The Culture of the Crooked

Let’s hope the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Lotteries, Ravi Karunanayake, will not be blissfully ignorant of having ushered in a new culture, with his resignation from office, with all those quotations from the scriptures of different faiths.

And what is this new culture Ravi K has ushered in, as stated by the Prime Minister and his party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe?

Could it be the culture of ministerial resignations?

With 44 ministers in the Cabinet, that is a helluva lot of resignations that could be lined up, to make sure that the new culture really has an impact on society.

Is it possible the Joint Opposition will be ready to keep this new culture alive, by having motions of No Confidence ready, to make other ministers follow the Ravi culture in what is suddenly seen as yahapalana politics?

Or, could it be that this new culture will make the people remember better all those promises made by the Yahapalanaya Team of bringing to book those great corrupt names of the Rajapaksa Regime?

If there is any new or old culture that the Ravi resignation, or better still the Ravi throw out, has brought about, it must be the revival of the call to clean all the official stables of the dirt of fraud and corruption, beginning from those of the immediate past and moving to those in those stables of power today.

No doubt the UNP can do some big shouting about the new culture of clean government that has apparently come with the exit of Ravi K from handling foreign affairs and lotteries. But that shouting cannot last for very long. There is much more to do about the Bond Scams that began challenging the anti-corruption pledges of Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena and his team in January 2015. It is not only the Perpetual Penthouse that is of importance. There is much more to be known about former Central Bank Governor Ajruna Mahendran himself, about his unquestioned role in the Bond Scams, and more about how much he was backed by the Prime Minister who is in charge of the Central Bank. Those will be the real revelations of Yahapalanaya, and the harder stuff of any new political culture.

But all this talk of a new culture can have little meaning if the crooked names in the SLFP and of late the UNP, are easily covered under the veil of a single ministerial resignation – and readily covering up all the corruption that brought about the change on January 8 2015.

It may be more than one presidential commission is required to expose all those crooks in the Joint Opposition, from the crookedness of the ruling family to the other once ministerial catchers who are now crying cheers when the readily ignorant Ravi K has to move to the back benches in Parliament.

The ruling coalition may be shaky, with the uncertain politics of the UNP and SLFP. But any new culture in politics will also have to look into the how and why those leading members of the SLFP who were hugely supportive of Mahinda Rajapaksa, made a big political leap after the August 2015 General Election, to get the ministerial office in what would become the path to a Yamapalanaya.

Why not some CID and FCID probes into what all those ministerial people had to hide with the robes of Cabinet Office?

Also, why not have a new Act of Revelation in Sri Lanka that will bring an end to the politics of corruption with more commissions –with punitive powers, and special courts too, where the crooked will be speedily tried and punished when proven guilty?

Will the new political culture the Prime Minister is boastful about, also look into why the Attorney General’s Department is said to be sitting for more than a year on at least 80 files of corrupt politicians of the past? Where could one have a culture of honest politics when the family members of the once powerful, readily make excuses to keep away from the CID to record statements – on matters relating to a murder of a sportsman?

Ravi K in his sanctimonious exit from ministerial office saw it fit to compare himself to both the Buddha and Christ – persons who had false allegations made against them. This is no surprise because religion is today, so heavily involved with the crooked. One wonders what religious leaders any other ministers or politicians who have to leap over the coals of crooked exposure would quote in their interest?

So let’s hope there will indeed be a new Culture of Politics – the Culture of the Clean and not the Culture of the Crooked.

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