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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

Who let the dog out?

By G. Godabanda

Several years ago a politician walked into the Divaina editorial and threw his weight around. Back then he was no doc and his canine credentials were hardly known. The following day the Diavaina ran an editorial titled ‘me ballavath vaha benda thabanu!’ (Tie this dog also immediately). A couple of years later the said ‘dog’ was given a dubious doctorate, he became ‘Doc’. Dr. Mervyn De Silva.

Since then we’ve heard a lot of barking. Since then we’ve heard about a lot of biting too. Emboldened naturally by a master or a set of masters/mistresses who were wont to look the other way, the creature became even more ferocious. His bite, we all know, is potent enough, but the potency is probably best indicated by the fact that his bark was actually worse than his bite. What’s even worse is that his master’s voice is and has been virtually mute.

There is a kind of kaalakanni sathuta in watching the man get a taste of his own medicine no doubt, but that’s hardly the problem. As veteran journalist D.F. Kariyakarawana put it, everyone knows that this man operates in the way he did/does, the question is, why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? I am sure D.F. was not talking about the kind of ‘doing’ that those at the Rupavahini Corporation ‘did’ on Thursday. We are talking about a country where rabid dogs are summarily slaughtered. Rabid men are a different kettle of fish of course but still the social contract demands that the state intervenes to protect the general citizen. The easy referent, ‘National security concerns’, could have been applied here, one notes.

As things stand, the general public perception regarding how the government views the incident is as follows:

In a 1-10 continuum of the serious nature of a given act, Mervyn’s theatrics get 3, his thug’s antics 5, the actions of the Rupavahini employees 7, the fact that state media carried the story 8, the fact that Rupavahini didn’t halt its telecast for a few hours, 10! To put another way, if, as had been suggested, the riot-squad had been deployed to spray what ammunition it takes to disperse the mob, that particular act of civility would have earned a 1, meaning, it would be saluted, celebrated and the implementers (re)decorated for being heroic beyond the call of duty.

My problem is not so much what Mervyn does or doesn’t do as what the President does and doesn’t with respect to this quack doctor. The issue is clear, whereas Mahinda Rajapakse is all-powerful thanks to JRJ’s second republican constitution of 1978, so is he equally culpable for what happens during his tenure.

He is clearly an unintended beneficiary of JR’s machinations, true, but the other side of the coin is that he is JR’s prisoner as well. He is caught, constitutionally, in a tangle of numbers and in this web even a single vote in parliament has a high premium. It reminds us of that ancient dictum about picking up a snake and putting it into your sarong. Mervyn is his baby, no two words about it.

We don’t know what kind of cheque Mervyn has that he is able to cash it again and again, but Mahinda would most certainly know. The problem is that Mervyn must have exhausted his credit a long time ago. He cannot be allowed to survive on overdrafts forever for the simple reason is that the money is not coming out of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s account (remember that famous ‘coronation speech’ where he said ‘I am not owner, but temporary custodian’? Each day that this despicable man is allowed remain in parliament and party, Mahinda Rajapaksa has to feed him and the only thing that Mervyn consumes is bits and pieces of Mahinda Chinthana, chunks out of the fight against terrorism and the aspirations of all the people who voted for Mr. Rajapaksa on November 17, 2005.

Dogs have to be vaccinated. Dogs have to be held on a leash. These are basic things. Owners or guardians as the case may be earn the wrath of those bitten by the particular dog(s).

Mervyn is not an embarrassment; he is fast developing into a veritable Achilles Heel in an otherwise impregnable presidency. Mervyn, come to think of it, is a blessing in disguise. Drop him and that single act would elevate Mahinda’s stature immensely. It would restore faith in our institutions, the presidency and the president’s pledges while simultaneously ridding our polity of an obnoxious so and so.

Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ill-advisors have to understand that Mervyn is costing the Presidency dearly. If he is so worth that he has to be kept then Mahinda Rajapaksa simultaneous puts a tag on his own worth, as a man and as a President. Now that’s pretty sad stuff. It reminds me of a July ’83 story:

When one son of S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, a suspected Eelamist was being harboured by a senior UNP minister in 1983, the other son, an honourable man and a Mathematic teacher, upon being set upon by a mob (instigated, again, by another senior UNP minister of the time) with broomsticks, had said ‘mata oken gahanna epa; vedagath ayudayakin gayanna’ (don’t beat me with that, use a more respectable weapon). Mahinda Rajapaksa is running the risk of being brought down by rabble. Does ‘rabble’ have a singular form? I don’t know. If it does and you need a name or a synonym for it, it has to be ‘Mervyn Silva’. Doctor. Dog. Well, I don’t know. Let the man’s behavior name him. At any rate, whoever he thinks he’s biting, one thing that is getting is the President’s behind. Ouch!

- Asian Tribune -

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