Sri Lankan transparency -- akin to flying in zero visibility
(This is an article I submitted to a Sri Lankan E-publication, The Sri Lanka Guardian)
A recent report in the Sri Lankan press about the favouritism shown to Namal Rajapakse speaks volumes on the arrogance of the ruling regime and the fawning kowtowing of the Law College authorities. As a member of Sri Lanka's first family it was incumbent on Namal to show Sri Lanka and the world at large that he was prepared to 'play the game'; to get through his daily and personal life without any advantages being granted to him due to his being the son of the President. Instead, he accepted a private room in which to sit his exam, he was allowed to retain his mobile phone and he even had internet access. Will it come as a surprise to anyone if he passes with honours?
The excuse given by the authorities of the Law College was that the examination hall was full and this in turn raised several questions. Why did they allow the hall to be overbooked in the first place? They are ultimate authority when it comes to the examinations, how could they provide fewer seats than were needed? Do they not have a list of all the students taking the exam? I cannot believe this to be the case so, how could they justify putting Namal in a private room? Surely he was not the only student to be inconvenienced by the overcrowding? And to maintain at least an air of transparency, why was he not accompanied by an invigilator to ensure that he did not cheat?
Cheat? That is a terrible word and one that casts aspersions on the young man himself. However, Namal Rajapakse, the authorities of the Law College and President Rajapakse have all conspired to cast aspersions on the young man. With the current degree of transparency shown by the government in general and the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in particular, whose commissioners have never explained the newspaper reports that ordinary people were chased away from testifying by police officers stationed outside the hall where the hearings were taking place, did the President honestly think that no questions would be raised concerning Namal's exam.
More recently questions have been raised about the President granting single tender contracts to the Chinese and as usual no explanations have been forthcoming.
It is indeed simply arrogance that allows the Rajapakse regime to ignore the doubts and concerns raised by the citizens of Sri Lanka and the international community. Might makes right, it ensures sycophantic followers who are only concerned with lining their own pockets and it also ensures that anyone that dares to raise his or her doubts in public are ostracized and intimidated to the point where they have to go into hiding, like the young student who raised the issue of the examination papers being revealed days before the exam was to be held. Instead of acting sensibly on the accusation all that happened was the student was threatened to withdraw his complaint and shut up.
People going through their daily lives in Sri Lanka have to be able to see where they are going. Airline pilots are trained to fly in zero visibility but only at great and terrible risk to themselves and their passengers. The citizens of Sri Lanka have a right to question the actions of their government, the government has a duty to address these concerns, and they have no right to put up a smokescreen that forces people to fly in zero visibility.