Poor sods. Do they understand the responsibility thrust upon them when they become the people’s representatives. Do they not have a clue of their duties or their obligations that necessarily come appended with the job they are expected to do.  For them it’s a one way easy street to traverse and arrive at the Eldorado [...]


Are you keeping the pampered Jades of Lanka happy enough?

THE MORE THEY ARE GIVEN, THE MORE THEY WANT, BUT IS IT ALL OUR FAULT? - Whilst the nation’s masses hover on the brink of poverty’s cliff, the ‘no limit’ self serving spree of their elected representatives

Poor sods. Do they understand the responsibility thrust upon them when they become the people’s representatives. Do they not have a clue of their duties or their obligations that necessarily come appended with the job they are expected to do.  For them it’s a one way easy street to traverse and arrive at the Eldorado of their dreams at the people’s expense. All take and no give. All talk and no deed.

But, pause for a second, before you fling the first stone of judgment. Hold on before you blame their gross acquisitive nature. We must first cast the light inward and ask ourselves whether we have spared the rod and spoilt the brat; and have only ourselves to blame.

Whether, having created a monster in our midst and given it pride of place  -  whose appetite knows no limit – we are feeding  the ogre enough  to keep it  happy and sated, simply because we have no choice but to send the bullocks daily for its gluttonous feed. And whether we will have to wait for another  David to slay the Goliath in its own Diyawanna den. And until then, keep our lips zipped and keep its unlimited appetite for more, sated. Lest it demands even more of the nation’s dwindling livestock and causes a massive drain of its blood supply.

THE HOUSE OF PRIVILEGE: Diyawanna Oya’s Pagoda

If blame must rest on someone, it must rest on us, the voters of this land who gave birth to such prodigal sons and spoilt them beyond belief and sentenced them beyond redemption’s pale where they dwell now.  Fed and fattened them and smothered them with perks and privileges to such an extent that they have turned out to be not the saviours of the nations. Bloated leeches, without realising that once the mangy body dies, they themselves will perish in the process.

And, as we cater without murmur to sate their ever pressing needs, neither do we understand the reasons that propel them to crave for more and more in their relentless quest to better their lives engaged as they are in the profession of politics – once the past time of the idle rich now turned into the full time occupation of the mercenary class.

Once upon a time not so long ago the landed aristocracy sold their acreage to enter politics and to do public service. The only reward they sought was honour and fame. But today’s breed of sacred bulls is of a different genre.  Coming as many of them do from the grassroots they once graced, the ambition of many or the sole purpose is to make money out of politics. And they have done it handsomely.

The only question that has to be asked now, is:  are you doing enough to keep them happy? For after all they are your representatives who speak in your name in that august house, professing to advance your interest as a stakeholder in the nation’s wellbeing? Don’t you think that the proxy you send to Parliament to represent your interest, should be kept happy and well fed? So consider the following.

  • Does a basic salary of Rs.65,000/- per month paid to an MP make him happy? Coupled with the other allowances and a take home pay package worth over Rs.300,000/- per month satisfy him? Especially considering the work hours he or she has to put in which are eight days a month? Even though he or she does not even have to put in an eight-hour shift.
  • Does the license to make a cool 20 million upon entry to parliament by selling off his duty free vehicle permit no sooner he receives it, make him happy? Even though he has his official vehicle to travel?
  • Does the fact that the tax payer also funds his monthly calls and allows him to chat for hours on end with his Johns and Janes at the taxpayer’s expense of Rs 50,000 per month make him happy?
  • Does the fact of being provided rent free houses to stay in the Colombo suburbs make him happy?
  • Does receiving million buck cheques from dubious sources accused of robbing the national treasury make him happy? Even when armed with the convenient answer of saying “I do not know’ which has become the best legal defense in town, make him smile?
  • Are they worried about the recent fuel hike and the rise in the cost of living and do they feel unhappy that it will burn a hole in their pocket or do they find joy that things that affect the common man do not touch them for its paid for by the common man? Does that comfort make them happy?
  • Does the glow of popularity, to bask in the spotlight of media coverage and see their mug shot pasted on newspaper front pages, make them happy? When at the drop of a hat the poodle lapdog media rushes to cover their every press conference and record their uttering and publish it as the gospel truth according to Saint Politico? In a land where news is now equivalent to what a politician says at a press conference of his own calling?
  • Does the President’s recent statement that they should be exempt from PAYE tax to be charged on their parliamentary salary imposed by the new tax law that came into effect on April Fool’s Day make him happy?
  • Are they happy that fifty five chosen seeds of their brethren – are to be given 200,000 bucks a month as traveling allowance to monitor development projects? This sum will purchase 1379 litres per month. Given the Monitors and such ships they drive in, and given its petrol consumption approximately gauged at 10 kilometres per litre, that would mean these monitoring MPs will have to travel 460 kilometres per day, 24/7, including Saturday and Sundays and even miss sittings of parliament. Will that make them happy?
  • Are you happy that your MP would have been  happy to have received with effect from 1st January last year  a sum of Rs. 100,000/= per month to maintain an office. And that he has been provided with a research officer, a secretary, a typist, an office assistant and two drivers maintained by the Government at the tax payers’ expense?
  • Are you happy that your MP is medically insured for Rs. 200,000, even though for the slightest cough and cold he will seek a donation from the President’s Fund and fly to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital to be prescribed an Augmenting antibiotic there?
  • Are you happy that you are giving him a lifetime pension just for being a member of parliament whist you and the rest of this nation’s masses have to slave away day in and night out till retirement age to be eligible to gain their EPF to which one has contributed ten per cent of their salaries whilst the MP has contributed none?
  • Are they happy that even teachers must pay worship to?
  • The above is but a brief list of the perks and privileges an MP enjoys today. But he still seems sad. And asks for more.

Well, if all these things don’t make them happy, what will? What more sacrifice must the public  make  to keep their MPs  happy? God only knows. Apart from 12 million odd voting Lankans who, whilst hovering over poverty’s cliff, await poll’s day to deliver judgment.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference affirms Pope’s stance on death penalty issue
‘Whatever the crime, taking of human life is inadmissible’President Sirisena announced last month on July 11th his intention to restore the death penalty for those drug traffickers who, having already been convicted by the courts and sentenced to death row, still continue to operate a drug trade behind prison bars.

Whilst it made the anti death penalty lobby stand up and roar in unison their vehement opposition to President Sirisena’s new change of heart and new fangled creed to kick the bucket  kept under the feet of those sentenced to swing and make them dangle on the rope with their necks throttled in its noose, the President’s declaration received a response of support from a most  unexpected quarter.

Surprisingly it came from the confessional box of a forgiving catholic church, which beseeches those who transgress to pay penance and atone for their sins and thus be redeemed,

It came from the pulpit of the Archbishop of Colombo’s Palace where its reigning local monarch His Grace Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith invited a few journalists the following day to hear him deliver his sermon; and, instead of  condemning the President’s decision as being contrary to the catechism of the Catholic Church  – as stated by His Holiness Pope Francis ten months ago that ‘whatever the crime, however the seriousness of it, the death penalty is inadmissible’ – His Grace Cardinal Malcolm chose to clap his hands in cheer and extend his support to the President’s rash declaration that the gallows were the answer to prevent people already in government custody, in high security death row, from making cell calls from their prison booths and continue drug trafficking.

Three days later the Sunday Punch of July 15th questioned the propriety of the Archbishop’s advocacy on the death penalty confined as it was to those already on death row but who still dealt in the trade and asked whether or no it went against the catechism of the catholic church as expounded last year in October by His Holiness Pope Francis, the supreme head of the Catholic Church.

The Archbishop had the grace to answer back and his right of reply was duly published in the Sunday Times of July 22nd. It referred to the Sunday Punch. It stated

“My attention has been drawn to a comment that has been published in the Sunday Times on the 15th of July 2018 under the heading ‘Execute them, says the Archbishop’. Though in this column, the columnist Don Manu seems to give the impression that I welcome the death penalty in toto, that is a conclusion erroneously arrived at as a result of partial reporting of an interview I gave, by the Daily Mirror newspaper on 13th July 2018. “

DON MANU’S ANSWER: Firstly, nowhere in the article referred to by His Eminence has it ever been suggested that he was for the death penalty to be implemented for all crimes carrying the death sentence. It was confined to his agreement with President Sirisena’s declaration that he will sign the death warrant on those convicted to death by the courts for trafficking in drugs and who still persisted in running a drug operation behind close Welikada walls and make them swing on the gallows.

Secondly, the Archbishop’s statement ‘Don Manu seems to give the impression that ‘I welcome the death penalty in toto’.

DON MANU’S ANSWER: In toto? Even if I was under the impression – and I was not – that he welcomed the death penalty in toto, doesn’t the Archbishop’s phrase that he is in favour of the hangman’s noose around a human’s neck to tighten and snuff the life out of a man in certain cases of the Archbishop’s choice and delicacy alone where he deems the punishment merits the crime, violate the cardinal principle of the Vatican Church which Pope Francis recently reaffirmed when he said that “It is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor.”

On July 29th the Sunday Times published in its Letters to the Editor page a letter from a reader, a certain B. Joseph of Wattala addressed specifically to Don Manu. In defense of the Archbishop’s advocacy of the death penalty to those still dealing in drugs behind closed walls, the reader wrote:

Dear Don Manu,

“I read your ‘Sunday punch’ in the Sunday Times of July 15. I am writing this, to prove the comments by our Archbishop, Ranjith Malcolm as reasonable and correct on the death penalty issue. You seemed to have really got upset, just because these comments came from none other than the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church. You have made a ‘storm-in-a-teacup’ over this.”

“It is a pity you have not grasped the deep thinking of a person who agrees with implementing the death penalty. Those who agree with the death penalty are those who have a deep feeling for humanity”. And then he went on to advocate  that human beings have the right to take the life of another human if that human being is doing wrong to society.:

Obviously, from the local Shepherd right down to his domesticated lamb there was confusion as to what the new catechism of the catholic church as expounded by the Shepherd of all Shepherds, the Servant of the Servants of God, His Holiness Pope Francis had expounded in October last year at the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican.

And the air had to be cleared. To make the flock know that the Pope’ words were beyond question. That even as the Almighty was omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent in the eyes and faith of his believers, the dictates of his elected representative on earth the Pope’s judgment  was infallible and his dictates were the last words on the matter.

On Thursday the 2nd of August, Pope Francis thought it fit to repeat his stance on the death penalty, perhaps, for the benefit of those who had not harked his message delivered last October the catechism of the Catholic Church. This is what he reiterated. ?

“There is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption. The Church will now work with determination for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide,”

In a statement the Holy See issued and which the BBC reported, “The text of the catechism was first set by Pope John Paul II in October 1992. The teachings had earlier stated that the death penalty was “an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good”.

“However, the new text says there is “an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes”.

This week, the Catholic Conference of Bishops, which is the sole body representing the Catholics of Lanka,  assembled on Tuesday to discuss the matter of the death penalty and delivered the following statement making specific reference to the issue whether the death penalty should be doled out to drug traffickers operating on death row.

It stated: “We the Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka wish to make the following statement with regard to the issue of the Death Penalty. The supreme Pontiff Holy Father Francis has approved a new revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We wish to reiterate the following teaching given by the Universal Shepherd on this matter.

“Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following fair trial was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good,”

“Today however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the State. Lastly, more effective systems have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption”.

“Consequently the Church teaches in the light of the Gospel that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

The statement was signed by Rev. D. J. Winston S. Fernando, S.S.S. President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka. Bishop of Badulla, Rev. Dr. Joseph Ponniah Vice President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka. Bishop of Batticaloa, Rev. Dr. D. Valence Mendis Secretary General, Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka. Bishop of Chilaw, Rev. Dr. J. Vianney Fernando Bishop of Kandy, Rev. Dr. Harold A. Perera Bishop of Kurunegala, Rev. Dr. Norbert M. Andradi, O.M.I. Bishop of Anuradhapura, Rev. Cletus C. Perera, O.S.B. Bishop of Ratnapura, Rev. Dr. Raymond K. Wickramasinghe Bishop of Galle, Rev. Dr. Noel C. Emmanuel Bishop of Trincomalee, Rev. Dr. Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam Bishop of Jaffna, Rev. Dr. F. L. Emmanuel Fernando Bishop of Mannar, Rev. Dr. Maxwell G. Silva Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo and Rev. Dr. J. D. Anthony Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo and by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith Archbishop of Colombo,

With Pope Francis reiterating his stance and the Catholic Conference of Bishops affirming the new catechism of the Catholic Church by their statement dispelling the air of a doubting Thomas,  this Sunday Sabbath morn Lankan Catholics can trudge to their churches and hear the morning mass without confusion in their conscience; and be  rest assured that the Holy See of their beliefs remains intact and remains standing as pontificated by His Holiness Pope Francis not once but twice that the ‘death penalty is inadmissible for what ever crime, however serious it might be’.

And be gladdened to know that the errant sheep who strayed from the flock, has safely returned to the fold. And God Bless His Soul.




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