‘Cardboard Mahathirs’
Posted on May 31st, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Minister Duminda Dissanayake has reportedly lamented the failure on the part of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government to act the way the newly elected Mahathir Mohamad administration has done in dealing with the corrupt politicians and officials of the previous regime. Dissanayake has praised Prime Minister Mohamad for taking prompt action against the big guns of the Najib regime immediately after the change of government. Raids being conducted, at the behest of the new Malaysian government, on the houses of the grandees of the previous government have yielded a massive hoard of money, gold and precious stones. All signs are that several key politicians and officials of the Najib regime will go to jail.

Minister Dissanayake seems to have taken people for suckers. The public has not forgotten that he was a powerful member of the Rajapaksa government. So was his boss––President Maithripala Sirisena. If President Mahinda Rajapaksa had not opted for a snap presidential election and committed political hara-kiri, in the process, the Sirisena-Dissanayake duo would have continued to be in the previous government about two more years more in spite of its corruption. In fact, Sirisena has gone on record as saying that he, as the SLFP general Secretary, did his utmost to prevent Rajapaksa from holding a presidential election prematurely. Had Rajapaksa heeded his advice, no regime change would have occurred in 2015.

The general consensus is that most of the ministers of the last government were corrupt. People who voted for the forces that opposed the Rajapaksa rule did so mainly because they wanted the thieves of public funds severely dealt with. But, many corrupt ministers crossed over to the new government and joined the yahapalana government. Some of the top bureaucrats who had amassed wealth did likewise. The Rajapaksa government protected the corrupt within its ranks, and the yahapalana administration has ensured that the crooks who switch their allegiance to it are not arraigned on corruption charges.

For the yahapalana leaders, their much-advertised anti-corruption drive was only a means to an end and not the end itself. Their goal was savouring power again and once it was achieved, they abandoned their campaign to rid the country of corruption. Their integrity was lack of opportunity to help themselves to public funds and, after being ensconced in power, they started indulging in corrupt activities and making up for lost time.

It became manifestly clear that the present dispensation was no better than the rogues of the previous regime when some of yahapalana notables masterminded the first Treasury bond scam immediately after coming to power in 2015. The grand cover-up that ensued caused a severe erosion of public faith in the new government so much so that the yahapalana leaders had to postpone elections as they were unable to face them.

Meanwhile, the yahapalana government’s failure to do what Mahathir is doing has come as no surprise. To begin with, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration is without leaders of Mahathir’s calibre. When Mahathir speaks, Malaysia listens; the latter is ready to do as the former says. But when the yahapalana leaders speak on television Sri Lankans reach for remote controls.

Malaysians know Mahathir has come out of retirement to liberate their land from the clutches of the corrupt and he will hand over the reins of government to someone else of his choice. Sri Lankans are convinced that the current political leaders refuse to retire not out of any love for the country, but because they are so greedy that they cannot let go of power. Mahathir built Malaysia, which he has undertaken to save. Our guys who try to compare themselves with leaders like Mahathir Mohamad and Lee Kuan Yew have no such achievements to flaunt, and it is only natural that the people do not take them seriously.

The quixotic posturing of our ‘cardboard Mahathirs’ only provides some entertainment to the public who are struggling to make ends meet.

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