Economic inequity marries political repression in Sri Lanka
(Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne)
There was a story, that a cake worth millions of dollars was made for a function in Lanka. It is extremely stupid of anybody to display such riches, in a country where 53 percent lack enough money to buy food and 46 percent struggle to find adequate shelter. These figures may have to be corrected with recent increase in living conditions. It is usual to refer to the French queen, Marie Antoinette, when ever such cruel display of excesses is made. Marie, a secluded woman did not understand why bread could ever be scarce. Hence she foolishly asked why one should scream without looking for cake as a temporary replacement! Even a queen in that era in France could have been a glorified slave of the conservative male dominated society. Hence we could excuse her for the apparent vulgar comment. But in no way could we excuse the present ruling elite, who have cruelly forgotten how they behaved, while in the opposition. It is symbolic of what Lanka is becoming, a country in which the powerful and the rich see impunity as their birthright and parade their abuses and their excesses, shamelessly. This reckless behaviour of inability to see the suffering of the other began in the North. People in the South where forced by propaganda to look away, when civilian Tamils were being bombed and shelled under the cover of the ‘humanitarian operation’. Most of the misguided in the South opted to believe in the zero-civilian casualty lie and labelled those who challenged it as terrorists. Majority in the South ignored the plight of 300,000 plus Tamil men, women and children herded into open prison camps masquerading as welfare villages. Sinhala chauvinists still fail to realize that lasting peace and a genuine reconciliation cannot be, so long as, survivors are denied the timeless right to know the truth about missing people.
Doing their duty
As the economic crisis worsens and living conditions deteriorate for all, people changed and listenmed to what we said. When Minister Bandula Gunawardena claimed that a Lankan can live on a monthly income of Rs. 7,500 alone, he was doing his duty. All ministers are bound by what they enjoy. That means they have to speak and act with utter disregard for public opinion because they believe that the public is a non-factor in deciding their political fortunes. Indeed, in the Lanka of Mahinda, what the top politicians and businessmen have to satisfy to retain their positions and possessions is not the people nor the consumer, but the bosses of the Mahinda regime. Foolhardiness of these bosses is getting exposed in every field. For instance, the regime spent billions constructing international sports stadiums; some never used, but spent billions more in the vain pursuit of the 2018 Commonwealth Games-mirage. In the meantime no Lankan athlete qualified for 2012 Olympics and we failed to win a single medal at the 2010 Asian Games.
Lanka is currently beset neither by an insurgency nor by a war and yet, a wave of extra-judicial violence is engulfing the land, from Pt. Pedro to Pt. Dondra. The abductions and disappearances have aroused the indignation of senior ministers. The tale of Sagara Senaratne, abducted and subsequently released thanks to the intervention of Rajapaksa, suffices to demonstrate the intimate connection between the rulers and the white vans. There is no better indication as to who pays (and controls) these particular armed men.
Opium for the masses
Sinhala chauvinism is the political ideology of Mahinda regime, their opium for the Southern masses and verbal terror for opponents. The Machiavellian worldview of patriots and traitors is invading every sector, including sports. This world view is the base of state terror unleashed on people struggling against the economic burden thrust on them. The most recent terror campaign started at Dambulla against the Muslim people. Suddenly Muslims have become the traitors of the Mahinda regime. Goons of the regime have started a liberation war against Muslim “land grabbers and plunderers”.
Mahinda regime remember patriotism only when they are asked to remove the economic burden and to respect the political and human rights of Lankans and not when the IMF imposes anti-people conditionality. They plead to the global powers that their government has done “all that the IMF has asked”. When Mahinda talks about national sovereignty what he really means is the absolute right to use and abuse the country and the people.