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Bharatha Lakshman’s murder – only a symptom, the disease is much more acute and dangerous…

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Vishnuguptha
“Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”- P. J. O’Rourke American political satiristOnly a symptom
What happened on the afternoon of the Election Day, Saturday, October 8, 2011 is a tragedy. For all murder is tragedy, bar none. Who gets killed is someone’s sibling, someone’s parent, son or daughter. Taking a human life is a sin. The tragedy is for the living, the dead are dead and gone. But

When the then leader of the Opposition, J R Jayewardene raised this matter in Parliament soon after the MPs were sworn in, Prime Minister Mrs. Bandaranaike gave the most bizarre answer, unbecoming of the high office she held. This lady of the Kandyan-Govigama-Radala-Buddhist upbringing answered with a deadpan face in that august assembly, the Temple of the People’s Will, “We should allow our people to celebrate this historic victory”. So the killings and destruction continued, at least for another two weeks. These are the forces that S W R D Bandaranaike unleashed in 1956-Sanga, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru! The flag bearers of the Land, the Race and the Faith(Rata, Deya Samaya)

when such inhuman acts are portrayed as acts of heroism, acts of loyalty (in this instance it was mob-loyalty), as acts of political justice or as acts of justice in terms of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the twist such descriptions and eulogies lend to these very inhuman acts tends to shade the foreboding genre of these utter wastes of human energy. They belittle the immense sacrifices made by some great men of history such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F Kennedy. Bharatha Lakshman’s murder was no political assassination. It was plain murder as a logical progression of an internecine struggle for dominance of the underworld. To portray it otherwise would be a perversion of the truth. The murder of Bharatha Lakshman was only a symptom not the disease.

Innocent UNP supporters hounded

If this is a symptom, what is the ailment? It all started in 1970. The United National Party suffered one of its most humiliating election defeats at the hands of the centre-left coalition led by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The post-election pogrom that was unleashed in the wake of the election had no precedent. Innocent UNP supporters were hounded, their homes were burned, their women were harassed and some were even sexually violated. Their men-folks were clubbed and the unfortunate ones met with death. The crime was that they either worked for the UNP or they voted for the UNP. They were marauded for exercising their fundamental right given unto them by the Constitution.

Unbecoming of the high office she held
When the then leader of the Opposition, J R Jayewardene raised this matter in Parliament soon after the MPs were sworn in, Prime Minister Mrs. Bandaranaike gave the most bizarre answer, unbecoming of the high office she held. This lady of the Kandyan-Govigama-Radala-Buddhist upbringing answered with a deadpan face in that august assembly, the Temple of the People’s Will, “We should allow our people to celebrate this historic victory”. So the killings and destruction continued, at least for another two weeks. These are the forces that S W R D Bandaranaike unleashed in 1956-Sanga, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru! The flag bearers of the Land, the Race and the Faith(Rata, Deya Samaya)

Power in the hands of the uncouth a lethal weapon
Political power in the hands of the uneducated and uncouth became a lethal weapon to dispense justice against their political opponents. Vengeance became the shameful badge of this tribe. The 1970 political riots gave birth to a new culture of political dynamics. Public Service which was under close scrutiny of the Public Service Commission began its decline gradually and the politicization of day-to-day lives of the masses assumed almost irredeemable proportions.

A sense of tribalism inside the security forces

Transfers of government servants were made purely on political grounds, jobs were offered only on the lists of Government Parliamentarians; a generation that received education in the “swabhasha” entered the job market in the early seventies and they could get employed only in the vastly expanding state sector, for they knew only Sinhalese or Tamil; those who could draft a simple letter in English were a rare species, and last but not the least, with a misplaced and false sense of patriotism, new recruits to the armed services were hired mostly (90%) from the majority Sinhalese. With the sharpening of anti-Tamil sentiments as a response to the agitating cry for Federalism by the Federal Party, a sense of tribalism set in inside the security forces.

Compelled to tow the Sinhala hard line
Whichever party that came into power either the UNP or a SLFP-led coalition, since 1956 had to tow the Sinhala hard-line because they did not want to run the risk of being portrayed as “traitors”. This propensity on the part of the electors gave rise to a process that is still running its course unchecked and unhindered.

The armed insurrection in 1971 signaled a clear breakaway from the thereto accepted mode of change. Instead of reposing faith in the ballot, the country’s youth, especially who came from the so-called depressed castes, took up arms against a democratically elected government, a party that they themselves wholeheartedly supported at the elections. This was a landmark event in our recent history in that this insurrection gave thought to our political activists, specifically among the youth, that resort to arms is an option available to them. The impetus that this sense of adventure engendered in the youth is part of the flow that runs in our system today. Thereafter favors from the state sector became the sole monopoly of the Party in Power. All successive governments had no option other than doling out favors and jobs etc. to their party supporters. With this trend in process, the corruption of the public sector was waiting to happen.

Goon and petty thugs enter politics

Today any favor from the government sector can be got at a price; bribery has become an accepted and acceptable norm, not only among politicians, but also among state employees rising from the peon to the departmental head. To this mix came the 30 year war. One of the most salient features of post-war Sri Lanka is the availability of arms, both minor and major, in the market. Goons and petty thugs who dealt in the most gruesome underworld activities like drug-dealing, prostitution and extortion entered the once hallowed chambers of power.

Emotions are short lived

Bharatha Lakshman-Duminda saga is only one single act of this melodrama that is being enacted on the theatre of Sri Lanka’s politics. Unprecedented crowds that gathered to pay their last respects to the slain Presidential Advisor was more a reaction to this growing phenomenon of mobster-politics than an outcome of a grieved people like those who flocked to Dudley Senanayake’s funeral. One needs to be reminded only of the lavish funeral given to Dion O’Bannion, Chicago’s vicious North Side Irish gang leader. It is one of the most talked about funerals in the history of the American Mafia. The floral compliments and vehicular lines were mind-boggling. One need not get carried away with such outpouring of emotion at funerals. Their shelf-life is rather short.

Mervyn Silva syndrome
But the open challenges thrown at the rival gang cannot be disregarded as idle threats. The anger and envy coupled with the free availability of fire

The “Mervin Silva syndrome” that has crept into the society in general and into government ranks particularly seems to have taken root. Open and uninhibited acquaintances that the highest in the land shows towards this petty thug of a politician are repulsive. Time after time this unbalanced man has insulted the basic intelligence of man and come out unscathed. Moreover, the accolade that he receives from the Buddhist clergy is even more appalling. Before him even great men and women seem to shudder.

arms should not be allowed to bear the bitter fruits that they will entail if institutional precautions and meaningful measures are not enforced. The “Mervin Silva syndrome” that has crept into the society in general and into government ranks particularly seems to have taken root. Open and uninhibited acquaintances that the highest in the land shows towards this petty thug of a politician are repulsive. Time after time this unbalanced man has insulted the basic intelligence of man and come out unscathed. Moreover, the accolade that he receives from the Buddhist clergy is even more appalling. Before him even great men and women seem to shudder.

System infested with social termites
That again is only a symptom, not the disease. The entire Cabinet of Ministers, Defense Secretary and other Parliamentarians look the other way whenever Mervin indulges in his notorious exploits. Petty thugs of this nature need to be behind bars, certainly not in Parliament. Yet they are elected, time and time again, by massive majorities by the people whose value system has gone off-gear. Both political parties have this kind of social parasites in their folds. But neither seems to have a way out, for they are grappling with the symptoms, not the disease. The disease is the absence of the rule of law. In the absence of the rule of law, elements of Mervin and Duminda and Bharatha Lakshman appear in frequent succession. The most tragic aspect of this entire saga is the spinelessness of the political and other civil leaders. When the system is infested with such social termites it is an impossible task to cleanse it without a surgical procedure. Corrupt from top to bottom, greedy beyond any imaginable degree and impotent without redeem, the regime is making futile attempts to treat a cancerous tumor with band-aids. If not detected early and treated with chemotherapy and surgery, and if allowed to fester, the cancer dies only with the patient.
LS

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