Where is it all going to end?
Posted on January 1st, 2017

Renaissance Man Courtesy The Island

You are going to be reading this in 2017 and I hope it isn’t going to come across as yet another of those “joy to the world, all is well” kinds of pieces. Neither is it meant to be a prophecy of doom and gloom.

In reviewing the year past it has been, typically, where there have been a few gains and a large number of missed opportunities.

The gains? The major one has proven to be that the pall of overwhelming corruption and the violence attendant upon it continues to lift with the passage of time. Slowly? Yes, but we hope surely and irrevocably. That said, what did the man say: “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” right? The fact that it was so bad at the end of the rule of Sri Lanka’s returned-from-the-dead Dutugemunu that it didn’t appear capable of getting any worse, is cold comfort despite the rise of the Trumps and Dutertes who share the same philosophy of our most recent and unlamented “Royal from Ruhuna.”

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How much influence are the Ranjan Ramanayakes within the current regime going to wield in their efforts to bring at least a veneer of respectability to a government that appears dedicated to doing the “same old, same old” in the matter of padding their own pockets with, among other “value additions,” the likes of the proceeds of the re-sale of vehicle permits which, in and of themselves, constitute a privilege not available to any “ordinary” citizen? Particularly because the “One-shots” of this regime are so few and far between, we owe it to them to convey our appreciation and gratitude for their behaviour and provide whatever support we can to them even if only in principle and print. Our representatives need to be constantly reminded that it was on the promise of clean governance that they were elected to the positions they now hold.

Loud pronouncements that “nobody is above the law,” mean little when there is widespread suspicion of an “entente cordiale” between the current Prime Minister and the previous President. A similar relationship has been suggested as existing between the man best known as the alleged organizer of the white van disappearances and someone even higher up the chain of command than Ranil Wickramesinghe. The only way that these suspicions can be laid to rest is by action that proves conclusively that no one – in governments past and present, irrespective of their blood relationships and “connections” – is immune from prosecution. THIS CAN ONLY BE PROVED BY THE ALLEGED MISCREANTS BEING BROUGHT TO TRIAL. And don’t tell me that we have such a line-up of those awaiting the dispensation of justice that these embezzlers of billions of rupees can’t “jump the queue” and be taken before the courts of law sooner than appears to be now the case . They can and should because this is a matter of even greater urgency in the context of the man supposedly heading up our justice system brazenly stating that not a hair on the heads of members of a certain family that shall remain nameless will be harmed. Period.

The losses? Apart from those referred to earlier, the continued frittering away of opportunities to restore the cradle of Buddhism to the position it had once occupied and preventing it from sliding away into a haven for men with shaven heads seeking to hide their venality under saffron robes is probably, ethically and morally, the most important in a nation that seems merely to be preoccupied with its history of 2500 years of Sinhala Buddhist civilization. Sound harsh? So be it because these charlatans need to be exposed for what they are as they ride around in their (often state-provided) Mercedes-Benzes.

The economic uncertainty created by constant modifications to financial policies publicized as of critical importance does not help the confidence of local entrepreneurs, big or small, and I would guess that foreign investors would view the current “chopping and changing” in a similar manner. Is that a climate for economic growth? I would suspect not.

The obsession with “mega” this and “mega” that might provide entertainment to those who look forward to Wesak and Christmas as times to be entertained by “the lights.” However, these promises of humongous developments are not only as ephemeral as the afore-mentioned “lights,” they are more damaging because they obscure, no matter how periodically, the realities, faced by those, particularly in rural Sri Lanka who have to face the daily necessity of feeding themselves and their dependents.

The price of our basic food has risen by 40% recently. We are not talking of champagne or caviar here. The reference is to nadu rice the staple food of our people.

In the rural areas, where home-grown produce – leaf and other vegetables, jak, breadfruit, dessert and cooking plantains and the like were there for the harvesting in every peasant’s home garden – we have the spectre of every one of these staples being bought from a boutique after being transported long distances from central purchasing points. Don’t get me wrong. I am as supportive as any thinking consumer might be with regard to the need for an organized collection and distribution of food. However, that need not and MUST NOT be considered the only option. We have a long history, in a tropical country without the extremes of temperature and weather that prevail in other parts of the world, of producing much of our food, literally, on our doorsteps.

When a villager in our neighbourhood is compelled to go to the kadey to get the ingredients for a polos pahi, a kos mallung or a breadfruit curry or chips there is something damned rotten in a state of Denmark over-run by macaque monkeys and giant squirrels.

When packs of feral dogs, not one vaccinated against rabies by the do-gooders of this, that or the other (urban) lovers of homeless canines, roam free, using completely illegal garbage dumps as their headquarters while awaiting the next outbreak of rabies to assist in spreading fatal and incurable malady, something needs to be done about such a state of affairs.

Pronouncements from above on how the basic realities of rural Sri Lankans are being dealt with by those allegedly “knowing better” are cold bloody comfort to those having to endure what is beginning to seem like the rule and not the exception for all but the privileged. And mind you, the foregoing is only from our small neck of the woods, an area whose circumstances are being replicated throughout a Sri Lanka which is traversed by businessmen parading as politicians.

Welcome to Sri Lanka in 2017 where the warts are beginning to overtake what’s left of the epidermis of this nation.

What do we do about it? Rise up and, with one voice, proclaim the words of the late Peter Finch in “Network” that have since achieved iconic status – “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it any more” and follow through on that proclamation which you can find at on your computer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGIY5Vyj4YM if you so choose!

Renaissance Man

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