Caesar’s wife,brave volunteers et al
Posted on November 20th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

There are many Sri Lankans who evince a fetishistic interest in George Orwell’s immortal works. They may wonder whether the literary genius had a premonitory vision of the future of a tiny, teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean, when he authored the dystopian, allegorical novella, The Animal Farm, in the early 1940s though it is popularly thought to be about the Stalinist Russia. For, the post-2015 situation in that resplendent isle, where ‘every prospect pleases’ and only politicians are vile, bears uncanny resemblance to the metaphorical representation of the turn of events in the aforesaid unputdownable book.

Having ousted the Rajapaksas, the yahapalana leaders vowed to restore the rule of law and ensure that everyone would be equal before the law al la the motto of The Animal Farm—‘All animals are equal’. But, today, the self-appointed liberators have emulated the ruling pigs in The Animal Farm, which, after savouring power for a while, proclaim, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” They are no better than their predecessors!

Members of the Fourth Estate who covered yesterday’s proceedings of the presidential commission of inquiry probing the bond scams were pleasantly surprised to find a convivial ambience characteristic of a ladies’ tea party. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was there to testify with his evidence led by Attorney General (AG) Jayantha Jayasuriya himself. One could hardly believe it was the same place where the likes of Saman Kumara et al had been grilled by the AG’s Department officials and the good commissioners alike on bond scams. We are reminded of the hospitable atmosphere in otherwise hostile court house, under the Rajapaksa government, when the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa once made a grand appearance.

Two former Presidents, to wit, Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, have had the nasty experience of being hauled up before courts and special presidential commissions over what they did while in power. Many of the top guns of the Rajapaksa regime now have to appear before courts or commissions for having allegedly abused power and public property in their heyday.

What’s this world coming to when political leaders fail to be beyond reproach? A true leader worthy of the name must be above suspicion like Caesar’s wife.

When it comes to charges against the Joint Opposition firebrands, the yahapalana leaders promptly order arrests. But, when someone connected to the incumbent administration is found to be on the wrong side of the law, they opt for endless probes like the one into bond scams.

The government would have us believe that the PM appeared before the bond commission entirely of his own volition. But, it has only sought to make a virtue of necessity, we reckon.

We believe President Sirisena, too, owes an explanation to the public anent his executive action which prevented the submission of the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) report on the yahapalana government’s maiden bond scam in 2015 to Parliament. He should also explain why he baulked at sacking the then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran under a cloud before the August 2015 parliamentary election. Good governance consists in accountability and transparency among other things, doesn’t it?

It may be recalled that President Rajapaksa had a grand pratfall at the last presidential election because he was seen to be shielding the corrupt. Minister Rajitha Senaratne has gone on record as saying that he never accused Mahinda of corruption and it was those near and dear to the latter who were responsible for corrupt deals. This shows that any leader who protects the corrupt runs the risk of being punished at elections even if there are no specific, provable charges against him or her. No wonder the yahapalana leaders are scared of facing electoral contests!

As for the government propagandists’ claim that the PM volunteered to appear before the bond commission reminds us of an interesting yet apocryphal story. A group of lifesavers, upon the completion of a special training programme, asked the guests present on the occasion, whether anyone would kindly volunteer to jump into the deep water so that they could demonstrate their newly acquired skills. There was pin-drop silence around for a few moments and, then, suddenly, an elderly man, in a lounge suit, of all people, plunged into the icy cold water––slap bang. After he had been rescued and profusely praised for being a brave volunteer he was asked by a journalist what he got to say about his daring plunge. “Well,” the man fumed, gnashing his teeth, “if I find the rascal who pushed me into the water, I’ll beat him to a pulp.” So much for some volunteers and their heroics!

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