Waiting for ‘Godot’: Or “For God’s sake, go!” (But how?)

Friday, 6 May 2022 00:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

UNHOLY TRINITY – three views of what’s going on: the people continue to protest; their Parliament persists in horse-trading; the President and the Prime Minister remain agnostic to the antipathy they’ve roused in both ‘Houses’ of Parliament and homes of people 

The tone-deaf horse-trading in the House, while the President and the Prime Minister remain in situ in the Executive, reminds me of the complaint of a hen-pecked husband. “Why must my wife nag me so much about taking out the trash? There’s no need to keep repeating herself everyday! I mean to say, didn’t I just do so – a year ago...”

So also with Sri Lanka’s much-nagged, little-loved government of the day. Not only have they failed the people they were elected to serve and safeguard from scarcity and famine (because there’s more to ‘security’ than the purely military dimension). But they have almost deliberately engineered an ‘Economic Armageddon’ – by design (corruption/faulty policy decisions) or by default (incompetence/arrogant refusal to course-correct). Or perhaps it’s an ungodly mix of these two that has stripped the mask off the face of the putative ‘technocracy’ for whom only a courageous few are now willing to admit they voted for then? 

And after all of it, to pursue blatantly the path of realpolitik – ‘politics based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations’ while making vague confessions of wrongdoing in Parliament – smacks of dishonesty or desperation, or both... 

The shameful yet revealing debacle in Parliament yesterday only shores up the public’s sense that some 148 MPs deserve nothing but those boos! and hoos! – and the less boo-hooing about it on the grounds of ‘parliamentary privilege’, the better it’ll be for them...

So it’s little wonder that the apolitical, obviously aggrieved, and unapologetic waves of humanity asking their elected representatives to #gohome show no signs of abating at iconic venues such as Galle Face as well as elsewhere such as outside the House. (And in the face of indefensible police action to curtail their constitutional right to protest peacefully, at that...).

There is also the spectrum of pressures from the political dimension for the powers that be to contend with. These effects are most evident from marches on the commercial capital to earn political capital. Then there are the recent anticorruption revelations from a political combine that the rot runs from fraud to money-laundering – and it’s all on file (even if why so long to reveal is begging more questions than are readily answered). And from today, there is the threat of an all-island, all-inclusive general strike/hartal that would surely all but cripple an already badly hamstrung nation, hanging by less than a US$ 50 million thread.

Yet, strangely for a ‘shame-honour society’ – where there is no apparent crime and punishment until you’re exposed and/or shamed – the culprits one and all won’t budge from their bastions of power. In fact, they’re digging in! Shall we assume that a sense of unrealistic entitlement to authority based on past laurels won (by hook or by crook, it is worth asking even now) helps the guilty to linger in the corridors of their shame? This, despite the anger of the court of public opinion having passed sentence on them... in absentia!    

Let’s ask ourselves today, what it will take for someone to finally take out the trash – or have the garbage remove itself... now that the dirt on all its wheeling and dealing has been in the public domain to no or little avail? Or is it doomed to fizzle out for want of more gravitas (consensus, political agency, constitutional instruments being judiciously weaponized) than the oomph of the democratic right to protest, dissent and express opinions peacefully? It is by now painfully evident that the parliamentary process will not serve the people at its gates...

So ‘taking out the trash’ is going to take more than many people’s protests – or now, even the ‘die-hard democrats’ reliance on the parliamentary method of debate and decide to do what is in the nation’s best interest. 

It remains to be seen if – and how many of – our ‘honourable’ elected representatives will spontaneously grow a pair/get a backbone before the NCM is tabled; and/or will realise the chips are down; and that the old prestige, perks and privileges are well and truly a thing of the past.

This is only if yesterday’s ‘division’ in the House is somehow illusory, and more than 65 MPs genuinely care about the people’s ‘struggle’, addressing and resolving the many crises we are faced with... and recalibrating the country’s ‘justice gears’ by demanding an end to this government’s incumbency, the resignation of the President and/or the Prime Minister, and the abolition of the Executive Presidency. 

And how long will the powers that be – having brought the country to its knees through arrogant negligence and/or criminal incompetence – allow the nation to teeter on the brink of the abyss (definite bankruptcy / possible anarchy) before they blink and call an election? 

The poll is increasingly looking like the only way out for any hope in a future parliamentary majority that would place country before coalition, or people above party politics, or place service over self... 

And that the cost of an election – equal to the economic loss in one week of power cuts at 3.5 hours a day – is high but almost certainly inevitable now is cold comfort indeed.  


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