Paranoia or pretext?

(February 1, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In a paranoid replay of a hackneyed record, the government it appears is continuing with its self-delusional international conspiracy theories to keep the political fires at home burning.

With another March nearing and all the bogeys of a UNHRC session, augmented by a new US resolution, being roused, the so-called propaganda pundits of the regime are at it again.

Addressing a ceremony held at Mawathagama to hand over some houses to low-income families under the ‘Janasevana’ programme, Wimal Weerawansa, Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities said the true intention of the visit of the high-powered US Government delegation was to collect information for use against Sri Lanka in the global forum.

Such irrational assertions by a minister known to be very close to the hierarchy could be very damaging to the collective Sri Lankan character. Paranoia is not a disease; it is a dangerous symptom of even a more dangerous ailment. With the approaching Provincial Council elections in the Wayamba Province, the drumming of these pseudo-patriotic slogans would only add to the already beefed-up anti-Western propaganda that is being tuned and fine-tuned with each passing day with growing zeal.

The impeachment of the Chief Justice,

Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, was no gold medal awarded to justice and fair-play by the government. On the contrary, in the eyes of the international public and the democratic west, the esteem of the country suffered a monumental blow. The impression this most unwise and stubborn exercise of raw power – impeaching a Chief Justice without affording the due process to the ‘impeached’ – left on the rational minds of world leaders a black mark against Sri Lanka.

This was more so, especially in the context of ever-increasing demands for accountability and transparency from the Sri Lankan Government. The impeachment coupled with the ongoing anti-west rhetoric only serves to aggravate the situation. One cannot discount the possibility that the government might eventually be compelled by a growing global media and public to cower before insult and humiliation that would emanate from unexpected quarters. But, the sad reality is that yet again, those who would be subjected to this kind of humiliation and ridicule would be the ordinary Sri Lankan traveller and an anxious business community praying day after day for more and more foreign investments to inflate the county’s economic capacities.

At a time when the expected upsurge in domestic investments is proving to be a non-starter and immediate and urgent attention to foreign investment is called for by all the economic big-wigs in the government, statements like those made by Weerawansa can do no good.

They would not only harm the potential for such foreign investment, but also portray those holding Cabinet portfolios and high positions in government as paranoid, irrational prudes, bigots and rabble rousers. If such statements are made and issued to the public as a matter of galvanizing the local masses towards a more politically-oriented propaganda scheme, the brainwashing would also entail more serious repercussions, endangering the healthy life of a populace that is struggling to grapple with emerging new realities of a post-war economic expansion.

The promises and pledges made soon after the war that there would be an economic boom resulting in improved living conditions for the average man in the North and in the South would ultimately remain just that – empty promises and pledges.

Challenging President Barack Obama, who himself secured a second term in office after a gruelling election in the United States, is most unwise. If the US Government wanted to spy on Sri Lanka, they would not have sent three State Department officials all the way from the US of A to Sri Lanka. Their embassy surely must be having enough personnel and other wherewithal for such a scrutiny, without a doubt.

Minister Weerawansa has already built a reputation for the bizarre and the unpredictable. His expeditions into political wildlife, every now and then, are well noticed by the public and documented by those who care to do so. Nevertheless, his insatiable capacity for sensationalism does not seem to have any limit and the manner in which he uses his quenching appetites to reach his own ends too seems rather ravenous.

( Ceylon Today Editorial)

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