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Sri Lanka, the Gulag Island (2) – Zero Status of Citizens- Dayan’s problem

"The issue that concerns me is something a little different. Why is it that many people still do not grasp that the system in this country has gotten so warped that it is not capable of what is normally known as rational behavior?"

By Basil Fernando

(September 27, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) There are several video clips of Dayan Jayatilaka, a former ambassador to Geneva, talking about his removal from his post. He talks about the removal as a virtual dismissal. Further, he points out that the manner in which it was done was irrational.

Why should he find an act of irrationality in the treatment of people in Sri Lanka a matter of surprise? In fact, everyone is treated irrationally all the time. The very concept of merit in the making of decisions about people is alien. This was what the whole debate about the implementation of the 17th Amendment was all about. The parliament made an attempt to introduce some form of recognition of merit in appointments, dismissals, transfers and disciplinary process of all civil servants. The implementation of this amendment was abandoned. The principle now is that irrationality in appointments, dismissals and all such matters is the normal course of treatment for anybody.

Such irrational treatment is not only towards civil servants. Surely there was nothing rational in the assassination of Lasantha Wickrametunge, the brutal attack on Poddala Jayantha, or the 20 years of imprisonment given to J.S. Tissainayagam, just to mention a few cases. As compared to the consequences of such irrational treatment of these persons, the former ambassador has only lost his job. For virtually tens of thousands of others, and over a quarter of a million people in camps for Internally Displace Persons, the treatment is much worse.

The issue that concerns me is something a little different. Why is it that many people still do not grasp that the system in this country has gotten so warped that it is not capable of what is normally known as rational behavior? (Of course there is some rationality in irrational behavior too, a method in madness, but that is not what we are talking about here.)

The related issue is that the downgrading of a person into zero status without any ceremony is very much a part of the system within Sri Lanka. I use the word zero in the sense that Alexander Solzhenitsyn uses it in his masterpiece on repression, The Gulag Archipelago. Millions of Russian citizens were turned into zeros just by somebody knocking on their doors or telling them that they were under arrest. The citizens began to expect such a call at any time.

However, the group that was surprised when such a call came and would never understand it, even after being brought into prisons, were the privileged sector that belonged to the party. Solzhenitsyn devotes an entire chapter to describe the plight of these people who simply could not understand how the system could so irrationally treat them. They never thought about the fact that the rest of the country was treated far more irrationally all the time.

It is the totality of irrationality that the entire country is being caught in that escapes the attention and comprehension of those from the more privileged sections of the Sri Lankan society. For example, Dayan Jayatilaka states that there is no foreign policy in Sri Lanka. Is there any policy about any matter at all except the policy of repression and abuse of power? All the public institutions have been reduced to zero. Can there be public policy without public institutions?
-Sri Lanka Guardian


kahagalle said...

Mr. Basil Fernando is fast to point his finger at the government for anything it does. But we are still better looked after comparing the days of JRJ and the UNP. When JRJ came to power with less than 50% vote and commanded 87% of the seats in the parliament, and SLFP who got 30% of the vote but reduced to 5% of the seats in parliament no one talked about it as unbecoming of democracy. When he appointed a 3 member bench to try Mrs. B on bogus allegations, he broke all the rules by appointing unfit judges to the panel. Then he appointed to the Court of Appeal a judge who was earlier cited as a person unfit to hold that office. They attacked the Trade Unions with vengeance but none the so called international agencies or the Western governments ever said anything against this conduct. What a hypocritical approach. LTTE, the main leadership is eliminated only 4 months ago. There are plenty of LTTE cadres roaming the globe. LTTE is very active in Western Countries and they have the money to pay to people who are prepared to make accusations on Sri Lanka government. People living in the west know that most of these politicians can be bought for the right price. Mr. Basil Fernando should uphold the principals of a lawyer and should not scum down to be a layer.

Unknown said...

Obviously, Kahagalle, has not read the article about which he has written a comment. This article is about a comment by Dayan Jayathilaka, about dismissal from his post. Dayan, think that the dismissal was irrational. Mr. Fernando has expressed his point of view. He says, that the whole system of decision making now is irrational and Dayan’s incident is just one manifestation of it. That system was created by JRJ, Premadasa, Kumaranatunga and Rajapakse. Kahagalle, seem to have no capacity to think or read.

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