Rampant corruption exposed


Cassandra’s jaw dropped, eyes popped in disbelief, mind boggled in utter consternation as she read of the kickbacks, in other words, bribe of so many millions (US dollars) offered to Chandrasena of SriLankan infamy. She was astounded by the enormity of the bribe, the utter cheek of giving and receiving, and the idea that due to the bribe being accepted an order was placed that impoverished our national carrier. This – the fact of the purchase being unwarranted and too costly - was known when the deal went through. Thus, the welfare of our airline and the economy of the country were totally disregarded – thrown to the winds – and the matter sealed with complete sangfroid by the then CEO Sri Lankan; his greed and confidence he would not be exposed drew in his wife, who allegedly banked the money and, we suppose, distributed it among other thieves, as is bruited around. Also bruited is the demand for a full investigation and bringing to harsh exposing light all involved in the money deal. This would have been like so many other money crimes that just went unnoticed, but for the fact that Airbus was exposed. Let the bribe money come back to our country’s almost empty coffers.

The first, last and intermediate thought in Cass’ mind when she hears or reads of such largescale corruption in the way of receiving bribes/commissions is: what on earth do they do with all that money? Can they live on caviar and wash it down with the most expensive wine or whiskey all the time? Can a man or woman live in utter luxury, and enjoy Roman feasts including unclad women/men to attend, day and night? How many luxury cars can such a corrupt individual drive around in. We have no yacht owners, or so Cass believes. She is such a novice, dilettante in such matters and a tenderfoot in the ways of the world and the ways of the rich. The rightful rich are most often to be admired for philanthropy. It’s those who possess ill-gotten gains that are avaricious and suffer from a disease like most those with absolute power. They both seem to thrive, going against norms of retribution.

Corruption the order of the day

Yes, predilection to corruptions seems to be the prevalent custom or way of life now. Thinking of this, images of people now very much alive, appear in a fairly long line in Cass’ mind, which is receptive to tales on the grapevine and what is known. Funnily most in that mind- seen queue are in pure white kapati suits, sarong and shervani shirt, with or without accessories. A very few trouser and coated bods are also visible. No saris, except a green one in the shadows. Cass sees poor souls whose parents could not send them to school beyond Grade 8; she sees persons who lived in very small houses now in mansions paying off in millions women they discard; she sees a gold chain snatcher. She sees sons; she sees foolish in-laws and cousins elevated suddenly to positions of power, going money mad and lustful. She does not spot clearly any women, only accomplices to their husbands or paramours, and just a few on the very fringes of the corrupt arena.

Even the now rich and powerful,

if cheats, will suffer.

Then Cass’ Buddhist knowhow comes to the fore. She shudders at all the after effects of greed and lasciviousness that the corrupt will surely pay for, if not in this birth, in the next or thereafter. Horrible deaths await them. This is not a ‘I see blood’ predictor-cry of Cassandra’s. It is a gale ketuwa truth, or even more to be trusted and believed - a truth preached by the Buddha and members of his Sangha through the ages.

And then she praises her stern mother who brought up her and her siblings on eternally shoestring budgets – on a prematurely dead husband’s pension and income from small landholdings, and taught them that money was needed only to live decently. Riches are not the be-all. This last not in a sour grapes fashion but by seeing the reality that if one is not very rich, life could be much richer in the greater significances of living.

Cass also knew government servants who never accepted even cakes from their subordinates. Bribes were not known then; Cass swears to this fact. Only the bulath atha was permitted at New Year. People in government service carried out their duties with commitment, sincerity and honesty.

Finding a truly honest person in politics or in administrative services in this day and age is not easy, for they are rare. Of course, they still exist like the proverbial needles in a haystack. Thank goodness for that! There are honest MPs and dedicated public servants, but succumbing to temptation to make a fast buck, since that seems to be the norm nowadays, appears to be catchier than the coronavirus flu. Also it must be said that keeping your hands clean and your mind straight when all around you are enriching themselves illegally and criminally is very difficult, and a most commendable characteristic and way of behaviour. It’s easy to be honest when honesty is what prevails, as in the 1940s to 60s; but not now. Hence the honest politicians must be named and praised. A public servant is duty bound to be honest.

The bribe takers and luxury livers who rose from near slums or moderate living conditions are known and marked. They escape justice but not the curses of the people, and those will strike one day. Mark Cass’ words! They escape the tentacles of the law due to the cunningness of their transgressions; or are protected by powerful persons or are VIPs themselves. But in death, which surely will be prolonged and extra painful for them, they will realize they sinned and are paying for it.

The honest are praised and respected

And here’s the big but, a happy but. Just this morning (Tuesday 11 February) this fact was thrust in my face; a delightful change from complaint and tirade. I sped around on an errand at 8.00 in the morning in my usual three wheeler, charioted by a skullcap wearing owner-driver, and had him saying that every religion teaches honesty and labels making of illicit and illegal money a very bad act, which surely will bring in its train retribution, punishment and dread suffering. Then later, three wheelered to Borella with another known driver. Stalled at the end-of-Kanatte traffic lights, Sunil draws Cass’ attention to the statue of Dudley Senanayake. "Onne, pin athi kenek. Kavamadaawath horakamak keruwe ne, hithuwe wath ne." Agreeing fully and placing my palms together to the memory of Dudley S and his father, I added the oft-narrated story (and it must be kept constantly repeated) that when he died, he had a very small amount of money in his bank account. He was the scion of a well-to-do and respected family. And thus he is universally respected and acknowledged with affectionate regard.

This allows another truth to be drawn. If one comes from good stock, meaning decent, respected family which upholds correct values, and had school upbringing of high standard, one will not stoop to taking bribes or being corrupt. Personal gain is not important.

So, Cassandra concludes life may be physically difficult if one has limited money resources, but far happier and psychologically easy since one is on the safe path between extremes.

News item of disappointment

‘Sajith forms Samagi Jana Balavegaya with his followers and registers with the heart symbol.’ It means a split in the old, respected, UNP with the much loved elephant symbol. It may not be a split asunder but a mere splinter or line dividing the Party, but it is a parting of the ways. Regrettable? Are obstinacy and implacability and no compromising to be blamed? Surely not the younger vs the older. Again, a clash of personalities.

Absurdity of the week

"Dayasiri accuses ‘sinister elements’ of trying to scuttle SLFP-SLPP tie-up." Not Wansé’s foreign sinister forces surely, but rather home grown!

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