In a land like no other | Daily News


In a land like no other

When I joined the Police as a Probational ASP in 1958, Brigadier Anton Mutucumaru, the Commander of the Ceylon Army who was on the Interview Board chaired by the then SD and EA Gunasena de Soyza did not have a Chief of Staff under him. As far as I am aware, this exalted position in the Army came into existence with the phenomenal growth of the Army when the war against LTTE terrorism escalated.

The loud sounding term, ‘Chief of Staff’ was unheard of in the Public Service. It does not appear in the Constitution, the Establishments Code, Administrative Regulations or the Financial Regulations. When I joined the Public Service the Prime Minister was S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. When I finally severed connections with the State on retirement from the post of Director Operations and Deputy Chairman of ANCL in 1994 I had been closely associated with Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Dudley Senanayake, J.R. Jayewardena and Ranasinghe Premadasa. All these greats had honourable and efficient Secretaries. Bradman Weerakoon, M.D.D. Pieris and K.H.J. Wijedasa in particular were great Presidential Secretaries.

Public service

The office of Secretary to the President is a powerful and coveted constitutional office. The sanctity and honour of this office is such that like the President, the Secretary to the President can do no wrong.

Whoever created the superman of a Chief of Staff with the freedom and ability to turn sugar into gold has not only caused untold embarrassment to the Presidential Secretariat, but plunged the one time highly acclaimed Public Service to abysmal disrepute. The honour of Sri Lanka has been shattered.

The head of the Timber Corporation one time Secretary of the Land Ministry, who was also involved in the scandal, once arrested and remanded, was rightly suspended. The President had no alternative. An inevitable damage control move. However, Lo and Behold, before the dust could settle the office of the President rushes to make a replacement with apparently a crony leading to a public outcry. It is not understandable why a man with an adverse police record was selected with lightning speed. Scandal upon scandal!

While two Super Public Servants were receiving top media attention albeit for the wrong reasons protests, demonstrations, strikes have been keeping the nation entertained, irritated and sometimes bewildered.

Fasts unto death appear to have faded into oblivion. However if only Wimal W. who has not been in the limelight for sometime, can with his parliamentary friends ceremoniously with all the brouhaha he is capable of embark on a fast unto death, even surreptitiously eating biscuits and chocolates and sipping Coca Cola to achieve their stated objective of death, the nation will breathe a sigh of relief. Even the ranks of Tuscany will not forbear to cheer!

Protests, demonstrations and strikes continue resulting primarily in traffic jams and the police providing high pressure shower baths to students both lay and robed. The only trade union whose members make more money engaging in private practice whilst resorting to strike action caring two hoots for indigent, suffering patients in government hospitals, the GMOA now wants a role in the formulation of the government’s economic and trade policies! May be worthwhile listening to them. After all doctors know best how to make money even in the most ruthless manner. And these are men and women who have received their medical education at the taxpayers’ expense. On the plus side, toddy tappers and conservancy workers do not strike keeping the alcohol industry alive and the garbage moving!

Unemployed graduates

Unique to Sri Lanka is the demand for jobs by graduates after free school and university education. Vociferously demanding jobs in the state are even degree holders in dancing, singing, drumming etc. What bewilders me is that at the forefront of the agitational movement for jobs for unemployed graduates is a man in yellow robes who claims to be a Buddhist monk!

The redeeming factor is that an Elections Commission is in place and elections of some sort, even delayed are held. But as Dr. Uswatta Aratchi has succinctly put it, with most of our leaders having rotting skeletons in their cupboards, “This is a Dharmadvipa, the land of crime without punishment” (The Sunday Island of 13/5). Even with elections what prospects hold for the paradise isle? The people are compelled to vote for imbeciles nominated by party leaders who are only concerned about themselves and not one bit about the country.

The Democracy that this country enjoyed for eight decades with men of substance at the top has got eroded to a dangerous level. Corrupt politicians bent on building political dynasties for themselves have hijacked and emasculated the country’s democracy.

The patience of the people is running out. Like the stars of the universe joining up to form constellations protests that we see today at the drop of a hat can develop into uprisings, insurrections, rebellious and revolution. My advice to our parliamentarians is, read the histories of revolutions that changed the destinies of nations. Or else a catastrophy may strike us sooner than later.

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