The debate about the Indian rope trick described as the world’s greatest illusion continues. But we have now moved to our own Rope Trick age. President Sirisena is showing signs of possibly beating all those Indian magicians by making a big performance of his own Rope Trick.
He cannot trust a Sri Lankan rope for his trick, with a possible May Day performance. It has to be imported – guess from where – India or China. There is a lot of rope in today’s dealings with those countries.
It is not any rope that is needed for this show of political chicanery. It has to be the Hangman’s Rope. He is no more satisfied with the ‘kaduva’ or sword against crime or corruption, about which he boasted a while ago. Whatever he has left of Yahapalana thinking, because most of it has now gone to ‘yamapalana’, now requires nothing less than the hangman’s rope.
It has won his many cheers from varied sections of society from the highest of the lowest, cutting across ethnicity and religion, from the social classes of power and the trampled; he is the man of the moment – The Rope Man of Our Time.
There are many who now ask us what alternative there is to the hangman’s rope. We are told of the many countries – India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, United States, Saudi Arabia and many more – where the hangman or executioner remains. Of course nothing is said of the many other countries – yes mainly western democracies – where the executioner is no more. It is important not to look at such progress in humanity.
We must take pride in our own historic tradition of executions, mainly public, in our bloody rich past, which was readily followed by those colonial invaders – the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, and also by the founders of the post-colonial independent state.
There is one thing that Maithripala Sirisena, with his hangman’s rope politics, has forgotten. The strongest call for the abolition of the death penalty came from none other than the founder of the party he claims to lead now – the SLFP. It was Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike, and it was his government that introduced its first suspension. He was then supported by the left leaders of that time such as Dr. N. M. Perera (LSSP) and Dr. S. A. Wickremesinghe (CP).
The near 40 and more years of the death penalty came from such Bandaranaike thinking, although he was himself assassinated by a yellow robed killer, and the penalty was restored only for murder for some years, and wholly suspended thereafter.
Those who are waving the hangman’s rope in today’s politics, governance, and social cleaning, are seeing in it the best or only way to fight the Drug Menace, which is certainly growing at an alarming rate. President Sirisena is the mastermind of the social cleaning Rope Trick.
Wasn’t it proper and timely to appoint a Presidential Committee or any such body of persons with good intellectual capacity and known experience in law and order, social development, psychiatry and such other aspect of society and life, to study the cause of the rise in drug-related crime? Don’t we have other major crimes in the country, and aren’t we aware of politics-related crimes?
Thanks to the learning we have gained from our historic teachings of religion, and the education the colonialists gave us, followed by the founders of national education, we do have a tradition of people of intelligence and knowledge in our society. Should they not be asked to address their minds to the crises our society faces?
Or, is it best to get our solutions from a person or persons who are known to break promises for good governance given to the people, whose public statements on matters of governance are very often proof of ignorance or misleading?
The Rope Trick in politics, which Sirisena has directed at convicted drug- related criminals, will, no doubt, move very fast to other criminals too. What about double or triple murders with no drug crime involved? Strange, no doubt, isn’t it unfair by other criminals to give the escape from life – which is the hangman’s path to freedom – only to those involved in drug crimes? Are we not moving in a direction where Rope Trick politicians will be the dictators promising a crime free Sri Lanka?
Let us ignore the western international condemnation we will soon earn from the twists of the political Rope Trick of today. What business do westerners have to make any calls for social justice from this civilization of 2,500 plus years? Today’s Rope Trick is part of Sri Lankan tradition – as were the many other forms of execution we had in history, from the sword, the elephants, part burial, and the twin areca nut trees – to name a few.
We have an Article 9 in our Constitution, giving Buddhism the pride of place in our society. That may be, but let us not ask any knowledgeable Buddhist about the Buddhist Thinking and Teaching on Capital Punishment. That is not the need of the Rope Trick performer of today.
Many German Socialists in the early years of the socialist revolution believed that deliverance lies in the very success of Capitalism—by giving it rope enough it will hang itself. That seems to be a lesson for us who are concerned about the revival of the Hangman. May be we must give enough rope to the Hangman or Ellungass player to hang himself.
Those critical of Wall Street have also said that Wall Street will hang itself if given enough rope.
And as Charlotte Bronte said: “Give him enough rope and he will hang himself”.
These are hanging thoughts that must keep us alive in the coming months of the Hangman’s Carnival or the Ellungass Senakeliya.