What’s ailing our Politicos?

Basil Rajapaksa

Have you noticed that every time a politician is ordered by court to spend a few nights in a remand cell, he quickly ends up on a hospital bed?

162I really don’t know-and personally I don’t care – whether this speaks for the health of our politicians today or is a sad commentary on the status of our prison cells – but it sure needs to be looked into.

Of course this was not of such urgency that it had to be included in the 100-day program of this Yahapalana Government crowding out important pieces of legislation like the Right to Information that is still hanging around somewhere.
But given the health of our nation it would come as little surprise to the voters of this wonder of Asia that the health of our politicians seems to deteriorating even faster than the moral malaise that afflicts our once beautiful country.

Judging by news reports in the local media and the plethora of websites and other means of present day communications, the latest individual to enter hospital seeking medical attention is the former Minister of Economic Affairs Basil Rajapaksa who, shortly after his brother lost the presidential election, left, bag and baggage (I would not be so unkind to include his spouse in that though some persons with no respect did think it was an appropriate enough description) to some other part of the world
Some said dear Basil said bye-bye and went to Dubai while others thought he had gone home to Los Angeles where he is said to reside. Personally I have no interest in where he went via which country and where he was living these last few months having obtained a leave of absence from Parliament.

All that is by the way and is not directly related to my inquiry and interest in how politicians manage to suddenly develop a medical condition that necessitate their transfer from a prison cell to a comfortable bed in a private or State hospital each time the judiciary of this country think it is fit that there is prima facie evidence to let them spend a night or two as a guest of the state.

In the past so many years many of our politicians at various levels of the political ladder have sought refuge under the care of the medical fraternity whenever the arm of the law was stretched long enough to grab them for one misdemeanour or another.

To be frank, it is not often that the long arm of the law was stretched. Usually that limb is struck down with cramp or excruciating arthritic pain that any movement towards upholding the law, particularly against lackeys of the government in power or supporters of the ruling party, ends up with a kind of rigor mortis of the legal system.

It is not only politicians, however lowly they may be such as Pradeshiya Sabha Chairmen and members, but even the sons of ministers and the kith and kin of high-ranking officials find themselves resting on what they think are their laurels on a comfortable hospital bed.
I do sympathise with poor Basil, after all. Here is the chap who had taken responsibility for his brother’s failure to become president for the third time. But days before he pleaded mea culpa he left his beloved country apparently in shame at the abject failure of his political prognostication which was as bad as that of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s trusted astrologer.

I mean here is a man who returns home and bares his chest and says I have nothing to hide. The fact that some people did not and still don’t believe him, is neither here nor there. My grouse is with others who think it is fit and proper to move a politician out of his remand cell and let him rest elsewhere. This is becoming too easy and every politician who sneezes demands that he be sent to hospital as the remand cell is musty or does not have air conditioning

It does raise many questions. I mean what is wrong with being in a remand cell. After all here are people who claim to represent the voters of this country, irrespective of their station in life or how much they have been able to steal from the public purse.

These are the voters who elected these politicians to office. They are the people whose votes were sought by the politicians, who were perhaps the beneficiaries of Divi Neguma largesse. But spending a night or two in the same cell or the one adjoining appears to be such a degrading act that they immediately fall sick at the very thought of it and need to be removed away from the nation’s unwashed and condemned.
Certainly no politician should be made to suffer such indignities and the sooner they are taken away to more comfortable lodgings the sooner they could get back to plotting the next move or how to make the next billion.

Poor Basil has apparently been found a bed in the Merchant’s Ward of the National Hospital. Now if a normal citizen of this country without the correct connections which are intrinsic to survival in the Miracle of Asia, tried to get a bed in this ward for treatment for a genuine medical condition he or she would be summarily dismissed and told to apply in the next millennium, though I admit to slight exaggeration here.
The fact is that there is supposedly a waiting list and even if you were to die on your feet you have to wait. Actually many of them do die waiting. But this apparently does not apply to politicians or important people and their relatives, even if you have to throw the patient currently occupying the bed on to the corridor.

One other question, if you will. Who are the medical men who suddenly find that a politician is not fit to spend a night in a cell and require immediate medical attention and so must be transferred to a hospital? We don’t hear much of the medicine men who recommend hospitalisation and for what ailment or physical condition they are permitted to find comfort in hospital. Perhaps deeper inquiry possibly by the media should elicit some interesting information.

Given that these days politicians are much sought after, especially by the Bribery Commission, Financial Crimes office, Interpol and other investigative agencies, and hospitals are likely to get overcrowded because of the onrush of patients from the remand, may we suggest that the upgrading of prison cells with en suite facilities, television, mobile phones, bar facilities, etc., be undertaking as an urgent task so that ordinary citizens could be accommodated on beds/rooms in state hospitals which is what they are meant for anyway.