politic of Sri Lanka. The most fundamental feature of a cancer or malignancy is that it dies only with the body that is entrapped by it -- ‘cancer dies only with the body’. These politicians who make up the ‘joint opposition’ have been a malignancy that not only destroyed the so-called good cells of Sri Lankan society, they have been the prime agents that caused the meteoric spread of the malignancy. Utterly insensitive to the needs of the broad masses, chillingly oblivious of the shame, disgrace and dishonor that their collective conduct during the last regime brought about, they redefined the art of governance in a totally convoluted manner and reshaped the destinies of the ordinary Pathiraja and Pathmasiri of our society.
The corruption culture that was introduced by the last regime has had its devouring effects on almost every man, woman and child of the country. The innocent lad or lassie who graduated from the secondary school or university became a ready learner of the intricate web of corruption,
bribery and dishonesty.
If he or she rejected the nuanced features of this warped culture, they did not have chance of a snowball in hell to attain conventional success.
This is the background of the country; it’s the flow of national melody; it’s the sad and tragic theme of a drama that is being played on and outside the public stage. The scope and terms of reference are magnified and tailor-made to suit the varying degrees of gullibility of the market and the market is yearning for such sugar-coated venom and bitterness. Genuine allegations and charges are being portrayed as venom and bitterness against the First Family. They simply disregard the enormity of the charges; heinous and greedy consumption of the country’s wealth, they assume is part of the norm and routine governance- how to get things done. A culture that once mirrored a superior spirit and drive long years ago is being replaced by a perfidious and treacherous potion of ethos. The surrender of decency, decorum and grace is almost complete. The modern-day Yahapalanaya has merely become a byword for expediency and lethargy. When politics is dominated by negative forces whose aims and purposes are ostensibly divine but in practice are far closer to hell, the subject people willingly submit to avarice, lust and greed. Plato wrote in his “The Republic”: “The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself”. Indulgence in lofty quotes too may become too close for comfort; the lethargy and complacence that set in with preoccupation in shortsighted living may reap will certainly result in becoming totally engulfed in indecision and vacillation. Man’s indecision would only produce more indecision and that is playing into the hands of avaricious politicians who are waiting in wings to establish ‘order’ and that is a prospect that the present administration should not tolerate at any rate. The malignancy of the joint opposition should not be allowed to spread its murderous tentacles. Freeing oneself from this cancerous web is the challenge today and each and every one of us must be held accountable for eliminating the cancer of corruption. To paraphrase Pearl S. Buck: “Oh mother Lanka, dare to be worthy of
your glorious past”.
The writer can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org