Betray Gotabaya, Betray the Country!
Posted on July 16th, 2021

By Rohana R. Wasala

Few in the present government seem to understand that they are holding in their hands the hopelessly misshapen product – a generally weakened Sri Lankan state, that is, a country hamstrung in terms of its national security, economy, its internal cohesion, and external relations – left by the yahapalanaya molestation of the nation (2015-19), a critical situation compounded by the havoc caused by the extraneous hydra headed monster of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic with its protean forms. The deformed baby is still awaiting emergency corrective surgery. But unfortunately, the handful of surgeons led by their determined head are being surrounded and choked by a swarm of quack surgeons from whose concerns nothing seems to be further than what should actually be done to reassure the people including particularly the sensible 6.9 million+ voters who reposed their trust in that head surgeon. The administration must also similarly reassure the nation’s foremost spiritual leaders: the Maha Nayakes, the  Cardinal, the Kurukkals, and the Maulavis, who, together directly or indirectly encouraged the voters to elect him. The people never thought that the government would so soon come to be dominated by a set of politicians who believe that their survival depends on pleasing the minority of anti-majority extremists in different forms and agents of Western hegemonic powers, in alliance with them, each directed by the narrowly  nationalistic policies of their respective countries willfully oblivious of or crassly indifferent to the real  issues that Sri Lankans are struggling with, about which, in any case, they are least concerned in the best as well as the worst of times.

The Opposition SJB and the JVP elements have begun crawling, nay cruising, out of the woodwork on the pretext of protesting against the temporary hardships caused by the well meant ban on the import of chemical fertilizers and the proposed quite sensible Kotalawala Defence University Bill (which, if necessary, could be improved through meaningful parliamentary discussion) . What use are these purblind protestors’ demonstrations? Their conduct is atrocious, insensitive, shocking, particularly in view of the generally destabilized state of the country suggested above, and the devastating disruptions to the general economy caused by the pandemic, and the deleterious environmental consequences and financial losses resulting from two Singapore registered ships mysteriously catching fire in the vicinity of both the eastern and western seaboards of the island (one of them, the one that completely burnt down in the eastern sea, was laden with a dangerous cargo). Besides, by behaving like perfect imbeciles, trade union activists are merely adding to the burdens of the health sector and security forces personnel who are making such great sacrifices in the name of the country uncomplainingly in battling the Covid-19 pandemic. Their sacrifices and difficulties are invariably shared by their families, especially children. And what about the general populace who are undergoing such privations in their day-to-day life, finding it so hard to make both ends meet, but hardly ever complain as they understand the problems that the country is facing as a whole. 

Some farmers  complain that they have a problem because of the lack of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to which they have been accustomed over the past half a century. The claims of those farmers who are saying that their cultivations have been severely affected by the single cause of the alleged non-availability of chemical fertilizers are hard to believe.  Previously cultivated land on which fertilizers had been used cannot be expected to lose its fertility completely after one season. It should not be a problem to forgo the usual application of fertilizers temporarily, allowing the switch over to organic fertilizers next term. The farmers are probably not making truthful claims at the behest of union activists. Anyway, according to  agriculture minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, there cannot be such a serious shortage, as all the chemical fertilizers required for the current season have been issued to the authorised outlets. Then, the farmers must be making false complaints, egged on by ant-igovernment trade unionists and politicians. Or if there’s a real scarcity of fertilizers, it must be due to hoarding. Why can’t the government go after the miscreants, if that is the case, and confiscate the hoarded fertilizers and distribute them among the farmers at a suitable price or just free of charge? 

To my pleasant surprise,when I reached this point in my opinion piece, the answer to that question came from minister Aluthgamage. As Hiru TV News reported (9:55 PM/ July 14, 2021) he and his deputy state minister Sashindra Rajapaksa made surprise visits to the depots of two private fertilizer companies at Peliyagoda and Kelaniya, and found large stocks of fertilizers hoarded. Though these companies had the capacity to issue 700-750 metric tonnes of fertilizers a day, they issued hardly a half of that amount, helping create an artificial scarcity. The minister immediately requested them to issue the fertilizers forthwith. He ordered his officials to get the state fertilizer companies to buy those stocks at a suitable price and distribute them among the  cultivators, in the event of the companies failing to meet his request. Addressing a meeting/a news briefing at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo), Aluthgamage revealed that the the private companies were secretly holding 102,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers; the purpose of deliberately withholding fertilizer supplies and inciting farmers to agitate against artificial shortages was to sabotage the success of the organic fertilizer substitution project of the government, which will be launched in earnest from the next season. (Anyone can see a link between politicians and private fertilizer companies behind these agitations.- rrw) There is money and business behind the protests, the minister said. The particular piece of news ended with a usually vociferous prominent JVP activist demanding that the government give the farmers their fertilizers and pesticides, and pay compensation for the damage already done by the alleged shortages! 

Incidentally, something akin to this context is where it is said that the rice prices are controlled by a couple of big rice mill owners, some of them politicians connected with the present government. People would like the government to resort to some stern action like taking over these mills and their hidden rice stocks, and hand over, to a state body like the Paddy Marketing Board, the job of husking the paddy and distributing the rice on a wholesale basis. It is up to the government to implement a proposal like this after appropriately considering its feasibility. That this is not happening shows the power that the private sector is wielding, not only over paddy cultivation and rice distribution, but on the policy makers. The 6.9 million voters and the spiritual leaders are waiting for the rulers to bring these mafiosi under control. They are still hopeful that the President will succeed even in other spheres of governance where dealing often replaces leading.  

Meanwhile, some teacher unions are also reported to be on strike, which means that their members have stopped online teaching. Online instruction is expected to provide some help for the unexpectedly housebound children of the country. They are in that predicament as a result of the long interruption caused to the functioning of normal face-to-face teaching in schools by the Covid associated restrictions on movement. It is by no means an adequate stopgap solution for them, because, among other snags, internet accessibility is problematic in most areas. But teachers are still being paid their salaries. It may be true that there are long standing pay scale anomalies, and other job related issues that need to be addressed. But teachers should understand that this is not the time for urging the government to provide relief. Isn’t it their duty to help the authorities to put an end to the Covid crisis first? However, according to media reports, their main complaint is against the Kotelawala Defence University Bill. They want it withdrawn, arguing that its passage will pave the way for privatising education, putting an effective end to free education. (The JVP has been flogging this dead horse for decades; it looks like they are not intelligent or creative enough to think of a better cause célèbre to ensure their political survival! I am sorry to see that industries minister Wimal Weerawansa also opposes the KDU bill. Probably, he expects only to incorporate certain amendments in it before before its passage. Weerawansa is one of the architects of the electoral victory of both Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the SLPP, and one of the very few best performing cabinet ministers. A Gotabaya government without him and energy minister Udaya Gammanpila is inconceivable.) 

That stupid demand of teacher union protestors (i.e., to withdraw the KDU bill) alone invalidates their struggle. Don’t they know that even in rural areas paid tuition supplements school instruction at every level? Don’t many of these teacher union members have a stake in that as an extra source of income? Are international schools providers of free education? How many of them are there? What are their tuition fees and examination fees in terms of foreign exchange (international school students follow foreign syllabuses)? Don’t large numbers of students go abroad every year to study not only medicine and engineering which local universities don’t have enough capacity to make available to all the students who qualify to study in them, but also subjects such as accountancy that can be learnt at the highest level within the country? Not all the parents who send their children to study abroad belong to the ‘rich’ category. Private education side by side with free state education has come to stay and has become a current necessity. Private medical colleges are essential. There should not be any argument about that. Most ordinary people now know this. They don’t approve of the politically motivated disruptive activities of trade unionists. 

These purblind politicking farmer and teacher union leaders have already earned a great deal of pent up public anger. It is bound to explode sooner or later. But the government has come to their aid! so that their irresponsible, mischievous conduct has got a semblance of decency. How? By forcibly, most likely unlawfully, quarantining some of them at the expense of the tax money paid by the already suffering general public, whom these wrong doers are holding hostage. That is not a good way of deterring their irresponsible behaviour or just punishing them for it.  Public security minister Sarath Weerasekera, whom I admire as much as I admire Weerawansa and Gammanpila, is a loyal supporter of the President, and he means business. I trust both of them (GR and SW) equally. But I am sure that the President will never resort to or approve of ‘bull in a china shop’ strategies, which he can’t later defend! 

4 Responses to “Betray Gotabaya, Betray the Country!”

  1. Sarath W Says:

    During the 2019 election campaign Gotabaya gave us a lot of hope as he was surrounded by professionals and intellectuals. It made some of us believe that he will have many of them in his administration. But unfortunately Gotabaya BETRAYED HIMSELF by appointing too many Rajapaksas and some of those old political goons in his ministry.

    It is a FACT that the Cocod 19 derailed his plans. But even the most loyal of his fans know he made too many political blunders. More than eighteen months into his term, the Easter Sunday terrorists are not punished yet. The Covid 19 victims burial decision was a disaster. The response to the UNHCR challenges were unprofessional. Goons backed by crooked politicians keep on destroying our precious forests and wetlands.

    I still support and believe Gotabaya is the best man to lead this country, not Namal baby for a long, long time. He has to take charge and reshuffle the cabinet and get rid of some of the Rajapaksas and the old guard, the parasites. This is not going to be easy. One way to do this is to introduce US system of appointing the cabinet ministers from outside the parliament and cut down the perks of the MPs and Ministers. That will stop the crooks coming to the parliament to make money and shower their power.

  2. aloy Says:

    No one in this world is perfect. Rohana has mentioned many names here. But they are all with serious cases against them. Because of the skewed nature of our parliamentary system that has been tinkered beyond recognition citizens cannot select a person they think is the most suitable; as it is the most unsuitable and corrupts are the fellows who can get into the parliament and become executives of government policy.

    So, last time we selected the better of the two. Un fortunately immediately after getting appointed he too did the mistake of appointing the most unsuitable man in the country as his secy. Just because he was able to find ways of getting money from a certain project to beautify Colombo, perhaps he thought the guy is the answer to management of the whole country. To my mind we are now paying the price. No investor would come any where near our country when such people are at the helm charting the course of our destiny.
    No point in praising anybody; even a little child knows what he team has done.
    But, we are sitting n top of a gold mine. We should first remove the illegal diggers. Find a set who can be trusted for the job. And set about doing the job in systematic way. Our country can easily pay the US $ 70 b within a short period.
    Which country is doing well in this pandemic situation; only the oil producers have prospects. Our farmers and fisher folk are the biggest assets we have. Under any circumstance they will keep us fed.
    So it is the head of state’s duty create a suitable environment for them to do their production and get a reasonable price without getting trapped in bank loans etc.

  3. aloy Says:

    A lot of foreign countries are also trying desperately to get in to the business of illegal digging. I remember posting a video (a song) in this forum on the gold digging in the US west in the 1850s. Incidentally that also shows the Americans do not have moral values when it comes to wealth. They would kill each other in that gold rush though they profess to be good Christians; religion is just a cover. The “pasku praharaya” was one such attempt to come into the country. Under any circumstance the government should create a situation for outsiders to come and settle our issues. There should not be another JVP style insurrection. So, just like Cardinal prevented a great calamity all the religious leaders of our country should step in and sort the things out, even if the powers that be wants to go that way.

  4. Nimal Says:

    Sarath W
    I am surprised that now you can see the light, remember mentioning to you in Kandy when you were there with FP opening the CWE ? That day I was surprised with the type of shopkeepers that you’ll established there.There after I was surprised with the company that FP kept,where the airport attack was concerned. I met him in London with some of them and warned him. Now where is he now, they had him. Many unanswered questions.GR giving a diplomatic passport to Karuna,right royal treatment KP shocked many.I am afraid GR is not that wise.During the past on the 5th of Spt in one of the years past, I was taking an early flight to London and I noticed that MR’s people on the way to a mass rally in Colombo were drunk. Thought I would not make to the airport in time. Like you we were SLFPers who campaigned to get our leaders into power, once in power they ignored us and formed their own with the wealth they accumulated. We worked with Rani B and Keerthi S.We worked hard here as well as in SL for many campaigns. Supporters that believed in us were berating us when CBK visited convicted people in prison, also when MR visited Duminda in Prison. Worse was to erect a statute to a bogus general in Kandy.One day we must investigate the attack on the Maligawa. These things will not attract genuine investors to the island. We must think and work out of the very stupid box the country and of the people in that box.
    Today the share market dropped very badly in London and it was a good opportunity for me.

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