If all the loud talk on the poll platforms in these past weeks has given some idea of a major political change after today’s elections, just forget about it.
There will be no change. Corruption will remain, and right on top of politics and governance.
Those who have promised to eradicate corruption, with a madu valige or a sword have only been trying to fool the voters. The lead player here is President Maithripala Sirisena. All talk about fighting corruption is sheer bunkum, just as it was in the big talk about fighting the fraud and corruption of the Rajapaksa Era.
What we have seen in this poll campaign for local government bodies, is a tactic to make the people forget about the needs of local authorities such as roads, drains, water, rates, garbage removal and such necessities, and think instead of a possible change of government. That is the very substance of unreality.
This entire campaign has been one of seeking to shelter the forces of corruption. This is the core message despite the big talk by the President of wiping out corruption; the boasts by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP about economic progress, with a curtain drawn on the Bond Scam; and the huge noise against ‘yahapalana’ corruption by Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Pohottuva team, using the size of the Bond Scam to hide all the corruption of the former regime that remains virtually untouched.
The voters (and non-voters, too) are facing an unchanging reality – the swing and sway of corruption in this land, that has just celebrated 70 years of independence, and nearly two decades more of universal franchise. It seems time to ask ourselves whether we are in fact living in a democratic state – when the overall success of repeated elections, where millions have voted, has been to let the tree of corruption grow ever bigger and taller, and its branches spread out to cover all of society.
What we have seen in the past weeks is a campaign of the crooked. There are five key players in this game of vote-catching – the SLFP-UPFA alliance led by President Sirisena, the UNP led by Ranil Wickremesinghe, the SLPP led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the JVP, and the TNA. Among these, the big players are the first three. The JVP is a hanger on for what may fall from the tri-cornered fight of three big three crooks. The TNA will have a regional say, with its own touch of corruption, no doubt.
This election will not make any contribution to fighting corruption. We are now even facing a constitutional reality where the powers of the corrupt seem to have a legal standing. The President, who has now been told by the Supreme Court, that his term is limited to five years, is trapped in his own office, with hardly a chance of standing for re-election, as the ropes of corruption keep winding round him and his office.
Some questions need to be asked. What has he done to bring the Avante Guard forces to justice? How much has he moved to prevent legal action against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and also those in uniform who stand out as War Heroes, while the files on fraud and corruption are pushed further down the stinking heap? What is the big point in talking of justice for the killers of Wasim Thajudeen, addressing a recent rally of largely Muslim voters, when the case is fast moving to that pit of forgotten justice? Does he hear echoes of the voice of Lasantha Wickrematunga, as he dreams of a continued fight against corruption? What will ever happen to those who saw to the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda? And, what of those youth who disappeared after being moved to a military camp in Trincomalee – which was not a fight against the LTTE?
It is good for him to remember that the SLFPers who are with him today, enjoying the corruption of ministerial office, and are among those who made a mockery of the renewed probes into the killings of Lasantha, Thajudeen, and disappearance of Eknaligoda, in the early days of Yahapalanaya. These are the big voices who talk of a new SLFP government after these polls – a mockery of democracy.
There is little the UNP can talk of fighting corruption, when it, with its own leader, is so involved and entailed in the corruption of the Bond Scam. What stands out as the biggest fraud of State Funds in this country cannot be hidden by all the talk of economic progress we hear from Ranil Wickremesinghe and his ministerial backers; who are ultimately hackers of the truth on UNP’s role in the promotion of Arjuna Mahendran, and all that followed.
Ranil and the Greens with him suffer even more with the delayed ‘action’ about Ravi Karunanayake, which is seen as a non-action, in facing the realities of corruption. The UNP has to look back at the crooked take of a so-called ‘Volkswagen’ plant at Kurunegala. Which was, in reality, a huge ‘Hoaxwagen’ fraud, and also look at the Excise Permits given to Arjun Aloysius and the Mendis distillers…just to name a few. This is the corruption that will not be removed by the results of this election, but will remain to haunt the country, with a Prime Minister and a party of the corrupt. This seems the inevitable result of the corruption promoted by the laws and constitution of JR Jayewardene. Can they ever get away from it? Not very likely; and certainly not after this election!
The third player in this game of the crooked – Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Pohottuva team – has nothing to offer to clean up corruption. They are having a field day, drawing huge crowds, (often even bigger than the Sirisena crowds), but with no message of clean politics and government. They are wallowing in the stuff of the Bond Scam that is hiding all the stink and dirt of their days in government. Never in any ’democracy’ has a party and leader defeated on charges of huge corruption been able to come before the public with such a measure of opposition to prevailing dirt and fraud, with nothing to say about all their crooked years. The crowds at these rallies also raise a major question about what the people think about the progress of corruption in this country, and whether they are in any mood to fight it down.
It seems time to make a bow to corruption, which is here to stay in the coming years. That is the stuff of Democracy, 70 years after Freedom, to choose our leaders and governments.
Hooray, for the Crooked and Corrupt!