I was distraught to discover the other day that our Head of State had allegedly caused some distress to a naïve young politico. Maybe it was because the n. y. p. is not savvy enough yet to know the difference between governance and politics. Perhaps there was some justification in his grievance given that elder statesmen in our republic are more renowned for playing ducks and drakes with coalition politics than working for the wellbeing of democracy these days.
Be these burdensome issues as they may, there may also be something of a lesson for the rest of us plebeians on how to express our emotions on the state of the nation with greater élan and éclat. But first it behoves us to examine how the attitude of the e. s. ostensibly lacks the esprit de corps that his younger colleagues expect of him.
Sujeewa Senasinghe, MP, was reported to be devastated at the arcane knowledge that no less than the chief executive of our coalition-governed nation had not only instigated but prolonged the commission to investigate the bond scandal. Sharper than most youthful politicos of his naïve and sentimental generation, our n. y. p. had somehow discerned that the proceedings were not necessarily in the national interest but with a view to embarrassing his party and its leader by highlighting their complicity in the scandal of the decade.
Sorry to see that his despair had evidently caused his otherwise serene countenance – usually seen in its customary calm deportment on the emergency relief supplies sent to victims of natural disasters – to slip a tad. Such was his sorrow that he lashed out at the President’s ostensible motivation in using a cardinal opportunity to score cheap political points that could cost his eventual election rivals substantial demurrage in some future polls stakes. Sad state of affairs there might be when e. ss. play politics badly rather than govern well. So our tender-
minded n. y. p. might have thought.
Now my heart goes out to young SS, MP. Really and truly, it does. I mean there you are, one minute, rushing hither thither doing your bit for Good Governance and Disaster Disbursement (GAD), and then – out of the blue, so to speak – comes the thunderbolt that your President is playing party politics. It’s unheard of in even any rotten rubbishy republic – and it’s uncalled for in a decent democracy like ours. Never heard the likes of it in all my life, young SS, MP, probably muttered as he GADded about fielding phone calls from sympathisers and first-accuseds. (Or, possibly being classically educated, it was “O tempora! O mores!” that he said sotto voce.)
With that said, let me be among the first accused of insensitive satire to reassure any n. y. ps. out there that their pain has not been in vain. We your admirers and ardent fans of Good Governance over Party Politics (GOP) will not vex your sacrifices in a noble cause. Where once no crime was punished we will not allow any good deed done in the name of the GOP to go unpunished. Way to go!
THE END OF TERM TESTS
(Feeling down? Sit down and take this test. Feeling blue? Sea-green incorruptible politics has a little pill for you. Feel free to text in your answers, but remember: ‘Big Brother’ is recording every word of your nefarious conversations with the first and second accused, et al. so don’t cry like a spoiled child after all your thinking on the matter is splashed across the front pages.)
1.“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that the b*st*rds aren’t out to get you after all.” Critically evaluate this apocryphal statement of ace diplomat Dr. Henry Kissinger – with reference to your own experience. Don’t hesitate to haul the President (or if you want to embarrass the GOP, the Prime Minister) before a commission. NOTE… the court of public opinion will do as well… [No marks will be given to candidates who embarrass themselves, or feign ignorance e.g. “I know nothing.” or amnesia e.g. “I can’t remember anything.”]
B. Short Answers.
1.The President is allegedly planning ahead for the executive election by making political capital out of the GOP’s “corruption as usual, but not grand larceny on the Rajapaksa scale; rather a decent 10% off the bottom after the project is over” policy to embarrass his potential political opponents.
(True/False/You can bet your bottom dollar on it if you haven’t already had it wiped off the map by the Bond Scam.)
2. The Prime Minister doesn’t embarrass easily.
(True/False/See if you can find out why.)
1. I am disappointed in party politics, because:
a. Always, and in the end, human nature – fallen – will triumph over any new star that has arisen over our political horizon
b. The people are gullible enough to be gulled again and again into thinking that there is such a beast, when it is clear that sheer animal instincts prevail in the political jungle, and it is not the fittest nor the finest who survive the cut and thrust of viral life in a bacterial kingdom
c. The media don’t understand what’s different, and civil society can’t be bothered discerning whether it is any good after all has been said and done
d. Despite my better cynical instincts, I hoped against hope that there would be even a tentative start towards better governance made by taking baby steps
2.It is fair and just for a n. y. p. to be disappointed with his e. s. playing politics, because:
a. Aiyo, we had high hopes, no!
b. But what to do, ah?
c. Come, come, it’s all part of a managed spectacle, can’t you see?
d. Do grow up, child!
3. You are disappointed with n. y. ps. as well as e. ss. playing politics and other party games as well as pretending to be GADding about doing GOOD for the GOP, because:
a. You – and half the country – had high hopes
b. You expected much less to be said and much more to be done
c. You realise that in a shame-honour society such as ours it’s appearances and not actualities that matter in winning friends (and elections) and influencing (and embarrassing) people
d. You can’t quite decide whether it’s we or our politicos – nyp’s and es’s and all the rest – who need to grow up, get real, and get a life
D. BONUS QUESTIONS FOR FULL MARKS
a. What would disappoint you? (Fill in the blank. Take pot shots at your favourite politico.)
b. What would disappoint you more? A prezwho played politics or one who failed to do so?
c. What still disappoints you dears? HINT… Political promises unmet as yet – If in doubt, refer a helpful online tracker to keep MPs and their parties on the straight and narrow (manthri.lk)
E. EXTRA OPPORTUNITY TO SCORE
a. What embarrasses you? (If you’re the PM, you’re exempt from attempting an answer. You’re welcome, sir. Keep smiling, pl, it cheers up the masses no end to say nothing of the political opposition.)
b. What embarrasses you most? (Pick one: The lesser of the two evils which has some good if not great ideas, but has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar? Or the greater of the twin evils of crime and corruption – which, despite being caught with its metaphorical pants down, has literally been let loose to go about stirring up violent chauvinistic dissent in the face of a return to democratic norms and ideals?)
c. What fails to embarrass you at all, pl?
There, that cleared the air, didn’t it, dears? Or, are you still devastated by the calibre of democracy today (the worst form of government – save all the others) or in state of despair over something rotten in the republic? Well, the proof of the political pudding is in the eating at election time… not in the platitudes mouthed by privileged MPs or presidential aspirants grown fat on their pompous utterances about probity in the party or parliament when they were once part of the most corrupt and power-hungry regime east of Mugabe-land.
And, just because I’m (like you) disappointed in a plethora of real issues – rather than the ridiculously lachrymose posturing of n. y. ps. – it doesn’t mean that there’s no hope that something will change for the better in our state of play. But, if you (like me) will not hold your breath over fake issues – such as if Gota and Basil & Co. will be brought to book and when if at all, or is it playing politics to put off their cases until local government elections – you would do well…
Focus instead on the panoply of achievements due to government. Its golden moments and laurel wreaths. And the ambition which is made of sterner stuff than a few minor disappointments along the road. It is precisely how premiers avoid embarrassment. And how – if they pay attention to how the Old Fox does it – naïve young politicos can become elder statesmen in the fullness of time and the rottenness of their hypocritical nature. Disappointed? We ain’t seen nothing yet – as Kissinger did not ever essay.
(A senior journalist, the writer was once the Chief Sub Editor of The Sunday Leader, 1994-8, and is ex-LMD, having been its Editor, 2004-8. He has made a career out of asking questions, and not waiting for answers.)