The economy is in a crisis and the masses are being burdened by the high cost of living. That is the reality.In that context frugality and of being an example to one’s fellow citizens has to start at the top.Nevertheless, the stewards of the previous regime, kicked out by the masses at the 8 January 2015 presidential poll, were noted for their extravagance and ostentation, ipso facto at public/taxpayer expense. Waste, tempered with corruption and several other ‘sins,’ like a canker, virtually engulfed Sri Lanka’s body politic.
‘Right is wrong’ and ‘wrong is right,’ were the new meanings given to those words by the former government, according to their dictionary.
Laws were meant for their benefit and not for the good of the masses.
The noun ‘development’, in the economic sense, also had a reinforced meaning in their dictionary. If that ‘development’ didn’t translate to their own personal benefit as well, but was confined only for the wellbeing of the masses, that was not ‘development’ according to their way of thinking.In their way, it was only logical for the then hierarchy and their lieutenants and minions to ensure, that, if such development works had no micro benefit, but only macro, then such works were of no avail.
If such economic activities served no purpose according to their way of looking at things, then, even sabotaging such works appeared to be justifiable, in that manner of thinking.
A case in point is the damage done to a private water supply project by a former minister of the previous regime, as reported by this newspaper on page six of its yesterday’s edition, under the heading, ‘Athauda agrees to pay Rs 800,000.’
It was in regard to a case where former Rural Affairs Senior Minister Athauda Seneviratne was successfully prosecuted for damaging a water supply project at Warakapola where he and the other accused had agreed to pay a sum of Rs 800,000 as settlement, in Court.
This incident took place when Seneviratne was a minister of the former regime.
One may but conjecture how the Courts may have been pressured, in the event the previous incumbent President was successful in his third term bid at the 8 January poll. However, there is a rider here. In the event that Seneviratne had fallen from grace from the then powers that be, then they may well have allowed the case to go through, without interfering with the Warakapola Police and the law.
Seneviratne may have been a dispensable entity of the previous regime.
Old timers may remember, 33 years ago in 1982, the then UNP MP for Hewaheta in the Kandy District of the seemingly all powerful J.R. Jayewardene Government, the late Anura Daniel was caught trying to smuggle in gold bars. He was asked to resign his parliamentary seat for this offence.
Many felt that Daniel was a mere sprat in the Jayewardene Government, therewith, ipso facto a dispensable entity, whereas the ‘sharks of corruption’ in his government were allowed to get away scot free. The Daniel case took place a few months before the 20 October 1982 presidential poll and the controversial referendum held two months later on 20 December 1982, which extended the life of the 1977 Parliament by a further six years.
Nevertheless, Seneviratne is an UPFA MP for the Kegalle dDistrict. Warakapola belongs to the Kegalle District. Arrogance of power, corruption and thuggery may be more conspicuous and blatant in the periphery such as at Warakapola than at the centre.
More public focus is in the centre. Therefore, sins of omission and commission committed in the periphery are likely to pass undetected, than such transgressions committed in the centre, or so it seems.
But, whether the guilty, being in politics, under the protection or out of favour of the powers that be or not, the system, even in the periphery appears to still work, even before, or after the previous regime.
However, the system needs to be sustained and strengthened for the greater good. Politicians, especially those belonging to the ruling party, need to be governed by a code of conduct, with punitive punishment meted out, in the event of a breach, after getting the necessary constitutional amendments passed, if the need be.
Government politicos, the so called custodians of the system and of the establishment, breaching the law and being involved in acts of sabotage and disrupting development works meant for the public good, including by acts of thuggery, vandalism and corruption, they should be severely dealt with, with maximum punishment being meted out to such miscreants, according to the law.