STATE OF THE NATION
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

Gomin Dayasri (Courtesy; Daily Mirror)

Look back in satisfaction; look forward in dismay. Lost the way in failing to take the right turn in not keeping to an intelligible road map. Excelled in the war zone: bungled at the peace precinct.The defeat of terrorism was the moment of glory-a valued building block not availed to construct a better future instead allowed to fritter away. Worse: the momentum gained from the military victory, that brought much admiration, gradually eased due to lack of foresight. Living on borrowed time, gripping gratitude with a clutched fist ”that may soon fall out of its tight grasp. Are we a nation of best men that lost all the bridegrooms? Did the exaltation of the victory go to the head without travelling to the brain? Or was it a feature fabricated to create a bulge in the hip pocket. Don’t blame the politicians alone – whether in the government or opposition; Blame us too.
The results of the next election are dependent on a domestic home and home fixture between the-Rajapaksa Brothers vs Monetary Board of Sri Lanka[Central Bank] & the Treasury. There lie the instruments of mass internal destruction that is systematically used to destabilize the country on the economic front originating from the ranks of the government.

The Rajapaksa trio pulls more votes for the government than all the other ministers aggregated together. Brothers  Three have displayed results to please the masses that provide the votes. The President has perfected the art of reaching the people by brushing shoulders with his homely idiom to become the prime vehicle in gathering votes. Events have proved they picked the votes legitimately and triumphed on the goodwill secured. Why should it backfire?

Blips in the fiscal and economic radars are rapidly alienating the people from the present regime and it is happening furiously fast with the rural society feeling the impact of the high cost of living due to stupid economic maneuverings in Colombo. The economic pie is indeed contracting. The manipulations caused by the mandarins of the Central Bank/Treasury places the President in greater peril than by a joint opposition in the making. It’s fair to take high-powered political appointees with clout to the launders but not the defenseless public officers.

A prime deficiency the government suffers from is in not having a loyal political heavyweight with the common touch savvy to economics, in their fold. Thus they are compelled to be reliant on Cabraal [Central Bank] and Jayasundera [Treasury] both living in a world apart unmoved by the woes of the common man. Their philosophy and thinking is highly alienated from the masses that voted for the government and does not reflect well on the outlook of the national economy. Instead the rupee is becoming worthless gradually; yet makes way for inconspicuous consumption possibly for those with moneybags while sharpening the carving knife frequently to plunge into the poor man’s pouch. It’s hard felt by the under- privileged.

“Yet the legal profession has daring individuals who speak their mind in private but collectively decline to comment in the open. The Bar broadly misled a former Chief Justice to make her spend the rest of her days on a rocking chair reflecting on the stupidity of listening to wayward advice that timely lawyers proffered.”

We are made to spend too much while earning too little:  plugging the gap by borrowing, to lead a rich man’s life, dumping the liability on the future generations. It’s like gifting a credit card to someone who cannot control his spending and demanding his grandchildren to pick the bill? Poisonous dead rope is tied on the neck of the parliamentarians. The day the government loses office in a ‘post election- post-mortem’ these worthies could feature prominently unless in the name God they go with good grace early. They are smart to know, coalitions take months to assemble and days to disappear.

Rural voters that form the bulk is not concerned how an objective is achieved or what it costs provided tangible results favorable to them are reached. High cost runs on the Colombo-Matara highway are irrelevant; for there is a fast route-beckoning if the need arises. Saved time is saved money though a run on a highway is a costly exercise. Southerners will fault the highway if they are convinced that it was responsible for the rising cost of living. To the people the highway is a great boom as it makes distance closer which in turn makes it cheaper. For peak unpopularity to reach humble homes, the opposition needs the Central Bank & Treasury to make the government disliked. They artfully create a bumpy road unknowingly to a government that is blind to the fancies of their own miscreants.

The private sector-the masters of bribery and corruption – has to take the rap as much as the government. The giver is as corrupt as a taker of bribes. Bribery and corruption in Sri Lanka are designed to net the public officials and politicians and not to trap the private sector tycoons- often the masterminds behind the operators in public office. Bribery Commission sees little, hears few and does nothing to gain public confidence. Even where the Supreme Court made order the Bribery Commission failed to follow the trail.

There are no laws to reach the private sector on Fundamental Rights, which brings it to an abrupt halt with a warning that relates only to ‘executive or administrative action’ in terms of constitution. Are we blind to moral injustice in the private sector? J.R.Jayewardane’s constitution of 1978 saved the private sector for it needed its support while the UPFA continues it as they are under the wraps of big business.

Corruption has become institutionalized preventing the inflow of foreign investment for much needed development.  Ramifications are multifold with excessive liquidity in the market with insufficient projects on blue print ready to take off. For mega projects foreign participation is essential, which is not forthcoming sufficiently.  Corruption rises from up above to the bottom down below. Investors fear as they do not know where the buck ends as the crooked trail follows them like a haunted shadow. Foreign investors rather leave these shores and look at other tempting offers in the region. Private sector contributes largely to bribery and corruption and needs a hungry watchdog to keep the Commission on check.

Law and order is under stress with the executive making dubious appointments to high judicial office. Probably government need saviors for the future if the sky becomes dark; but such political appointees sometimes have many skeletons: some summersault to save skin placing the honest judiciary in double jeopardy and an out – of – office administration in greater peril. This Government may rue of their appointees in the future.

Does the legal profession stand up and fight to safeguard the judiciary? They make courageous noises for public consumption and then accept humbly any crap that is laid before them. Executive has gauged the Bar correctly, as a bunch of paper tigers that growl but fear to claw and gratefully grovel to accept a presidential attachment to elevate their humble qualifications and insignificant names.

Yet the legal profession has daring individuals who speak their mind in private but collectively decline to comment in the open. The Bar broadly misled a former Chief Justice to make her spend the rest of her days on a rocking chair reflecting on the stupidity of listening to wayward advice that timely lawyers proffered. Many blame judges, sometimes unfairly, for more often the fault lies with the lawyers who succumb rather than assert, when the need arises, which is convenient.
Openly supported the impeachment of the ex-Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake [she had wronged not to deserve high office but was also wronged to be deprived of office in the manner it was executed:]and opposed publicly the appointment of her successor Mohan Peiris [due to his proximity to political authority] but has made appearances in court before both the said Chief Justices and was afforded a hearing in an exemplary unbiased manner. Those qualities reveal that our higher judiciary should be lauded in displaying characteristics of objectivity and facing criticism stoutly. Often there are two sides to a story  – both need evaluation.

Much of shortcomings in society are due to the failure in asserting. Speak your mind rationally and no harm befalls. Of the many lawyers who defended the ex Chief Justice, it was only S. L. Gunasekera who kept to his word and declined to appear before the new incumbent on principle. Other counsel deceived the former Chief Justice with advice to remain in the chair and was found around the same time reverently bowing when the new Chief Justice took oaths in the ceremonial court. Such black coats are lame lambs fit for service as cut pieces oftender chop at a supper table!

In a profession that could afford to be fiercely independent, if lawyers are afraid to stand firm, as they did in the past, not much hope should be placed in the professional class. It is only a few in the media who is not afraid to take on the administration. With experience shall assert, if you make a balanced presentation none can touch or harm you. To assert is not a feature of greatness but an option better than doing sweet nothing.

Remember a wobbly lobby answering to the call of Friday Forum that made observations on current issues a few full moons ago. Personally did not agree with much they said yet it was a voice that carried names of individuals of experience, expressing a viewpoint that needed attention in the public realm. Any voice is preferable to a state of silence. Suddenly, Friday Forum has gone dumb or lame or possibly in a fluid state of semi liquidation? The solitary voice of that forum heard is that of my former schoolmate Chandra Jayaratne writing boldly under his name. It matters not whether he is correct or wrong but courageously expresses his point of view. People of eminence often can be softened with a tender touch. Were gratifications on offer to the Friday Forum or did they chicken out! Not a word has been heard as an explanation for going out of business. Do they need a helping hand to reassemble? An offer is on.

Most Sri Lankans when they make a name become lame and is purchasable with a title or office of ornamental value by the government. Sri Lankans with achievements are more easily purchasable with an office like a sundry ambassadorship or made an appointed MP or given an office that provides free air tickets to many destinations to keep them merry or a high posting in the many unoccupied corporations. Some of the most travelled persons were found in the peace secretariat during the time of the war. It is a shame that funds of a worthy institution were frittered away for extraneous purposes to see the world for a few.

Many will disagree with Wimal Weerawansa or Wickemabahu Karunaratne [So do I] but they are voices that present a point of view according to their conscience frankly, however distasteful it may sound to others. At least credit them for being open in their views and are consistent unlike some of our Ministers indulging in verbal acrobatics, irrespective of the previous standpoints they maintained. Those who crave for democratic ideals in private and desire not to enter the public realm should, at least, propagate such thoughts in the mini circles they oscillate. It helps to provoke a thought process. To be mum is to be indifferent to events occurring in society and silence of such lambs makes them ineffectual bumblers.

If so, should we not blame ourselves before blaming others for the state of the nation?
An independent and able professional is not weighted by rule or regulation as are by public officials. But is the weakest in society.

 

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