Mangala did what others should have done
took it upon himself to condemn the rowdy conduct of a group of thugs, particularly so when these asylum seekers were under the care and protection of a UN agency.
Sometime after Mangala Samaraweera’s unmitigated condemnation Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne also added his voice to condemn the attack by a hardline Sinhala group and some Buddhist monks: “This is not what the Buddha taught. We have to show compassion to these refugees. These monks who carried out the attacks are actually not monks, but animals.”
What sticks in the craw is the absence of word of condemnation for this unprovoked attacked from President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Surely it is the leaders of the government - its president or prime minister- who should have been the first to do so.
These 31 Rohingyas, mainly women and children, are not terrorists as the mob of civilians and monks tried to portray. They are victims of a regime in Myanmar that presents a civilian face but is in reality a military junta that has not fully abdicated its role as the overlords of a country that refuses to lift its military jackboot.
During the three and a half years I spent in Bangkok I had close contacts with diplomats, journalists and Burmese people who painted a different picture from the one usually displayed by some western nations and their political and diplomatic representatives keen to provide Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar a clean bill of health.
If Suu Kyi is trying to protect her flanks by not uttering a word of condemnation against the extremist Buddhist monks such as Ashin Wirathu who are armed with weapons of hate instead of the Dhammapada, and the military, one might see a similar enactment by the yahapalanaya leaders who take refuge in the Buddha, dhamma and the sangha but actually hover behind the soiled saffron robes of the discredited thugs and others in military uniform.
Did Sri Lanka and the world have to wait for a cabinet meeting to hear the government’s condemnation of the thugs and hoodlums who attacked the UNHCR safe house and utter a word of compassion for the victims when our leaders are ever ready to rush in with tokens of sorrow when terrorists attack European cities.
Some might well say that our leaders are ready to grovel in the dust, as it were, to ingratiate themselves to western politi- cians but cannot find the time to utter a few words of apology to victims of mob rule in the country they lead.
The way the GMOA treats our leaders even threatening to strike without warning shows the abject disregard in which they hold this government.
It is not just the GMOA that acts this way. Last Sunday I wrote about the shenanigans going on in our national carrier called SriLankan Airlines. A few days later the news broke that its chairman Ajith Dias had proposed that his CEO Suren Ratwatte be given a bonus of Rs.10 million. Heaven only knows what prompted this though the chairman has tried to make a puerile case to justify it which has set others laughing like hyenas.
Does this chairman have nothing called shame to even propose granting such a sum as a bonus payment when the airline is on its last legs? Is he and his CEO so dumb that they cannot fathom the criticisms that have been following them like their own shadows at the way they manage the airline.
When such largesse is offered from within is it any wonder that Suren Ratwatte was suggesting that the airline’s board of directors be allowed to run it without any intervention from higher up?
Just the other day the chairman of COPE Sunil Handunneti said that there were 190 employees of SriLankan who were earning rupees one million or more a month and top officials earning Rs.4 million.
However battered and bruised they are by the public, SriLankan’s managers will continue on the merry way until the airline drops its fuselage on the heads of the yahapalanaya leaders. Such is the lackadaisical attitude of our leaders to a failing enterprise though they try to hoodwink the public by promising stern action such as reconstituting the board of directors.
President Sirisena and his prime minister are probably too busy studying the world map to see what countries they have not travelled to yet and probably making plans to do so. No wonder they have not much time for running the country.
So saffron-robed persons and civilian extremist thugs can do what they want and airline bosses can share the loot without a care in the world. Our leaders who said they would only serve one term are now preparing for a second. Why worry about those who call themselves Rohingyas. There are those in coloured robes to take care of them, no.
Rohingya refugees pouring into Bangladesh with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.