Such clever chaps run our palanaya

Who wants education qualifications to make laws for our nation when those who have made them much of the time have done so without the paper certificates? Readers might remember that earlier this year a former chancellor of Peradeniya University lamented that 94 of Sri Lanka’s current crop of MPs do not have the GCE ‘O’ Levels and only 25 out of the 225 MPs are graduates.

Where those between such worthies have landed under our free-education system was not mentioned. Anyway who cares, really? Only a few weeks ago there was a ho ha (whether true or not one does not know yet) about a leaked question paper and the resort to electronic devices to get answers to questions from experts waiting somewhere else all hooked up to transmit the good news.

Deputy Minister Karunaratne Paranavithana attempts to rid our country of what he calls excess elephants

There have been numerous stories of leaked question papers down the ages. But this seems the first time that modern technology has supposedly been put to practical use in this sort of well-rehearsed exercise. If it is true that the so-called offender was a student of a well-known college in a wealthy Colombo zone which has been very much in the news for disce-ing aut all sorts of types that now fill ministerial and administrative posts, it probably comes as little surprise to some of our citizenry.

So what value could one place on such paper qualifications? That, anyway, has been a perennial excuse trotted out by those ‘failed to pass’ fellows who enter politics as the only available recourse to public prominence and duty free vehicles. Moreover they could make more money in the shortest possible time from a political career unless, of course, they dabble in treasury bond bids.

They may not be graduates who passed out of universities but they sure have graduated into other more lucrative enterprises that have brought them ownership of luxury houses in expensive residential areas or apartment blocks that have risen sky high with assets that seem to have fallen from heaven or other less known places.

But then there are those clever law makers – or as some call them low makers – who are blessed with tons of grey cells and do come up with such bright ideas that they light up our evenings even when the electricity boys knock off the power supply because someone or something has blown up the local transmitter or the GMOA has provided sufficient shocks to send the nation into a coma.

Take the case of that bright spark, a relative new comer to that game called politics, who emerged with such a fascinating idea that it would have surely agitated the entire animal kingdom not to mention our conservationists and others with similar propensities.

With that great horde of UNP yahapalanites who descended from places of higher learning such as Harvard, Oxford and Peradeniya, not to mention Law College, to keep the party’s wheels churning out more and more intellectual grist to turn what is today’s comical into tomorrow’s miracle, who needs more certificated asses to clog Colombo’s sewer system.
Some have such a natural proclivity to do what Archimedes did running naked along the streets of Syracuse to make public his discovery. That is if history has not taken mankind for a rough ride as promising politicians do to us today whenever a great thought strikes them like a blinding light.

Thankfully when this particular idea was uttered our great thinker was reportedly seated at a meeting in Balangoda and had no opportunity to resort to Archimedean exhibitionism even if he wished to. Particularly since the law does not permit such public displays whether the gem of an idea which suddenly flashed upon deputy minister Karunaratne Paranavithana merited running down the high street of this gem-studded town.

Deputy minister Paranavithana now trying to bring development skills to the people of the country together with vocational training after his efforts to impose some ‘ethical’ standards on our media, has come up with a solution to what has come to be known as the elephant-human conflict. One does not think that needs much explanation as there have been several news stories about some farmers and poachers killing elephants and elephants killing people.

Anyway the elephant-human conflict is nothing new. It has been going on ever since the elephant party which has run this country for several decades since independence has been in regular conflict with the people it ruled over.

Many are the tales I have heard from UNP leaders themselves over the years that several chapters have been reserved to recall some that have been titled under the generic name “Ali Veda”. One of the classic tales came from Junius Richard Jayewardene better known as JR to most people and “Dickie” to his school mates such as Colvin R. de Silva. That concerned the power struggle between JR and Dudley Senanayake when Junius Richard was trying to take control of the Working Committee and oust Dudley from the leadership of the elephant party.

It is a hilarious story that involves elephants and Napoleonic strategy employed by JR. But that fascinating story must remain to be told another day. What is of greater concern now is Deputy Minister Paranavithana’s attempts to rid our country of what he calls excess elephants.

Mr. Paranavithana claims that there are too many wild elephants in the country and the excess should be sold abroad so they could be exported. Like the animals in Noah’s Ark the elephants will go out two by two as selling one animal to an individual or zoo would be harmful to the elephant.

Moreover bringing up domesticated animals in cold climates would be hardly conducive to the physical health and even the psychological health of isolated animals. While the deputy minister’s innovative genius might be comparable to Thomas Edison’s making of the electric bulb and Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the first practical telephone, the UNP claiming to be a democratic party one wonders whether this great promoter of elephant-human amity gave a thought to the feeling of the elephants.

Shipping the wild pachyderms out of their natural habitats without a scintilla of concern to the well being of the animals is hardly a Buddhist or humane way of dealing with a problem that is largely man-made. What is worse is that Deputy Minister Paranavithana is also reported to have said that wild boar and monkeys who are probably destroying farmers’ chena cultivations and crops and a general nuisance to people should be killed and the law should be amended to permit this.

So what does Paranavithana suggest the people should do – go out and throttle the beasts? Surely if they are to be killed – which is a highly un-Buddhist act anyway – farmers and others would have to be given the right to carry firearms or other weapons of destruction.

One hopes that this ideas man does not seek the assistance of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un for a couple of missiles to knock off a tribe of monkeys from tree tops in Anuradhapura or Kataragama. There are already enough people walking around with guns and shooting others. Some of them do not even have licenses for their weapons. If Paranavithana’s grand idea is to be implemented we will well see a proliferation of weapons which will probably be used to kill each other, not to eliminate animals.

It is already known that farmers and poachers use poisons to kill animals. If the deputy minister’s extended idea that the flesh of the animals should be permitted to be sold could well result in people who devour the flesh dying of poisoned food leading to Dr (dentist) Rajitha Senaratne having to fight tooth and nail not only the GMOA but the grand thought of a member of his elephant party who wants to rid the country of wild elephants while retaining the domesticated ones that now inhabit the UNP.

Perhaps Paranavithana has forgotten that much of this elephant-human conflict could be traced to the destruction of our forests with the help or direct involvement of politicians in illicit felling of trees for unconscionable profit. So the elephants and other wildlife have a diminishing habitat as the two-legged animals called politicians assist in such craven acts against endangered species.

Perhaps the deputy minister might be reminded that in the last 100 years or so our elephant population has diminished by 50 percent or more. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed our elephant Elephas Maximus Maximus as an endangered species.

Would it not be far better if we exported some of the two-legged elephants of the UNP than the far more useful four-legged ones that often lose their limbs to the contraptions planted by the ones with two legs but little brains?

Perhaps Paranavithana is not aware that some generals of Alexander the Great’s army found the Sri Lanka elephant far more warlike than the Indian ones employed by the Greek army and imported them aboard on specially-manufactured crafts to join Alexander’s army.

Unfortunately our elephants have now lost their will to fight what with more warlike humans allegedly committing war crimes and other international offences. Just a month or so ago five elephants were rescued by the navy and wildlife officials on two occasions from the seas off Trincomalee. Perhaps they had already got a whiff of the wise idea of the deputy minister to send them packing and thought of risking the ocean waters rather than fall into the hands of a deputy minister dedicated to developing skills of one kind or another.

Surely the deputy minister knows that elephants are reputed to have long memories and are unlikely to forget. If not he should ask his party boss who has a long memory.

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