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The art of sanctimonious humbugging

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By Janitha Devapriya

Politicians of all hues have mastered the art of ‘humbugging’ and the people of this country are certainly not short of such personalities among the highest in the land right down to Pradeshiya Sabha members. Omissions or commissions are not their fault and always it is the previous regime or the ‘political opponents’ who should be held answerable. 

It has trickled down to the public service too and you will scarcely find a public officer responsible for any failure or dereliction of duty owed to the tax paying members of the public. The entire population of the country, for that matter, are taxpayers, either directly or indirectly. The politicians palm off the responsibility of omission and commission to the public servants as well. 

What does this portend? We as the electors of the so-called people’s representatives are responsible ourselves for the trials and tribulations that we have to undergo in our day-to-day lives.

The ‘Yahapalanaya’ Government currently running this country is not different. When they engaged themselves in the hustings before the presidential and parliamentary elections, they promised so many things like better living conditions, employment opportunities, rid the country of corruption and nepotism, freedom of expression and mobility, but most importantly bringing to justice of those accused of massive frauds, corrupt activities, murders and infringement of human rights. 

It can be conceded that some of the promises have already been fulfilled, notable among the achievements being the 19th Amendment that curtailed the executive authority of the President along with restoration of the freedom of expression and movement along with the reinstatement of the independence of Judiciary and restraining the Police to work within accepted norms prescribed by the independent Police Commission. 

On the fringe, bringing down the cost of living by reduction of prices of certain consumer items, raising the salaries of public servants and private sector workers to some extent, the bringing down of medicine and drug prices and other related items  makes the day today living easier for the citizens.

People are however frustrated that those responsible for waste and corruption, suppression of  freedom, alleged murders, excessive spending and embezzlement and siphoning of  public funds during the previous regime have not been brought to book. The delay in judicial process is attributed to the volume of work, lack of sufficient legal officers and the accumulated cases in courts. But the administration should have observed these issues and taken remedial measures earlier than now. There does not appear to be any respite in the level of corruption even now. Anyway, the citizens are waiting with their fingers crossed. 

Another display of ‘ humbugging sanctimoniously ’ is the favourite refrain of certain leaders in authority who go on saying  that Rajapaksas are responsible for this and that, Rajapaksa did not allow what had to be done, Rajapaksas controlled everything and forced many things not ethical or right to be done. 

May I pose the following question to such personalities as to where they were when the following incidents or events took place during the time they were ‘hand in glove’ with the Rajapaksa regime?

nWhen the controversial hedging deal that cost the country more than Rs. 13 billion was approved by the then Cabinet on 24 January 2007?

nWhen the Free Trade Zone worker Roshen Chanaka was shot and killed because he 

participated in a protest to safeguard the EPF funds in May 2011?

nWhen the fisherman of Chilaw was killed by police shooting in February 2012 for engaging in a protest against exorbitant fuel (kerosene) prices?

nWhen three persons were killed by shooting by the Army in August 2013, though they were not participants in the agitation conducted by people of Rathupaswala in Gampaha asking for uncontaminated drinking water?

nWhen the impeachment motion against the 43rd Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was passed by Parliament on 11 January 2013 with 155 members of the UPFA voting for with 49 against despite the High Court and the Supreme Court ruling that the Parliamentary Select Committee had no power to inquire into the matter? The two High Court Judges received death threats at the time.

nWhen the former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, who was hailed by the then Government as the best commander in the world, was dragged unceremoniously and charged in courts in 2011 on a concocted case where he was sentenced to three years in jail that deprived him of his rank and pension entitlements?

nWhen popular and well-versed journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge was brutally murdered in broad daylight on 8 January 2009 and investigations were shelved to shield the perpetrator?

nWhen famous cartoonist and journalist Pradeep Eknaligoda was abducted and made to disappear without a trace on 24 January 2010?

nWhen other journalists of repute were brutally attacked forcing some of them to flee the country?

There were numerous other nefarious acts committed by the Rajapaksa clique in addition to these and those shouting from rooftops were part and parcel of the Rajapaksa regime. Did not any of these issues prompt the so-called ‘self-righteous’ persons trying to portray images of piety and virtuousness to leave that regime and sever all connections with them rather than waiting for the right opportunity to arise ?

I am perplexed by the recent pronouncements of such men.

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