At last! The year about to end is best forgotten. But it cannot be brushed away just like that. Politicians can easily forget, especially promises they have made and have not been fulfilled. But those the people have voted in as lawmakers and from whom they expect principled conduct cannot simply close their eyes and [...]


An annus that was very horribilis


At last! The year about to end is best forgotten. But it cannot be brushed away just like that. Politicians can easily forget, especially promises they have made and have not been fulfilled. But those the people have voted in as lawmakers and from whom they expect principled conduct cannot simply close their eyes and ears to the perversion and intemperance that marked the behaviour of some lawmakers turned lawbreakers.

2018 will be remembered for the Ugly scenes inside Parliament

It is not only the Sri Lankan people still living in the country who will be holding their heads in shame as scenes of chaos inside the law-making chamber were carried by television to the country and the world.Even those who have cut the umbilical cord that tied them to the Mother country would find it difficult to erase the memories of a horrible year of unfettered violence and brutality at different times in the past 12 months.

However, what happened in the past two months when presidential action that caused a political breakdown had ultimately to be sorted out by our apex judicial body which unanimously held that the President had violated the country’s constitution. That has not happened before.

However much the people of Sri Lanka would want to erase these horribly uncouth scenes from their minds, it will not be easy. Every time they see the images of their politicians on the TV screens their memories will return to what they saw inside parliament and in other locations where arson, murder and other serious crimes happened at different times this year.

When the shutters come down in a short while on 2018, Sri Lankans will breathe a collective sigh of relief. But the scars that 2018 leaves behind will be indelibly etched in the Sri Lankan psyche. They will know who should be held responsible for the chaos that for the first time in our history brought governance to a standstill. They will remember that while they suffered during those troubled days, politicians were seen gobbling highly subsidised meals at the parliament restaurant.

What was so disgusting is that some of them were not there to attend parliament sittings. They were boycotting the parliament sessions but were far from ready to do the same to parliament prepared food. This is why Sri Lanka is a land like no other. Not many years ago some maestro in the advertising game came up with that slogan intending to provide a turbo-boost to the country’s tourism sector.

Those who laughed then are hiding their heads in shame now. For, that creator, whoever it might be, has shown greater clairvoyance and a firmer grasp of the dirtiness of our politics. It is 2018 that has emerged as the year in which the real nastiness of our politics has come to the fore.

Not all politicians have sunk to the lowest depths, as Maxim Gorky might have said, and tarnished not only the country but also the image of many respectable politicians of the past.What the recent years have exposed is the avariciousness of many of Sri Lanka’s politicians, their greed for power and position as displayed in the last months.

Soon when Sri Lankans sit down to feed themselves — that is those who can afford it — on the traditional kavun, kokis, kolikuttu and kiri buth what would they be thinking of?Would they, like the dramatist John Osborne, look back in anger at the year that has thankfully ended and wish that climate change could wash away dirty politics and politicians so that the Sri Lankan people can be spared the rigours of 2018.

After some order was brought to the governance, once strangely silent nations, which would not even say a kind word to Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was made prime minister, have been showering Sri Lanka with praise.

They have welcomed the resilience of the democratic institutions of the country and its people. They have praised parliament and its Speaker for upholding the democratic values and the judiciary for upholding the rule of law.

But trouble began earlier this year. If one is to believe President Sirisena — and why not — it was the defeat in the local elections that prompted him to ask his prime minister Wickremesinghe to pack his bag and go home leaving his premiership behind.
It would appear that in Mr Sirisena’s perception it was Ranil’s policy faults that cost them the election. Apparently Prime Minister Wickremesinghe thought little of the idea.

Thus began– again if one is to give credence to Sirisena’s sayings — the rupture in the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe exercise in cohabitation. The final breakup came when Sirisena obtained a decree nisi and was biding his time till he could serve the decree absolute, so to say.

If the western powers especially think that the political match is over because the Supreme Court played according to a set of rules that declared Sirisena bowled, caught, LBW and run out all at once, they might well have to think again without rushing to conclusions.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland in a letter to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe wrote that she appreciated the peaceful resolution of the political crisis in Sri Lanka, and commended Sri Lanka for its “steadfastness in defence and support of the rule of law and the constitutional framework.”

But there is more to come as the dear Baroness will learn before long. It might be recalled that the President struck out in the stealth of the night as it were, when he sacked Ranil. The fact that the Supreme Court faulted Sirisena does not mean that he will lie low after taking the SC’s punch on his solar plexus.

President Sirisena heads the cabinet where much of the infighting has been and could happen again. Consider this. Sirisena is determined to hang some convicted for drug offences but are still continuing to traffic in it from prison. The President wants to hang some of them serving a death sentence and said recently that he had not received the names of the convicts.

While the president is pursuing what one might call a “hanging agenda”, internationally Sri Lanka seems to be running on a different track. Just the other day Sri Lanka voted in favour of a resolution on the “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty” at the UN General Assembly.

Space does not permit further discussion on it. But it would not be surprising if this turns out to be a Twiddledee and Twiddledum point of friction next year.


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