The story of Diogenes, the founder of Cynic philosophy, walking around Athens around 2600 years ago in daylight with a lighted lamp in search of an honest face, is well known. Diogenes, if transmuted to Colombo of August 2017, would probably go around the city with glaring TV lights and a camera crew not in search of an honest face but a dishonest one. Dishonest faces are so rare to come by in Colombo these days. Every one we meet is a doughty fighter of morality and honesty. Only a few dishonest identified by the media remain in the public eye.
It is hard to find a dishonest man or woman today with every Sudath, Nodath and Borudath denouncing rogues whom they say have played out the nation. You can’t stop them and ask: How much did you get buddy, when your side was in office? Naturally you will be called a hired hack in cahoots with the James Bon-hendras.
Self- proclaimed saints
Colombo is agog with dishonest hordes clothed in saintly white garbs of morality walking the streets, crying out loud on the roads, from political stages, in front pages of ‘independent’ newspapers and those on TV screens calling for hanging of dishonest rogues. Much moral indignation is being generated by fake moralists in the name of their immoral political masters.
But you can’t denounce full throated denouncers when they are in full spate howling against dishonesty.
Erich Fromm, a psychologist of international repute says: There is no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation which permits envy or hate to be acted on in the name of virtue.
Today the indignant virtuous such as journalists of doubtful credibility, retired public personalities of companies with damning credentials on its contributions to public health, lawyers whose political loyalties are dependent on the fluctuating fortunes of the two main parties and NGO nobodies who are trying to become somebody are all moralizing on corruption daily in the idiot box and in ‘independent’ newspapers.
Exposition and transparency
Exposure of rogues is good for democracy and the country but those laughing at the nudity of others from glass houses can’t expect the people to look away from their own hideous deformities and those of their heroes of the past. Catching those on the wrong foot and hand in the till at present times cannot absolve others who have raked, robbed and screwed the country for many past decades and are eager for a return of old rogues to play the game for the Throne – the Sinhasanaya.
The mass hysteria that has gripped the country shows two distinct patterns. To the pro Rajapaksa hordes, all rogues are UNP. And to the UNP hordes all rogues are Rajapaksa rogues. Together the Rajapaksa hordes and UNP hordes constitute about 70 per cent of the populace.
A classic example of this was evident last week outside the offices of the CID when the former ‘first lady’, Shiranthi Rajapaksa was summoned for questioning over the misuse of a vehicle donated by a foreign organisation to an NGO which she was heading in addition to phone calls she had made to the police on another matter, reports said. Supporters of the Good Government (Yahapalanaya) said they were investigating corruption of the Rajapaksa regime while Namal Rajapaksa was naturally enraged over his mother and his two brothers being summoned for questioning. The Rajapaksas are above being questioned? This was an attempt to cover up the issue of the Bond Scandal and other associated issues, Rajapaksa claimed.
The most interesting scenario was outside the CID premises where TV showed buses and buses carrying supporters of Shiranthi Rajapaksa – some wearing black bands – arriving. They were from different parts of the island as the destination boards of the buses indicated. Why were these people there? Did they think a former first lady is immune from questioning and were thus making their protests? Who spent for their excursion to Colombo? Can they influence the course of investigations? Or was this another ‘media street drama’ enacted to sway public opinion?
Corruption in the past
While cries of patriotism, honesty, morality and justice rent the air in August 2017, the question arises of what happened to all those strident calls made demanding investigations into massive corruption during the past one or two to three decades? We are clueless. What happened to all those alleged ‘Mahaveli deals’, arms deals where Sri Lanka bought dud machinery for the ‘War’, vineyards in Australia, apartments in London, massive commissions on massive arms deals with Chinese companies, purchase of fighter aircraft for the Air Force, attempt to purchase a ship for the Navy from Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) but the visiting delegation arrived in Leningrad, the ships couldn’t move in the frozen port, the Airbus deals, and very much more? All those flash through our minds, issues that were grist to the mills of our media then but are now only distant memories?
Whatever happened to those criminals who pulled out ventilators off patients in Intensive Care Units of hospitals in the name of ‘national liberation’ during the now much celebrated ‘Revolution’ or the killing in cold blood of humble workers who dared to defy the ‘Ana Dena Niladhari’ (Commanding officer) and were shot dead? The successors of these criminals are those now in the forefront in the current battle against corruption! Two of Prabhakaran’s chief commanders – one who is responsible for shooting down of over 60 policemen who surrendered to the terrorists on the orders of President Premadasa and also the cold blooded killing of a bus load of monks – has been enjoying ministerial rank while Prabhakaran’s Finance Minister has been enjoying a free life under state patronage during both regimes. Whatever happened to LTTE millions, if not billions of ill-gotten dollars and the LTTE gold?
We quote Prabhakaran once again in these columns: The Sinhalayas’ memory lasts only for a week or two.
Some families who benefited from sustainable corruption are living peaceful, respectable lives with their scions now as rising leaders of a new generation while for others enough is still not enough and more is merrier.
Why do all these people honest and dishonest continue to nominate and elect rogues to parliament to ensure Lanka is a rogues’ paradise? Your guess is as good as mine.