An open letter to Sajith Premadasa

Monday, 24 December 2018 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara

Dear Mr. Premadasa, 

We feel as if you have, collectively, spat in our faces. The dictionary defines ‘spat’ as the act of ejecting saliva from the mouth in a gesture of contempt. 

We, the citizens of this country, which includes the Judiciary, have been the main bulwark which forcefully, admirably and very successfully resisted the hallucinatory antics of an illiterate, idiosyncratic, invertebrate whom we had, through our votes, elevated to a position, which he has proven beyond a shadow of doubt he is unable, unfit and cannot hold, by any yardstick. 

It is therefore repulsive for us, the citizens of this country whose servants you politicians are, being paid and maintained at our expense, to have your drool dribbling from our faces. 

You did this by permitting an individual who stinks to high heaven, caked as he is with the scales of corruption, to be admitted to the Cabinet once again. 

In January 2015, when he was appointed to handle the purse strings of our country, even the man on the street was shocked, because his infamous history is well known even amongst the lowest levels of society. 

I recall I switched off the TV in disgust when I was watching the oath taking ceremony, which we were all so jubilant about, after working hard each in his own way, to bring about a change from the corrupt, narcissistic, nepotistic ‘governance’ which we had been suffocated with till then, and this joker’s name was mentioned as being the beneficiary of that post. 

Of course, true to form, and as easily as a duck takes to water, he went about what he can do with his eyes closed with even more gusto than before, and within a few months he was exposed in absolutely irrefutable terms for having accepted bribes and consequently, having a dirty hand in the bond-scam glove, an unforgivable crime from which the UNP will take ages to recover. 

And of course we know that what was exposed to us is merely not the tip of the iceberg in this instance but a peek at the interior of a stinking sewer. The details will emerge in due course and in the meantime we have been holding our noses over this individual. 

By accepting him into the Cabinet, the clear message that is being given to the country at large is that it is perfectly acceptable to indulge in taking bribes and similar criminal activities. 

No longer can parents try to teach their children the difference between honesty and dishonesty, and neither can teachers try to teach their students the difference between right and wrong. If a policeman accepts a bribe to destroy incriminating evidence he can’t be faulted and neither can a judge if he accepts a greasing of the palm to set free a murderer. 

A minister cannot be framed if he accepts a bribe to sell the assets of a country and neither can the chief executive of a country be condemned if he accepts slush funds to act unconstitutionally and against the best interests of the country. 

No; what your new Government has told the people of this country is that grievous crimes can be laundered and sanitised when required, and the status quo of disgraced individuals restored, based on the whims and fancies of the paid servants we have employed to serve us. 

I cannot believe that either you or a handful of others, looked the other way while this arrogant decision, which is totally impervious to public opinion, was taken. All of you must have muttered and mumbled. But that is clearly not enough. 

We see you as having contributed to conniving in this decision and thereby having betrayed the law abiding citizens of this country, whose strength and numbers and combined power was amply demonstrated in those agonising, traumatising 52 days. And as you saw, we are by far, the majority in this bountiful and beautiful motherland of ours. 

There were decisive and conclusive steps that you and like-minded politicians could have taken to have stayed that appointment or separated you from the sordid ignominy of that action. As far as we can see, there has been neither

We are aware, that to make your omelette, you need to break a few eggs. That’s reality. But if you add a rotten egg, people puke on your omelette. That’s reality too. 

Mr. Premadasa, I am not a supporter of any party and neither am I an admirer of yours for the unacceptable way in which you zero in on a leopard sighting in the wild life parks and completely block the view from us common citizens, without the slightest concern for our equal rights. 

But as I wrote to in a previous missive, during the evolving of this crisis which had sheer greed and power hunger at its root, you displayed a maturity, composure and self-confidence, which was inspiring and enervating to us mere mortals (that being the perspective you politicians have of us from your ivory towers). 

Your measured and well-articulated words bespoke of education and culture and held out a certain promise to us, reeling as we were from the bombastic vulgarity which was from the pits, but in this instance came to us right from the top. 

In you, the masses, judging by their response and reaction, were able to see the glimmer of hope of a potential leader who may raise this motherland of ours to the glory that is hers. 

That hope, that expectation, is still alive, now more than ever. 

We had no doubt that the victory that followed a day and night struggle for almost two months, would be construed by some in your party, as personal validation for continuation till breath leaves the body. We had no doubt that their heads would disappear even further into the clouds. The odious appointment, which is the subject of this letter, is one such example of sheer arrogance and utter contempt for our opinion. The consequences are not far off. 

Mr. Premadasa, if you and a handful of other relatively younger politicians, really feel for this motherland of ours, and care for unborn generations, the majority of whom cannot look for greener pastures, and who must have a better place to live in than we have had, then this is the moment. Seize it when public opinion is in your favour as never before. As I have said before, you are not the ideal candidate; you are the best of a bad lot. 

Hitherto, you stood shoulder to shoulder to prove a point that what was done was wrong, and that that wrong needed to be righted by restoring to their rightful positions those who had been wrongfully thrown out. Being thrown out was well earned and overdue; it was the manner in which it was done which could not be condoned.

Now that that wrong has been righted, it’s time to march to the beat of your own drummer within you. That drum beat will tell you that you need stand back, assess what’s wrong within your party, and thereby the country, and strike out on a fresh, innovative approach to right the wrongs. 

Take the leadership and start a revolution of like-minded people who are aplenty in civil society, to take the country to fresh, new heights by getting the fundamentals in place: integrity, honour, respectability and transparency. Peace and prosperity will follow. 

In every person’s life there comes a chance to seize an opportunity and make a huge difference; some seize that chance and are forever thankful that they did not let pass; others let it pass and regret forever realising later that it was once-in -a-lifetime chance. Don’t fall into the latter category. 

With best wishes

Mahendra Fernando 

p.s. The other day I had a very satisfying moment. I walked into a restaurant and in being shown to a table, noticed that at the next table was Gus Labu Peera. Noticing the look of utter distaste on my face, the steward asked me whether I would like another table. Quickly recovering, I sat at the table which I had been shown but turned my back on the offensive individual. And then I did what I had sat there to do: I passed gutsy wind in his direction. Very fitting and satisfying.