The world of incorporeal beings must be like the environs of the Fort Railway station these days following a recent public `pronouncement` by the Sabaragamuwa Governor. The formless inhabitants like demons, elves, eidolons, kelpies, wraiths, Manes and poltergeists must be up in arms fearing an exodus of corrupt public officers in the form of prethayas (hobgoblins) from Sri Lanka.
Former Public Trustee and present Sabaragamuwa Governor Janaka Priyantha Bandara has, as we reported on Wednesday, said that public officers who help themselves to State funds will be reborn as prethayas and experience the horrors of hell. If he is right we have no reason to doubt his wisdom then prethayas with our guys added to them will, in time to come, outnumber this thun kotiyak (330 million) deities believed to be out there.
Prethayas are said to live in feculence and feast on filth or jarawa and the thieving panjandrums won`t feel any difference in the afterlife as they are already living off jarawa (bribery and corruption). So, it is doubtful whether those worthies will give a tinker`s damn about the horrible victuals awaiting them in the other world.
Of the thieves of public funds, Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara, too, said something similar some time ago. He said those who robbed people`s money would be reborn as buffaloes. That prompted us to ask in these columns, with apologies to those innocent ruminants, if there had been any increase in the buffalo population around the Diayawanna Oya!
We wish the thieves of public assets were turned into prethayas after death. But, it is not wise to leave the task of punishing them to karmic forces or to give them time until death to pay for their offences. That is a mistake most Sri Lankans make. They allow karma to take ascendancy over the law of the land or try to invoke super natural forces to punish wrongdoers. The powerless thus grind chillies, chant vaskavi (`curse-verses` or malefic incantations), dash coconuts and resort to various other superstitious practices like huniam or casting of spells by way of revenge when injustice is caused to them by the powerful. The Opposition, too, practises these methods at times in their anti-government protests an indication that the Opposition is powerless, eh?
We are not in a position to prove the Sabaragamuwa Governor either right or wrong for want of proof of the kind of punishment he has referred to. He may be right or he may be wrong but we advocate that people take recourse to the existing laws in punishing errant public officers and their political masters who steal from the public purse of a country where malnourishment is rampant among children and adults alike, hospitals are without drugs and equipment, schools and universities lack resources and successive governments have been panhandling to the international community to keep the economy afloat. They may be judged by different judges and different juries after they cross the great divide but they must be brought to book here and now while they are very much alive and kicking.
Recent COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) and PAC (Public Accounts Committee) Reports have revealed the names of public officials and politicians who are qualified to be reborn as prethayas in the next birth. And they must be tried for the grand robbery of public assets worth billions of rupees and the lawmakers who shirk their responsibility and baulk at taking action against those culprits are also sure to enter the world of prethayas upon death, one may argue.
Ageing bigwigs paid with public funds to battle bribery and corruption, too, should get ready for a posthumous journey to the world of hobgoblins, if they keep dragging their feet on the cases against thieves of people`s assets named and shamed in COPE reports.