Greed to hang on to and return to power

If we can imagine what it must feel like to lose the gates of opportunity and a life of plush living with a single signature we must also imagine why The All Island Executive Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was quick to unanimously endorse President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to sack Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Anura Bandaranaike and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi.
Everyone was aware that it was only a matter of time for action against these ‘dissidents’ to take place. Given the prevailing climate amidst kidnappings, murders and human rights violations taking place in our small isle, we must be happy that these Ministers only lost their portfolios.
And why are they suddenly so unhappy? Mangala was undoubtedly one of the key architects of bringing the incumbent President to power. According to news columns he had wanted to be named the country’s Prime Minister. Instead of the Premiership, he was given three of the best portfolios in the country and obviously an indirect path to work his way up and become known as the No.2 in line to power.
Then there’s the only son of the Bandaranaike legacy. Having being demoted to holding the Ministry of National Heritage he suddenly discovers he has been amongst a ‘carnival of clowns.’ Did it not dawn upon him that he was a member of the very carnival of clowns when he was enjoying unlimited foreign trips as Minister of Tourism?
Sripathi too was one of the men chosen to sit at most TV debates throughout the election campaign and despite his late entry to politics, he was offered a Deputy Ministership although with the reshuffling he was reduced to a non-cabinet Minister.
One of the common traits of the three ousted Ministers was their affinity to the former President who is still unable to come to terms with the fact that she is now out of power. Blood may be thicker than water for Anura B now, but he surely must recall how on top of UNP stages he ridiculed and humiliated his own sister who was then the President of the country.
Rumour is that another party is in the offing and claims that SLFPers dissatisfied with the bagful of goodies offered to them following the reshuffle also gather momentum. This is nothing to be surprised at. Power yields a desire to remain in power and obviously these three former Ministers as well as the former President, cannot come to terms that they have lost power.
Obviously they would try all avenues available to ensure that they are back in the saddle of power and luxurious living – we will all be seeing the curtains raise soon and view the drama that is likely to unfold. Just as great is the greed to hang on to power is the greed to return to power.
What the electorate needs to understand is that there is no friend or foe in politics. All the representatives we term our leaders mesmerise us into voting for them purely to secure their path to glory and a term of unlimited powers for them and their kith and kin.
In many ways it is the public that must be blamed for the manner in which these politicos drain all the hard work put in by us and trigger a journey towards economic and social instability in our island nation.
Shenali Waduge


Leave COPE alone!

There now seems to be a crafty move to do away with COPE after its Chairman, Wijeyedasa Rajapaksa exposed the shocking state of affairs and the criminal loss of resources from many Corporations. Corruption has today reached unbearable levels with not only the shocking revelations about the Corporations referred to but also after the VAT Scandal which has eaten into the resources of the country. They say nearly Rs. 400 to 500 billion is the staggering loss from VAT - and yet the government has still not made any visible sign of tracking down the first and some of the other accused still at large.
For a poor third world country like ours, where they say nearly 50% are living below the poverty line, the loss of these billions can only mean that there will be no resources in the country to attend to the welfare of our people, particularly the poor. To add to all this there is also the report of the Auditor General about other losses to the Government.
With a shameful crossover only being discussed at the moment - just to keep the politicians of the government and the UNP in power, nothing is being done to save the country from the mess it is heading for. The loss of billions with particularly the government doing nothing - and no attempt being made to recover it - the people and the country will be paying a heavy price if they are going to make ends meet. Electricity and water have gone up and the cost of milk food, sugar, and other items all of which have to be imported is now soaring up to the skies.
The people of this country have a right to demand from the country that is time it took steps to stop the growing corruption in the country, which is causing enough and more problems for our people, and put in place immediately all the action that it has failed to take to bring in those criminals who are still at large after having robbed a poor third country like ours of billions. The Government cannot remain idle any longer over the billions it has lost and is continuing to lose, all of which will mean that the country will soon be in dire financial trouble.
With the Government, virtually taking no visible steps to stop the growing corruption - and billions lost to the country - one even wonders whether it is an attempt by the government to prevent-or stall the investigations into corruption/taking place. – The move to do away with COPE - if it proceeds, the people of this country will never forgive the government.
Maurice Lord
Colombo 13


Modus Operandi of the ‘Sour Grapes’ gang

The news media is full of rather hilarious outbursts from Anura Bandaranaike and the others who were stripped of their portfolios. This of course is to be expected while at the same time, it also exposes the true colours of these politicians who profess to be “extremely concerned “ about the welfare of this country!
The prodigal son of the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Bandaranaike in one news item published in “The Nation” of February 11 titled “Glad to be out of this carnival of clowns” it is stated (quote): “Speaking to The Nation yesterday Bandaranaike said that he was happy to no longer be a part of the ‘carnival of clowns’ that is this government and is relieved to be absolved of responsibility for all the nation’s ills.”
In the “Sunday Island” of February 11 the headlines are “Anura Wants Chandrika to Battle Rajapaksa brothers” in which it states “Speculation in political circles is that Bandaranaike believes that if he decided to quit his parliamentary seat the UNP would accommodate him.”
The above versions of news items, shows the mentality of Anura Bandaranaike quite well-that he has no loyalties except looking for a comfortable and important place where he can waste away State funds! This is the son who speaks so much about how much the Bandaranaike family has “sacrificed” for the people of this country? As long as he was Minister of Tourism under the incumbent President where he could have “unlimited globe-trotting” in the guise of promoting tourism, he was happy to be moving with the “carnival of clowns” but no sooner than he was given a portfolio where all that would be curtailed –all the others became clowns! It is common knowledge that a drunkard never says he is drunk, a madman never admits he is mad and now we have a clown who does not know that he has always been clowning his way through Sri Lankan politics!
It is also learnt that Anura Bandaranaike wants his “Chaura Rajini” sister Chandrika Kumaratunga to address the press conference that he hopes to convene at Cinnamon Grand because obviously being an old Royalist who is decent enough to use filth on telephone callers, he feels he cannot match his sister in vindictive and manipulative attacks on those who are a challenge to the Bandaranaike family. Chandrika Kumaratunga definitely has special skills to lie (according to her, she observes Pancha sil which in itself, is breaking the 3rd precept!).
On the other hand, we have read news reports to the effect that the SLFP Ex-Co has unanimously endorsed the decision of President Rajapaksa to expel these ministers who were hoping to have the best of both sides until they thought they were adequately prepared “to upset the apple cart”-misfortune indeed that the plan misfired.
If a politician in this country sincerely had the welfare of the country at heart, it is immaterial what portfolio is given to him, he will get about his duties and responsibilities and ensure he does an honest job to justify the special perks he enjoys in this country. On the other hand, time-servers like the expelled politicians, irrespective of what is given to them will always be disgruntled and continue to look for better “greener pastures” and think that the masses are such fools that they are short-memoried. Unfortunately for the Bandaranaikes, the people remember extremely well all what they have plundered from this country using their executive powers. Besides, the people are also fully aware that Chandrika Kumaratunga was so loyal to the GOSL that she conspired behind the scenes with the “Terrorist King Prabhakaran” to smuggle his wife and children out of this country for them to study abroad while he on the other hand, kidnapped the children of other parents to employ in his “children’s brigade” to be trained as suicide bombers!
Whether or not this plan is correct is yet to be seen but it is rumoured according to the papers, that Chandrika Kumaratunga, Anura Bandaranaike, Mangala Samaraweera, Ranil Wickramasinghe and what is left of the UNP together with the JVP are planning to unite to make life difficult for the incumbent government of President Rajapaksa. It is extremely doubtful whether a JVP leadership that once walked out of Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government due to “her exemplary performance and loyalties” will ever touch her with a barge pole for a second time?
Under any SLFP led government that we remember, our experience is that morality and decency in politics was at its lowest ebb during CBK’s tenure as leader of the party and the Executive President of this country. They must also not forget the fact that their uncle was imprisoned for misappropriating State Funds while he was Deputy Minister of Defence under the CBK rule as well as aiding and abetting the manslaughter of political adversaries. It would be well for the Bandaranaike siblings and anyone who hopes to hang onto the “Sari pota” of CBK that politics in Sri Lanka has no place anymore for the Bandaranaikes and it would we just as well that they realize this and get away from this country once and for all.


Where is the visionary Ranil?

As I write this, herds of elephants are crossing over to the Chinthana territory, while the ‘mahout’ is globetrotting. First, it was Tanzania (to see wild elephants!), then it was India, Nepal and again India. All this time, the grand old party was in turmoil, but the leader did not seem to have a care in the world, sojourning in cuckoo land. It is entirely, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s intransigence and stubbornness that has led to the crossing over of some of the ablest people in the UNP. The reforms to democratise the party have been discussed for well over two years now, but Ranil and his cohorts have seen to it that nothing meaningful was done.
“Ranil is a man with a vision for the country” is repeated ad nauseam by his supporters - but like me many others in the country are beginning to seriously doubt this. Which other party leader will stubbornly refuse to step down, after repeatedly losing elections for over a period of 12 years or more? (Of course, he did make a half­-hearted offer, but his supporters were quick to knock it down!)
All what the reformists asked for was for the party constitution to be amended so that decisions are made democratically and not by Ranil and his clique. But, this was strongly opposed by his hangers-on, who would have lost their privileged positions in the party hierarchy.
Now, the MoU, the UNP signed with the government has been ceremoniously torn up - not that it mattered, it was a dead-letter in any case! Ranil allowed the government to do as it pleased, ignoring even the most basic tenets of good governance. The Constitutional Council remains defunct and the Independent Commissions are controlled by the government, despite the clause on good governance in the MoU.
I am afraid that the ‘Grand Old Party’ is now in for hard times - I cannot see any hope for it as long as Ranil remains leader.
C. L. Jayaratne
Colombo 7