Yahapalanaya blossoms!
Posted on December 19th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Victor Lustig is said to have ‘sold’ the Eiffel Tower twice to unsuspecting scrap metal dealers. Frank Abagnale became known for mind-boggling trickery and deception and Spielberg used his autobiography, Catch me if you can’ to immortalise him in celluloid. We have also heard of P. T. Barnum, who was a US huckster, showman and con man rolled into one.

But, the much-publicised feats of the aforesaid con men pale into insignificance in comparison to what the present government of Sri Lanka has achieved. It has got a Chinese company to pay the price of a harbour for a swimming pool! Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was of the considered view before last year’s elections that the previous government had built the world’s biggest swimming pool in Hambantota. Having sold it, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe adminstration is on the lookout for a foreign buyer for a ‘paddy storage facility’ packaged as an airport at Mattala. It derisively wrote off the Mattala airport as a liability and used it for storing paddy, didn’t it?

The government’s biggest feat, however, is, as a popular saying goes, showing a man an attractive woman and duping him into marrying her not-so-attractive elder sister—nangi pennala akka denawa. It is doing exactly the opposite of its pre-election pledges. It promised to chase the Chinese away and protect the people, but, today, it is chasing the people away to protect the Chinese!

The yahapalana leaders who wept buckets for the media and pledged even to lay down their dear lives to protect journalists when they were in the Opposition, are today unflinchingly condoning assaults on hapless scribes.

One’s gorge rose the other day at the sight of Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne handing over a report on the recent Hambantota Port incident, where he pounced on a journalist, to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. The Joint Opposition (JO) has called it an instance of seeking the help of a female clairvoyant to catch a thief who happens to be her own son—horage ammagen pena ahanawa. The JO has got it wrong. Why should anyone’s mother be dragged into this? What the Navy Chief has done is tantamount to consulting a crooked clairvoyant over a theft he himself has committed!

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has defended the naval action in Hambantota and faulted the journalist who suffered at the hands of the Navy Chief. If only the Navy had received that kind of encouragement to counter the Sea Tiger menace during the UNP-led UNF government (2001-2004)! The then Navy chief incurred the wrath of the UNF leaders for attacking two LTTE arms ships. The PM has also demanded to know why the victim went all the way to Tangalle to lodge an entry with the police over an incident in Hambantota. This is not the first time a victim of assault has done so.

Following a UNP goon attack on a protest conducted by Democratic United National Front (DUNF) leaders including Lalith, Gamini and Premachandra opposite the Fort Railway Station in 1992, journalists assaulted with clubs and bicycle chains went to the Fort Police to make a complaint. The OIC stood his full height, blocking the entrance to his police station, which he audaciously declared closed! (The trusted lieutenants of Lalith and Gamini have joined the UNP!) In the same year, the Piliyandala police refused to entertain a complaint from the DUNF leaders and journalists mercilessly assaulted by UNP thugs at a protest in the Piliyandala police area. They had to go all the way to the Police Headquarters, which luckily remained open, to make a complaint albeit in vain! (The mastermind of that cowardly attack is now a prominent member of the JO!) So, our provincial correspondent, Roshan Gunasekera, who was roughed up by the Navy Chief, may have thought the Hambantota police station was closed on that day!

The despicable manner in which the government pundits have chosen to handle the Hambantota incident reminds us of the antics of King Kekille. That Bovine King, according to legend, once flew into a rage on finding a palace wall jerrybuilt. Hauled up before the king, the bricklayer concerned pleaded not guilty; he blamed a buxom woman who had gone past him several times a day distracting him from his work. The woman summoned by the King said she had been compelled to make many trips for several days to a goldsmith who had delayed the delivery of an order. Finally, the king had the goldsmith put to death. Yahapalanaya has blossomed into a Kekille rule!

We thought it was the executive president who was constitutionally empowered to deploy the armed forces in his capacity as the commander-in-chief. That was why President Mahinda Rajapaksa had to take all the flak—and rightly so—for the bloody military crackdown at Rathupaswala, where the army went on the rampage in 2013. One of the allegations against President Rajapaksa was that his family members had arrogated to themselves some of his executive powers. It looks as if the executive powers of President Maithripala Sirisena were being exercised by others with or without his knowledge!

The government has graduated from appointing UNP lawyers to investigate scams i. e. the Central Bank bond theft, to getting culprits to probe themselves as in the case of the Navy Commander manhandling a journalist! Regrettably, it does not care two hoots about legal principles such as nemo judex in causa sua (no one should be a judge in his own case) and audi alteram partem (let the other side be heard as well). At this rate, the day may not be far off when criminals are allowed to investigate their own crimes and submit reports thereon to politicians.

Meanwhile, the incumbent Navy Chief can rest assured that he has really impressed his political bosses by assaulting a journalist. If he carries out some more peacetime attacks of that nature he might even be promoted to the rank of the Admiral of the Fleet, appointed to Parliament through the backdoor aka the National List in his retirement and made a Cabinet minister. Anything is possible in Sri Lanka, a country like no other!

2 Responses to “Yahapalanaya blossoms!”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    The King Kelille story has an even better ending than recounted above.

    The goldsmith was not put to death although he was condemned to being gored to death by the royal tusker (elephant).

    The goldsmith praised the wisdom of his majesty and took full responsibility for his culpability for the royal wall being built askew. He admitted that indeed he deserved to be gored to death, but he pointed out that being a man made scrawney by decades of being bent over a worktable making jewellery, the royal elephant might gore right through him, hit the ground below with his tusks and break them!

    Purely out of selfless concern for the injury that the royal tusker might incur, he offered King Kekille a better solution, pointing out that he had a fat Muslim neighbor who could be safely gored without such a grievous mishap to a treasured royal pet.

    King Kelille was overjoyed.He thanked and dismissed the goldsmith, and had the fat Muslim gored to death instead!

  2. NAK Says:

    Ananda, But Ranil wouldn’t do that a Muslim,perhaps to a fat Sinhala Buddhist he might!

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