“How dare you?” – A Sri Lanka edition!

Daily FT
THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH… while the likes of Donald Trump have accused Greta Thunberg – a Swedish schoolgirl campaigning her heart out against global warming’s irreversible damage – of fronting a conspiracy, the worse than schoolboyish pranks of grown men have convinced a watching world that even the Mr Cleans and Saviours of the Sri Lankan Civilisation are nothing much more than gasbags spewing hot air

I AM NOT SURE IF my readers have realised that I’m not a 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl bent on saving a crooked world from a sticky end. But it is fairly certain that a discerning readership – and viewership – would realise and acknowledge that Greta Thunberg is a superhero at speaking truth to power. Since her no-holds-barred campaign against the planet’s corrupt and polluting powers that be went viral, the phrase #HowDareYou has become the No. 1 hashtag in the blogosphere.

However, even given the doomsday prophecy hanging over the world, there are what appear to be more pressing concerns closer home. Therefore, in the spirit of our doughty Valkyrie, let us take Thor’s hammer to the evil lurking in the carbon footprint generated by our own global warming fiasco – the hothouse of the run-up to the presidential polls…

The president

How dare you sign an order reinstating a subaltern to his former rank with possibly full back pay on the eve of an election in which his uncle is running for the highest office? Have you considered that the man in question – well, all right: both of ’em – are one-time deserters under investigation for irregularities at least and financial misconduct at worst? Of course you have! It’s what you consider payback time… or rather, pay-it-forward favours – all while keeping another contender in greener pastures also on your horizon. But how dare you, sir? And at the eleventh hour of a dismal almost five-year showing at that! Take a nice long break; we’ve earned it – and don’t even think to come back…

The former president

We would be kidding you – and ourselves – if we didn’t admit your ability to set the land-speed record for going from hero to zero in two terms flat. What you were thinking, God only knows – and I don’t mean Gota. But how dare you continue to play politics with the state of the nation of which you were entrusted a sacred trust? At least, in the name of the people you claim to serve, call off the plethora of strikes that are crippling the country. It is the least you can do, ‘war hero’.

The would-be president

Speaking of which: how dare you allow your political masters masquerading as minions to manipulate you against your values and wishes? Surely you know that the hifalutin principles they espouse in your cause are not really what you’d sign your name to? Shall we all stop pretending that an erstwhile strongman-bureaucrat can change his spots? Sincerely wish you and your cabal of intellectually volatile (translate that) vested business interests (no translation needed) would have the moral fibre to cease and desist from inveigling those poor deluded plutocrats of Corporate Sri Lanka – like lambs to slaughter (not yet. but. and literally at that).   

The present prime minister

How dare you play politics for so long with the destiny of our once-blessed isle for the sake of your posterity? Or is it your closeted once-and-future cabinets of hangers-on who concern you more that, poised on the cusp of a chance versus certain defeat, you dithered so long? Can you not see that if you’d come down from your ivory tower and threw in the towel of your inane arrogance to wash the feet of the people sooner, instead of your closest political supporters, you too – like your friend the former president – could have the electorate eating out of your hands? Or would you rather not soil your hands for the sake of the hoi polloi; preferring instead to keep them clean while your nearest and dearest scam and scandalise you left, right and central bank?

The would-be opposition leader

In case you’re listening, I still mean you. Have you no shame, despite what seems like a volte face after being sat upon? Is being – or perceived to be – a Machiavelli so satisfying to your complex ego that you’d apparently appear to be able/ready/willing to sacrifice future generations for the sake of holding on to the reins of power in a party that is no longer united, national and hardly a party these days? Or is this all part of the managed spectacle – coups, constitutional reforms, cabinet shenanigans, centralised white-collar crime, chucking it up so graciously yesterday – that you’re a past-master at? Or are you really and truly merely an effete oligarch, who can barely lamely bray about peace with justice: “Yes, that’s fine in practice – but will it work in theory?” (While practically ensuring that you and/or your cronies remain in clover the rest of your political lives, even if it is ‘only’ in a cushy privileged opposition?) How dare you?

The would-be president sans conditions

If we had a dime for every time you mentioned your father or the houses you and he built – together or separately – we’d be dollar millionaires by now! But do you not realise that he was only a servant of the state; and even your generosity comes out of taxpayers’ sweat and blood, not your toil and tears? Also, do you well and truly mean what you say about not being able, ready, willing, etc. to be a pawn in a political game where presidential nominations come with conditions attached? Or is it part of creeping ambition on your part to wear the purple forever? Perhaps propped up by another house – we mean the media, or parts of it that pull strings? A plague on both your houses if you’re complicit in craven conspiracy, sir! 

The worm that turned

There are many. For lack of space, I’ll focus on that young puppy who suddenly remembered that media practitioners were abducted and killed under a former regime. Where were you this past five years, son? (No ‘sir’ for you, sonny!) What did you do with the mandate that we the people entrusted you? Why do you think we or anyone else from the humblest man in the street or woman at her work to the haughtiest mandarin in their Lotus or ivory towers would ever trust you and your ilk again? Is it not the case that you and your ghoulish coven – who keep bringing up the bodies at election time – are arguably worse than the abductors and assassins of yore?

The bumptious police and the politico-bureaucrats

In a land where the likes of incumbent leaders claim to “know the law”, it is not surprising when law enforcers like the IGP under a cloud declaim that they don’t “break the law” but rather “bend the law”. It is thoroughly upsetting and thoroughgoing upset when erstwhile lady servants of the law allegedly proudly proclaim that they “not only make the law but break the law” and have to be indicted for their huffing-puffery and interdicted by a public services commission. No wonder that law-abiding citizens feel that even the law-breaking jawbreakers who are lining up to contest the highest polls are the lowest forms of political life under a hiding sun – the skies wept…

(Journalist | Editor-at-large of LMD | Writer #SpeakingTruthToPower)