Crooks and fleas
Posted on October 10th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Time was when this country was known the world over as ‘the Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ and ‘the Granary of the East’. No longer are such monikers used. Today, it has earned notoriety as a rogues’ paradise. Many thought the 2015 regime change would pave the way for a meritocracy. How mistaken they were! What we see at present is a mere extension of the same rotten kleptocracy which people were fed up with. The yahapalana grandees have apparently graduated from local bond rackets to international financial scams over two and a half years. They are fast learners! What we witness is the very antithesis of good governance. A fish is said to rot from the head down.

Chairman of the state-owned Litro Gas, Shalila Moonesinghe, has been arrested over an international financial scam. He is still a suspect and investigations are currently underway. He should not be prejudged. But, the fact remains that holier-than-thou yahapalana politicians and their officials who mercilessly vilify their opponents at every turn as thieves must be above suspicion. The very serious allegation against Moonesinghe has tarnished the country’s image further.

What has gone wrong? Those with right political connections don’t have to worry about being on the wrong side of the war under the present government as well. Even if they get caught, they can always get away by playing dumb. All they have to do is to tell their interrogators, “I can’t remember! Probes into rackets are adroitly stage-managed by the powers that be to ensure that when they reach crucial stages, cornered racketeers can remain silent without ratting on their political bosses. Choreographed confusion passes for presidential probes!

Nobody has been arrested over the Treasury bond scams which have caused colossal losses to some state banks and the Employees’ Provident Fund. There is irrefutable evidence to arraign the bond racketeers on charges of financial crimes and corruption. But, allegations against them are probed over and over again endlessly and, at this rate, the half-hearted investigations are likely to drag on till the cows come home. As the crooks responsible for the Central Bank bond rackets have been moving about freely other yahapalana cronies may have thought of going a step further and robbing foreign banks.

Meanwhile, people are struggling to make ends meet. Instead of providing relief to the public, the government treats them to various circuses with its big guns operating agricultural machines in the name of launching cultivation drives and receiving wide media coverage for their publicity stunts. In the run-up the last presidential election, promising to lead lives of great simplicity, the yahapalana leaders undertook to reduce government expenditure to a bare minimum and use the funds to be saved to rebuild the economy. Many thought this country would have a leader like former President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, who became the poorest head of state in the world. But, today, information about the expenses of government leaders, living in clover, at the expense of the taxpayer is not revealed. The Appropriation Bill for 2018 presented to Parliament on Monday has given the lie to the yahapalana leaders’ claim of simple living; more funds have been allocated for the government big guns.

The current state of affairs and the plight of people remind us of an Aesopian fable. A fox gets stuck in a rocky cleft in a shallow stream and struggles to get out but in vain. A small animal, after making an abortive attempt to pull it out, offers to remove the fleas troubling it. The fox cries out in horror. It says the insects are full and cannot suck any more blood and if they are removed hundreds of other hungry bloodsuckers will feast on it.

Sri Lankans got rid of a swarm of bloated fleas in 2015 only to be troubled by another.

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