Sri Lanka, the land of the ‘Rising Son’
Posted on October 3rd, 2015

Dr. Suneth Rajawasan Mt. Lavinia Courtesy Island

Nepotism. One of those many isms that beg definitions. No it’s not a mental condition like autism, but recent events have led me to believe otherwise.

We as a nation voted out a first family earlier this year. The people rose up against family rule, against squandering public wealth for personal gain and against parading ego-displays by powerful children of the elected leaders. It was disgusting as it was excessive, and eventually democracy spoke up against it. Democracy of course, had a very powerful voice during this time: embodied by our very own present President Maithripala Sirisena. Weren’t we all enthralled when he waxed lyrical about the thoroughbred stallions imported from ‘Buckingham stables in the USA’ for the personal use by the Rajapaksa children? I do quite fondly recall the President promising to sincerely end this deplorable practice once and for all.

Daham Sirisena (left) with President Maithripala Sirisena and ministers, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Mangala Samaraweera and D.M. Swaminathan at the UN

Then imagine my unpleasant surprise at seeing one Mr. Daham Sirisena, dressed in all his baby blue finery, a smug smile on his face, sitting beside his father at no higher echelon than the UN General Assembly. Questions rose to my mind faster than the bile that rose to my throat.

1. How did he get there?

Mr. Sirisena Jnr. is, to the best of my knowledge, a plus-one for his father’s entourage. Since his mother didn’t accompany the President, he must be simply filling her place. But then, isn’t there a separate viewing gallery for the family members? I didn’t see the children of any other world leader sitting with the council members.

  1. Who paid for this?

No cable TV, no porn, no minibars, his father instructed. I’m dying to know who exactly sponsored this young lad’s trip to USA. Was it you and I? And the taxes we pay?

  1. What qualifications does he have to represent Sri Lanka at the holiest of international forums?

Mr. Sirisena Jnr, again to the best of my knowledge, is no statesman. Nor is he qualified in any field even remotely connected to diplomacy, leadership, politics or even human resource management for that matter, to be able to bypass so many eligible, young, capable men and women who would have been a valuable asset to our delegation to the UN. I speak of people who could actually open their mouths and contribute something that will positively impact the country. Sadly Mr. SirisenaJnr’s very presence is the polar opposite of that. It just goes to show that we are still very much a banana republic giving free rides on the gravy train.

In response to the furore over social media on this matter, Mr. Sirisena Jnr. has shared a rebuttal on his Facebook page, stating:

“Dear friends, What is nepotism? The real meaning behind it is the abuse of power with influence favoring one’s children, relatives and friends especially by giving them occupations. Open your minds to this definition and take a moment to think whether this is being practiced in Sri Lanka now. Many have been criticizing my visit to the Delegation, saying that it is nepotism and that i am unjustifiably abusing my father’s power. Let me put my friends’ minds at rest, by firstly saying that i was officially invited to the Delegation since my mother couldn’t attend. Secondly by attending the event i got the opportunity to attend the youth-led event of SDG which made me understand the goals which is needed for the country to be more prosperous. How could my attendance be a negative effect to the country? How could my attendance be the downfall of the country? I urge you all not to compare me and my family with the past regimes as we are far different from them. At the event The officials stated that, next time to bring in more youths with more innovative ideas which could in turn enrich our country by seeing my presence. I believe that this is a great opportunity to give positive recognition to our country.”

This statement gives rises to more questions than answers. This brilliant young man has gone on to cut and paste the very definition of Nepotism from the Oxford online dictionary, and then gone on to vehemently justify how and what he did was not so, whilst stating what he did do, which sounds a lot like what he said he didn’t do! It also goes to cement the old adage: “it is wiser to close your mouth and look a fool than open it and remove all doubt.”

To young Daham, I have this to say: you have a long way to go to earn the right to represent this country. You and your sister have of late been involved in some interesting public relations brouhaha which is only further derogatory to your fathers’ vision. So, without making a mockery of yourself and your family any further, might I suggest you first wash down that foot you so heartily swallowed when making the above statement, and then concentrate on working harder towards earning the right to be a true statesman of Sri Lanka and someday maybe be more than your father could ever be. It’s much cooler when he’s referred to as “Daham’s dad” rather than you being referred to as “HE’s son” but alas at your age you will not see the pride in this.

I grieve over how many talented, deserving, articulate, intellectual, intelligent, and frankly more presentable youth were overlooked so that one little boy could tick another number off his bucket list, and take a few selfies in the meantime.

Those who voted for this regime did so with so much hope and such high expectations. Yahapalanaya was meant to be the panacea for the corruption that had swallowed our country and expelled it out the other end.

Instead all I see is history repeating itself. Will we never learn?

Barba non facit philosophum

Dr. Suneth Rajawasan

Mt. Lavinia

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