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Last throes of dynastic enterprise: Rajapaksa plots to stall recovery after ruining economy

15 May 2024 12:01 am - 14     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Mahinda Rajapaksa thrives in a sense of inviolability and a culture of  impunity fostered by the very system that sustains their political  existence. 

 

Like the rest of his ilk in this part of the world, Mahinda Rajapaksa overstayed his welcome in the power. He ran the economy to the ground as he did with the national carrier, which he re-nationalized out of a fit of rage after its Emirates management refused to deplane fee-levying passengers to make room for his entourage. 
He tried on a dynastic power grab that went spectacularly wrong, ending in the worst-ever financial crisis since the independence. 


But, like every crook and conman in Third World politics,  Mahinda Rajapaksa thrives in a sense of inviolability and a culture of impunity fostered by the very system that sustains their political existence. 
So last week, he was back, opposing the restructuring of the whoopingly loss-making state-owned enterprises, whose total loss in 2022 alone was Rs 744 billion (US$ 2.5 billion at the current exchange rate). Rajapaksa’s opposition to their divesture is a political manoeuvre, not for himself, but for the hair apparent political scion Namal. 


Puppet master 

Rajapaksa wants the government, of which he is a puppet master, to postpone the divesture of the SOEs until a new government is elected because of rising ‘discontent of discontent among trade unions, political parties and the general public.”
Third world’s crooks are thick-skinned and unapologetic. So is Rajapaksa. He goes on to brag that “in fact, my government re-acquired some state-owned enterprises such as the Insurance Corporation and Lanka Hospitals that had been sold off by previous government”. 


What he did not say is that the national carrier SriLankan, which he took over and handed over to a sibling of his crony, is now destroyed beyond repair, incurring a loss of Rs 400 billion, and without a credible buyer, even after the government transferred  US$ 500 million of its losses to the treasury.
 In any other world, the pillage of national assets of this magnitude would have landed those responsible in jail. 


Rajapaksa goes on to justify a strategic decision’ for the politically mandated pricing of fuel and electricity, which remained unchanged for nine years until the country grinded into a halt in fuel queues and regular power cuts, after the treasury ran out of all reserves, maintaining an unaffordable exchange rate to the dollar and burning through expensive fuel subsidies.
Rajapaksa’s ‘strategic’ thinking is one of petty-minded self-preservation. He did not even write that press release, one of his English-speaking acolytes did.  

 

Rajapaksa’s ‘strategic’ thinking is one of petty-minded  self-preservation. He did not even write that press release, one of his  English-speaking acolytes did. 

 

Rule of law 

In countries where there is a semblance of the rule of law-, like in Thailand, where ex-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was sentenced to jail for a US$  multi-billion rice scandal in exchange for votes or in Brazil, where Dilma Rousef was barred from politics for cooking books- Rajapaksas should be defending themselves in courts for the self-inflicted destruction of the Sri Lankan economy. In extreme cases, like Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania after the fall of Iron Corden, crooks would have been hung by the lamppost.


But, Sri Lanka fosters a culture of impunity for its politically powerful crooks, who relapse into cannibalizing the state at the earliest possible opportunity. 
As the economy is recovering- which it is, no matter the usual nagging in the political stages- and the country is heading for an election, usual charlatans are now on the prowl again, looking for the gullible, dumb and equally entitled. 


Rajapaksa’s missive is aimed at them. It is an act of self-preservation. The family is bigger than the country. So, the dynastic enterprise should go on. Willing suckers could be onboarded on the go. The man who ruins 
SriLankan, CEB, and CPC and builds a long list of vestige projects does not give two hoots about the state of the economy. However, the preservation of the family, as usual, comes at the country’s expense. He would stall the slow recovery process so that, in the ensuing chaos,  the family could have a shot at power.  


Discord and contradiction

 The Rajapaksa’s missive is designed to sow discord and contradiction in the government policy at its most vulnerable moment. The discord is intended to cause policy paralysis. True that his own acolytes are shunning Rajapaksa. The power and energy minister says the restructuring of the CEB would continue no matter what. 
His opposition raises concerns over the government’s adherence to the IMF program for microeconomic stability and debt sustainability when investors, debtors and international partners seek clarity and consistency. 


  Rajapaksas have thrived on chaos, instigating the public against every economic reform effort. That they put up with Ranil Wickremesinghe’s reform agenda, despite being the puppet masters of his government, was due to the far more immediate concerns of self-preservation. Without Wickremesinghe’s presidency, Rajapaksa’s political survival would have been exceedingly gloomy.


 Yet now, physical survival seems to be guaranteed, and Rajapaksa moves on to the political perpetuation and dynastic end game.
For that to succeed, Wickremesinghe’s reform agenda should be defeated. It is a ploy to take control back to the family from Wickremesinghe, with whom power was vested temporarily until the family is sufficiently secure from the wrath of the grassroots. 


Just like the power was vested with the Gotabaya Rajapaksa until Namal was ready to take the throne. 
There is no gainsaying that Wickremesinghe has failed to hold the Rajapaksas accountable for the self- inflicted depredation of the country. But, if he fails to save the do-or-die reform agenda of the government from the Rajapaksa’s dynastic scheming, history would not be kind to him.


  Comments - 14

  • saman Wednesday, 15 May 2024 04:30 AM

    Yes keep whatever is remaining to be sold when a Rajapakse is elected. Good plan.

    Ellapola Bandara Wednesday, 15 May 2024 04:48 AM

    Very relevant and correct analysis of a word class racist swindler who ran the country to the ground. Like Srilankan Airlines and money spinner for his private treasury was MihinAir. He tried every trick like most dictators the world has seen. His next plot should have been to buy a plot at Kanatte. Like in Vietnam people looting the country should be awarded a death sentence, nothing less.

    Panduka Dasanayake Wednesday, 15 May 2024 05:15 AM

    Excellent, Ranga! Read together with Jeyaraj’s fourth instalment on RW’s presidential bid, the fallout (if one may call it that) between MR and RW at this point could simply be a ruse engineered by these two unscrupulous people to help RW to garner some support from the north and east to bolster whatever support or how little he may have in the south. It all may just give credence to AKD saying they are all fearing or fretting a possible NPP victory!

    Ranjith Perera Wednesday, 15 May 2024 08:28 PM

    A very good article, giving a correct analysis of the situation in our country.

    Sokrates Wednesday, 15 May 2024 09:11 AM

    There is no doubt that the members of the Rajapaksa clan are extremely smart, even though they all have an IQ approaching zero. The majority of their voters are no better off in terms of intelligence, as has been shown. The intelligent people who elected the Rajapaksas had their own agenda and benefited enormously from the Rajapaksa regime. The most dangerous dictators in third world countries can be compared to the Rajapaksas.

    Psycho Wednesday, 15 May 2024 01:06 PM

    “Hair Apparent”?

    Gordon smith Wednesday, 15 May 2024 04:48 PM

    The Rajapaksas Dynasty can not be allowed to fester Namal yeshe wants it just say much as MR does but they will all regroup and reverse what has been done so far. MR brought the country to its knees by keeping the SOE enterprises going even with huge losses. Take Sri Lankan he sacked Peter Hill who was going a good job just because Peter DEFIED MR by not giving in to his demand's MR GR and NR. are wanting power back at any cost as long as it benefits the Family and to hell with the country

    NV Jen Wednesday, 15 May 2024 05:48 PM

    Good exposure of the dictator's intent by Ranga. Mahinda shedding crocodile tears after plundering the country in every possible deal, including the Tsunami funds. Backboneless Ranil as usual saves these Rajapakse crooks, forgetting the 2005 bribing of LTTE, denied him a victory. Further the Gota appointed commission recommended that Ranil's civic rights to be suspended, which they were going to carry out, if not for the aragalaya.

    Ismet Zaheed Thursday, 16 May 2024 05:03 PM

    Appears to be a journey's end to Myna and the rest of the Rajapuka clan and that includes Ranil Rajapakse!

    Mandayan Thursday, 16 May 2024 11:00 PM

    In the name of liberating the country from the LTTE, he and his family took the country for granted and nation lost its financial liberty as it has to be pawned to China, India and the West. I still remember the Sunday Leader article on how the Sri Lankans was brought down by the whims and fancies of his Brother in law without being checked or stopped by this man. He won't retire gracefully and finally the nature will have to do that.

    Percy Wijenayake Friday, 17 May 2024 10:05 AM

    Waters Edge golf course completely shut down, a potential foreign income earner mainly from Japan. Capital Infrastructure spent on Hambantota but no government offices and a Airport not functioning to full capacity owing to environmental issues. Stupid Planner.

    ANNECUNT Friday, 17 May 2024 01:58 PM

    APPATASIRI -- MR

    A Supporter of Rajapaksas Friday, 17 May 2024 03:55 PM

    Do NOT underestimate Rajapaksas. They are capable of repeating 2005 (Getting the support of Prabhakaran), 2010 (winning the war and arresting the opponent and rigging), and 2019

    Is Chandrika innocent of the predicament of Lanka? Saturday, 18 May 2024 07:50 AM

    The only thing that is certain, is Ranil is doing a thankless job. Ranil is trying to lift the nation from the deep pit it has fallen, due to the family of swindlers, and people will not thank him for the misery and sacrifice they endured which is essential. The fraudulent clan of MR will never thank him, even though Ranil made effort to protect them from public anger.


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