Colombo, Elections, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Bottom Dwelling Scum Suckers and Catfish

There is a joke that has been floating for a while with regard to the value added by lawyers to our daily existence.

It asks the question whether you know the difference between a lawyer and a catfish.

If you are interested, the answer is; one is a fish and the other is a bottom dwelling scum sucker.

In fairness to the lawyer fraternity, it should be noted that the above only applies to a miniscule number among them. Most are honorable men and women who ply their trade according to the laws of the land and obviously the implied negativity does not apply to them.

Unfortunately, the few bad apples among the law fraternity have a tendency to ascend to positions of power and influence precisely because they are willing to step into morally confusing and value compromising situations where others fear to tread.

In the case of the current state of Sri Lanka’s disunion and the exclusive rights held for that state of affairs by our political elite; the same could be used to describe the world of difference that exists between our politicians and catfish. Especially since some of the greatest contributors to the present state of our country are lawyer turned politicians.

It never ceases to amaze me at the ease the present regime/The Family keeps turning moments of glory and success into prolonged periods of national agony. Let’s take a look at how the First Family has handled its 2 biggest successes.

The first obviously was bringing to an end to Prabakaran’s reign of terror and the second was the “resounding” victory of Mahinda Rajapakse at the recently concluded presidential election. The regime has, with barely a break in its goose step, has turned these successes into a quagmire of broken promises, abuse of power and total disdain for the law of the land and welfare of the people.

In the case of the first, the regime wasted no time in antagonizing most of the western world by shutting itself off to any criticism of its actions during the last stages of the war. When faced with questions about the use of heavy artillery in an area that held thousands of non-combatants, the GOSL insisted on sticking to its position that NO civilian lives were lost during the what it euphemistically called the “rescue” operation and that the GOSL did not shell the sliver of land that held Prabakaran and his minions along with thousands of civilians.

Then, after “rescuing” the Tamil civilians held against their will by the LTTE, the GOSL promptly interned close to 300,000 of the “rescued” in camps because they were Tamils. When the UN, the USA, UK, Canada and the EU started asking some unpleasant, but reasonable, questions about what really went on in those last few days in the battle front and the internment of people in their own country; the GOSL went on a rampage attacking the messengers. Anyone or any country that didn’t swallow the GOSL’s position hook, line and sinker was termed LTTE sympathizers. The GOSL completely forgot the small detail that some of the countries that were accused of being soft of terrorism/LTTE had actually proscribed it as a terrorist organization. Who’s keeping track of minor details, eh?

The Prime Minister, various ministers and various secretaries of ministries were ever ready to defend the honor of the country. The High Commissioner of UNHCR; the FM of Sweden; UK’s Foreign Secretary ; American Secretary of State; the whole country of Norway were vilified in public. Our beloved public servants were shrieking at the high and mighty westerners like Banshees on steroids.

As a result of these hair brained actions, Sri Lanka, like an abandoned orphan, has been susceptible to the charms and enticements of many international pariah states. We have been left to wonder this desolate and morally vacuous space looking for salvation.

Once that little detail was taken care of; the regime looked inwards to weed out the local Doubting Thomases and make lifelong enemies out of bosom buddies. First in line was General Sarath Fonseka; commander of Sri Lanka Army. The man touted the best army commander in the world by the GOSL became public enemy number 1 when he and the President couldn’t come to an agreement on the General’s role in post-war Sri Lanka. While General Fonseka was not the most gracious or the most diplomatic when it came to handling his differences with the President, the government’s virulent and petty minded reaction to the General was both reactionary and an overkill. Eventually, this would lead to the General contesting against his former Commander of Chief at the 2010 Presidential elections.

What a peace dividend.

An election campaign highlighted by the lack of substance; abuse of state resources by the President’s campaign team and political gaffes of Sarath Fonseka came to an end with the incumbent romping to a comfortable and resounding victory. Mahinda Rajapakse, according to the final tally, received 57% of the vote against 40% for General Sarath Fonseka. Apparently close to 2 million more people preferred the incumbent over the retired General. One would think that such a margin would be a satisfactory outcome for the incumbent; especially considering his margin of victory over Ranil Wickramasinghe in the 2005 presidential election.

End of story, eh? Not quite.

The re-elected Mahinda Rajapakse took no time to start the witch hunt. It seems like he was slighted by the margin of victory. In his convoluted mind, Mahinda Rajapakse was seeing foreign conspiracies to topple him and assassinate him and his family members in every street corner and behind one or two luxury dwellings; or so it seems. No opposition figure or supporter of Sarath Fonseka was to be spared in the search for the smoking gun. Persons were harassed, at least one journalist has disappeared; heads of government corporations asked to hand in their resignations; and to make sure the genie was not out of the bottle Sarath Fonseka was dragged kicking and screaming and given free accommodation in a chalet of the Sri Lanka Navy. Tamils have been vilified because the majority either supported Fonseka or abstained from voting at the presidential election. Instead of building bridges across the ethnic divide, the Rajapakse regime has been burning the few remaining ones.

Apparently, the retired General was planning a coup. We are waiting to find out whether the retired General had any knowledge of this coup and also waiting for the evidence to support the allegation.

This from the candidate who won the election by the incredible margin of 17%. What would he have done if the margin of victory was a mere 5%; I wonder. Actions of the Rajapakse regime after the election suggest 3 scenarios (maybe the more creative amongst us could conjure more);

  1. Support for General Fonseka was grossly over-estimated
  2. The election was rigged
  3. Mahinda Rajapakse thought he was going to loose the election

Looking back, I remember listening to a news conference involving Wimal Weerawanse and some others on the day of the election. In that conference, it was stated that they (I imagine the President) was going to challenge the legitimacy of Fonseka’s candidacy in courts. This was after the polls had closed. Did this mean the President thought he was going to loose the election?

We probably will never know the answer to that question. However, it does raise some interesting scenarios in the minds of folks who are not totally convinced by the “victory”.

To be frank, I didn’t think General Fonseka could win this election. Seriously, the General’s campaign was pretty much the amateur hour. However, I did not think it would be this lopsided. I didn’t think it would be as close as 2005, but I find it hard to believe that Mahinda Rajapakse would have beaten Sarath Fonseka by 17 percentahe points.

I think this was a case of political bottom dwelling scum suckers loosing all sense of proportion.

The way I see it, all this post-war and post-election shenanigans is the work of political bottom dwelling scum suckers. I imagine every politician worth his/her salt has these scum suckers in their payroll or amongst their supporters. They serve the purpose of clearing unpleasant political detritus. The scum suckers also insulate the politician from what’s real and actual by making certain only information that helps to propagate their cause is filtered to the candidate.  In most cases, these scum suckers are the hangers on who are waiting in the periphery to grab the left overs. But, in some cases the scum suckers are closer to home. They may even be part of the inner circle; or worse, they maybe part of the politician’s family.

Political scum suckers are a useful and a necessary tool for folks in high office because they are normally totally subservient to the wishes of his/her political handler and will take care of matters that cannot be attended to through official/legal means.

However, if there are no handlers or if the scum suckers are part of the inner circle and are left to operate on their own volition, the political usefulness of scum suckers will be short lived. They could, in the worse case scenario, take down the head honcho along with them to political oblivion.

I believe that the presidency of Mahinda Rajapakse has reached this stage because of the political scum suckers who have been feeding and living off his success.

Does Mahinda Rajapakse have the political will/smarts to weed out the bad apples and reach out to the opposition to make sure that there is indeed a peace dividend? I am not holding my breath, but he has proved his detractors and doubters wrong in the past. I hope he will do so in the near future as well.

It is sad to witness Mahinda Rajapakse, the man responsible for bringing to an end the reign of the giver of death; the taker of hope; the denier of forgiveness that was Prabakaran resorting to pettiness, intimidation and political thuggery to silence the voices that do not see eye to eye with him.

Mahinda Rajapakse, by all means should be in a position to heal many of the old wounds caused by years of ethnic polarization. He truly is in a position to turn swords into ploughshares.

Instead, Mahinda Rajapakse has, in a manner of speaking, turned the few remaining ploughshares into swords.