This country is self-sufficient in awards and honours besides mobile phones and honorary doctorates. It is sickening to see them bandied about by the unspeakable.
The government, after the Sakvithi scandal, suddenly woke up to the conferment by bogus institutions of titles similar to national honours on the crooked desirous of boosting their image to win public trust. A committee appointed by the Cabinet to look into the matter is reported to have recommended that no institution be permitted to confer any titles similar to those accorded by the Head of State. Why successive governments took so long to put an end to that devious practice is the question. Better late than never!
But, who will guard the guardians? Heads of State are also notorious for lavishing honours on their cronies and financiers according to their whims and fancies by way of a quid pro quo. (Even Prime Minister Tony Blair sullied his good name in the cash-for-honours scandal which shamed the Labour government.) The Golden Key fraud has prompted irate depositors to make an issue of its chairman Lalith Kotelawala`s Deshamanya title, press reports say.
In a way, the issue of national titles pales into insignificance in comparison to the allocation of National List slots and appointments to high posts. They are full of misfits maintained with public funds for doing nothing but damage to the country as well as their political masters. If one kicks any wayside bush, a wag says, at least half a dozen presidential advisors and coordinating secretaries will jump out! The less said about the JPs, the better. There is hardly any undesirable who is not a JP, though all JPs are not undesirables. Some of the JPs find themselves behind bars for various crimes such as murder and drug trafficking.
Nominating anti-social elements for popular elections is, in our book, far more injurious to the society than bestowing bogus titles on fraudsters. For, the former, by virtue of their political power, place themselves above the law much to the detriment of social wellbeing. The gross abuse of presidential powers to release convicted criminals, as we discussed last Saturday, must also cause serious concern to the government that has sprung into action to hold con men at bay.
Finally, restoring the grace and prestige attached to national honours is not a task that could be accomplished by simply sending shady outfits conferring bogus titles out of business. Government leaders must also act judiciously and cautiously in selecting recipients without being swayed by political or any other considerations.
It looks as though people already thought the best way to be honoured is not be given national honours!