Bonhomie among politicos at wedding draws mixed reactions | Sunday Observer

Bonhomie among politicos at wedding draws mixed reactions

3 February, 2019
The former President’s youngest son Rohitha Rajapaksa’s wedding at St Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya
The former President’s youngest son Rohitha Rajapaksa’s wedding at St Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya

After political polarisation reached fever pitch during the-51-day political crisis late last year, images of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the man who usurped the office he held on October 26, 2018, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa making nice at a wedding recently became the talk of the town.

The former President’s youngest son Rohitha tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend, Tatyana Lee, at an idyllic function in Weeraketiya on January 24. A large contingent of UNP MPs, who were recently at loggerheads with the ‘purported’ Prime Minister, were pictured exchanging pleasantries at the function.

Roads and Highways State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake took an ethical stand on some government ministers and representatives who were present at the wedding.

“The Speaker and even the Prime Minister as the second citizen of the country were at the wedding, and that can be justifiable. But there were some representatives of the government at this function which gave rise to a serious conflict of interest, especially, in the light of numerous cases and investigations against several members of the Rajapaksa family,” he told the Sunday Observer. The images of the bonhomie also have a devastating impact on those connected to law enforcement, tasked with investigating corruption and other allegations against the members of the former regime. As it is, officials familiar with the investigations said they have little faith that any of the cases against high-ranking members of the political establishment will see the light of day.

“None of these cases will be properly concluded. We simply carry on probably because we have a death wish.

There is no purpose to our labour. There are many cases that don’t proceed,” the official said.

However, Government members insisted that the camaraderie at the wedding was a ritual of civility, that is part and parcel of mature democracies.

A UNP backbencher who worked tirelessly during the-51-day constitutional crisis to uphold democracy said that participation by the government representatives headed by the Prime Minister showed how a democracy should work.

“Had they attended a funeral, then it will not be citicised in the same manner. The Prime Minister has always been a gentleman, and he took the high road when he attended the wedding on the invitation of the same person that had worked and still works to overthrow him from the government and his position of the premiership. Another UNP backbencher Heshan Withanage told the Sunday Observer that the voters of the country should be more pragmatic when it comes to local politics and the political consciousness should change.

“In Sri Lankan politics, the Government and the opposition working together is never seen. In most countries, this is not a new thing.

The Government and the opposition work on policy. They may disagree on many things most of the time, but when merit deserves, there is bipartisanship, but in Sri Lanka, this has never been a reality, so the people have not seen the two factions working together on policy,” he said.

But the basis of Minister

Ramanayake’s argument was not about maintaining amicable relations. He asks “How can I party with a person on anything and subsequently make an arrest?”

“We have seen the stance taken by the Government in questioning the former President and his family members. Special arrangements have always been made to do so with minimum difficulty to them. But we came to power promising the people that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice,” the state minister said.

Drawing parallels with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamed who paved the way to nab their former Prime Minister who faced corruption charges, he said that the government has so far failed to show any tangible proof that they have upheld the promises given to the people.