Today, we are going to relate to our readers a story that in a nutshell is Sri Lanka.
It’s a story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland is a place where all the little mice lived and died and they lived much as you and I do. They even had a clock tower. As the numbers grew they needed some order. So, every four years they had an election. They used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. They in fact got a ride for the next four years afterwards. Just like you and me. And every time on election-day all the little mice used to go to the polls and elect a government. A government made up of big fat black cats.
Now if you think it strange for mice to elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Sri Lanka in the last 63 years and then you realize they were not more stupid than we are. Now, I am not saying anything against the cats. They were nice enough fellows. They conducted the government with dignity. They passed good laws. That is laws… that were good for cats! But the laws that were good for cats weren’t very good for mice. One of the laws made said that mouse-holes had to be big enough so a cat could get its paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at a certain speed. So, the cats were getting breakfast without too much physical effort. All the laws were good laws for cats. But they were all hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. When the mice could not put up with it anymore they decided something had to be done. So they went enmasse to the polls. They voted the black cats out.
They put in the white cats. The white cats put up a terrific campaign. They said, oh! what Mouseland needs is a better vision. They said the trouble with Mouseland is because round mouse-holes were dug. They said if you put us in we will establish square mouse holes. And they did. The square mouse holes were twice as big as the round mouse holes. And now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever. And so when the mice could not take that anymore they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again.
Then they went back to the white cats. Then back to the black cats. They even tried half white cats and half black cats. And they called that a coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on. They were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but they ate like a cat. The point is that the trouble was not the colour of the cats. The trouble was that they were CATS! And because they were cats they naturally looked after the cats instead of the mice. Presently, came along one little mouse who had an idea. Watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, “Look fellows, why do we keep electing a government made up of cats? Why don’t we elect a government made up of mice?”
The cats were furious. They called the little mouse a communist. So they put him in jail.
But here is the message. You can lock up a mouse or a man but you can’t lock up an idea!
In a country in which corruption is rampant and all manner of crime is endemic, it is difficult to know where to draw the line. After all, the highest in the land once claimed ministers in the previous government had plotted to slaughter newspaper editors, win elections by hook or by crook, splurged billions of rupees on luxury vehicles for themselves, and heaven only knows what else. Of course, a newspaper editor was eventually murdered. In broad daylight, on a busy highway as he drove himself to work. A murder yet to be resolved.
Sri Lanka’s moral code is lax and attitudes incomprehensible. An example is when Sepala Ekanayake returned to this country having hijacked an airliner, pandals were erected in his honour and the streets lined with cheering admirers. People yet elect representatives, fat cats at that, despite being indicted for attempted murder and fraud. And Anuruddha Ratwatte nominated as Ambassador to Malaysia despite having being charged for concealing in a bank vault certificates of deposits running into an excess of 43 million bucks. This was construed to be in excess of his income amounting to an alleged act of bribery and corruption.
The tragedy of Sri Lanka is that people who hold high office think so little of making complete asses of themselves. Sri Lankans should be sick and tired of the glorification of mediocrity by now. Sri Lanka’s legal system has become the laughing stock of the world: a system in which the poor are punished even as the rich walk free. Suspects are shot dead in the very court houses they are tried in, taking with them the gory secrets to their graves. All Sri Lankans must be subjected to one law, and no one must be permitted to buy over the judiciary. We hope the cold blooded murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge will not see the case buried with the killer. We only hope that the brutal murder, for that is what it is, of 21 year old Roshain Shanaka who died at the Ragama Hospital after being wounded at the Katunayake FTZ protest, is investigated and the perpetrators brought before the law.
But with us mice – subjugated and docile – governed by big fat cats to hope that justice will be done in this and all the other cases referred to in this editorial, would appear to be nothing but a pipe dream.