Pandora’s box of incendiary papers; no national acclaim for our singer of international fame

Oh-me-gosh! Financial secrets may be out! Even if censorship is imposed, some damage is done to corrupt rogues who often enrich themselves at the expense of their motherland. The damage? Burning anxiety, sleepless nights, stress and fear of being stripped metaphorically naked to public view. That itself is half punishment.

Pandora Papers

Very interesting to write about these papers that have very recently jack-in-the-box-jumped out in bang bang fashion, probably unexpectedly but with sure fire defamation of some very high world VVIPs, a couple still heading their countries like Putin. Discussion about these papers in reference to our beautiful island gone rotten with corruption is flying around among our expat Sri Lankans in the US and Australia, and surely in other countries too. Most probably ours too, but Cass is no Facebook aficionado.

The papers were compiled by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – an ensemble of 600 journos from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. The papers shed light on previously hidden dealings of the elite and corrupt and how they have used offshore accounts to shield asset collections worth trillions of dollars. (Wish we could get some to pay off parts at least of our national debt! The couple mentioned should be fined, Cass shouts). Millions of documents – “largest trove of leaked data exposing tax haven secrecy in history” – reveal off shore deals and assets of more than 100 billionaires, 30 world leaders and 300 public officials.

Sri Lanka has had one, actually a husband and wife, exposed as listed in the Pandora Papers. That’s the one leak over here. Since she is a relative of the ruling Rajapaksas, she may escape actual punishment by law, but her reputation as a smart woman and previous MP are shattered. May be a reputation and earned esteem from people is much more valuable than rupees or dollars or pounds sterling, however large that haul may be.

One matter that Cass – old, experienced and of worldly wisdom – cannot understand is the urge, nay madness to go on amassing stolen wealth. Hasn’t the hidden message that Covid-19 brought in – the ephemerality of life; how a life having youth, good health and all the wealth in the world can be snuffed out gasping for oxygen? We Ordinaries have believed the truth of the sheer impermanence of life, taught by the Buddha –- but consequent to the suffering during the pandemic, we have realised the truth. Do not those who previously had no money to go on an educational tour, or travelled by push bike, or even were well-to -do, know that money amassing should have a limit? Doesn’t look like it. Some said, wait and see – retribution will come for corruption, while others said – no, they get on fine. Now a sword of Damocles has appeared. Maybe ineffective in good ole Sri Lanka but … Sharp minds with good advice to successfully stash away ill-gotten wealth may escape but one never knows…

A world acclaimed singer – unsung officially in Sri Lanka

Cass wrote about Yohani de Silva in her last Friday’s column but she avers it is very much in order to give her a further paragraph or two this Friday too. She was labeled by ole Cass as ‘sweet singer’. Kudos have been showered on her (internationally it must be mentioned) and my goodness, President Biden no less, is reported to have said he would like to hear her sing after hearing the young violinist play the tune of Yohani and Satheesha’s Menike mage hithe on a Californian street, just as his ambassador to Sri Lanka – Alaina B Teplitz –praised Yohani. She was near mobbed by adoring fans when she went to India to give a performance but rushed back to keep a singing date. And she remains her unsophisticated, sincere self. Thank goodness! It’s her home and school upbringing (she acknowledges her Major General father’s admonitions) and her higher education and wide exposure to the world that keeps her unswollen head firmly on her shoulders. What a sharp and appreciated contrast to many of our starlets, models and one beauty queen. (I wonder who the young woman was who was questioned by a reporter whether she was with Lohan Rat when he visited the Welikada Prison. She replied sharply as if the journo was grossly unfair to her that she had never seen or spoken to the said Lohan)

Well, the above bit about lovable Yohani is due to watching a YouTube titled ‘Talk with Sudaththa’ in which he spoke glowingly (completely justified) in praise of Yohani and commented that the government has failed to acknowledge the fame and recognition she has brought to the country. He said SJB MP Nalin Bandara had proposed this recognition in Parliament but not taken up at all with only a nod from the Speaker. He used some choice epithets for the MPS – nari rela et al.

Recognition by the powers that be seems to be choosy and favoured. I remember how Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala was hardly recognised for her stupendous feat of summiting Mt Everest on May 21, 2016, and was hardly mentioned by any VVIP. No national honour given her and her climbing companion Johan Peries who succeeded to summit Everest two years later.

Another missed honour-giving was when Kumar Sangakkara led the cricket team for a World Cup in 2007. Our team was tops but there definitely was a jinx; apparent in Kumar’s facial expression and body language as he walked to the centre of the grounds to toss the coin. Sri Lanka were runners-up to India, but no kudos at all, while on a later date, Cass believes, winning a series against Australia got the cricketers brand new cars. Correct Cass if she is wrong

as she writes from memory. We all remember full well Sangakkara’s brilliant MCC ‘Spirit of Cricket’ address at Lords in 2011. He received the rare honour of a standing ovation over in the UK and here at home, a threat from the then Minister of Sports. Aluthgamage, to have his speech “investigated”. Both these so absurdly laughable; proving again you have to be a stooge to be honoured in this Land like no Other or better, belong to a certain family! Favour goes to those who run behind politicians. Cass adds this does not seem to be the case with the colour green and now the telephone symbol.

Dazzling but lacking in haute couture elegance

Talking also of grace and dignity, plenty of which Yohani presents in her clothes, grooming and demeanour, one wonders who designs the clothes for the female compere and the woman judge – small screen star and dancer – in the Hiru channel’s Dream Star Contests. The finals were this last weekend and the previous weekend. The woman judge was all a glitter with epaulets of hanging gold tassels, which quite debased her natural good looks. The female compere sported a shimmery broad-shouldered dress with outsize sleeves and the skirt so short it was right up where the thigh meets hip. The leggy creature left little to the imagination, but a blush of shame on Cass’ mug. Cass merely glances at this show to gape and gasp at the fashions or lack of same. Such show off borders on the vul – sorry – lack of real taste. Imitation of Emmy and Grammy dressed stars does not suit our locals and anyway those foreign singers/dancers dress stunningly but with saving grace. In contrast to most locals, Upuli Panibaratha, who was a judge at another dance contest, was in an Indian traditional silk draped beautifully, complementing her and enhancing her dignified personality.

Final guffaw

A quote from abroad brought to Cass’ notice the anguish suffered and reward offered for finding Chi Chi, the fabulously expensive angora cat belonging to the family of the youngest son of the PM of Free Sri Lanka. It was answered by another anguished man who said his son was lost but had no wealth to reward the finder or info giver. Was the famous feline found? Had it temporarily escaped luxury and comfort desiring a mundane existence or was it stolen?

Talking, and seriously this time, Mohamed Zahran writes a letter to Editor of The Island on Wednesday 6 October on the Smell of Garlic, commending the all-too-rare whistle blower, Exec Director of Consumer Affairs Authority – Thusan Goonawardena – for boldly exposing the garlic scam. “The government should not allow him to resign but grant him a promotion. We need more people of his calibre …” Yes, most definitely yes adds Cassandra as she takes your leave for a week.

Thank you

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