It’s been a busy week in Sri Lanka: we’ve pelted the Pakistani cricket team with stones, ranted about how shitty that act was, and watched Mahinda Rajapaksa do a Facebook Q&A.
Perhaps the old bear has gotten smarter after his recent licking, and perhaps the Old Guard is finally catching on to what the Younger Generation can really do to power in this country. At any rate, they seem to have acquired some MacBooks.
But I digress. The Q&A. My word, what an interesting Q&A that was.
“සර් මර්වින් සිල්වා වැනි අය රජයේ සේවකයන් ගස් බදිද්දි ඇයි ඔබ තුමා ක්රියාමාර්ගයක් නොගත්තේ ? දලදා මාලිගාව ලග රේස් පදින්න මහ නයක හාමුදුරුවො විරුද්ද වෙද්දි ඇයි අවසර දුන්නේ ? මම මහින්ද වාදියේක් එත් ඔබ තූමාට,අපිට ගිය ජනාදිපති වරනේදි වැරදුන තැන් මේවා.”
Sir, why did you stand by and do nothing as the likes of Mervyn Silva carried on with their antics? Why did you oppose the Maha Nayaka and let them street race before the Temple of the Tooth? I am a Mahinda loyalist, but these are sins that you committed during your previous tenure as President.
To which Mahinda replies:
ඔබේ මතය එක්තරා දුරකට පිලිගන්න මට සිද්ධවෙනවා. ඒක නිසා තමයි මම ඉතාම විවෘතව ස්වයං විවේචනයක යෙදෙන්නේ අපි කරපු වැරදි සම්බන්ධව. වැරද්දක් නිවැරදි කරගැනීමේ ප්රථම පියවර තමා වැරැද්ද වටහාගැනීම. මම හිතන්නේ වෙන කිසිඳු දේශපාලන ව්යාපාරයක් නොකල මෙම ස්වයං විවේචනය අපි කරලා තියෙනවා. අපි අපේ වැරදි නිවැරදි කරගන්නට සූදානම්.
I was honestly – and very pleasantly – surprised. Not only does he accept this criticism (albeit with a bit of a stiff neck); he says that the first step to correcting a mistake is to accept it, and that they – I assume this is either his party, or his family, or both – are ready to correct their mistakes.
Does anyone realize what we have here? A written apology by a Sri Lankan politician – apparently typed by his own hand, too. That right there transcends gold and becomes platinum. Someone screenshot this so that we can print it, frame it and laugh at it. Talk about making history.
Dear Sir, If you became the Prime Minister in SL do you believe that you have guts to stop all wrong doings doing by your own party members without considering the number of votes they have?
Mahinda Rajapaksa: “Yes we will ensure all corruption is stopped and a transparent mechanism is introduced to ensure equal opportunity to all.”
Corruption stopped? Fat chance. Mahinda would have to start by disinheriting his entire family – from Basil (aka ‘Leaves’) to Gotabhaya ‘Aim4DaHead’ Rajapaksa to his nitrous-peddling, lawyerin’, high-ridin’ sons.
Realistically, nobody’s going to stop corruption. It’s as old as the world’s oldest profession; where there is power, there has always been a corrupt man doling out the favors. Ranil is not going to stop it. Maithri is not going to stop it. Mahinda is not going to stop it. Jesus Christ riding a T-rex with Ranjan Ramanayake in tow isn’t going to stop it.
If anything, what we will see – both with Mahinda’s government, and the Other Side – is a shift into a more sophisticated form of crookery.
There are, you see, two types of corruption: A) the type where you put a gun to a man’s head, and B) the type where you bribe a man with an expensive dinner and an expensive prostitute and top it off with some compromising photos. The Rajapaksas, for all their prowess, were unsophisticated: they practiced a great deal of A) and didn’t bother hiding it.
Whereas in civilized parts of the globe, type B is the weapon of choice. Would you like some oyster with that, my good man? And some hoppers? And -cough- the other kind of hoppers? We can get you anything, you know. All I ask is that you hear my son out for a few minutes, he’s got this idea for a street race, kids these days, you know…
If they do regain power, they’ll walk the path of B. Those at the top divide people into two categories: those you threaten and those you buy. When one fails, you try the other. That, like it or not, is how the world works.
Which brings us to…
Mahinda Rajapaksa: “There will be a short term, mid-term and a long-term plan to uplift the economy that has fallen drastically during these few months. Development has come to a standstill and because of that, unemployment has also increased rapidly.”
…. uplifting the economy. Basil, by all accounts, uplifted a great deal of the economy into his pockets. Ranil and his ilk, if I’m not mistaken, are doing the same. But of course, short-term, we’ll be hiring more thugs. Long-term, we’ll be hiring better campaign managers. See, more jobs.
What about the Muslim communities? “We have done many initiatives on reconciliation and will continue to do so. A special charter will be floated to get opinions and ideas to improve harmony amongst all communities from grass root level with special programmes.” In short: we have a plan. We know it sounds like an SEO expert wrote it for the keywords. We know our ‘initiatives’ thus far have mostly been to incite racism and harbour a Buddhist pseudo-ISIS. But it’s okay. That’s in the past. We have a plan now.
It’s pretty sad that a politician can sway voters with promises as vague as these. “We have a plan”. “We’ll bring more jobs.” “More development.” The answer to racism? We have a plan. Crumbling economies? We have a plan. Trust us.
The more I see this, the more I’m convinced that the only plan all of these politicians have is to win the election. Beyond that, they’re as clueless as Siripala on the street. The only choice we really have the lesser of two evils.