Partial-State; Insensible Society

As the deadly outcome of the turf-war between Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and Duminda Silva demonstrates, it is not enough to be a Rajapaksa-supporter. One must stay on the right-side of not just of the Siblings but also of their current favourites. In this arbitrary-world, factors such as seniority or past-services are of no consequence; the current Rajapaksa-predilection is all that matters. As Mr. Premachandra’s daughter mentioned in her Sirasa interview, her father addressed Mahinda Rajapaksa as ‘Mahinda ayya’ and was called ‘malli’ in turn, just a few years ago.

l by Tisaranee Gunasekara

Rampant FavouritismThis is what happens when men decide to stand the world on its head”. Hannah Arendt (Responsibility and Judgement)-Justice is an oddity, in unjust times.


(November 20, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In a lawful land, the arrest-order for parliamentarian Duminda Silva would have been issued just days after the Kolonnawa quadruple-murder. In a lawful land, the police would have unhesitatingly named Mr. Silva a suspect, given the abundance of prima facie evidence.
In a lawful land, the public would have regarded these measures as commonplace, unremarkable, ordinary….
But in Sri Lanka, the rule of law is in abeyance. It is the law of the rulers which dominates, and Duminda Silva, a monitoring MP of the Defence Ministry, is a valued-acolyte of the Ruling Siblings.
So the police are yet to declare Mr. Silva a suspect: “The CID which had been investigating the case for about a month had not submitted to court any report explaining why Duminda Silva was not arrested and produced” (The Island – 16.11.2011). Thanks to this official prevarication and stonewalling, the order for Mr. Silva’s arrest came more than five weeks after the Kolonnawa mini-war.
The arrest-order, a remarkable step in these unjust times, was made by Colombo’s Additional Magistrate Prasanna Alwis, who decided that “on perusing the available eyewitness accounts and reports it was possible to name Duminda Silva as a suspect in the case” (ibid – 16.11.2011).
Will the Additional Magistrate’s courageous decision create an oasis of justice in a desert of iniquity? Or will the Ruling Siblings manage to subvert it, by getting a more superior and supine tribunal to overrule it?
Will Lankan society (irrespective of political affiliations) be sensible enough to unequivocally back the exemplary judicial decision by Additional Magistrate Alwis? Or will we continue to wallow in our collective and individual mires of indifference, while the rulers unleash their vengeful-furies against that increasingly rare commodity – a judge who takes the law seriously?
Last week Minister Nimal Siripala Silva informed the parliament that Duminda Silva was allowed to leave the country because “police have not identified him as a suspect. He is not an accused of any case so far” (Daily Mirror – 11.11.2011). Now that a court has issued an arrest-order for Duminda Silva, it will be instructive and illuminating to see how the regime responds. Will the arrest order against Duminda Silva be implemented with half the vigour and determination the state displayed in its pursuit of Danuna Tilakaratne, the son in law of Gen. Sarath Fonseka? Or will the Rajapaksas and their paid-warblers come up with a new clutch of specious reasons why the arrest-order cannot be implemented? Will justice be done, this once, or will the Ruling Siblings succeed in subverting the law, again, to save a protégé?
In his spirited defence of the Expropriation Bill, Presidential-Sibling and Minister Basil Rajapaksa assured the country that the “Mahinda Rajapaksa government would do its utmost to safeguard honest businessmen and their investments”.
It is a portentous statement. According to it, the mantle of state-protection will be available to those businessmen the Ruling-Family deems ‘honest’. How will the Ruling-Family define the adjective ‘honest’? It cannot be in accordance with its dictionary meaning, which is ‘not lying, cheating or stealing’. For, going by this standard definition, Basil Rajapaksa’s own Maga Neguma cannot but be deemed utterly and absolutely dishonest: “Maga Neguma, the state owned enterprise involved in infrastructure development, has defaulted a massive Rs.1.2 billion to some contractors… The COPE… examined the account and audit reports of Maga Neguma, and found financial malpractices running to billions of rupees” (Daily Mirror – 17.11.2011).
In a lawful land, the contractors thus defrauded would have sought legal redress. Not in Rajapaksa-Sri Lanka. “A COPE member said… the affected contractors were reluctant to protest fearing victimization by the government in the award of future contracts. “‘We learnt that some of these contractors have paid huge commissions to certain politicians. They are unable to speak against this injustice openly. If they speak, they will be harassed in various ways,’ he said” (ibid).
So Maga Neguma is an institutional-highwayman and its officials, as Rajapaksa-enforcers, think that they, like their masters, are above the law: “‘Maga Neguma officials even refused to appear before COPE meetings. They even produced letters from the Attorney General’s Department to support their argument that the COPE has no powers to probe them. However, we were able to summon them before the committee,’ the COPE member said. The COPE member said that Maga Neguma authorities had not submitted their account reports for auditing by the Government’s Auditor General for the last few years” (ibid).
Such arrogant insouciance is natural in a Familial-state. These officials would know they can break laws and contravene rules with impunity, so long as they remain loyal to the Rajapaksas. After all, the authors of such expensive-infamies as the hedging deal and the importation of adulterated diesel escaped scot-free and Mihin Air, another Rajapaksa pet-project, marches on, guzzling billions of public money: “Sri Lanka’s state-run Mihin Lanka, a budget carrier, has lost 5.8 billion rupees since it was started in 2007” (LBO – 10.6.2011). Probably enough money to provide free air tickets to all Lankan migrant-workers and pilgrims, travelling to the Middle East and India.
In Rajapaksa-Sri Lanka, there is only one unforgivable crime – disloyalty/opposition to the Ruling Family.
In Rajapaksa-Sri Lanka, the attitude towards the Ruling-Family is the ultimate determinant of honesty and dishonesty, virtue and vice, patriotism and anti-patriotism…
A Tiger leader or a Tiger appeaser can attain patriotic-status by becoming a Rajapaksa-servitor. Thus K. Pathmanathan, chief LTTE financier and arms-procurer, is a patriot; so is Milinda Moragoda, a key architect of the 2001 Appeasement Process (according to a recently published report by the Norwegian government, “The Milinda Moragoda Institute…was a large recipient of Norwegian aid for the purpose of ‘humanitarian defining’ during 2003 and 2009”).
Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the war-winning Army Commander is an anti-patriot, because he had the temerity to oppose the Siblings. He is in jail, convicted by a military court of financial misappropriation, even as the President readily pardons convicted murderers and swindlers. Naturally, for they are innocent of that ultimate unpardonable sin: disloyalty to the Rajapaksa family.
So honesty too will be determined in a similar manner in Rajapaksa Sri Lanka. Those entrepreneurs who kowtow to the Siblings will be deemed honest, and, therefore, deserving of state patronage/protection. Those entrepreneurs who do not submit to the Siblings will be deemed dishonest and persecuted.
As the deadly outcome of the turf-war between Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and Duminda Silva demonstrates, it is not enough to be a Rajapaksa-supporter. One must stay on the right-side of not just of the Siblings but also of their current favourites. In this arbitrary-world, factors such as seniority or past-services are of no consequence; the current Rajapaksa-predilection is all that matters. As Mr. Premachandra’s daughter mentioned in her Sirasa interview, her father addressed Mahinda Rajapaksa as ‘Mahinda ayya’ and was called ‘malli’ in turn, just a few years ago.
That was another time when Mahinda Rajapaksa was not the President and Basil and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were pursuing their American Dream.
A time before we became subjects of a Family determined to rule supremely, for ever after.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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