“It is not power
that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and
fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it” – Aung
San Suu Kyi
The Rajapaksas’ moment of glory has passed. The sheen
on the “We won the war” badge has now faded. The golden moment that presented
itself post-2009 to ‘right’ the ‘wrongs’ of the past is now lost. The lack of a
political vision, direction and leadership of a country emerging from the
quagmire of a protracted bloody civil war is tragic, to say the least.
Ineptitude at governance and corruption at all levels
has become synonymous with the hyped - up cognomen of the High and Mighty; and
their senseless rhetoric has turned out to be just that- senseless. Their
vision and direction appears to be focused only on one thing- to augment their
power, personal glory and fortune, while steering the country on a downward
course. To sum it all up, their bull-in-a-china-shop method of governance would
appear comic, if it wasn’t for them taking us and the country back to a tragic
era, none of us ever want to revisit.
Thus in such a despairing scenario where all is lost
and the hunger for power persists, then what do such ‘legitimate desperados’ do
to keep the gullible voting masses awed for a while longer, at least until the
next ‘defining’ election? The challenge here for the demagogues appears to be
monumental, but is it?
There is the voter who thinks through his belly,
therefore his plate of rice.So, in the
absence of a costly war there is no valid excuse anymore to lay the blame on
the war for the ceaseless and regular rises in costs of living, rendering the
voter constantly hungry. Therefore it’s imperative to keep him happy, for his
loyalty at the ballot-box depends on how full his belly is. Thus the demagogues
now need to resort to measures to keep the voter adequately distracted from his
hunger pangs and ensure that the all important vote is cast in the ‘right’
However there is one trick left in the bag, a time
tested and a very effective one at that- the age-old political gimmick which
thus far has not failed to yield results - Buddhism.
Lanka’s politicians since time immemorial, have used and
abused Buddhism for political mileage, making it almost a tradition in the
local political spectrum! After all what is Buddhism to these demagogues
anyway, since for them, nothing is sacred except power! And true to form, they
latch on to the sacred Saffron robe once again.
But this time, with or without knowing it, they are
courting Satan and his entourage disguised as Buddhist monks!
In keeping with the need of the hour, and hot on the
heels of the infamous ‘Grease Yakkas’ who disappeared as fast as they appeared,
out pops a gang of miscreants masquerading as Buddhist monks all wrapped up in
Saffron Robes and topped with shaven heads. Could they be the same ‘Grease
Yakkas’, in different garb and a different modus
this time around, these miscreants have been ingenious in choosing their
uniform- the sacred Saffron robe. Once draped in it, the possibilities are
endless. For they know, the power this sacred garment of Buddhist monks wields
over the average voting majority. They can thus be hoodwinked into anything, as
long as it is said and done in the name of Buddhism. This is the ultimate
weapon to rally the masses behind them- for better or for worse!
demagogues, these Saffron-robed ‘mouthpieces’ can be extremely useful at times.
For they can be seen and heard, saying and doing things with credibility, that
the demagogues cannot be ‘seen to be doing’ as it will not be deemed
‘politically correct’. Thus overtly the demagogues are ‘seen and heard’
sermonizing the merits of ethno-religious harmony and other such platitudes
which are ‘politically correct’, while covertly allowing full rein to the
terror instincts of a few Saffron-robed rebels. Or else, how does one explain
the obvious carte blanche enjoyed
by these ‘monks’ to run amok with such impunity.
might we have next, every Tom, Dick and Harry donning the Saffron robe and
flexing their muscles? Will all murderers, rapists, drug peddlers et al now start masquerading as Buddhist
monks in order to evade the law, if they are not already doing so? Will we have
yet another JVP-style insurrection, this time by disgruntled youth disguised as
Buddhist monks? After all, the law enforcement authorities have proven beyond
doubt that the law does not apply to those in Saffron robes. Just imagine the
horrors in the offing if this menace is not arrested!
Little does the rural voter realise that these ‘monks’
are not ‘swaminwahanses’ from the village temple. They cannot see beyond the
Saffron robe to understand that these ‘monks’ are nothing but a group of extremist
rabble-rousers hell bent on wreaking havoc. For these ‘monks’ are precisely
that; elements of frustrated youth who
have been marking time for the opportune moment to ignite the tinderbox of yet
another protracted war- this time with religious undertones.
these ‘monks’ have been unleashed with political blessings, the demagogues will
soon find themselves caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. For there
will soon come a day when these ‘monks’ will no longer be willing to ‘go along’
with the elected political leaders of the country. Left unchecked, these
yellow-robed ‘rebels’ will eventually ‘take over,’ as they are ‘in it’ for the
long haul. Therefore it is just a matter
of time before this saga blows up in the faces of those who fanned its flames
and ultimately end up with anarchy.
will the demagogues do? Turn their guns on the Buddhist clergy and shoot down
the entire lot as in the 70s and 80s JVP insurrections? Will they still expect
the Sinhala-Buddhist vote to be cast in their favour after that? If this is to
be their downfall, at what cost would it be?
indeed disturbing to note that even the young ‘samaneras’ or novice monks are
being made to contribute their might tohate speech and vile demonstrations against the ‘other’. These young
children who ought to be in school are instead roaming the streets with their
older counterparts watching, learning and emulating their elders, demonstrating
all that goes against the Buddhist doctrine. What and who are they being
trained to grow up to be? What are the national Child Protection Authorities
doing about it? Or don’t these children who have been offered/gifted/abandoned/donated
to the ‘temple’ come under the purview of such Authorities?
It appears the Rajapaksas are trying to add a new
chapter to the Sinhala-Buddhist Fable- the Mahavamsa. And in doing so, they
will be taking all of us and the country down with them.