A country’s political direction has irrevocably been altered and things have been turned on their head.
It is easy to forget under these circumstances that this entire transformation operates within a bubble, because there was no democracy at all in operation in electing the government that is now said to be in power. Someone might say there is no government, at least not yet, certainly not at the time of writing, and that’s true too. There is a Prime Minister however, and people know which party he is from, so perhaps that can pass.
But, the election was skewed in favor of a UNP win, and when the majority was a mere ten seats, and when the Government would inevitably be a minority Govt. in a hung parliament, the adulterated nature of the election would create an administration that operates from within a bubble.
For those who landed here from planet Uranus, the concluded poll was so skewed because the President, who is the leader of the UPFA, sacked the Secretary of the Alliance, and the Secretary of the SLFP, two days before the election, to boot. He then sacked the entire Central Committee of the Party, and said that he would not appoint the leader of the UPFA campaign as Prime Minister, even if the Alliance wins.
This happened when election laws had made it impossible for the Alliance leaders to effectively neutralize any of this, as the media space had been foreclosed as per election rules.
Coupled with a dozen other factors, such as the hijacking of the front pages of newspapers to carry advertisements pretending to be news stories, effectively repeating the same fabrications about the UPFA campaign leader being untenable and being ‘guaranteed to lose’ as per his own party leader the President, this became the most flagrant election hijacking in the history of democracy in our post colonial past.
As if any of this was not enough, the National List of the UPFA was stolen, and seven jokers who had lost the election and had been roundly rejected by the masses, were entered surreptitiously through that stolen screed.
With that plunge into the pits of political depravity, whatever little legitimacy the process was invested with was gone, and this is why the bubble is what it is: a bauble that glistens to nobody, but those who are amused by the ingloriously transient.
The spurious narrative about good governance and all that pap goes on, not the least bit embarrassing the President who must have the thickest hide for any sentient being alive.
If all this is this writer’s opinion, the man from the inhospitable planet Uranus may still left scratching his head as the apparent deterioration of true democratic values would have been all too incredibly fast, in his reckoning. But yet the champion for change, the robed savant of good governance Ven. Maduluwave Sobitha Thera himself, says that what’s happening is appalling and that his own agent for change Maithripala Sirisena is undergoing a diminution in the nature of a ‘fast melting iceberg.’
Bubble governance could be rather dangerous and amusing, particularly when the size of the Cabinet is so large that there is difficulty putting it together — they are still looking for the container for that shipment, we are told. Meanwhile, the effective disenfranchisement of the majority community is complete, with the Speaker anointing R. Sampandan as Leader of the Opposition.
This is despite the fact that 55 MPs wrote to the Speaker to appoint Nimal Welgama to that post, an act that would have reflected the natural composition of the Parliament i.e. how it was made up as per the preferences of the people who cast their ballots.
The majority of that majority whose mandate has been effectively stolen is too numbed to react, except for a few people who lay down on the streets to protest the use of Mattala Airport hangars for paddy storage.
The people are told that the mandate is with the so called National Government and that they should shut up and put up, though it’s not said in so many words.
None of the above, the obvious disenfranchisement of the vast majority, or the stomach turning charade that passes for good governance and democracy, is upsetting to the diplomats who have championed this government, or the non governmental actors who never failed to take up the cry for accountability and people-empowerment when the UPFA government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa was in charge.
The grand theft is over, and those who say that the January Presidential election precipitated all this and that that poll was clean, are right.
They have acknowledged that subsequent to that change, democracy or good governance has become a scarce commodity, rationed at best, plundered and left to rot, at worst. The charade means that those who are responsible for this state of affairs, this abomination that calls itself good governance, are in possession of the trappings of power.
They hold sway over a Parliament of defeated people’s representatives, with an opposition that has been stomped on and squashed underfoot.
The disenfranchised Sri Lankan people are seething, but they are used to tolerating such charades.
They are not given to red shirt protests and yellow short campaigns as in other parts of Asia. They seem to be imbued with a truly Buddhist sense of equanimity; success and defeat are both imposters, and should be treated with equal disdain. Both are temporary conditions for protagonists on either side of this gradually unfolding script.
They know that trappings are trappings, and that what does not represent real power is not worth talking about, and so they get about their business.
Nothing, not a letter written in the previous Asipatha columns published before the elections, has changed, and if at all those words ring truer now.
The real power of the people — the rear guard if you will — was too much for the cabal that smuggled itself into power, and promptly, they protected their partisan interests by stealing the people’s voice. But in that process the truth has emerged, as a solid reminder of indubitable reality.
Where is all this talk of ‘state power’ that apparently helped the Rajapaksas retain their hold over the people — state power, they say, that propped up a ‘despised tin pot dictator.’
He had none it left at his disposal, and on the contrary his troupers were persecuted at every turn and were fighting with the state Gestapo, the spurious and rampaging FCID, and the might of the private media in unison arraigned against them.
But yet with all the subterfuge, the powers that be managed a telling ten seat majority in Parliament!
Soap bubbles in the rain, and rainbows were made of sterner stuff.